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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Restricts Research with Lab Chimps, Designating the Captive Primates an ‘Endangered Species’

July 15, 2015, 9:35 AM

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), a division of the Department of the Interior, has, through its regulatory authority, made it nearly impossible for medical scientists to conduct experiments to test new drugs on chimpanzees.

The June 12 ruling from the FWS certifies chimps raised for lab work as an “endangered species,” even though their cousins in the wild have been on the endangered list for 25 years, reports the scientific journal, Nature.

“Until now, their captive counterparts have been exempted,” the journal reports. “The FWS rule makes it illegal to harass or harm captive chimpanzees unless the research also benefits the animals in the wild.”

The question of whether chimps raised for lab work by medicine are endangered is an interesting one, but one that, in practical terms, seems somewhat loaded, as it seeks to wall off man’s simian cousin from medical all experimentation. This rule would have prevented science from putting a chimp in space during the space race, for example.

What is more, some court cases have been filed recently seeking to extend “human rights” protections to non-human animals. These cases, and this new rule, indicate the eco-Left has some interesting jurisprudence in store for the rest of America. Chimps are people too!? We can’t wait to read the legal briefs.

No monkey business — or at least no chimpanzee business for scientists.

Categories: On the Blog

Was Last Month’s ‘Papal Juggernaut’ All for Naught?

July 15, 2015, 12:16 AM

The National Catholic Register reports His Holiness was ‘not amused’ by this crucifix/communist hammer and sickle combo. The Guardian (U.K.) reports that Pope Francis was ‘not offended’ by it. Which paper is more credible here?

The Washington Post last month enthused that Pope Francis’s environmental encyclical was a “papal juggernaut” that had rolled over opponents of the global warming hypothesis. The “deniers” of climate change were defeated in this quite imaginative narrative.

But now, weeks later, the somewhat reasonable observer wonders whether the huge agitational propaganda effort by the secular Left was all for naught.

Over the weekend, for the second week in a row, at a Roman Catholic church in suburban Chicago, the local pastor chose to publish highlights of the Pope’s exegesis on the environment and Genesis 1, and man’s duty to the Earth, in the weekly church bulletin. The highlights were drawn from America, the Jesuit news outlet.

Across the country, in a more rural, tourist town, not a word was mentioned in the local Catholic church’s weekly newsletter about the eco-encyclical by Pope Francis.

The contrast is interesting here, but also shows, on a small scale, that the hoped-for blitz of Catholics by the Roman Catholic church infrastructure is not materializing, on behalf of the secular global warming movement.

The suburban church, cited above, is in an upper-middle-class suburb of Chicago, and comes off as a somewhat liberal Catholic enclave, with quotes from the Jesuits in several spots in the weekly newsletter, as well as how-to advice on spirituality and related matters, and a call for volunteers next month for a charitable event in the inner city of Chicago. The priest this past Sunday was from a nearby, all-boys Catholic high school, and wore the traditional Dominican white cassock, adorned with a large rosary.

The other, exurban church, considered middle-of-the road by one of its attendees, in recent weeks, didn’t even go that far in terms of evangelizing.

Is this sincerely what the WashPo thinks is a juggernaut on behalf of the environment by the Roman Catholic Church? Seriously,  can’t reporters Anthony Faiola and Chris Mooney get a thesaurus, and search for other, more accurate words to describe this serious lack of momentum for the eco-encyclical within in the church?

From the news coverage in recent days, it seems that the Pope has already returned to more traditional, Roman Catholic preaching themes, like helping the poor, and the dispossessed.

No doubt His Holiness will be back in the news, on the environmental front, when he speaks to the U.S. Congress and the U.N. this fall.

But things will return to normal for Catholics after the inevitable, overblown media frenzy. The juggernaut, like global warming itself, is but an inconvenient myth.

Categories: On the Blog

Is Small Particle Air Pollution Really Killing Americans?

July 14, 2015, 5:39 PM

Unnoticed by most citizens, last week the United States Senate introduced the “Secret Science Reform Act of 2015.” The act is aimed at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) practice of refusing to disclose data from scientific studies that support new pollution regulations. The act indirectly questions the EPA assertion that Americans are dying today from small particle air pollution.

Particulate matter refers to PM2.5, classified by the EPA as particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, much smaller than the eye can see. Particle pollution is a mixture of dust, nitrates and sulfates, metals, pollen, and organic chemicals. Past EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson testified before Congress in 2011, stating, “Particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.”

The EPA claims that any level of small particles can cause premature death. The agency warns that death may be short-term, occurring within a few hours of inhalation, or may be caused by long-term inhalation of PM2.5 over several years. EPA policy advisor Amanda Brown asserted that between 130,000 and 320,000 Americans died prematurely in 2005 due to small particle pollution, an incredible 6 to 15 percent of total US deaths.

EPA claims that particle pollution triggers heart failure, respiratory failure, or other causes of death. For example, suppose a senior citizen dies a few days before his 67th birthday and a coroner determines heart failure to be the cause of death. According to the EPA, the death may have been “premature” and caused by small particle air pollution.

The EPA uses “prevention” of premature deaths from small particles to justify tighter pollution regulations. The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, which will force closure of coal-fired power plants across the nation, is an example. The EPA claims that implementation of the CPP will prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths and $93 billion in climate and public health benefits. But the monetized climate benefits are essentially zero. Almost all of the $93 billion comes from an EPA calculation on savings from avoidance of premature death from small particles.

Today, our nation’s air is remarkably clean, especially when compared to 50 years ago. Incidents of serious air pollution are rare. According to the EPA, the concentration of six major air pollutants, lead, nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and particulates, are down more than a combined 70 percent since 1980. PM2.5 particle pollution is typically below the EPA national standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Fifteen micrograms per cubic meter is not very much. Dr. James Enstrom, retired researcher from the UCLA School of Public Health, points out that a person breathing in 15 micrograms of small particles per cubic meter would inhale only about one teaspoon of these microscopic particles over an 80-year lifespan. The EPA’s assertion that this small amount of particles causes premature death is not credible.

How does the EPA conclude that thousands of Americans die each year from particle pollution? No coroner ever attributes a cause of death to particle pollution. Instead, the EPA relies on epidemiological observational studies that associate particle pollution with death.

Epidemiological studies analyze statistical associations between exposure to an agent and appearance of disease in a population. An example is the Doll and Hill study in the 1950s that found that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer in a population of 41,000 British medical doctors. EPA has concluded that associations found in epidemiological studies show that inhalation of small particles cause premature death.

But the association between death and particle pollution found by studies that EPA relies on is shaky at best. Relative risk (RR) is the ratio of incidence of disease in an exposed population to a control population. The size of the relative risk is a measure of the chance that an association is causal.

The Harvard Six Cities study of 1993 and the American Cancer Society study of 1995, two studies that form the basis of EPA small particle science, found an increase in relative risk of less than 20 percent (RR=1.2). An increase in death rates of less than 20 percent (RR=1.2) is almost statistically indistinguishable from zero. In contrast, the Doll and Hill study on cigarettes and lung cancer found smokers had 10 times the rate of lung cancer and non-smokers, a relative risk of RR=10. The weak association (small relative risk) between death and particle pollution that the EPA judges to be causal could be due to other factors in the measured populations or even random chance.

But what stinks to high heaven is that data from the Harvard Six Cities and American Cancer Society studies have never been released. Other scientists are not able to replicate and verify the results of these studies. In effect, the EPA is asking all to “trust us” on the science of death from particle pollution. The Secret Science Reform Act proposes to force the EPA to disclose data from studies that support the need for EPA regulations.

Further, EPA is often the funding agency for epidemiological studies that are then used to justify new air pollution regulations. EPA supports such studies either directly or indirectly through grants to organizations such as the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society. For example, over the last decade the EPA has provided more than $20 million in grants to the American Lung Association, a group that supports EPA efforts for more stringent air pollution regulations.

The result is a massive, costly, and growing burden on American citizens in the name of clean air. NERA Economic Consulting estimates that the Clean Power Plan will cost US citizens some $400 billion in compliance costs over the next 15 years. But the savings from “prevention of premature deaths” from particle pollution are likely imaginary.

[Originally published at Communities Digital News]

Categories: On the Blog

A Congresswoman Demands Peace, Love and Big Brother Internet, Man

July 14, 2015, 3:31 PM

Democrat Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) just penned an editorial for the San Francisco Chronicle. That has the patchouli whiff of her writing while sitting at the corner of Haight and Ashbury – in August 1968. It is warmed-over Hippie-Dippie, Flower Power, Socialist nonsense.

But Congresswoman Eshoo writes all of this is in defense of a Huge Government Internet power grab. That back in the Summer of Love would have been rightly viewed as evil Big Brother lording over us and keeping us down.

Here is a great question – posited at Yahoo! Answers:

How did the Hippies, who were so anti “Big Brother” in the 60s become Big Brother in the 2000s?

And God bless the Users – the first answer pretty much nails it.

They took over such institutions as many mainline churches, government bureaucracies and the educational system. It is hard to rail against Big Brother when you are Big Brother.

Were we to remake the flick Dr. Strangelove,” its new alternate title would be “…or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Big Brother.”

It would require a doctoral thesis to unfetter the thinking of the entire Eshoo editorial – let’s just address some of its most egregious passages.

Far too often (from her perspective), she is accidentally correct – starting with her headline.

Net Neutrality Case is About More than (Federal Communications Commission) FCC Rules

No kidding. It’s about three unelected Democrat (polit)-bureaucrats unilaterally commandeering control of 1/6 of the entire U.S. economy.

Did Congress give them authority to impose Net Neutrality – as Congress must do? Of course not. Congress has in fact never in law written the phrase “Net Neutrality.”

What the FCC just did was super-impose landline telephone law onto the Internet – that was written in 1934. Because we all know the New Deal-era Congress when writing the 1934 Communications Act – absolutely also had in mind the World Wide Web.

