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The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
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Climate Alarmist John Kerry Invests Massively In Fossil Fuel Stocks

May 17, 2015, 1:09 PM

In a March 12 address to the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State John Kerry warned that climate change outranks terrorism, epidemics and poverty as the worst threat facing the world today. Our only salvation, he asserted, lies in an energy policy that replaces fossil fuels with solar, wind and other “clean energy.”

However, at the same time he gave this crisis speech, public records indicated that Secretary Kerry personally owned an estimated three to six million dollars in stocks of more than 50 oil and gas-related companies. Records from 2004 show that he’s been constantly and deeply invested in fossil fuels for at least a decade, and is still injecting millions in working capital into the very industries he condemns. What is the public to think of a cabinet-level prophet of climate doom who says one thing and does such another?

The discovery of this stunning hypocrisy emerged from fact checking research by Heartland Institute, after Kerry’s apocalyptic Atlantic Council speech. The finding raised two immediate questions:

How did such a financially vested nominee for Secretary of State get past the conflict of interest tests of the Office of Government Ethics and Senate confirmation?

And why does an ostensibly dedicated environmentalist own an oil-drenched investment portfolio? Kerry has been an outspoken advocate for the theory of anthropogenic global warming since the early 1990s and in 2007 co-authored This Moment on Earth: Today’s New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future with his billionaire wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, a movement leader in her own right.

We can answer the first question with certainty, but not the second.

Begin with Senator John Kerry’s nomination to be Secretary of State on December 21, 2012: he was not only chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that would unanimously approve his nomination as one of their own; he was also the wealthiest member of the Senate, and the breadth of his investments would certainly present conflicts of interest.

Kerry owned 365 securities totaling $232,674,572 to $322,785,148, including contentious stock in ExxonMobil and a Canadian firm with ties to the Keystone XL pipeline, Cenovus Energy Inc., as posted on Open Secrets.org, website of the Center for Responsive Politics. Office holder assets and liabilities are reported only in value ranges rather than exact amounts, so precise net worth can’t be ascertained and is counted from the lower number.

Office of Government Ethics lawyers immediately vetted Kerry’s family wealth and his spouse’s Heinz ketchup fortune and determined that the new cabinet post required that the couple divest 140 different securities across three different trusts and that the new Secretary recuse himself from decisions with any ethical implications – but there was a catch.

On January 8, 2013, John Kerry signed an agreement letter to the government to relinquish specified assets within 90 days of taking the oath of office. He agreed to have his trustees segregate forbidden stocks, mostly large holdings of a single stock, into a custodial account and sell them off so questions could not come up. He also agreed to diversify and downsize his investments so that even the fossil fuel stocks qualified as “non-conflicting assets.” Kerry pledged to take no action as Secretary of State that would affect his financial interests “unless I first obtain a written waiver, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 208(b)(l), or qualify for a regulatory exemption, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 208(b)(2).”

Those bureaucratic loopholes explain how more than 50 oil and gas stocks made it past government lawyers into Kerry’s much slimmer 2013 financial report, but they don’t explain why the new Obama cabinet officer kept them.

Kerry simply wrote in his agreement letter, “Following divestiture, my segregated portfolio will hold only non-conflicting assets.” That was good enough for the Office of Government Ethics and the Senate confirmation vote.

We’ll never know the exact details of the divestiture because the Office of Government Ethics apologetically informs the online searcher looking for Kerry’s monthly reports for 2013 that “it appears the link you’ve selected is no longer available.” Financial records of Kerry’s first year as Secretary of State, January to December 2013, are all gone.

However, Secretary of State Kerry’s personally signed monthly financial reports for 2014 are intact from January to December and show a continuous stream of purchases of oil and gas stocks not seen in previous reports, Oasis Petroleum, R S P Permian, Diamond Offshore Drilling, and on and on. All the while he publicly denounced such firms without revealing his complicity in advancing their success.

Perhaps Kerry steadily pumps capital into oil and gas companies because he knows his rhetoric is deceitful, that climate change is not a crisis, and that the future of global civilization and human survival depends on fossil fuels. Perhaps he knows full well that the outcome of Obama’s energy policy will be to drive humanity into chaos that wrecks the Earth itself.

In this light, we can read his closing words to the Atlantic Council two ways, but which way did oil and gas investor Kerry really have in mind? He said, “Gambling with the future of Earth itself when we know full well what the outcome will be is just reckless. It is just plain immoral.”

 

[Originally published at The Daily Caller]

Categories: On the Blog

No, Affordable Oil Will Not Cause A New Great Depression

May 16, 2015, 1:26 PM

By: James M. Taylor and Justin Haskins

Democratic Party strategist Robert Weiner claims inexpensive domestic oil production via hydraulic fracturing will cause a new Great Depression, yet exactly the opposite is true. Writing in the Lynchburg, Virginia-based News & Advance, Weiner and his colleague Hannah Coombs strangely argue that Americans taking advantage of abundant, affordable energy resources is bad for the economy and will destroy our standard of living. In reality, Weiner and Coombs provide a perfect illustration about how anti-science, anti-fossil fuel hysteria drives leftist crusades against global warming, domestic oil production, and other asserted environmental causes.

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a process by which a mixture of water, sand, and trace chemicals is injected deep underground at high pressure to create small cracks in rock formations that have locked up valuable oil and natural gas deposits. The small cracks allow the trapped oil and natural gas to escape their bondage and be recovered by energy producers. Thanks to the relatively new technological advancements that have made fracking possible, American oil production has surged in recent years, creating thousands of  jobs, billions of dollars in new government tax revenues, and immeasurable U.S. economic benefits that previously were realized by often-hostile foreign oil producing nations.

In North Dakota, which is at the center of the American fracking revolution, the per capita income has risen from the bottom five in 2005 to one of the highest in the nation today. Even with falling gas prices, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports unemployment in March was only 3.1 percent, second-lowest in the United States.

In September, North Dakota state officials announced there were 26,000 unfilled jobs, nearly all of which were in the fracking industry or were closely tied to it. There have even been reports fast-food restaurants have been willing to pay out hiring bonuses of $300 or more in order to entice workers.

In addition to the numerous direct economic benefits, fracking has contributed significantly to the nation’s low gas prices, benefiting virtually every consumer and business in the nation.

Despite these indisputable facts, Weiner and Coombs say economic chaos is just around the corner and it’s all the fracking industry’s fault.

“With no strong regulation of fracking in place and no protection from an approaching disaster of ended supplies and contaminated water, our energy policy remains in free fall,” wrote Weiner and Coombs. “On this issue, Congress is acting like we are in the 1920s, obliviously awaiting another Depression, this time in the form of an energy crisis. Except that this Congress is not prepared for a ‘New Deal’ on energy.”

Weiner and Coombs argue the nation’s growing dependence on fracking is dangerous because eventually the oil supplies will dry up and because the whole process consumes too much water. Unsurprisingly, they argue the only solution is to continue investing in solar and wind energy and other “renewables.”

This sort of warped thinking is more than misleading; it completely defies everything we know about economic development. Simply because a resource may eventually run out (and in this case, centuries from now rather than Weiner’s claimed mere months from now), this is no reason we shouldn’t take advantage of the resource while it is available and economically superior to other potential resources. This is especially the case if anti-fossil fuel activists are correct in their dubious claims that wind and solar power will soon be more affordable than conventional energy.

If fossil fuels will soon be uneconomical anyway, then what is the economic rationale for not using them while they presently provide the most economic benefit and saving them for a future time when they provide the least economic benefit? Such bizarre economic strategy is what creates Great Depressions rather than preventing them.

Lurking behind Weiner and Coombs’ nonsensical economic argument is the gigantic green elephant that ultimately motivates virtually all leftist economic arguments regarding energy: the belief in an imminent and catastrophic global warming crisis. The real reason environmental activists oppose fracking is not an actual belief it will cause economic harm; it’s because they oppose anytechnology or economic activity that makes conventional energy sources more affordable and abundant.