By the way, that same ’34 Act renamed the FCC. When it was being written – it was the Federal RadioCommission. This is how absurd the FCC-of-today’s power grab is. More Ms. Eshoo:

What sets this policy dispute apart from others? This isn’t solely about private-sector profits or political advantage.

But that’s a huge part of it. Pro-Net Neutrality – and pro-President-Barack-Obama-and-Democrat – Big Businesses Netflix and Google use more than half of all U.S. Internet bandwidth. The Ms. Eshoo-approved Obama Administration just outlawed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) charging them more for more bandwidth.

Which means we will pay more for bandwidth – to augment the profits of Google and Netflix. So that Google and Netflix can take even more of those profits – and donate even more to Democrats. Crony Socialism, anyone?

The FCC’s power grab is a huge usurpation of Ms. Eshoo’s Congressional authority – but Ms. Eshoo doesn’t mind because she likes the dictatorial outcome. (We’re sure she also likes the Supreme Court doing the exact same thing.)

How we in government resolve the issue of access to the Internet will color how the Millennial generation of Americans views government’s ability to meet 21st century challenges.

But she then writes:

According to a 2014 Pew report, these 75 million Americans ages 18 to 34 are digital natives,“the only generation for which these new technologies are not something they’ve had to adapt to. More numerous than Baby Boomers, these young Americans are defined by attachment to their social networks via broadband connection.

So the Millennials already have access to – and mastery of – “these new technologies.” And they had it long before the power grab Ms. Eshoo is defending. Thus is Net Neutrality a government “solution” running around in search of a non-existent problem.

Differentiating among online services through the creation of fast and slow lanes.

This fast-and-slow-lane garbage is non-sensical. A grocery store charging Netflix more for their one hundred thousand steaks than they charge you for one isn’t a “fast lane” – it’s Economics 101. Net Neutrality is the government absurdly mandating that the grocery store charge the same for 100,000 steaks – and 1. Which means we all pay much, MUCH more for one steak.

In the 21st century, consistent access to information is critical for survival, security and mobility. In the “information age, the Internet offers the route to learning, employment and advancement. Libraries dedicate precious space to making computers available, with designated hours and classes for young and old. Computer literacy enables one to cross over a critical divide in our society. For those not born in first class or business class, that portal to information can determine future opportunities.

Again, Ms. Eshoo, via the data you cite, this “problem” is already solved – solely by the private sector.

(And with just about every written word ever available digitally – why do we still have government libraries? “Dedicate precious space?” Why aren’t they now solely government computer labs? Heck – iPad labs?)

Thankfully, the FCC got it right.

Again, Ms. Eshoo, per your immediately preceding written words – the FCC did not. Either legally – or metaphysically.

Your alleged objective is to “help” Millennials – with this Huge Government grab?

Too late – prior to the grab the private sector had already delivered Millennials the Digital Age. The power grab you’re defending – is utilizing law written nearly a century ago.

The private sector is always forward thinking – and moving. Government is always stuck in a debilitating time warp.

The FCC getting it right – would have been the FCC doing nothing.

You and yours were right the first time (as, always, was George Orwell) – Big Brother is a very bad dude.

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Anthony Watts: Why Climate Data is Faulty

July 14, 2015, 2:58 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News speaks with Anthony Watts. Watts is a meteorologist extraordinaire, the founder of the Surface Station’s project and the most popular climate blog in existence, Watts Up With That. Watts joins Burnett to explain why temperature data is faulty.

Anthony discussed the ongoing problem with climate data, in particular, the fact that our temperature records are only as good as the data and the data is not very good due to poor quality monitoring stations and unpublicized changes in where temperatures are recorded, how temperatures are recorded and how the raw data is adjusted.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Report: World Health Organization Can’t Handle ‘Health Emergencies’

July 14, 2015, 12:34 PM

A new report indicates that the World Health Organization (WHO), an arm of the UN, lacks the “capacity and culture” to handle health emergencies, like last year’s Ebola epidemic.

The report was commissioned by the WHO.

A news report online at BBC.com indicates managerial improvements are needed, immediately, at WHO, once considered the leading public health organization on the planet.

“In the early stages of the Ebola crisis, messages were sent about the seriousness of the situation but these ‘either did not reach senior leaders or senior leaders did not recognize their significance.'” the study stated.

The report by an expert panel for the WHO indicates that health executives there seem “to have been hoping that the crisis could be managed by good diplomacy rather than by scaling up emergency action,” the report says.

WHO, moreover, failed to keep governments and the public up to speed about the extent and severity of the epidemic.

The reasonable observer wonders whether the UN’s climate change operation suffers from the same kind of mismanagement, no?

The World Health Organization — an arm of the UN — did not respond effectively to the Ebola outbreak, a report says.

Categories: On the Blog

An “Austrian” Economist’s Advice for Greece and the EU

July 14, 2015, 12:18 PM

Greece Euro map

For months, now, the mass media and the financial markets have anxiously watched and waited to see the outcome of a war of words, accusations, and threats that have been fought between Greece and its Eurozone and European Union partners.

Over several decades Greek governments accumulated a fiscally unmanageable debt and have been unwilling to introduce any meaningful, long-term economic and budgetary reforms to get the country’s political-economic house in order.

Greece’s Euro and EU partners have warned that Greece may be formally or informally expelled from the common currency and, perhaps, from the economic union if the terms for a new series of loans based on domestic Greek reforms and some debt restructuring cannot be agreed upon.

However, in the whirlwind of often sensational and uncertain daily new events, it is sometimes useful and even necessary to step back and try to take a look at the wider context of things in which those current events are occurring.

Greek and European Union Crisis is the Result of Collectivism

The fiscal and other economic policy problems that are plaguing Greece are simply the highly magnified and intensified problems that are affecting many of the other European nations

Many of them have accumulated large national debts that press upon the fiscal capacities of their taxpayers. They all have highly regulated markets and restricted labor markets. They all have aging populations expecting generous government-funded pensions as the years go by. They all have costly welfare state “entitlement” programs that must be financed through taxes and deficit financing.

They also share a generally anti-capitalistic mentality. Intellectuals, politicians, many in the electorates, and most certainly the national and EU bureaucrats neither understand nor advocate the classical liberal ideal of truly free markets or the wider political philosophy of individualism and individual rights to life, liberty, and honestly acquired property.

The market-oriented entrepreneur is neither trusted nor valued. Rather than seen as an innovator and creator of new, better, and less expensive products serving the betterment of the general consuming public, the business enterpriser is considered an exploiter, a manipulator and “selfish” profit-seeker only doing damage to the society in which he operates.

The free enterpriser must be either heavily controlled or regulated, or he must be put out of business. The only good businessman is the one who works hand-in-hand with politicians and bureaucrats to manipulate and restrict markets for their mutual advantages.

The fact is that whether it is the EU political leadership and bureaucrats in Brussels or the local politicians and bureaucrats in the respective national capitals of the member countries, they all reflect one general political-economic set of policies: those of the interventionist-welfare state with its regulation of markets, its redistributive policies, and its use of state power to benefit some at the expensive of others through favors and privileges of one type or another.

Greece’s version of these problems and policies are in its essentials no different from those in the other Eurozone and European Union member states. Only the degree to which they have all come together in the current crisis has magnified the seriousness and consequences for all to see when such policies are carried far enough.

What, then, are the European Union and its member states such as Greece to do to start escaping from the current crisis and other similar crises in the future?

Ludwig von Mises’ Analysis of Europe’s Dilemma – Seventy Years Ago

Over seventy years ago, while Europe was being destroyed in the carnage of the Second World War, the famous Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, wrote a series of essays on how the European nations might recover from the ravages of totalitarianism and total war through which they were living.

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was one of the most well-known free market economists of the twentieth century. Internationally renowned for his demonstration of the unworkability of socialist central planning and the inherent contradictions of interventionist-welfare state, as well as his development of the “Austrian” theory of money and the business cycle, Mises worked in the years between the two World Wars as a senior economic policy analyst for the Vienna Chamber of Commerce in his native Austria. In this role he witnessed and analyzed the growth of government power and control across Europe, as well as in his own country, in the 1920s and 1930s.

Mises explained how Europe’s financial and economic policy problems were the culmination of traveling down the collectivist road of government regulation, control and planning:

“For two generations now the policy of the European nations has been based on nothing else than preventing and eliminating the function of the market as the regulator of production. By duties and trade-policy measures of other sorts, by legal requirements and prohibitions, by the subsidization of uncompetitive enterprises, by the suppression or throttling of business that offers unwelcomed competition to the spoiled children of the political regime through the regulation of prices, interest rates and wages, the attempt is made to force production into paths which it otherwise would not have taken . . .

“The result of these policies is the severe economic crisis under which we suffer today. The crisis had its starting point in mistaken economic policy, and it will not end until it is recognized that the task of governments is to create the necessary preconditions for the prosperous operation of the economy, and not squandering more on foolish expenditures than the industry of the population is able to provide.”

The Politicized Economy of Power, Privilege and Connections

Mises also understood the political and economic corruption to which such a strangling system of government interventionism leads. He explained it with great cogency in the waning year of the Weimar Republic in Germany a few months before Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party came to power in January of 1933.

In an essay on “The Myth of the Failure of Capitalism” (1932), Mises described the essence of the politicized economy that replaces a free market-oriented economy in an increasingly interventionist system:

“In the interventionist state it is no longer of crucial importance for the success of an enterprise that the business should be managed in a way that it satisfies the demands of consumers in the best and least costly manner.

“It is far more important that one has ‘good relationships’ with the political authorities so that the interventions work to the advantage and not the disadvantage of the enterprise. A few marks’ more tariff protection for the products of the enterprise and a few marks’ less tariff for the raw materials used in the manufacturing process can be of far more benefit to the enterprise than the greatest care in managing the business.