It doesn’t matter that there’s been no measurable global warming for more than 18 years, that renewable electricity has proven to be far too expensive, or that fossil fuels can actually save millions of lives in developing nations around the world.

Investing in fracking isn’t going to cause another Great Depression; it is creating – and will continue to create – many thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of revenue for the U.S. economy. And when the oil finally does run out, at some unknown date in the far-off future, economic innovators and entrepreneurs will have long-since discovered other cost-effective sources to deliver energy to American homes.

The only potential crisis here is backward-thinking environmental activists relegating America to a second-rate global power by purposefully failing to take advantage of energy sources that would otherwise fuel economic growth for centuries to come.

[Originally published at Forbes]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Too Many People Are Still Stuck in Welfare. Here’s How to Lift Them Out

May 16, 2015, 9:54 AM

By: Justin Haskins & Logan Pike

Arguably the single most successful endeavor undertaken by Congress in the past 20 years was its effort to enact significant reform of the U.S. welfare system. Even greater success is possible, with simple steps that states can take to help millions of impoverished people transition from government dependency to the freedom and self-sufficiency provided by a high-quality job.

The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA), signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, produced extraordinary results. Prior to its passage, there were 12.4 million Americans on welfare rolls, but as of October 2014, only 3.4 million remain in welfare — a decline of 73 percent.

While welfare enrollment did start to slide before the implementation of PRWORA, notably in Michigan and Wisconsin, much of the government’s success in battling poverty over the past two decades is properly attributed to the enactment by myriad states of reforms PRWORA made possible. These include work requirements, time limits for benefits, family caps, and job training.

PRWORA opened the door for states to experiment with their welfare systems in ways previously not possible, but some have been notably more successful than others at helping impoverished Americans move out of welfare programs, which were designed to provide temporary assistance only, and into self-sustaining employment.

In a recent study by the Heartland Institute, researchers analyzed the welfare programs of every state and assigned grades in several important areas to reveal which state governments have made the changes needed to help lift their impoverished citizens out of the seemingly endless cycle of poverty.

Academic research on the effectiveness of welfare-reform programs is ongoing and complex, but available evidence strongly correlates specific policies all states can enact with successful, proven outcomes. Heartland’s experts estimate that if every state currently ranked among the bottom 25 states in its report card were to enact the reforms many of the top 25 states have already established, U.S. welfare rolls could plummet by as many as 2 million recipients, ushering in a new era of American self-sufficiency and prosperity.

Heartland’s researchers found that one important reform is requiring work or work-related activities once a recipient qualifies for aid. This requirement serves two important functions: First, it guarantees that every able-bodied recipient receives helpful job training and résumé-building work experience. Second, it encourages and motivates recipients to seek a better, higher-paying job opportunity outside of a welfare program as soon as one is presented. Workers who face no or limited work requirements often lack the soft skills needed to move from dependency to self-sufficiency, such as showing up on time, taking directives from managers, and getting along with co-workers.

A second meaningful and often-overlooked reform is service integration. Those serious about welfare reform know that many barriers are responsible for prolonged periods of poverty. A lack of job training, transportation challenges, and drug and alcohol dependency can all prevent recipients from achieving self-sufficiency. States that enact successful welfare-reform programs integrate services that treat these and other common problems so that recipients can more easily obtain needed assistance and so that case managers have better oversight.

In states such as Maryland, which received a service-integration grade of “D” in the report card, Medicaid, job training, child care, drug- and alcohol-abuse programs, and other vital services remain in departments separate from other human services, and recipients are often required to go to numerous offices, fill out multiple piles of paperwork, and deal with a complicated maze of bureaucracy that many are unable to navigate.

Welfare’s only purpose ought to be to lift people from the grips of government dependency into a life of self-sufficiency. Most reforms are simple and cost-effective measures that states of every size and political persuasion have already put into place, and as the report card shows, a state’s budget has virtually no effect on the ability of the state to implement necessary welfare-policy changes.

Effective state welfare programs can remove barriers that prevent recipients from attaining high-quality employment. Welfare shouldn’t be about establishing government programs that do something to people, but rather programs that do something for people. Welfare’s only purpose ought to be to lift them from the grips of government dependency into a life of self-sufficiency. Instead, it often shackles the impoverished and encourages them to remain in a state of squalor rather than make the difficult but worthwhile trek to prosperity.

[Originally published at National Review]

Categories: On the Blog

GMO: Gimmicky Marketing Obfuscations

May 16, 2015, 9:30 AM

By: Julie Kelly and Jeff Stier

From grocery stores to Mexican restaurants to coffee shops, do-gooder retailers are serving up a side of liberal politics with every purchase. Earlier this year, Starbucks had to ditch its “Race Together” promotion after backlash from customers who wanted to leave black and white to coffee and cream. Now Chipotle is the latest overpriced chain forced to backpedal: on its claim to “remove the few GMOs in our food so that our customers who choose to avoid them can enjoy eating at Chipotle.”

Teenage boys of America, rejoice! Your 2,000-calorie barbacoa burrito is GMO-free (sorta, kinda).

The company’s announcement came with great fanfare this week. Its website boasted about the company’s moral superiority while posting one anti-GMO propaganda line after another.  One of its most egregious statements is “We don’t believe the scientific community has reached a consensus on the long-term implications of widespread GMO cultivation and consumption.” It has: A recent poll of scientists showed that nearly 90 percent of respondents believe that GMOs are perfectly safe, and numerous studies on the subject conclude the same. But why believe scientists? No doubt the Chipotle PR department knows better.

Aside from the GMO politics, the bottom line is that Chipotle’s advertising is purposefully misleading. The company admits as much with this disclaimer: “But it is important to note that most animal feed in the U.S. is genetically modified, which means that the meat and dairy served at Chipotle are likely to come from animals given at least some GMO feed.”

Oh, and this: “Many of the beverages sold in our restaurants contain genetically modified ingredients, including those containing corn syrup, which is almost always made from GMO corn.”

So you can eat GM-free at Chipotle as long as you don’t order the pork, chicken, cheese, sour cream, tortillas, or Coke. “They conveniently ignore GMO-derived ingredients when they don’t have alternatives or it doesn’t serve profits,” said Kevin Folta, chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. “It is corporate deception in the name of a buck and anti-GMO deception in the name of ideology.” So much for food with integrity.

Now just imagine for a moment if McDonald’s tried such a maneuver. The food police would be out in full force, demonstrating and demanding a retraction, apology, fine, wage increases, etc. But since Chipotle is one of the cool kids on the block, fully embraced by the culinary elite and their pals in the organic industry (and, of course, by Hillary Clinton), those folks are oddly silent.

Yet Chipotle’s PR stunt will likely yield unintended consequences. It might be the break much-maligned GMO supporters need. Consumers seem to know very little about this biotechnology, and what they do know, or hear, is mostly negative. This may finally open up an information flow that to date has been stymied and largely controlled by GMO foes.

The loudest voices against GMOs are organic-industry executives, folks like Stonyfield chairman Gary Hirshberg. The reason why is the bottom line: Organic products can’t contain genetically modified ingredients, so the demonization of the process is a boon to their organic business.

Hirshberg is the key funder of many anti-GMO groups, including Just Label It, Only Organic, and Food Policy Action. He shared the stage with Chipotle’s chief marketing officer a few years ago at Columbia Business School to talk about slow food (?) and big business. Chipotle’s anti-GMO rhetoric could be lifted right from the website of any one of Hirshberg’s front organizations.

Much like Chipotle, the organic industry relies on a number of specious claims, like the notion that organic food is healthier (it’s not), pesticide-free (it’s not), and more eco-friendly (it’s not). Their marketing has fueled a double-digit rise in the sale of organic goods over the past few years. They are a sanctimonious crowd, lambasting conventional farmers as polluters, poisoners, and profiteers. Unfortunately, their pressure tactics are working, as more retailers and food producers cave to their fear campaign.

The anti-science view of the foodies is confounding, since GMOs have huge potential to conserve resources, boost nutritional value, and reduce food waste — all supposed aims of their agenda.

Genetic engineering saved Hawaii’s papaya industry from a virus that was killing off the staple crop, forcing the use of more pesticides and threatening the livelihood of papaya farmers. The USDA just approved the Arctic Apple, which switches off a few genes that cause bruising and browning, making it more appealing and practical to finicky eaters who don’t eat enough produce. The Simplot potato would possess the same traits and reduces the creation of acrylamide, which is produced when the potato is fried. And politics is the only thing holding up approval of Atlantic salmon, which will grow faster, increase supply, and reduce prices of this healthy protein.

But the opposition to GM crops goes further than whether your tortilla chip is fried in sunflower or soybean oil. It has real global consequences; the economic and agricultural benefit to poor countries around the world is revolutionary. In its 2015 annual letter, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation identified biotechnology as one “breakthrough” in global progress. The foundation declares that “innovation in agriculture is so important” to realizing the goal of Africa’s “being able to feed itself” by 2030 by boosting crop yields 50 percent.

Gates said that “GMO-derived seeds will provide better productivity, better drought tolerance, salinity tolerance and, if the safety is proven, African countries will be among the biggest beneficiaries. . . . Most of Africa will see this [GMOs] as a way to improve their productivity.”

Meanwhile, back in the States, well-fed and well-to-do food executives dish out fear and confusion while engaging in the same marketing tactics they criticize in Big Food–Big Ag companies. Let’s hope that recipe for success runs out soon.

[Originally published at Pundicity]

 

Categories: On the Blog

ObamaCare Is Rapidly Imploding – Will the Republican Congress Finally Do Something About It?

May 16, 2015, 8:57 AM

How much more ObamaCare failure must mount in a titanic heap – before Congress decides to get more involved?

A Congress given in 2014 a bi-cameral, bigger and deeper Republican majority – because of ObamaCare.

2014: Another Election About ObamaCare

The Second Obamacare Election

Obamacare Opposition Drives 2014 Election Results

Republicans given the majority – based on their stated opposition to ObamaCare.

John Boehner (R-OH) [N/A%], Mitch McConnell (R-KY) [60%] Vow to Kill ObamaCare

Republican leadership that has since the election done very little to adhere to their vow.

ObamaCare Repeal Falls Off Republicans’ To-Do List As Law Takes Hold

The people who gave Republicans the majority have noticed.

Conservatives Fear GOP Leaders Giving Up on ObamaCare Repeal

And lest we forget:

Conservatives Are Right About ObamaCare

How do we know Conservatives are correct?

CBO: Cost of ObamaCare Subsidy Will Increase 8-Fold in 10 Years

Health Insurance Cancellation Notices Soar Above ObamaCare Enrollment Rates

O-Care Premiums to Skyrocket

ObamaCare Deductibles Hit Patient Pocketbooks And Hospital Finances

The law’s damage is deep – and omni-directional.

CBO: ObamaCare Hurts Workers, Sickens Economy

CBO: ObamaCare to Cut Work Hours by Equivalent of 2 Million Jobs

How ObamaCare Hurts Job Creation

Joe Biden: Losing Your Job Because of ObamaCare ‘Is About Freedom’

Thanks, Mister Vice President. ObamaCare: Liberating millions of Americans from all those hours wasted earning money.

Not all of the news is terrible.

Thousands of New IRS Agents Hired to Enforce ObamaCare

ObamaCare to Create 100,000s of Jobs in the Field of Explaining ObamaCare

Oh wait – all of the news is terrible. Breaking things – and then hiring bureaucrats to “fix” them – ain’t exactly great.

And all of this nightmare mess is just at the federal level. How are the seventeen states that established their own ObamaCare exchanges doing?

Failure and Corruption in the Massachusetts ObamaCare Exchange

It’s no secret that ObamaCare’s father is RomneyCare in Massachusetts, and as we look to the problems that plague a government run health care system, The Bay State is a good place to start. Case in point: corruption in the system.

Josh Archambault, senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability has dug into the state’s $1 billion ObamaCare exchange and found many discrepancies and issues that should concern everyone.

Just another “lone wolf,” isolated failure, right? Sadly,….

Almost Half of ObamaCare Exchanges Face Financial Struggles in the Future

A headline that could easily end with “So Far.”

Many of the online exchanges are wrestling with surging costs, especially for balky technology and expensive customer call centers – and tepid enrollment numbers.

Governments’ “solution” to this utterly predictable – and predicted – outcome? Utterly predictable.

To ease the fiscal distress, officials are considering raising fees on insurers, sharing costs with other states and pressing state lawmakers for cash infusions.

They demand even more of our money. Shocker.

Some are weighing turning over part or all of their troubled marketplaces to the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov….

Some states have already done this.

Oregon Gives Up On State ObamaCare Site, Switches to Federal Exchange

What else has happened in the Beaver State?

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber Resigns Over Growing Scandal

Oops.

Kitzhaber Turned Cover Oregon Decision-Making Over to Campaign Consultant

Oregon Spends $300 Million to Achieve 44 Total Signups for ObamaCare

Yet another unmitigated disaster.

Federal Investigators Issue Subpoena to Cover Oregon, Oregon Health Authority

Good idea. Except:

Former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s and Cylvia Hayes’ Trip to Dump Brings Police Sweeping In

The former governor and Hayes showed up at the Knott Landfill southeast of Bend in a pickup and an SUV about 2 p.m. last Friday and spent a few minutes dumping trash, according to Timm Schimke, the director of the Deschutes County Solid Waste Department….

(W)orkers recognized who they were dealing with and apparently decided the dumping might be of interest to law enforcement.

Old school, analog Hillary Clinton transparency.

This is where the Republican Leadership can do some good politics – by engaging in some good policy.

You say you want to undo ObamaCare? A great move in that direction is to investigate the state-level ObamaCare catastrophes currently unraveling all across the country. They represent billions of federal dollars wasted – and billions (and BILLIONS) more to be thrown after bad.

And they all serve as outstanding visual aides for why federal ObamaCare is also irretrievably heinous.

We must get to the bottom of Oregon and Massachusetts (and the others we already know to be corrupt as well as collapsed) to begin to mitigate the damage inexorably coming from all the others – up to and including the federal.

That is, after all, your job.

It’s good policy – that is also good politics.

For what, exactly, are you people waiting?

[Originally published at Red State]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Dispersion and Concentration in Metropolitan Employment

May 16, 2015, 8:44 AM

The just released County Business Patterns indicates a general trend of continued employment dispersion to the newer suburbs (principally the outer suburbs) and exurbs but also greater concentration in the central business districts of the 52 major metropolitan areas in the United States (over 1 million population in 2013). County Business Patterns is a Census Bureau program that provides largely private-sector employment data by geography throughout the nation.

This article examines the most recent data, for 2013, with comparisons to 2007, which was the peak employment year and preceded the Great Recession, the most substantial economic decline in the United States since the Great Depression. There are also comparisons to 2010, the year in which national employment reached its lowest level (trough) before beginning what is, so far, a long and fairly arduous recovery. The analysis uses the City Sector Model (Note)

2007-2013 Trend

Job losses were registered in each of the five urban sectors between the employment peak of 2007 and the trough of 2010. Three of the urban sectors have recovered to above their 2007 employment levels. However, overall major metropolitan area employment remains lower by approximately 800,000. Since the 2010 trough, the largest numeric gains have been in the newer suburbs. The Central Business Districts (CBDs) of the Urban Core have recovered more than double their 2007 to 2010 numeric loss. In contrast, the balance of the Urban Core, the Inner Ring experienced a modest increase over its 2007 employment peak. The exurbs have not yet fully recovered. By far the largest losses between 2007 and 2010 were in the earlier suburbs (principally inner suburbs), where employment dropped 2.8 million and has recovered less than one half of that loss (Figure 1).