“No matter how well an enterprise may be managed, it will fail if it does not know how to protect its interests in the drawing up of the custom rates, in the negotiations before the arbitration boards, and with the cartel authorities. To have ‘connections’ becomes more important that to produce well and cheaply.

“So the leadership positions within the enterprise are no longer achieved by men who understand how to organize companies and to direct production in the way the market situation demands, but by men who are well thought of ‘above’ and ‘below,’ men who understand how to get along well with the press and all the political parties, especially with the radicals, so that they and their company give no offense. It is that class of general directors that negotiate far more often with state functionaries and party leaders than with those from whom they buy or to whom they sell.

“Since it is a question of obtaining political favors for these enterprises, their directors must repay the politicians with favors. In recent years, there have been relatively few large enterprises that have not had to spend very considerable sums for various undertakings in spite of it being clear from the start that they would yield no profit. But in spite of the expected loss it had to be done for political reasons. Let us not even mention contributions for purposes unrelated to business – for campaign funds, public welfare organizations, and the like.

“Forces are becoming more and more generally accepted that aim at making the direction of large banks, industrial concerns, and stock corporations independent of the shareholders . . . The directors of large enterprises nowadays no longer think they need to give consideration to the interests of the shareholders, since they feel themselves thoroughly supported by the state and that they have interventionist public opinion behind them.

“In those countries in which statism has most fully gained control . . . they manage the affairs of their corporations with about as little concern for the firm’s profitability as do the directors of public enterprises. The result is ruin.

“The theory that has been cobbled together says that these enterprises are too big to allow them to be managed simply in terms of their profitability. This is an extraordinarily convenient idea, considering that renouncing profitability in the management of the company leads to the enterprises insolvency. It is fortunate for those involved that the same theory then demands state intervention and support for those enterprises that are viewed as being too big to be allowed to go under       . . .

“The crisis from which the world is suffering today is the crisis of interventionism and of national and municipal socialism; in short, it is the crisis of anti-capitalist policies.”

In Mises’ description, we find all the elements of what plagues the modern Western economies, including the United States. The politicizing of market decisions and outcomes with government support for those financial institutions and corporate enterprises defined as “good big to fail.” The pervasiveness of “crony capitalism,” with “connections” and government-business partnerships that serve the political class and anti-market business groups at the expense of consumers and those who wish to freely compete on a more open market. And the use of taxpayers’ dollars to feed the network of those receiving the favors, privileges, protections, and subsidies that government has the power to hand out in various and sundry ways.

A New Politics and Economics of Freedom for Prosperity

In 1940, Ludwig von Mises came to the United States as an exile from the tyrannies covering the map of Europe under the onslaught of the early Nazi conquests. From this new platform, Mises proceeded to write a series of papers and monographs during the war years outlining the changes that would have to be implemented to restore Europe’s freedom and prosperity.

(Most of these essays and monographs are published in, Richard M. Ebeling, ed., Selected Writings of Ludwig von Mises: Vol. 3: The Political Economy of International Reform and Reconstruction[Liberty Fund, 2000]).

To reverse this trend towards and consequences from political and economic collectivism, Mises argued that it was necessary to bring about a reawakened understanding of the principles of free market capitalism and classical liberalism And what needed to be implemented were economic policies consistent with those principles to create the institutional foundation for free men to interact for mutual benefit and material improvement.

The most fundamental changes to establish the foundations for the political and economic revival of Europe, Mises said, involved the mentality of the people. The first of these changes in thinking, he said, required no longer focusing primarily upon the short-run gains from various economic policies. Indeed, the economic calamities of the 1930s and the war through which Europe was then passing represented the fruits of a political economy of the short run. “Of course, there are pseudo-economists preaching the gospel of short-run policies,” Mises admitted. “‘In the long-run we are all dead,’ says Lord Keynes. But it all depends upon how long the short run will last.” And in Mises’ view, “Europe has now entered the stage in which it is experiencing the long-run consequences of its short-run policies.”

Practical politics in the earlier decades of the twentieth century had been geared to providing immediate benefits to various groups that could be satisfied only by undermining the long-run prospects and prosperity of society. In the new postwar period, Mises said, taxes could no longer be confiscatory. International debts could no longer be repudiated or diluted through currency controls or manipulations of exchange rates. Foreign investors could no longer be viewed as victims to be violated or plundered through regulations or nationalization of their property.

The countries of Europe needed to design economic policies with a long-run
perspective in mind. European recovery would require capital, and this would mean attracting foreign capital investment to assist in the process. Foreign private sector investors – especially American investors – would be reluctant unless they had the surety that there would be a protected and respected system of property rights, strict enforcement of market contracts for domestic and foreign businessmen, low and predictable taxes, reduced and limited government expenditures, balanced budgets, and a non-inflationary monetary environment.

These were the institutional preconditions for the economic reconstruction of Europe, Mises argued. Once these general changes had been made, governments would have done all in their power to establish the general political environment that would be most conducive to fostering the incentives and opportunities for the people of Europe to start the recovery and rebirth of their own countries.

The entrepreneurs, however, were the ones who were most despised and plundered by governments in that interwar epoch of interventionism and economic nationalism (many of whom ended up being killed by the Nazis during World War II due to the fact that in Central and especially Eastern Europe a large percentage of the entrepreneurs had been members of the Jewish community).

The lifeblood for European recovery had been lost, particularly in Eastern Europe. There would have to be a new respect and regard for these creative men of the market in order to foster the emergence of a new generation of such individuals. “If there is any hope for a new upswing it rests with the initiative of individuals,”Mises said. “The entrepreneurs will have to rebuild what the governments and the politicians have destroyed.”

The Need to End Special Interest Politics and Privileges

The second change needed in the European mentality, Mises said, was an end to special interest group politics. Governments throughout the interwar period had followed a “producer policy,” in which individual manufacturers, farmers, and workers in various niches in the system of division of labor formed coalitions to gain favors for themselves at the expense of others in the society.

At the behest of trade unions, governments intervened, supported, and subsidized policies that in the longer run resulted in restrictions in output, misdirections of capital, and restraints on labor markets. Such policies had to be abandoned because they work counter to the integrative role prices and competition were meant to play in assuring coordination of markets, and the incentives and ability for capital formation. Producer-oriented policies were better called “production-curtailing policies,” Mises said, since they serve to protect the less competent producers from the rivalry of the more competent. Europe could ill afford to indulge in favors for the less efficient and less productive if the ravages of war were to be overcome quickly.

Third, Europe needed to give up the redistributive welfare state. Mises stated emphatically that, 
it is the duty of honest economists to repeat again and again that, after the destruction and the waste of a period of war, nothing else can lead society back to prosperity than the old recipe – produce more and consume less.

Who would be left to be taxed in any “tax the rich and subsidize the poor” scheme in a setting in which war has made practically everyone a “have-not,” when the focus of economic policy should be to foster capital formation, not wealth redistribution? “There is no other recipe than this,” Mises declared. “Produce more and better, and save more and more.”

Unless these changes occurred in people’s thinking, Europe’s path to reform and reconstruction would be more difficult and protracted than it needed to be. Neither the war nor its destruction stood in the way of Europe’s future. Ideas would determine what lie ahead.“What ranks above all else for economic and political reconstruction is a radical change of ideologies,” Mises said. “Economic prosperity is not so much a material problem; it is, first of all, an intellectual, spiritual and moral problem.”

And this intellectual, spiritual and moral problem could only have its solution in a restoration of a political philosophy of individualism and the economic policies of free market, liberal capitalism, in the view of Ludwig von Mises.

Today’s Europe Still in the Grip of Collectivist Ideals and Policies

It is true that Europe, today, does not have to recover from a devastating war, with its costs in human lives and physical property, and its resulting dramatic consumption of capital.

But today’s Europe suffers from its own destructive economic policies that hamper businesses and the spirit of entrepreneurship; siphon off the life-blood of enterprise and capital formation through the heavy burdens of taxes and straightjacketing anti-competitive regulations; rigid labor markets and generous welfare states that reduce the adaptability to change and lowers the incentives for people to want to be gainfully employed in profitable enterprises; and growing national debts to feed the costs of these unsustainable systems that threaten other European countries with the same fiscal abyss that has been facing Greece.

Greece’s and the European Union’s economic and political crisis will not be resolved through a new debt deal between the government in Athens and the European authorities. It will be merely one more stop-gag “solution” to a problem whose nature is endemic to the current ideology and politics of State-Power and collectivism.

Its real solution requires something deeper and more comprehensive: a revival of the classical liberal ideal of individualism and the economics of free market capitalism. This, unfortunately, is not likely to occur any time soon.

[Originally published at Epic Times]

Categories: On the Blog

Sudafed: Drug of Abuse, Or Effective Over-The-Counter Allergy Treatment

July 14, 2015, 10:09 AM

As state and local regulators weigh restrictions on pseudoephedrine and other over-the-counter cold medicines, easily converted into methamphetamine by underground drug labs, a national consumer advocacy organization has published a poll showing that adult sufferers of allergies and other afflictions still want these drugs to remain available “without a prescription.”

The drug, pseudoephedrine, available as Sudafed, and other brand names, stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) of users.

The Washington D.C.-based Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) today released the data from a five-state survey, which highlights the fact that legitimate patients with cold, cough and allergy symptoms still desire access to the drug.

The poll, conducted online for AAFA by Harris Poll between January 14 and 26, 2015, included 2,027 users of non-prescription medicine used to treat nasal allergies, asthma and or cold, cough or flu in Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and  even Missouri.

“The survey provides insight about patients’ behaviors regarding medication use and choice, as well as their attitudes regarding access and availability of safe and effective treatments,” said the foundation.

Amongst those using non-prescription medications to treat one or more medical condition:

  • Ninety-eight percent who had cold, cough and flu symptoms, and 88 percent of those living with nasal allergies, buy non-prescription medication to treat their ailments.
  • Sixty-five percent of those with cold, cough, flu symptoms or nasal allergies select a decongestant based on the brand that has worked for them.
  • More than 90 percent of patients with cold, cough, flu symptoms or nasal allergies feel it is important that their full-service pharmacy offer all of the safe and effective medications available on the market.

“The survey results are evidence that patients who need access to these medicines feel very strongly about access,” said Meryl Bloomrosen, AAFA’s Senior Vice President of Advocacy, Policy and Research. “A few states and localities have taken steps to impede people suffering from cough, cold and allergies from easily accessing the safe and effective FDA-approved therapies they rely on, and these places are greatly inconveniencing consumers. Patients and caregivers prefer to get medication for themselves and their families all at one store, and they deserve that right to access.”

Photo, below: Manufacturing conditions at a typical, underground meth lab.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Tolls and Taxation No Cure for Bad Rhode Island Bridges

July 14, 2015, 6:16 AM

Mount Hope Bridge. Photo by Doug Kerr.

Editor’s Note: This piece was also authored by Robert Paquin III, state government relations manager for The Heartland Institute.

In a state suffering from economic woes across the board, a recent proposal by Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) to install and implement a toll system for commercial trucks in order to pay for bridge repairs has passed in the Senate and is being held up in the House, surrounded by controversy.

The proposal, called RhodeWorks, if passed in its current form, would place a toll on both interstate and intrastate commercial vehicles. According to the Providence Journal, this toll would be added to as many as 22 bridges throughout the state, with a median cost of $6 per toll. Some estimates say it would cost many travelers an average of $50 to pass through the state.

Many local businesses in Rhode Island have been vocal in their opposition to this bill despite promises of tax credits, testifying before both chambers and making public appeals for a lifeline. Some local businesses threatened to move their business out of the state to avoid the financial burden.

R.I. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello (D-Cranston) says Raimondo’s $600 million transportation proposal will place too great of a burden on local businesses that are already stretched thin. He says he will not allow it to pass the House.

“You cannot move forward with a billion-dollar proposal without taking the concerns of your large businesses into account, and that’s what I’ve tried to do—and if that requires a little more time and it brings us into the fall, so be it,” Mattiello said, according to a report by WPRI.com’s Ted Nesi.

There is no doubt that the roads and bridges of Rhode Island need repair, but that money cannot come from the businesses that are the lifeblood of a struggling economy. Currently, Forbes ranks Rhode Island as the 46th least business friendly state in the United States, and the Tax Foundation recently ranked Rhode Island as having the 8th highest tax burden in the country—a figure that is staggering given the state’s tourism potential.

Attempting to tax the residents of Rhode Island to pay for repairs would be just too much for many businesses to handle. The idea that funding the majority of a massive $600 million project using tolls on trucking is foolish, as anyone on Smith Hill who takes the time to look at a map of the Interstate Highway System would realize.

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the nation, making it easy for transportation companies that currently travel through the state to avoid it altogether completely. Many businesses located in the state that conduct a lot of business in surrounding states would be further incentivized to leave Rhode Island if Raimondo’s toll plan is implemented.

Take Ocean State Job Lot, for instance. Its CEO Marc Perlman recently told WPRI.com that 85 percent of its business is done outside of Rhode Island. It would make a lot more sense for Ocean State Job Lot to move to Connecticut or Massachusetts, where many taxes are already lower, and only pay costly tolls on 15 percent of its business than to stay in Rhode Island and face increased costs on everything it sells.

Mattiello says he’d be open to increasing the state’s gas tax as a way to keep tolls to a minimum, but Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Newport) says taxing middle-income Rhode Islanders is not a realistic option.

While the House and Senate bicker over which ways of raising taxes are most preferable, perhaps they should consider that their out-of-control spending is the real culprit. According to Governing, Rhode Island collected $13.4 billion from fiscal years 2008–2012, while its New England neighbor New Hampshire was able to operate a more efficient government despite having a higher population and a much larger geographic area to cover on only $11.2 billion in tax revenues.

Funding for necessary bridge repairs should come out of the state budget, and room must be made for infrastructure repairs without burdening resident or corporate taxpayers. Lawmakers in Rhode Island would be wise to consider other alternatives so as not to push the state any further down in the national rankings, thereby driving businesses out of Rhode Island and disincentivizing any new businesses from moving into Rhode Island.

[Published in the Providence Journal] Mount Hope Bridge. Photo by Doug Kerr.

Categories: On the Blog

Ethanol and Biodiesel: Guilty as Charged

July 13, 2015, 5:34 PM

Bogus biofuel trading costs us millions – while the absurd biofuel program costs us billions

Two notorious crooks are helping us wrap up another sordid episode in the saga of the United States biofuel mandates, while further highlighting how bungled and long past its expiration date the program is.

Congress concocted the mandates over fears that US gasoline demand would rise forever and keep the United States dependent on foreign oil, as America’s supposedly limited reserves were depleted. The mandates currently require that we blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol with gasoline every year, and produce over a billion gallons of biodiesel. They hammer us consumers every time we fill our tanks.

Turning corn into ethanol requires vast amounts of land, fertilizers, pesticides, tractor and truck fuel, and natural gas for distillation. It enriches some farmers but raises animal feed prices and thus the cost of beef, pork, chicken, eggs, fish and international food aid. Biodiesel from restaurant waste oil makes some sense, but making it from palm oil or soybeans has similar negative ecological impacts.

The ethanol mandate encourages farmers to plow wildlife habitats and fallow fields to grow corn, releasing millions of tons of carbon dioxide. Ethanol gets one-third less mileage per gallon than gasoline, so motorists get fewer miles per tank and per dollar. It produces ozone, attracts water and corrodes car and small engine components, forcing us to spend billions on repairs.

The tale of Philip Joseph Rivkin (aka Felipe Poitan Arriaga) reveals an equally disgusting aspect of the mandate, resulting from the absurdly complex Renewable Identification Number (RIN) system devised by EPA bureaucrats. As Ron Arnold explains in our book, Cracking Big Green, EPA requires that every gallon of biofuel must also have its own unique 38-digit RIN. That’s billions of RINs per year!

“Dry” RIN paper credits are supposed to be associated with actual “wet” gallons of biofuel: corn-based ethanol, biomass-based diesel or nonexistent “advanced cellulosic” fuels. When fuels are not available, refiners can buy RINs from another party that was able to blend the fuel. This “tradable credits” market creates irresistible opportunities for “entrepreneurs” like Rivkin, whose Green Diesel company sold phony biodiesel RINs to oil companies and brokers.

Between 2011 and 2012, Rivkin sold $29 million worth of phony RINs, without producing a single gallon of anything. Secret Service agents arrested him last year in Houston, after he had been expelled from Guatemala, where he had falsely claimed to be a citizen. He plead guilty and now faces ten years in prison, millions of dollars in fines, and the forfeiture of his Lamborghini, Maserati, Canadair LTD plane, $29 million in cash, and an art collection valued in the millions.

His escapade copied what Rodney Hailey pulled off in Perry Hall, Maryland. He rented a garage, filled it with pipes, tanks and pumps (none connected to one another), registered his Clean Green Fuel company with EPA, put up a fancy website, and claimed he would produce 20 million gallons of biodiesel annually from recycled cooking oil. Through a network of traders, Hailey sold more than 32 million bogus RINs for $9 million, while still collecting unemployment.

Eventually, his fancy house, 20 luxury cars and lavish lifestyle attracted law enforcement. In 2013, he was sentenced to 12-1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $42 million in restitution: his sleazy profits plus what his victims had to pay for valid replacement RINs.

The good news is that Rivkin and Hailey will have to pay for their fraudulent actions. (How many other biofuel crooks have not been caught we have no way of knowing.) The bad news is that the RIN system is still in place, under a misguided federal law that benefits almost no one outside the biofuel industry. The worse news is that the cost of their fraud pales by comparison to the lies and fraud perpetrated by EPA and its climate crisis, clean energy and ultra-pure air allies.

Since the biofuel mandate was imposed in 2005 and expanded in 2007 under the Renewable Fuel Standard, it has sent billions of taxpayer and motorist dollars to corn farmers and ethanol producers. It has cost consumers countless billions in reduced mileage, higher food prices, and repairs to their cars, trucks, boats, snowmobiles, chain saws and other small engine equipment. The corn converted into biofuel each year is enough to feed 412 million malnourished people in African and other countries.

Antique autos and other older cars are not compatible with fuels containing ethanol, especially E15 (15% EtOH). Gaskets and other rubber parts can fail, causing fuel leaks and even engine failure or fires. On boats, fiberglass fuel tanks deteriorate and outboard motors can overheat and stop functioning. On airplanes – well you don’t want to ponder what happens when your engine stalls at 10,000 feet.

Many consumers – even corn farmers with older tractors – prefer straight gasoline, which is increasingly hard to find. Nevertheless, in 2014, straight gasoline accounted for almost 7% of total US gasoline sales, double the 3.4% of pure gasoline sold in 2012.

Meanwhile, worries about “peak oil” and “over-dependence” on foreign oil have nearly evaporated. Thanks to fracking and other advanced drilling technologies, the United States is now the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. As consumers drive less and invest in more fuel-efficient newer vehicles, gasoline demand is moderating, after peaking in 2007. And the other justification for ethanol, “dangerous manmade climate change,” is steadily being exposed as just another über-expensive ecological scare.

If consumers want “alternative fuels,” natural gas presents more viable, environmental, free-market, cost-competitive choices. Compressed into high-pressure tanks, it can (and already does) power cars, trucks, taxis and buses. Converted into methanol, our abundant natural gas would enable Detroit to build light, powerful, low-pollution, high octane engines that get better mileage than ethanol-tainted fuels. Existing cars can be converted into “flex-fuel” vehicles for less than $100 – and producing the natural gas and converting it into methanol involves minimal land impacts, no food price hikes and no harm to engines.