Dispersion and Concentration

The dispersion and concentration is most evident in the shares of employment by urban sector (Figure 3). Three of the urban sectors increased their share of metropolitan employment between 2007 and 2013. The largest increase was in the newer suburban areas, which rose from 24.7 percent to 25.6 percent of metropolitan employment. The central business districts also increased their share of employment, from 8.4 percent in 2007 to 9.0 percent in 2013. This trend is similar to the City Observatory (Joe Courtright) findings that urban cores outperformed suburbs in job growth between 2007 and 2011. The Courtright findings were for areas within three miles of the largest city center, while the findings here relate to the generally smaller CBDs (Figure 2).The gains in other sectors were at the expense of the earlier suburbs, which experienced a loss from 45.9 percent to 44.4 percent of metropolitan employment between 2007 and 2013.

From the 2010 Trough to 2013

Since the trough of 2010, there were numeric gains in all of the urban sectors. The gains were concentrated in the suburbs and exurbs, which accounted for 80.9 percent of the employment growth from 2010 to 2013. This nearly equals the 81.9 percent share of employment in these areas in 2007. The urban core, including the CBD and inner ring, captured 19.1 percent of the 2010 to 2013 employment growth, better than their combined 18.1 percent share in 2007 (Figure 3).

There was also geographic concentration in the CBD gains between the 2010 trough and 2013. Approximately two-thirds of the CBD employment gain between 2007 and 2013 was in four metropolitan areas: New York, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. Along with Seattle and Houston, these metropolitan areas account for 75 percent of the CBD growth. All of the 46 other major metropolitan areas contributed 25 percent of the gain (Figure 4).

Between 2010 and 2013, the largest annual percentage employment gain was in the later suburbs, at 3.2 percent. The CBDs, experienced the second strongest growth at 2.9 percent. However, numeric gain in the later suburbs was more than three times that of the CBDs, due to their already much larger employment base (Figure 5).

Returning to Normalcy?

For decades, most employment growth has been outside the urban cores of the major metropolitan areas, as had been the case with residential population gains. The Great Recession interfered with these patterns, but normalcy may be returning. Brookings Institution Demographer William Frey recently commented on later population trends (through 2014), suggesting “renewed growth in suburban and exurban counties.” The new data indicates renewed employment growth in suburban and exurban areas. At the same time, it would not be surprising for the revival in the CBDs to continue, even if the numbers are relatively small in the metropolitan area context, where the dominance of suburban and exurban job growth seems likely to continue.

Note: The analysis is based on the City Sector Model (Figure 6), which classifies small areas (ZIP codes, more formally, ZIP Code Tabulation Areas, or ZCTAs) in metropolitan area in the nation based upon their behavioral functions as urban cores, suburbs or exurbs. The criteria used are generally employment and population densities and modes of work trip travel. The purpose of the urban core sectors is to replicate, to the best extent possible, the urban form as it existed before World War II, when urban densities were much higher and when a far larger percentage of urban travel was on transit or by walking. The suburban and exurban sectors replicate automobile oriented suburbanization that began in the 1920s and escalated strongly following World War II.

Photo: New York: Columbus Circle (by author)

 

[Originally published at New Geography]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Friend Marc Morano Embarasses Environmental Defense Fund in TV Debate

May 15, 2015, 11:55 PM

Carol Andress of EDF and Marc Morano of ClimateDepot.com debate climate science on EWTN.

EWTN, America’s leading cable network for Catholics broadcast to 148 millions homes around the world, hosted a debate Thursday night about Pope Francis’ plan to insert himself into the center of the global climate debate on “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo.” The debate featured Marc Morano, executive editor and chief correspondent of ClimateDepot.com, versus Carol Andress, director of legislative operations for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

If you are at all interested in the debate over what is really happening to our climate, and what we should do about it, you, (1) should attend or watch the live-stream of Heartland’s next climate conference in DC June 11 – 12; and (2) not miss this debate between Morano and Andress. Before we get to the video of the debate (embedded below) some set-up and commentary.

EWTN covered The Heartland Institute’s trip to Rome last month — which was an attempt to bring balance to the alarmism, flawed climate science, and wrong-headed agenda for the world’s poor the United Nations was presenting to the Vatican at its April 28 climate summit. EWTN reached out to Heartland this week asking for a DC-based member of the contingent we brought to Rome to talk about climate change and the Pope. Morano was my first choice to debate climate with the EDF, and he did not disappoint.

It is impossible to overstate what a blow-out this debate was for Morano. He was the Harlem Globetrotters to the EDF’s Washington Generals. The only things missing were the bucket of confetti trick and a dribbling exhibition by Curly Neal.

Bottom line: Morano brought the facts — relentlessly and firmly. Andress was criminally uninformed for someone in her position. She spent so much time stammering, everyone who is a part of EDF or supports it should be embarrassed.

A preview of one of many “money” moments for Morano: Andress admitting she couldn’t “speak to” why the latest report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Cliamte Change (IPCC) could not explain “the pause” in global warming that (so far) has stretched for 18 years and 4 months. Andress was obviously flustered by that question from Arroyo, and stammered out a litany of non-responsive talking points. Morano followed up by directly addressing the question with a torrent of specific facts.

This one-sided debate revealed a couple of things that should be troubling if you are supporter of the environmental left:

1. The people at the highest levels of your movement are wholly ignorant of basic facts about the earth’s climate.

Andress started out spewing stale, rote talking points about how “the science is settled,” and how you don’t have to be a scientist to see that we are now experiencing “weather on steroids.” Americans are experiencing more severe storms than ever before, she said, and it’s because of human CO2 emissions.

Morano countered those falsehoods with facts: Every day that passes sets a new record for a major hurricane failing to hit the mainland of the United States (category 3 or greater). The number of tornadoes swirling across the US are also at all-time lows.

Does Andress know these facts? Does she even care? Or does Andress think the public will ignore these facts if she and her allies in the movement repeat the alarmist talking points often enough? Does she not even realize the position she is defending is demonstrably false?

I think this is the answer: Most of the folks in the climate alarmism business are are so arrogant — so dismissive of “deniers” — they are not cognizant of their staggering ignorance of the actual science the “deniers” present to destroy their false talking points to a debate audience. Climate alarmists are so invested in the doctrine that human activity is causing a climate crisis that it never occurs to them to do the basic research necessary to defend their position.

That is why Andress stammered out cliches. She just doesn’t know any better than to mouth worn-out and unpersuasive talking points that do not stand up to Morano’s data about what is actually happening to the earth’s climate.

2. The people at the highest levels of your movement are taking in millions of dollars … but getting their butts kicked on the science and policy in debates on national television.

Carol Andress holds a senior position at an enormously influential and lavishly funded organization. The EDF’s website lists Andress’ areas of expertise as: “Climate Change, U.S. Congress, air quality, U.S. climate policy.” She sure didn’t show it on EWTN Thursday night. According to EDF’s 2013 990 form, the organization held $208 million in assets at the end of 2012 … and, yet, Andress’ embarassing performance was the best they could offer to EWTN.

Let’s put that into perspective. EDF is just one organization among an army of wealthy nonprofits (Sierra Club, Greenpeace, NRDC, etc.) agitating for climate alarmism. It raised and spent in just 2012 much more than what The Heartland Institute has raised and spent for all its programs since its founding in 1984. (Heartland is a broad, multi-issue, free-market think tank; we don’t just do climate.) You can see Heartland’s 2013 990 form here. (NOTE: We’ve done well the last couple of years, but we have raised and spent much less than $5 million annually for most of our 31 years. Environmental donors might want to compare bang for the buck on that one.)

Enough set-up. Watch the video below, which is the whole program. Skip to 25:30 to see the Morano/Andress debate begin. The EDF stops being embarassed when it ends at about the 41:00 mark.