Biofuels are guilty as charged. They do to motorists, taxpayers and consumers what wars and riots do to cities. Justifying legislative mandates by saying they create jobs for a few corn growers, biofuel producers and engine repairmen is akin to claiming mobs and warfare foster employment for insurers, firemen, carpenters and window repair companies. The perverse logic also ignores jobs destroyed and businesses destroyed or relocated, and the far better ways our billions of dollars could have been spent.

Politicians, bureaucrats and eco-activists clearly care little about the coal mine workers and communities they have destroyed. Why should biofuel producers be more sacrosanct and protected – based on false claims that these fuels ensure emission reductions, “home-grown” energy supplies and climate stability?

The Renewable Fuel Standard and biofuel mandates do more harm than good. They have outlived their usefulness and should not merely be “fixed,” as some suggest, but scrapped entirely.

Americans should no longer be forced to prop up crony-corporatist biofuel companies and pay for expensive repairs under outdated congressional and EPA edicts.

Categories: On the Blog

The Other Nuclear Country

July 13, 2015, 4:16 PM

The fuel is now loaded into the reactor, following inspections, the switch will be flipped and, around August 10, the reactor will be fired up. Three days later, transmission of electricity is expected to start, ramping up to full power and commercial operation in September. The same process is expected to take place at a second reactor in September/October.

Despite public protest, Japan is going nuclear—again.

Following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that caused the severe accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor in northeastern Japan, all nuclear reactors were gradually switched off for inspections. No commercial reactor has been online in Japan for nearly two years. Due to safety concerns, the country’s nuclear power generation has been at a standstill. Meanwhile, new regulatory standards have been developed and reactors are undergoing inspections.

Prior to 2011, nuclear power provided nearly one third of Japan’s electricity. Lost power-generation capacity has been replaced by importing pricey fossil fuels. Japan has few natural resources of its own. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports: “Japan imports more than 90% of its fossil fuels, and is particularly dependent on the Middle East for oil and natural gas.”

The loss of nuclear power has, according to the CS Monitor, raised household utility bills in Japan by 20 percent. A survey of Japanese manufacturers, conducted by the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, found that increases in power rates represented the greatest burden for more than 40 percent of the 335 firms who responded, and that “chronic power outages” and further increases in power rates “would do serious damage to industries located in the Kansai region.” The WSJ confirms: “businesses say the rise in electricity costs without the nuclear reactors makes it harder to run a factory in Japan.”

The economic impact of shifting from nuclear power to imported fossil fuels is evident in Japan’s trade deficits. InOilPrice.com, John Manfreda sees a direct correlation. He says: “Before the Fukushima accident occurred, Japan’s economy was driven by its large trade surpluses, which it achieved year after year. However, since Fukushima, Japan reversed that trend, and began posting trade deficits on a yearly basis.”

Japan’s reliance on nuclear power began after OPEC’s 1973 oil embargo that caused a severe energy shortage and nearly derailed its economic progress. Manfreda reports: “When this embargo ended, Japan conducted a national energy study to find out how the country could implement an energy policy that would protect supplies from future embargoes and geopolitical turmoil. The ultimate conclusion of the study was that Japan needed to invest heavily in the use of nuclear power, which could supplant imported fossil fuels for electricity. After that study, the development of nuclear power was considered a national priority.”

Japan has, once again, reviewed its energy needs. The fourth Basic Energy Plan, approved in June 2015, concludes: “Nuclear power is an ‘important power source that supports the stability of our energy supply and demand structure.’” The plan increases nuclear from current levels by restarting most of the idle plants, while calling for an approximate 10 percent reduction from the pre-Fukushima level of 30 percent. WSJ adds: “Japan also plans to continue its use of coal, the cheapest of its energy imports. …Already this year, the nation’s utilities have announced the construction of seven new coal-fired power plants.”

Due to its need for power and its reliance on fossil fuels, Japan revised its emissions targets, saying, according to the New York Times: “it would release 3 percent more greenhouse gases in 2020 than it did in 1990, rather than the 6 percent cut it originally promised or the 25 percent reduction it promised two years before the 2011 nuclear accident.” In 2012, Japan opted out of a proposed U.N. Kyoto Protocol extension. WSJ reports: “The government’s energy plan also seeks to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, but doesn’t stop companies’ plans to spend billions of dollars on new plants powered by cheap coal from countries like Australia and the U.S.”

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) favors nuclear power because it is a “quasi-domestic source” (four of the world’s top six manufacturers of nuclear plant technology are Japanese or Japanese-owned). Addressing Japan’s plan,World Nuclear News states: nuclear power “gives stable power, operates inexpensively and has a low greenhouse gas profile.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government reportedly wants to operate as many nuclear plants as possible “to meet the nation’s energy needs and grow the economy.” Twenty-five reactors are seeking a restart.

The plant, fueled up on July 10 and scheduled to start commercial operation in September, is one of two reactors being restarted at the Sendai Nuclear Power Station, owned by Kyushu Electric Power Company. With all six of its reactors idle, Kyushu Electric has been “reeling from losses caused by hefty imported fossil fuel costs to run conventional power plants.” Likewise, Chubu Electric Power Company, according to the Japan Times, has applied to restart the Number 3 reactor at its Hamaoka nuclear plant and hopes to resume power generation as soon as possible “to reduce its reliance on expensive fossil fuels.”

“There is no greater issue for the health of the Japanese economy,” Robert Feldman, managing director of Morgan Stanley’s MUFG Securities Co., opined in WSJ, “than energy.” Echoing the sentiment, Masahiro Sakane, chairman of a panel sponsored by METI that has been debating the energy mix, said: “The most important thing is energy self-sufficiency.”

Regarding Japan’s energy plan, Makoto Yagi, Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan chairman, stated: “We believe that energy policy is a core policy of a nation and must be approached from a medium to long-term standpoint.”

Japan is restarting its nuclear program. Iran, supposedly, wants nuclear power. Driven by the need for clean reliable power, the need to bolster energy security, and reduce dependence on imported fuels, many other countries are pursuing nuclear power. Russia has eight reactors under construction—which will double its nuclear capacity.  China has 26 reactors in operation and 24 under construction and is now building identical power plants that allow for cost efficiencies that come with mass production. Many new plants, such as the reactors being built in the U.S., utilize “third-generation designs that improve safety and cut costs,” E&E News reports. Fourth-generation reactors, which use different coolants and fuels, are in the proposal stages.

The lesson is here is less about nuclear power and more about the need for energy that is cost-effective, reliable, and secure.

In a country like Japan, with limited natural resources, nuclear power meets the need. In the U.S., where we are rich in coal, oil, natural gas and uranium (the fuel for nuclear power), we have more options and should select the energy source that is right for specific needs and locales. As Japan has learned, energy is one of the most important components of the economy and expensive energy has hurt it.

Japan has an energy plan that is a “core policy” of the nation. In the U.S., instead of having an energy policy, we continue to drive up costs by regulating away our energy advantage and throwing money at expensive renewable energy—with the Clean Power Plan ignoring new nuclear. It is time for America to really evaluate our energy needs and maximize our advantage.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – William Freeland: Puerto Rico’s Financial Mess

July 13, 2015, 3:20 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Jesse Hathaway, managing editor of Budget & Tax News speaks with William Freeland. Freeland is a research analyst with the American Legislative Exchange Council. Freeland joins Hathaway to discuss Puerto Rico’s growing financial crisis.

Puerto Rico, a beautiful country, currently finds itself in an ugly mess. Freeland explains how federal regulations and bad economic policies caused the territory’s problems. Freeland also explains that amending federal Chapter 9 bankruptcy rules to allow states and territories may not be as crazy as it sounds, and how Puerto Rico’s economic woes will affect investors here in the mainland.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Sen. Mark Kirk Flip-Flops on ‘Climate Change’ Once Again?

July 13, 2015, 12:47 PM

He was for it, before he was against it. But now, apparently, he’s for it once again. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today sent an e-mail to his constituents touting the fact that the”Merkley-Kirk amendment” he co-sponsored to tackle “climate change” has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee by a 16-14 vote.

Earlier this year, The Hill and The Chicago Tribune both reported that Kirk changed his mind, and did not believe the global warming hypothesis put forth by the global Left.

“I am writing to let you know that this week we demonstrated more bipartisan support for reducing the effects of climate change around the world.  The Merkley-Kirk amendment passed the Senate Appropriations Committee approved by a bipartisan vote of 16 to 14 to fund global discussions on clean energy technologies and renewable energy production,” writes Kirk. “We have a responsibility to protect our planet and preserve our natural resources to ensure a safe and clean environment for our generations to come.”

Kirk was associated with the “cap and trade” plan put forth by President Obama some years ago, when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Perhaps the journal Nature will now write a glowing article about Sen. Kirk, as it did about Sen. Graham, the other week, when the South Carolinian said the GOP should have an environmental policy.  Kirk and Graham appear to be the only members of the GOP environmental caucus in the Senate.

 

Sen. Mark Kirk sent an e-mail to Illinoisans on a “bipartisan” amendment he offered on climate change in the Senate.

Categories: On the Blog

Health Insurance Premiums Soar, Obama Denies Culpability

July 13, 2015, 10:07 AM

Premiums are soaring for health insurance across the U.S., and in some cases are rising 60%, according to an article published on Friday, and headlined, The Unaffordable Care Act in The Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ states insurance companies are currently reporting rates to state regulators for their inclusion as part of the ObamaCare exchanges in 2016.

“Even liberals are shocked at the double-digit requests, or at least the honest liberals are. Under ObamaCare, year-over-year premium increases above 10% must also be justified to the Health and Human Services Department, and its data base lists about 650 such cases so far,” reports the paper. “In a study across 45 states, the research outfit Health Pocket reports that mid-level Exclusive Provider Organization plans are 20% more expensive in 2016 on average. HMOs are 19% more expensive, and for all plan types the average is 14%.”

President Obama, during a trip to Nashville last week claimed Tennessee is a state where “the law has worked better than we expected” and has “actually ended up costing less than people expected.”

To be charitable, this President’s defense mechanisms would shock even a psychiatrist as experienced as Sigmund Freud.

“Let’s test the reality of those claims,” the WSJ writes. “As a baseline, in 2015 premium increases for Tennessee plans ranged from 7.5% to 19.1%.”

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is requesting from regulators a 36.3% premium increase. Another insurance offering from Community Health Alliance Mutual, also in Tennessee, is rising 32.8%, while yet another from Time Insurance Co. comes in at a 46.9% increase.

The demographic data gathered by the insurance companies shows exactly why this is so. Patients signing up for Obamacare appear to be older than forecast by the feds and have chronic conditions like diabetes or congestive heart failure. But Obamacare — or SCOTUScare, in the words of Justice Scalia — prohibits discriminating against the ill for their pre-existing conditions. So it charges everyone more to make up for the loss.

Obamacare is a bust. And it does not take a Freudian analysis to see that.

Categories: On the Blog

Rhode Island Stadium Game a Loser for Taxpayers

July 13, 2015, 9:50 AM

RI State House. Photo by Will Hart.

Editor’s Note: This story was also written by Robert Paquin III.

The storied history of the much-beloved Pawtucket Red Sox, affectionately called the PawSox by locals, has led many Rhode Islanders to support a recent proposal by the team’s new ownership group to build a new stadium in Providence, the state’s capital. But despite the economic advantages of having the PawSox stay in the Ocean State, publicly funded stadiums have traditionally been a poor investment for taxpayers and a boon to wealthy team owners.

Following a dismal 1976 season for the Pawtucket Red Sox, few thought the team would stay in Rhode Island. The franchise was essentially bankrupt, stadium attendance was virtually non-existent, and no one expected the struggling team to ever capture the attention of the fans in the region again.

The once popular Red Sox was on its way out for good until an unlikely hero emerged in new owner Ben Mondor, a Canadian immigrant whose first impression of the team’s 1940s-era McCoy Stadium was famously, “What a dump.”

Mondor stuck beside the team as it struggled with its attendance through the 1980s, but in 1998 everything changed. McCoy Stadium underwent serious and much-needed renovations, and Rhode Islanders responded by filling the stadium unlike anything the team had ever experienced in its history. Throughout the early to mid 2000s, the team routinely finished toward the top of the league in attendance and broke its own attendance record three separate times, spurred on by the exploding popularity of Pawtucket’s Major League Baseball affiliate, the Boston Red Sox.

The PawSox’ historic ties with Rhode Island and the success of the big-league Red Sox make a new stadium for the PawSox a viable financial investment. By their own estimates, the PawSox say a new stadium in Providence would generate more than $12 million annually in economic activity, much of that going directly to the team. So why then are the multimillionaire owners asking Rhode Islanders to pay more than $4 million per year for 30 years to prevent the team from leaving?

The PawSox owners, as owners often do in these situations, say the deal is more than fair. They project paying the state back between $2 million and $3 million in taxes each year, and they say the new ballpark will infuse the region with desperately needed economic development.

Not everyone agrees.

Victor Matheson, an economist from the College of the Holy Cross, estimates the 100 jobs the stadium is projected to provide would cost $80,000 each under the owners’ proposal, an absurd sum of money considering many of those employees will be making far less than $20 per hour and will work less than half the year.

Mike Stenhouse, a former Boston Red Sox outfielder and the CEO of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity, says a deal between taxpayers and the PawSox is possible, but only under the right conditions.

“In order to make this work we must ensure the deal requires no new spending from the state budget and taxpayers must not be responsible for any potential shortfall,” said Stenhouse. “The upside potential of this deal must be shared by both parties in the form of team revenue, parking revenue, etc. … and finally the state must hold an out-clause in the event the team doesn’t perform as projected.”

History has shown, however, that any investment on the part of taxpayers for the building of sports arenas may do nothing more than line the pockets of already extremely wealthy owners.

In a report conducted by the Reason Public Policy Institute, authors Samuel Staley and Leonard Gilroy say the majority of research on the economic effects of stadium constructionhas found no link between the new facilities and job or income growth, suggesting taxpayers may be better off letting teams relocate.

“While a downtown stadium is a nice idea, I will resist any proposal that puts the People’s treasure on the hook for a speculative venture that funnels all the profits into the pockets of the PawSox’ owners,” said RI state Rep. Blake A. Filippi (I-Block Island). “Public risk with private gain is the very definition of crony corporatism, and we must reject these voodoo economics.”

[Published in the Boston Herald]

RI State House. Photo by Will Hart. 

Categories: On the Blog

Did Obama Cover Up Real Reason for Obamacare Website Crash?

July 13, 2015, 9:39 AM

The launch of HealthCare.gov, the federal government’s online health insurance marketplace, in October 2013 was a complete disaster, a reality even the most ardent supporters of Obamacare admit. There were multiple site crashes, long waiting times for anxious consumers, and one delay after another.

Nearly two years after its failed launch, there still remain more questions than answers, but perhaps the recent King v. Burwell case has subtly lifted the veil on the real reason for the crash.

Then-Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius emphatically denied Obama knew anything about the website’s obvious flaws prior to the botched launch of the site. Republicans sharply criticized Sebelius and the Obama administration, and many GOP leaders questioned both Obama’s truthfulness and his competence.

“Either Secretary Sebelius is lying to protect President Obama or the president needs to get control of his signature health care law,” said Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

After months of congressional investigations and Sebelius’ eventual resignation, the pursuit of the truth about the website disaster eventually faded away, and Congress and the media moved on to more pressing matters.

It’s still unclear why, after countless wasted tax dollars and more than three full years to build the site after Obamacare’s passage in 2010, the government failed to produce a working website that could accomplish the simple task of selling health insurance policies.

At the time of the HealthCare.gov crash, Obama’s media spin doctors insisted the site’s failure was caused by “extremely high” traffic, as Sebelius reiterated in an interview with CNN’s Sanjay Gupta. According to Sebelius, nearly 20 million people visited the site in just the first three weeks, a volume site designers simply weren’t prepared for.

This excuse, repeated countless times by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and others, makes little sense upon close examination. If the Obama administration expected its signature program to be successful, why wouldn’t nearly 20 million people visit the site? Shouldn’t HealthCare.gov’s designers have been prepared for the possibility a good many of the more than 30 million people who were said to be without health insurance could visit the site within the first few weeks?

Many have chalked this blunder up to just another failure of big government, but I think a much more logical explanation explains the website’s failure—and it has to do with cases such as King v. Burwell.

When the website crashed in 2013, numerous legal cases had the potential to end in disaster for Obama’s most important piece of legislation. One of the most ominous objections to Obamacare, presented by the plaintiffs in King, was that although its plain language seemed to indicate subsidies were available only to those who purchase health insurance from state-established exchanges, the Obama administration was providing subsidies to individuals through the federal health insurance marketplace as well.

The defense employed by the Obama administration against the claim that such an action violated the obvious mandates in the Obamacare legislation had to be that the language referring to the “states” was vague and open to interpretation. The real intent of the law, the Obama administration insisted, was for the subsidies to be available to everyone, regardless of which exchange health insurance was purchased in.

This helps explain the obvious flaws of the HealthCare.gov website.

If the Obama administration, at the time of the passage of Obamacare, expected most states to establish their own exchanges because it knew that’s what the law required in order to gain access to the subsidies, it makes sense the federal website wasn’t designed with 20 million visitors in mind. Nearly every state would presumably have its own marketplace and dedicated website, so traffic to the federal exchange would be limited.

At the time of the HealthCare.gov crash, and in the months leading up to it, many states refused to establish their own exchanges, which meant the federal site would have to handle a much greater volume than was originally expected. At that point the Obama administration would have had to make a difficult choice: Either recognize HealthCare.gov would likely be overwhelmed and admit it had not expected many states to rely on the federal exchange, or it could pretend the inevitable rollout failure was simply a flaw in the website’s design and take the heat for being ill-prepared.

Allowing itself to look incompetent was a political risk, to be sure, but the administration absolutely could not acknowledge it had expected the states to establish their own exchanges with their own websites. Such an admission would indicate the administration knew the law compelled states to create their own exchanges in order to have access to needed federal subsidies, the very argument Obama would later reject in King.

Although it doesn’t prove the case, the billowing smoke behind this fire is more conspicuous than ever: The HealthCare.gov website was never intended to handle the millions of people who eventually tried to use it, because the plan had always been, as Obamacare clearly lays out, for the states to create their own exchanges rather than rely on the federal government—just as the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell argued.

[Originally published at The Blaze]

Categories: On the Blog

Climate Concern is Mis-directed

July 13, 2015, 9:15 AM

“Climate” is formally the thirty year “average” of weather. Climate is what we expect, on average – weather is what we actually get.

It is true that atmospheric conditions (dust, smoke, smog, aerosols, aircraft contrails, clouds and trace gases) can affect Earth’s weather. But none of these minor atmospheric constituents can generate energy – they merely filter, reflect, transfer or redirect a portion of solar energy. The effects of any changes tend to be short-lived, or reversed as the atmosphere clears; or they often trigger negative feedbacks that largely offset the initial effect. In particular, carbon dioxide does not drive the weather. No weather forecaster notes what tomorrow’s level of CO2 is likely to be, and no farmer wonders what it will be next spring.

The sun is the short-term weather wizard. It clearly controls the changing temperatures of day and night, winter and summer; it energises the atmosphere to give the power to storms and cyclones; together with the Moon it produces tides and gyres and their changing cycles drive weather cycles on Earth. Meteorologists, long-range forecasters who study solar and planetary phases, and many intelligent farmers are best placed to forecast weather. The carbon-centric model predictions have failed dismally, suggesting strongly that carbon dioxide does not control weather.