If you want to learn more about what’s really happening to our climate, attend Heartland’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change June 11-12 in Washington, DC. If you can’t attend in person, you can watch a live-stream of the truth the EDF can’t rebut at Heartland.org.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Marita Noon: Beisner & Briggs on Vatican Climate Conference

May 15, 2015, 3:18 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in to America’s Voice for Energy with host Marita Noon. In this segment, Noon is joined by Heartland Policy Advisors E. Calvin Beisner and William Briggs. They discuss, among other environment related topics, The Heartland Institute’s recent trip to the Vatican climate conference.

In the first half of the podcast, Beisner describes the events surrounding the conference in Rome. Beisner also explains the negative effects that would occur if the popular climate-change solutions were enacted.  In the second half, Noon asks Briggs why the church is deciding to get involved in the climate change debate. Briggs gives his views on the whole situation.

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

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly: Too Many People Stuck in Welfare. Here’s How You Help

May 15, 2015, 1:15 PM

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

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

New Policy Study: Environmental Impacts of Industrial Frac Sand Mining Isaac Orr & Mark Krumenacher, Heartland Policy Study The recent success of the U.S. fracking industry has created booms in related industries as well ‒ particularly the mining of silica sand, an essential element in the process of hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas. Environmental activist groups and community organizers contend silica sand mining presents significant threats to human health and the environment. Learn why those claims are wrong.  READ MORE Pope’s Climate Plan Would Leave Billions Impoverished H. Sterling Burnett, Inside Sources Had the pope bothered to consult scientists and economists outside his select circle of ethically compromised U.N. climate alarmists, he would have realized the United Nations was dead wrong about the alleged coming climate catastrophe, the merits of fossil fuels, and the ability of low-density renewable energy technologies to raise the poor from poverty. READ MORE Too Many People Are Still Stuck in Welfare. Here’s How to Lift Them Out Justin Haskins & Logan Pike, National Review “Welfare shouldn’t be about establishing government programs that do something to people, but rather programs that do something for people. Welfare’s only purpose ought to be to lift them from the grips of government dependency into a life of self-sufficiency. Instead, it often shackles the impoverished and encourages them to remain in a state of squalor rather than make the difficult but worthwhile trek to prosperity.” READ MORE Featured podcast: James M. Taylor: New EPA Ozone Regulations Along with the lack of positive effects, the new EPA ozone rules will be the costliest regulations in EPA history. Heartland’s H. Sterling Burnett and James M. Taylor talk about how the proposed regulations would impose more than $1,000 per year for each individual household in direct and indirect energy costs.  LISTEN TO MORE  

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Dutch Doctors Withholding and Withdrawing Treatment from the Elderly Ken Artz, The Heartlander “It is no longer a sanctuary, but a house of horrors, where if you go in you might not come out because someone may decide you can’t come out,” said Twila Brase, president and cofounder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom. “Hospitals are becoming a scary place, and not for the usual reasons.”  READ MORE Uncovered: Wikipedia’s Leftist Ties And Its Censorship Of The Facts Justin Haskins, Western Journalism “I began to research the prominent website’s leadership. That endeavor revealed that despite the site’s claims of being a neutral source of information, many of those leading Wikipedia have intimate ties to far-left organizations or openly support liberal policies and candidates.”  READ MORE

Chipotle Backs Off GMO-free Claim Ken Artz, The Heartlander “They say that their meats are free of hormones, and they tout being a restaurant chain that uses only organic foods, but there’s not enough organic corn in the world to accomplish this promise,” said H. Sterling Burnett, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.  READ MORE Bonus Podcast: Moriah Costa: Protecting Student Privacy Managing Editor of School Reform News Heather Kays interviews Moriah Costa, an education reporter for Watchdog.org. Costa and Kays talk about student privacy and a recently introduced bill titled the “Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015.”  LISTEN TO MORE More Spending is Not The Answer to a Slow Economy Richard Ebeling, for Somewhat Reasonable “Old fallacies never seem to die, they just fade away to reemerge once again later on. One such fallacy is that if there is significant unemployment and slow economic growth it must be due to not enough consumer’ spending in the economy, what Keynesian economists call a ‘failure of aggregate demand.’”  READ MORE Tennessee Lawmakers Vote to Create Education Savings Accounts Jonathan Butcher, The Heartlander Advocates for educational freedom scored a victory in Tennessee. The Tennessee General Assembly voted to create Education Savings Accounts (ESA), which allow families to set aside funds to create customized educational plans to suit their children’s individual needs. If signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee would be just the fourth state to implement such a truly progressive law.  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

Sens. Cornyn, Lankford Call for State ‘Healthcare Compact’ to Replace Obamacare

May 15, 2015, 9:23 AM

Two top Republican Senators today called for a simple solution to the healthcare controversy created by Obamacare – a Constitutional compact among U.S. states.

Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) writing on FoxNews.com note that, to date, a Health Care Compact has been formally requested by 9 states – Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah. Several other states are mulling the idea.

“As Congress works towards solutions to the problems created by the top-down approach of Obamacare, we want to let states innovate to serve their citizens’ health care needs,” the Senators noted. “When the Supreme Court rules on King v. Burwell in favor of state responsibility, we want to let states innovate ways to serve their citizens’ health care.”

According to research by the Senators’ offices, interstate compacts have been used on more than 200 occasions to establish agreements between and among states.

“Mentioned in Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution, state compacts provide authority and flexibility to administer government programs without federal interference. In the Compact structure, federal health care tax money and responsibility is returned to a state when they expand their existing Healthcare Authority structure,” the Senators wrote. “Congressional consent is extended when states enter into a legally binding compact. It is similar to a multitude of other grants made by the federal government to states and local entities.”

As the Senators noted in their FoxNews.com piece, complexity “empowers big government,” simplicity supports local leadership solutions.

“Giving health care authority to states is simple and beneficial because they are able to enact accountability, efficiencies and tailor their system to fit the exact needs of their population. One size does not fit all – Obamacare proves that. The health challenges and population needs of Vermont or California are not the same as Texas or Oklahoma,” the Senators noted. “What is needed is clear legislation that affirms the right of states to compact with one another to return authority for health care regulation to states that choose to participate.”

Categories: On the Blog

Russian Company Buys Majority Interest in American Uranium Mine. Why it Matters

May 15, 2015, 8:46 AM

It was reported by Johathan Allen of Vox, that according to an International Business Times investigation “at  least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments have given to the Clinton Foundation also lobbied the State Departmentwhen Hillary Clinton ran the place”, and “Bill Clinton accepted more than $2.5 million in speaking fees from 13 major corporation and trade associations that lobbied the U.S. State Department while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.

Peter Schweizer’s book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich”, likewise offers a tough view of the Clinton Foundation.  Noted in Schweizer’s book is how the Clinton Foundation is not a “traditional charity” in that the delineation is not clear where the Clinton political machines and moneymaking ventures end and where charity begins.  Although the Clinton Foundation does some good like preventing obesity, alleviating AIDS suffering, the Foundation functions mostly as a middleman.

Kazakhstan/Roatom/Uranium One

Consider the Kazakhstan dealings where in 2005 Bill Clinton presented himself as an ambassador for low-cost treatment of HIV/AIDs.  Although Kazakhstan was a strange place to focus such an effort given infection rates were very low, Kazakhstan did have plenty of uranium.  It so happened that a Canadian company, Uranium One, with little experience in the uranium business, led by a generous Clinton donor, gained a lucrative state in Kazakhstan’s uranium mines.  As a result of transactions beginning in 2009, the Russian state-owned atomic agency, Rosatom, bought a 17% share in Uranium One, which had uranium mines in Wyoming.  This deal required the approval of a number of the U.S. agencies including the State Department under the title of CFIUS (Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States), a small executive task force that evaluates investment transactions by foreign companies in the United States.  The deal was approved in 2010 while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.  It allowed  Russia, specifically ARMZ an arm of Rosatom, to begin the process of gaining total control of Uranium One in 2013.  Senator John Barrosso of Wyoming and several congressmen did raise concerns about this deal.