Does CO2 drive significant climate change?

Earth currently basks in a benign climate interval, an interglacial warm period punctuated by occasional “Little Ice Ages” and between long periodic species-destroying eras of ice. As recently as twelve thousand years ago, large parts of Earth’s surface were covered by ice sheets up to 3km thick. Many species of mega-fauna disappeared suddenly in this cataclysm.

Global warming has never been a threat to Earth’s inhabitants, even with temperatures several degrees above those of this modern warm era. The real danger to life on Earth is global cooling, and its big brother, Snow-ball Earth.

Studies of sun-spots and other solar variables suggest that a “Little Ice Age” is probably caused by solar variations. If solar activity decreases, two things happen. Firstly, Earth’s surface cools because of the reduced solar radiation. Secondly, the sun’s magnetic shield also weakens, allowing more cosmic rays to strike the atmosphere, thus creating more nuclei for cloud generation. The extra cloud cover adds to the cooling trend by shading the surface and reflecting more solar radiation. Those who study solar cycles are already warning that Earth is facing the likely onset of a modern “Little Ice Age”.

Intuition tells us that all we need for a “Big Ice Age” is sustained cold on Earth’s surface. This would indeed strip most of the moisture out of the atmosphere as rain, hail and snow; freeze lakes and rivers; produce cold dry deserts; and create growing fringes of sea-ice in previously temperate latitudes. But cold alone will not create thick continents of ice from coast to coast. To create massive ice sheets, energy is needed to evaporate a huge volume of water from the oceans which is then condensed in the cold atmosphere and added to the growing ice sheets.

Some ice ages also start suddenly. Millions of mammoths and other mega-fauna were buried in hail which was so sudden and sustained that their un-decomposed carcasses are still being excavated from their icy tombs.

For large ice sheets to grow quickly on land two things are required – warm seas to evaporate billions of tons of water from the oceans, and a frigid atmosphere over land to quickly turn that moisture into continental rain, snow and ice. As cloud cover increases, and snow falls in increasing amounts, the white snowy surface reflects more solar energy back into space, maintaining the cold atmosphere despite the expulsion of large quantities of two “greenhouse” gases (water vapour and carbon dioxide) from the warm ocean into the atmosphere.

To plunge Earth suddenly into a sustained “Big Ice Age” thus requires huge amounts of energy to heat the seas while not warming the atmosphere – neither solar energy nor any greenhouse gas can do this. Geothermal energy from widespread undersea volcanism is the most likely agent.

Ocean research reveals that long strips of molten crustal rocks are periodically exposed by Earth movements along faulted trenches in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Like kettles on the stove, the oceans above these “Belts of Fire” get hot, releasing water vapour and carbon dioxide gases. A cold cloudy atmosphere completes the conveyor belt, condensing water and soluble gases from the atmosphere to produce fast-growing snow fields and ice sheets.

There is abundant evidence in the geological record that many geological eras end with massive earth movements, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, a sudden ice age and widespread extinction of many species. These eras of intense volcanism and earth movements appear to be triggered by magnetic reversals on Earth which result from electro-magnetic disturbances from the Cosmos.

Minor eruptions from undersea volcanoes can change ocean temperatures and currents, and produce weather disrupters such as El Nino. Huge eruptions (or large meteor impacts) can trigger earthquakes, global veils of dust and aerosols, tidal waves or even a new ice age.

Retreat of the ice sheets requires a reversal of the water-ice conveyor belt – melt the ice, evaporate the water and condense the moisture back into now cooling oceans. Only continental volcanism, maybe assisted by warming solar cycles, can cause the often-fast retreat of the ice sheets.

To make these dramatic/alarming changes to Earth’s climate requires far more energy than humans or traces of non-combustible gases in the atmosphere can provide.

Water vapour is by far the most important greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide is a bit player), but neither of these gases can warm Earth out of an ice age. A cold atmosphere has limited ability to hold these greenhouse gases – water vapour condenses in the cold air and is lost as rain and snow; carbon dioxide is lost by dissolving in the cold water and then gets trapped in the ice sheets. The sparse greenhouse gases that remain in a cold atmosphere are powerless to break the grip of the ice. It needs agencies which provide real energy into the system (such as the sun or geothermal heat).

Carbon dioxide does not drive weather, or climate, or the icy extinctions – it varies mainly as a result, not the cause, of past temperature changes. Its great role in the global scheme is to feed the biosphere. To spend money trying to interfere with the carbon cycle is foolish; to try to bury carbon dioxide is a crime against the biosphere.

Instead of wasting vast amounts of money on useless climate models and futile attempts to reduce the atmospheric content of a benign and beneficial gas like carbon dioxide, we should redirect climate research funds into studying the cycles of ice ages, submarine volcanism, magnetic reversals, solar activity and comets – one of these is more likely to cause our next climate catastrophe. Meteorologists, astro-physicists, geologists and cycles analysts, not government-directed carbon-centric climate modellers, are best placed to forecast future trends in climates.

Categories: On the Blog

Obama and EPA Imperil Minority Welfare

July 13, 2015, 9:05 AM

“Clean Power Plan” would bring imaginary benefits – and real health and welfare damage

Paul Driessen and Roger Bezdek

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency and environmental activists frequently claim that climate change will disproportionately affect poor and minority communities. In their view, this justifies unprecedented environmental regulations, like EPA’s pending “Clean Power Plan” (CPP) to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas-fueled power plants 30% by 2030.

But what effect will the regulation itself have on poor and minority communities?

The plan will result in higher electricity costs for businesses and families, lost jobs, lower incomes, higher poverty rates, reduced living standards, and diminished health and welfare, our exhaustive recent study found. This damage will be inflicted at the national level and in all 50 states. The CPP will impact all low-income groups, but hit America’s 128 million Blacks and Hispanics especially hard.

The EPA rules will: 1) more than double the cost of natural gas and electricity, adding over $1 trillion to family and business energy bills; 2) require average families to pay $1,225 more in inflation-adjusted dollars for power and gas in 2030 than in 2012; 3) destroy millions of jobs in companies and industries that can no longer compete, here or internationally; and 4) significantly reduce U.S. economic growth every year for the next two decades, causing more than $2.3 trillion in total lost gross domestic product.

Compared to whites, blacks and Hispanics already spend 50% and 10% more of their incomes on utilities, respectively, 20% and 90% more on food, and 10% and 5% more on housing. The EPA regulations will significantly increase the minority family “energy burden” – the percentage of annual household incomes they must pay for residential energy bills – and thus the number of families driven into energy poverty. Inability to pay energy bills is second only to inability to pay rent as the leading cause of homelessness, so increasing numbers of poor and minority families will become homeless.

Black and Hispanic household incomes will decline by increasing amounts every year, while their food and healthcare costs will climb significantly, since those business sectors will also have to pay much more for energy. The poverty rate will increase by more than 23% for blacks and more than 26% for Hispanics.

EPA’s rule will force poor and minority families to choose between buying food, putting gas in the car, going to the doctor, buying medicines, giving to their church, saving for retirement, or making mortgage, rent and car payments. Small businesses will have to find thousands more just to keep the heat, lights and air conditioning on, without laying people off or closing their doors. Factories, malls, school districts, hospitals and cities will have to pay millions more for energy.

By 2035, cumulative job losses resulting from the rule will total 7 million for blacks and 12 million for Hispanics. Most of these losses will occur in localities where blacks and Hispanics are most heavily concentrated. The rule will especially harm residents of seven states with the highest concentrations of blacks and Hispanics: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York and Texas.

Entire communities could sink into poverty. Bread winners lucky enough to find work will be forced to take multiple jobs, commute longer distances, and suffer severe sleep deprivation. Families will have to cope with more stress, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal and child abuse. Nutrition and medical care will suffer. More people will have strokes and heart attacks.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) bluntly summed up the effects of EPA’s “clean power” rules. “A lot of people on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum are going to die,” he said.

Ironically, these are the very people that Obama and EPA claim to care about the most. As African-American author and news analyst Deneen Borelli observes, President Obama “is rewarding his overwhelming support by black voters with an energy policy that will significantly reduce their disposable income.” Indeed, she says, climate change is “the green movement’s new Jim Crow law.”

National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford accurately called EPA’s carbon dioxide regulation “a slap in the face to poor and minority families.”

Blacks and Hispanics work hard to provide better futures for their children. The EPA regulations will push the American dream even further out of reach for them. Their incomes will be less, their unemployment rates will increase substantially, and it will take those who are out of work longer to find another job. Blacks and Hispanics are often the “last hired and the first fired.”

These are real impacts. However, EPA refuses to consider them, much less tabulate them and compare them to supposed regulatory benefits. It won’t even acknowledge that the health and climate risks that its costly regulations will allegedly prevent are in fact speculative, exaggerated and even fabricated.

For almost 20 years, average planetary temperatures have barely budged, even as carbon dioxide levels “soared” from 0.03% all the way to 0.04% of Earth’s atmosphere. No category 3-5 hurricane has hit the United States for a record 9-1/2 years. Tornadoes, floods, droughts, polar bears, polar ice, sea levels and wildfires are all in line with, or better than, historic patterns and trends. Meanwhile, the Sahel is green again, thanks to that extra plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide, without which life on Earth would end.

Moreover, even if CO2 does drive climate change, slashing US greenhouse gas emissions would bring no benefits, since China, India and other developing nations will not be reducing their enormous emissions.

Other EPA rules are equally suspect. Its mercury regs are based on an imaginary group of US women who catch and eat 300 pounds of fish annually – and whose children would supposedly improve their IQs by an un-measurable 0.00209 points if coal-fired power plants are shut down. As to soot, EPA’s illegal experiments on 296 people found that even “dangerous” or “lethal” exposures harmed no one.

Our air is clean. We don’t need these job-killing, health-impairing EPA regulations. But our governing elites will not give up their power or perks – or their propensity for playing with people’s livelihoods, living standards, health and well-being, for virtually no climate stability, air quality or other benefits.

The good news is that all of this is not inevitable. A recent Supreme Court decision held that EPA should have considered these and other enormous costs from its “mercury and air toxics” regulations, before imposing the rules. The decision should give governors and federal and state lawmakers every incentive to resist EPA’s harmful and dictatorial actions, and not wait for the CPP regulation to go into effect.

A dozen states have already sued EPA over its Clean Power Plan, which is opposed by experts on both sides of the aisle – and even noted liberal constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe. Other states should join the suit, demand a full accounting of regulatory costs, and simply refuse to implement the plan.

As currently written, the regulation calls on unelected state environmental agencies to draft their own state plans and submit them directly to EPA for review and approval. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has signed an executive order blocking her state’s environmental agency from submitting a plan. Other states have introduced legislation to the same effect. More should follow them into battle.

The grim reality is that the EPA wants states to do their dirty work for them.  By submitting a plan, states will become complicit in the agency’s plan to shut down affordable, reliable power generation, destroy jobs and livelihoods, and plunge minority families deeper into poverty, hardship and ill health.

For the sake of their constituents, elected officials in Washington and state capitals have an obligation to fight this federal takeover of state authority. They should act soon. EPA is scheduled to release its final regulation in August, initiating a one-year period before states will be forced to comply.

As this deadline approaches, our elected officials should determine how best to confront – and resist – EPA’s latest power grab. They should remember that the jobs, economic well-being, health and very lives of millions of minority and blue-collar families hang in the balance.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine. Dr. Roger Bezdek is an internationally recognized energy analyst and president of Management Information Services, Inc., in Washington, DC (www.MISI-net.com).

Categories: On the Blog

Groups Fight Bureaucracy Over Endangered Bird That Was Never in Danger

July 11, 2015, 9:07 PM

The golden-cheeked warbler. Not endangered.

Bad science and corrupt bureaucrats turned a beautiful migratory songbird that nests only in Texas into a 1990s terror that good science and concerned citizens are now fighting to exonerate.

The songbird is the golden-cheeked warbler and the fear it instills comes from its status as an endangered species protected by a bureaucracy that confiscates property, bankrupts businesses and imprisons decent people – and we now know that the warbler was never endangered at all.

A coalition of three groups, Texans for Positive Economic Policy, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Reason Foundation, hand-delivered a petition to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) offices in Washington, DC, requesting that the warbler be removed from the endangered list, citing verified scientific evidence of ample populations and abundant habitat.

The official story is that the golden-cheeked warbler was erroneously believed to be rapidly going extinct when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed it under the Endangered Species Act in 1990 on an emergency basis. The FWS claimed the warbler’s best breeding habitat was primarily in the mature juniper nesting trees of the Hill Country that spreads westward from the outskirts of Austin, a bungled guess based on outmoded 10-year-old satellite mapping and an unverified 14-year-old study of warbler density.

The details are not so innocent: the golden-cheeked warbler listing petition was a handwritten document dated February 1, 1990, signed “Timothy Jones, Earth First!” (the vandalism-and-arson radical group). The petition wasn’t challenged by the FWS addressee, Alisa Shall, Wildlife Biologist, or anyone else in the agency. The warbler was simply listed upon Jones’ request.

The listed warbler instantly became a weapon for the FWS to restrict landowners’ use of their property and even jeopardized military training. And some federal officials frightened landowners into selling at panic prices to environmental groups.

Margaret Rodgers, an elderly lady who owned a ranch west of Austin, was clearing a fencerow of invading young junipers so she could rebuild the fence they were pushing down so badly that her livestock got out – a familiar problem to Hill Country ranchers. An informer told FWS Field Supervisor Robert M. Short, who wrote to Mrs. Rodgers in December 1990, that her property “supports prime habitat for the federally-listed endangered golden-cheeked warbler,” and threatened her with criminal and civil penalties for cutting the 6-foot high junipers (hardly “prime habitat”): “Section 11(b)(1) provides for a fine of not more than $50,000 or imprisonment up to one year, or both.”

Mrs. Rodgers immediately warned fellow ranchers of Short’s threat and something odd: The Nature Conservancy had already bought out adjoining parcels of the ranch owned by relatives, and she had just refused a lowball offer from the Conservancy to buy her land. Nobody believed that the timing of the Nature Conservancy’s offer and Field Supervisor Short’s letter were coincidence.

Brian Seasholes, director of Reason Foundation’s Endangered Species Project and part of the effort to save the golden-cheeked warbler from its fearsome status, has new, thorough, and accurate data that indicates the warbler’s habitat and population are much greater than the FWS believed in 1990.

Seaholes wrote in the Daily Caller that “a number of peer-reviewed studies published in the early 2010s, primarily by researchers at Texas A & M University, document that compared to 1990 the warbler’s population is nineteen times larger, breeding habitat is five times larger and much more widely distributed, and the warbler can breed in a much wider range of habitat types.”

He believes that “all of this scientific research is a slam dunk because there is no basis for keeping the warbler listed under the Endangered Species Act.”

But bureaucrats don’t willingly surrender their power, and Seasholes sees “strong indications” that the Fish and Wildlife Service will “try to fight reality in order to keep the warbler listed,” and, of course, to keep their bullying authority intact.

The Washington, D.C.-based Marzulla Law Firm, arguably the premiere property rights law firm in the nation, was the clear and obvious choice to put together the petition to delist the golden cheeked warbler.

Robert Henneke, director of the Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation says, “we consider state and local conservation efforts as being of greater benefit to the warbler and that continued ESA regulation can impede voluntary and local conservation efforts.”

One of the petitioners, Susan Combs, is a fourth generation Texan with astonishing experience, having served as a state representative, agriculture commissioner, and most recently, as state comptroller for public accounts. Combs has devoted her career to Endangered Species Act issues, heading the state task force on endangered species.

This is a formidable coalition backed with formidable scientific and legal talent, all up against a formidable bureaucracy more interested in its own power than the welfare of the nature it is charged to protect.

Categories: On the Blog

Democrats Want Big Government Crony Socialism – Why Are Some Republicans Giving It to Them?

July 10, 2015, 4:21 PM

Look, we get why Democrats want to use the giant-ness of the federal government to punish their enemies and reward their friends. Crony Socialism is in their ideological DNA. And they grow government as huge as possible – to then have the largest possible weapon to wield.

But why would Republicans help them with any of this? They are (allegedly) the Less Government Party. The side representing the Little Guys against the Bigs – Big Government and Big Cronyism. As the late, inordinately great Ronald Reagan observed:

You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.

But more and more Republicans look less and less like what they pledge to be.

The examples are now, sadly, myriad. To cite but one huge one: There are 93+ million Little Guys out of the U.S. workforce. Unable to find a gig – or out so long and so discouraged that they have given up even looking.

Why then are so many Republicans joining with Big Government Democrats in calling for amnesty for 11-20 million (or more) illegal aliens – here taking jobs and driving down wages? Because Republican-dictating Big Cronies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce want it.

Big Government means Big Cronies trump the Little Guys.

And so it is yet again – with Republicans bizarrely leading the charge.

Judiciary Committee Approves Goodlatte Patent Bill by Overwhelming, Bipartisan Vote

House Judiciary Committee Chairman and chief sponsor of the Innovation Act Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) praised today’s Committee vote.  

With this, Republicans are helping perhaps the biggest Big Crony of them all. A Crony that has almost always sided – with Democrats. It’s mega-company Google – and they are licking their chops.

Google Public Policy Blog: Patent Reform Needed More Than Ever

Posted by Michelle Lee, Head of Patents and Patent Strategy.

Michelle Lee – that name sounds familiar….

Former Google Exec Michelle Lee To Head Up U.S. Patent Office

Of course. Why did President Barack Obama have Lee and Google so exquisitely positioned at the forefront of his mind?

Google Makes Most of Close Ties to White House

Search giant averages a White House meeting a week during Obama administration.

Of course. All of which certainly helps explain this:

Obama Urges Patent Reform

Google Leverages Patent Reform for Crony Ends 

Patent Reform Bill Is The Law According To Google

Google has been of massive assistance – to President Obama.

Google ‘Second Biggest Donor’ to Obama, Has Too Much Power

Barack Obama and Google – Crony Socialism on Steroids

Currently in Power – The Google Administration

Google is Very Tight with the Obama Administration

Google’s Incestuous Ties with the Obama Administration

Obama & Google (A Love Story)

Google has been of massive assistance – to Democrats.

Google Now an Arm of the Democratic Party?

Google: The Democrats’ Private Intelligence Agency

Google and Democrats Deny That Google Is Helping Democrats

Google’s Washington Influence Is Spreading, Some Say Too Much

So why on Earth are Congressional Republicans leading the charge to help Democrat Big Crony Google?

Google Learns Its Democratic Political Ties Have Bounds

Google Has Gone Republican

Google’s Political Action Committee (PAC) donated 55% of its money to Republican candidates between July and October (2010), The Hill reports. (Democrats got the rest.)

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

Google has upped their Republican donations – all they way to Democrat parity. And presto – we now miraculously have this bipartisan, terribly bad, Big Government patent “reform” bill. That Big Crony Google loves.

Who doesn’t love it? The Little Guys.

Small Inventors Raise Patent Reform Concerns

‘Patent Reform’ Will Keep Small Business Inventions From Being Commercialized

Small-Time Inventors Cry Foul On Patent Changes

Patent reform will give too much power to big companies….

I think Google qualifies as a “big company.” Don’t you?

Google Market Cap As of May 2015 – $367.6 Billion

So on whose side will Republicans be?

The biggest Big Government Big Cronies of them all? Or the Little Guys?

Categories: On the Blog