Meanwhile, donations to The Clinton Foundation were received by investors in Uranium One between 2005 and 2010.  In addition, Bill Clinton received half million dollars in 2010 for a single speech in Moscow from a Kremlin affiliated bank.

What can be worse than allowing a Russian company to buy a majority interest in a Uranium mine on American soil in exchange for millions of dollars?   It sounds like a 007 movie with Comrade Putin playing Mr. Evil who wishes to control the world’s Uranium.  Why is Putin so interested in Russia being the largest producer of Uranium?  Do the American people understand the full extend of the deal?  We’re talking about URANIUM!

Uranium as a source of nuclear energy

Uranium is a chemical element found in most rocks in concentrations of 2 to 4 ppm (parts per million).  Uranium sources are most abundant in Australia, Canada and Kazakhstan.  Other countries fairly rich in Uranium are Russia, USA, South Africa, Namibia, Niger, Brazil and Ukraine. Uranium is present in nature as three different isotopes:  U 238, the most abundant (over 99%); U 235 (0.7%); and U 234 (traces).  U 235 is the isotope that is fissile, that is, its atoms can split while releasing energy.  While U 238 is not fissile; it is “fertile”, that is, when bombarded with neutrons it can become Pu 239 (Plutonium) which is fissile.

Scientists can either enrich Uranium sources so as to obtain larger amounts of U 235 or use U 238 to produce Pu 239.  Either way nuclear energy is obtained.  The latter method uses a breeder reactor.  Both can be used for producing electricity and radioisotopes, as well as atomic weapons.  For atomic weapons the Uranium 235 and Plutonium 239 must be enriched over 90%.   In a nuclear reactor, the fission chain reaction can be controlled to create enough heat to produce steam which spins a turbine to drive a generator, producing electricity.  Several countries in the world use nuclear reactors for over 30% of their electricity. European countries using nuclear energy are  Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

Of note is that Russia currently provides natural gas to Western Europe via its company Gazprom, set up in 1989 as the first “private” company with the state controlling over fifty per cent of shares.  Gazprom controls one-fifth of world gas reserves and supplies over 25% of natural gas used by European countries.

Connecting the dots

Putin plays the game much better than Obama.  Putin made his career and honed his deceitfulness when serving in the KGB. He understands that he who controls energy and nuclear weapons controls the world.  Energy is the blood of a country; it gives life and movement; it commands its economy and its national security.  Countries that depend on other countries for its energy can easily become subservient and powerless to direct their own destiny.  Not only can Putin take over Ukraine (rich in Uranium mines) but it’s now possible for Putin to blackmail the USA with his capacity to export Uranium to Iran. The deal with Rosatom has given Russia control of about one-fifth of all uranium producing capacity in the United States.

In that Hillary Clinton failed to abide by the terms of a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding with the Obama administration in which she promised to publicly disclose all donors to the Clinton Foundation to avoid possible conflicts of interest, she now finds herself facing questions over the Uranium One-ARMZ transaction [As clarification: AtomRedMetZoloto is a Russian uranium mining company, wholly owned by Atomenergoprom, a part of Rosatom.]. Although Hillary Clinton claims to have had no influence on the CFIUS approval process of the Uranium One-ARMZ transaction, she now finds herself in a position where she is being asked to prove that she was not beholden to Uranium One executives for donations made to the Clinton Foundation prior to the CFIUS approval of the sale of their business to Russian government-owned Rosatom.

Is Bribery of U.S. a possibility by Putin?

The proof of Hillary’s innocence or guilt rests in the hands of Vladimir Putin who may be the only person in the world with the legal right to authorize the release of classified documents that could exonerate Hillary Clinton when serving as Secretary of State.  Not only can Putin take over Ukraine (rich in Uranium mines) but is able to blackmail the USA with his capacity to export Uranium to Iran.  Rosatom had given Russia control of about one-fifth of all uranium producing capacity in the United States.

The fact that even liberal outlets such as the NYT and the Washington Post are taking Schweizer’s book seriously indicates that the information revealed is not partisan in nature, but instead should concern all Americans regardless of political affiliation.

An investigation is warranted, but will it be forthcoming?  Peggy Noonan had this to say in an Opinion piece in the WSJ on May 7th:  “I suspect she [Hillary] can because the Clintons are unique in the annals of American politics: They are protected from charges of corruption by their reputation for corruption.”

Does this nation now have a criminal justice system in which the rich and famous now skirt free of punishment, even when there seems to be sufficient smoke to indicate possible fire.  I hope not!  The rule of law, executed as fairly as possible, is important to maintaining a civil society, without which distrust and anarchy results.

Public trust and integrity must count for something. The 2016 election is important for it will determine this nation’s fate. Will the “great experiment” set forth by our Founding Fathers survive, or will the American people abandon the Constitution to live under a system of government where freedom and liberty are in short order?

Categories: On the Blog

Making Celebrities into Climate Change Experts

May 14, 2015, 3:14 PM

The media is looking for scientists in all the wrong places.

Celebrities are, frequently, looked to as a source of wisdom, their only qualification for advice being the ability to obtain continued employment  in the entertainment industry. Women shell out hundreds, if not thousands, for cosmetics and clothing worn by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow; product placement in movies and on television is a multi-million dollar industry.

But while celebrities might be well-placed to instruct on how to dress with an inflated budget and how to stay young forever with the help of expensive creams and plastic surgery, their expertise on matters of biology and climatology might be less reliable. So how do celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and James Cameron gain credibility as influential environmentalists while collecting frequent flier miles and stocking garages with unnecessary vehicles?

The media.

As the Media Research Center pointed out this week, mainstream media outlets often give celebrities the benefit of the doubt, accepting their claims as fact even when the claims are outrageous, ignoring their carbon-emitting lifestyles, and elevating them to an almost-infallible status typically reserved for religious figures (though, to be fair, the left has also taken to elevating religious figures to the status of superheroes when they “get it right” on climate change).

The media should take the MRC’s suggestions: Treat celebrities pontificating on science the way you’d treat a scientist pontificating on hair products, and instead, give the time you’d spend excoriating their greatness to investigating their outrageous ideas.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Moriah Costa: Protecting Student Privacy

May 14, 2015, 12:30 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of School Reform News Heather Kays speaks with Moriah Costa. Costa is an education reporter for Watchdog.org. Costa and Kays talk about student privacy and a recently introduced bill titled “the Student Digital Privacy and Parental Rights Act of 2015.”

The bill, introduced on April 29 by Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO), aims to address student data and parental rights concerns. Kays and Costa also talk about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) and the revamping of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

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

Categories: On the Blog

‘E-Psychonauts’ Getting High on Drugs Not Yet Regulated by Feds

May 14, 2015, 9:51 AM

A leading psychiatry journal reports in its most recent issue that underground drug users are experimenting with novel, psychoactive substances, sold exclusively online, before they are deemed “controlled substances” by the feds and other regulatory authorities.

These so-called “e-psychonauts” evade legal sanction for experimenting with psychoactive substances, including synthetic cannabinoids, cathinone derivatives, psychedelic disassociatives, novel stimulants, synthetic opioids, and herbs and plants, according to the journal, World Psychiatry.

In an article entitled, Novel psychoactive substances of interest for psychiatry, the authors, Fabrizio Schifano, et al, indicate that users are “typically attracted by these substances due to their intense psychoactive effects and likely lack of detection in routine drug screenings.”

The drugs work on a range of the brain’s neurotransmitter pathways, whose imbalance has been associated by medicine with psychopathological conditions, according to the report.

“In parallel with a stabilization (decrease) of the use of internationally controlled drugs, the market for novel psychoactive substances is on the rise year-on-year,” the authors note. “The diffusion of these substances has been identified in 94 countries with some 5% of 19-24 year-old Europeans having already experimented with them. The Web plays a major role in shaping this unregulated market.”

Novel psychoactive substances are psychotropic drugs which are not controlled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other regulatory authorities overseas who are parties to the U.N. narcotic and psychotropic drug conventions, or treaties, from 1961 and 1971.

The term “psychonaut” was coined during the 1970s, and is defined as one who experiments with drugs to explore altered states of consciousness. The “e,” for electronic, was added by the authors of the World Psychiatry article to the word “psychonaut” to identify the electronic, Internet-based nature of the trend. The drugs used by these consumers are considered “legal highs,” until regulators ban them, and government regulators are struggling to keep up with the new designer drugs, which users find online by typing “substance keywords” on Google and searching through posts and threads. As soon as regulators designate a drug as illegal, underground chemists alter its molecular design, market the new product, with a slightly different name, online, and evade legal sanctions.

Categories: On the Blog

The Most Important Obamacare Case You’ve Never Heard Of

May 14, 2015, 9:31 AM

While the nation eagerly awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling in King v. Burwell, a case brought by an unknown Pennsylvania tax collector has quietly made its way to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and has the potential to end President Barack Obama’s most important piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

Like countless others, Jeffrey Cutler, currently the tax collector of East Lampeter Township, Pennsylvania, received a notice from his health insurance company in October 2013 that indicated his plan did not qualify for renewal under the rules established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Cutler, who had been enrolled in the same plan since 2007, was satisfied with his coverage and did not want to switch to what he considered to be an inferior plan offered through the government-run health insurance exchange.

Facing significant political pressure from Republicans and Americans who had lost their insurance plans, Obama announced a “transition policy” in November 2013 that promised to allow individuals to temporarily keep their health insurance plans even if they otherwise would not qualify for renewal under the ACA. However, the transition plan was not applied universally; state governments had the authority to decide whether or not to allow their own citizens to keep their plans.

Rules established by Pennsylvania state officials made it possible for Cutler to keep his plan, but only if his insurance company agreed. His insurance company did not, and Cutler lost his insurance on January 1, 2014. He has been without health insurance since.

Representing himself, Cutler filed suit on December 31, 2013, alleging Obamacare violates his constitutional rights on two counts. First, Cutler says the Obama administration’s transition policy, also known as the “administrative fix,” violates the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee to equal protection under the law. Because every state was given the authority by the federal government to apply the administrative fix differently, Obamacare did not exist equally in every state. If Cutler had been a citizen of Arkansas, a state that required insurance companies to continue covering what the ACA determined to be non-compliant plans, he would have been able to keep his health insurance.

Cutler’s second argument is Obamacare violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. According to Cutler, who is Jewish—a religion that is not exempt from Obamacare mandates—federal agencies under Obamacare unfairly give certain religious groups the freedom to avoid having compliant health insurance plans without paying a penalty. By making this exception, Obamacare clearly favors some religious groups over others.

The federal government filed a motion for dismissal in U.S. District Court claiming Cutler lacked proper standing. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted the dismissal, and Cutler appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which has agreed to hear the case. Oral arguments were presented on May 12.

Cutler is now represented by constitutional lawyers David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, and he’s confident his case will eventually take down Obamacare.

“My case is a full blown frontal attack on the constitutionality of the law,” said Cutler. “Many of the cases are about minute parts of the law. King v. Burwell is about five words. Hobby Lobby’s suit was largely about contraception. My case strikes at the heart of Obamacare and the administrative fix that was unconstitutionally applied after ACA’s passage.”

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed suit on behalf of his state in July 2014 alleging similar claims.

“My letter to the attorney general of [West Virginia] seems to have resulted in them also challenging the law on the same point,” said Cutler.

“I think Jeffrey Cutler is correct—his First Amendment rights, and probably those of many other people, may have been violated under the ACA,” said Kenneth Artz, a research fellow specializing in health care at The Heartland Institute. “This is not unexpected considering Obama’s massive health care reform bill is the most complex piece of legislation in the history of the world.”

Regardless of what the D.C. Court of Appeals decides, Cutler says he expects his case to eventually be heard by the Supreme Court.

No matter what becomes of Cutler’s case, his arguments raise important questions about the federal government’s authority to create laws and regulations that are applied unequally. While it’s true the signers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights did not intend for religion to be shoved out of the public sphere, they absolutely were concerned about the federal government favoring one religious group over another, and they also feared certain states, especially the more wealthy and powerful states, being treated differently than others.

It’s within this context that the Constitution was agreed upon, and Cutler’s case directly addresses these same concerns. If federal authorities can pick particular groups based on religion or geography to exempt from federal law, then our national laws are, by definition, not truly national and not equally applied.

The only question now is: Will the courts agree, or will they allow the power of the executive branch to continue to expand beyond what anyone in 1789, when the Constitution was implemented, believed was possible under the law?

 [Originally Published at Townhall.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Marita Noon: Morano & Burnett on Vatican Climate Conference

May 13, 2015, 3:52 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in to America’s Voice for Energy with host Marita Noon. In this segment, Noon is joined by Heartland Policy Advisor Marc Morano and Research Fellow H. Sterling Burnett. They discuss, among other environment related topics, The Heartland Institute’s recent trip to the Vatican climate conference.

In the first half of the podcast, Morano describes the events surrounding the conference in Rome. He talks about conference and Heartland’s rebuttal. In the second half, H. Sterling Burnett joins Noon to discuss the implications of the Pope’s impeding encyclical.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Reform of State Regulations Increases Patient Access to Medical Care

May 13, 2015, 12:07 PM

Providence Alaska Medical Center (PAMC) this week submitted its amended Certificate of Need (CON) application following an injunction secured by its rival, Alaska Regional Hospital, in state court.

A Certificate of Need – like the one at issue in Alaska — is an increasingly controversial regulatory requirement in 36 U.S. states. The rules prevent hospitals from expanding their facilities, or opening new ones, without the permission of state regulators, and rival healthcare corporations.

“These laws, which require government permission before a facility can expand, offer a new service, or purchase certain pieces of equipment, were enacted in the belief that restricting entry would lower health care costs and increase availability of these services to the poor,” notes the Mercatus Center, a free-market think tank at the George Mason University, in its new website, dedicated to CON reform.

In its amended application, the medical center seeks to reemphasize a local market need for 14 additional Emergency Department (ED) treatment rooms, for example. Currently, the center is the largest hospital facility in Alaska, but still needs to grow to accommodate market conditions there.

According to recent research, these CON regulations do little to increase access to health care for the poor, but they do limit the availability of such health care services. The first state to implement a CON law was New York in 1964.

States with these onerous laws report fewer beds for patients, fewer magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests offered to patients, and a lower-than-would-be-expected number of computed tomography (CT) scans provided for patients. Reforming the laws – removing the CON requirement – will increase access to medical care.

“These regulations were initially enacted under the theory that unregulated market competition would drive medical providers to overinvest in facilities and equipment, raising the cost of medical care,” the Mercatus Center web site states.

FOR FURTHER REFERENCE:

https://medium.com/@mercatus/how-state-certificate-of-need-con-laws-impact-access-to-health-care-b8d3ec84242f

Categories: On the Blog

Worse Than Government-Caused Uncertainty? Certainty the Government is Against You

May 13, 2015, 11:59 AM

Without investment, everything economic collapses. Stasis is death. We must constantly create and innovate to move forward our massive $14-trillion-per-year economy. That takes lots and lots and LOTS of speculative capital.

Without certain certainties, investment collapses. If investors don’t have any reasonable idea what’s going to happen in a market – they won’t invest in that market.

That is not to say guarantees. Investing is – in the best of circumstances – extraordinarily risky. Investors know this. They are risk takers by nature – thank God. Without them, their copious coin – and their intestinal fortitude – everything economic collapses.

What we absolutely do not need is government artificially creating all manner of additional uncertainties. Sadly, that is inherently what government does.

Regulation-compliance-costs waste investment capital. Unilateral regulation – when the Executive Branch bypasses the Legislative Branch and its process and rewrites and superimposes laws all by its onesies – creates tremendous uncertainty. And with it tremendous loss of investment.

Because if the economic landscape can be fundamentally altered on a whim – by the wave of a hand and the stroke of a pen – those looking to invest will instead head for the hills.

The examples are legion – and often legendary.

10,000 Commandments

Federal regulation and intervention cost American consumers and businesses an estimated $1.88 trillion in 2014 in lost economic productivity and higher prices.

How Over-Regulation Hurts Us – Some Eye-Popping Numbers

Regulation: The Bite is Worse than the Bark

Regulatory Uncertainty Is Largest Barrier To Energy Investment

Net Neutrality Will Slow Investments

Bank Regs Hurt Investors

Land Regulation Will Hurt Investment

And on, and on, and…

Sometimes this is the expressed intent of those in governmental power. Remember these promises from now-President Barack Obama?

Under my plan…electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.

So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can – it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

That’s certainly investment-friendly.

Often the intent is just as malicious – but obfuscated. Remember this promise from now-President Obama?

We’ll work to reduce (health insurance) premiums by $2,500 per family per year.

After our premiums necessarily skyrocketed, we learned from ObamaCare architect and accidental video star Jonathan Gruber that they all along knew it would increase premiums by 19-30 percent. In many instances, it’s been much higher than even that. And there are more, even larger increases on the way.

There are many, many, MANY ways this money could be better spent.

Often uncertainty and its resulting loss of investment is – if we’re giving the benefit of the doubt – an accidental government by-product. They mean well, but their government actions end up squelching speculative coin.

For instance – behold the woefully misnamed Innovation Act. Which harms what it claims to want to help. Yet another government “Oops.”

‘Innovation Act’ Will Stifle Innovation

For investors in technology start-ups, things are about to get much more complex and dangerous….

(T)his bill actually will kill investment and innovation….

The American patent, so indispensable to technology start-ups, is about to be rendered useless when faced with an infringer of disproportionate size….

President Obama, known to be tight with Google, has said he will sign it. Google and other mega-corporations will be pleased.

Big Government and Big Business love it. The Little Guys – not so much.

The Innovation Act Would Hurt Inventors Like Me, And Thousands Of Others

(T)he Innovation Act threatens American inventors, particularly individual inventors and those working at small businesses and startups….

What do all of these inventors need to create and innovate? Investment. Which the government is poised to fundamentally undermine.

When the ability for investors to get a return on said investment is legislated away – they’ll head for the hills. And take their copious coin – and our hopes for future creation, innovation and economic expansion – with them.

Of that we can all be most certain.

[Originally published at Red State]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Stupid-Strategy Sweepstakes: Home Depot vs. Lowe’s

May 13, 2015, 11:25 AM

Both of the nation’s retail hardware behemoths, Home Depot and Lowe’s, recently sold out to activists in ways that are the corporate equivalent of a dog’s putting his tail between his legs and slinking away from a bully. Home Depot announced that by the end of this year it will stop selling vinyl flooring that contains a class of chemicals called phthalates. It described the move as an effort to “continually challenge our suppliers to develop new, innovative options for our customers.” Baloney. What the company did was abandon both science and its customers under pressure from the activist group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, which sponsors the “Mind the Store” campaign that has been strong-arming retailers to remove safe, useful, and affordable products from shelves.

Determined not to lag in the Stupid-Strategy Sweepstakes, Lowe’s announced not only that it will follow Home Depot’s lead on phthalates, but also that it will phase out the sale of products that contain neonicotinoid pesticides — which are widely used on turf and ornamental products as well as on corn and soybean seeds — supposedly because of their adverse effects on pollinators. “Lowe’s will include greater organic and non-neonic product selections, work with growers to eliminate the use of neonic pesticides on bee-attractive plants it sells and educate customers and employees through in-store and online resources,” the company said.

The people who need education are the ones at Lowe’s who decided to phase out “neonics” to protect bees. Contrary to oft-repeated claims, honeybee populations are not declining. According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization statistics, the world’s honeybee population rose to 80 million colonies in 2011 from 50 million in 1960. In the U.S. and Europe, honeybee populations have been stable (or even rising slightly over the past couple of years) during the two decades since neonics were introduced, according to U.N. and USDA data. Statistics Canada reports an increase to 672,000 honeybee colonies in Canada, up from 501,000, over the same two decades.

When retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s capitulate to pressure groups rather than stand up for science, they actually harm consumers. Products won’t become any safer, while the replacements will often be of inferior quality, more expensive, or, most likely, both. The European experience with neonics illustrates the flaw in Lowe’s reasoning: The EU’s politically motivated ban on neonics, which began in 2013, has forced farmers to resort to older, more toxic, less effective pesticides — primarily pyrethroids, which had been largely phased out. Moreover, European farmers are now seeing a resurgence of insect predation, and insect infestations may lead to a 15 percent drop in this year’s European harvest of canola, the continent’s primary source of the vegetable oil used in food and as biodiesel.

Home Depot and Lowe’s aren’t responding to “consumer demand” or being environmentally responsible; they are simply seeking the path of least resistance, knowing consumers are unlikely to protest much when their floors become marginally more expensive or somewhat less durable, or when they need to shift to alternative pest-control products. They just want to get the pesky activists off their backs.

Market forces actually work; if the replacement products that activists want us to use were better, cheaper, or safer, we’d use them without a pressure campaign directed at retailers. And if the original products were actually harming consumers, zealous regulators (and the plaintiffs’ bar) would have acted. When activists can’t get their way via science, regulation, or litigation, they resort to propagandistic tactics like this one.

History tells us that the approach works — for the activists. These campaigns for what have been dubbed “regrettable substitutions” — substitutions that have undesirable outcomes — have become standard operating procedure. Activists thump their chests, get their way, and go on to raise more money to fund the next campaign. Companies give in to avoid negative press, and cast their cowardice as corporate social responsibility.

It’s not as if consumers benefit when big retailers, under pressure, remove popular products. Consumers who, for whatever reason, want phthalate-free floors or BPA-free bottles already have choices. There are no shortages of so-called “green” products available — for a price. But a small group of vocal activists shouldn’t dictate the availability of safe products the rest of us want — simply because stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s want to avoid confrontation with groups that are in the business of confrontation.

This is part of a pattern. The “Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families” bullies have a track record of spreading misleading information about the safety profile of chemicals in products that benefit consumers. Their baseless fear-mongering plays to the psychological phenomenon of “loss aversion,” in which people perceive the pain of loss more than they do the pleasure of gain. Their junk science has targeted a wide range of chemicals, including those found in cleaning supplies, furniture, children’s toys, food packaging, water bottles, and even commonly used food ingredients.

If the Home Depots and Lowe’s of the world continue to cave to these campaigns, consumers will be the losers. Activists will consign us to a life of more expensive products that aren’t safer or better. And inevitably, other activists will attack the replacement chemicals — the regrettable substitutions — for their risks, real or imaginary. There will be plenty of regrets for everyone, except the activists.

 

[Originally published at Pundicity]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – James M. Taylor: New EPA Ozone Regulations

May 12, 2015, 2:18 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News H. Sterling Burnett speaks with Senior Fellow James M. Taylor. Taylor and Burnett discuss the EPA’s proposed updated ozone regulations.

Taylor notes that current rules already protect public health and the new rules will neither save lives nor prevent illness. Along with the lack of positive effects, the new rules will be the costliest regulations in EPA history. The proposed regulations would impose more than $1,000 per year for each individual household in direct and indirect energy costs. The ozone rule is a prime example of the EPA’s use of selective scientific data to expand its mission and grow its budget.

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

Categories: On the Blog