Democrats’ attempts to paralyze climate skeptics in academia, think tanks, and companies, using intimidating letters threatening a federal investigation into their funding connections, backfired. They opened a Pandora’s Box of questions concerning where climate alarmists get their money. Now Democrat Senators Barbara Boxer (CA), Ed Markey (MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Democrat Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva have egg on their faces.
Public-choice economics explains politicians and bureaucrats are as self-interested as anyone. They seek expanded authority and bigger budgets. Because the federal government and left-wing foundations provide the vast bulk of climate research funding, funding from these two sources certainly should undergo at least as much scrutiny as funding from private industry.
Nearly all university-based climate scientists are funded mainly by federal grants, and the ideological and political goals of those authorizing the grants could reasonably be expected to affect the kind of research universities and researchers undertake. The conflict between gaining research money and scientific integrity puts sound but nonconformist science at a crushing disadvantage.
Michael Mann, Pennsylvania State University’s notorious ClimateGate email scandal figure, has garnered close to $6 million promoting scary scientific conclusions serving government’s goal of control over energy sources, $3.6 million of it from the National Science Foundation. Both PSU and the NSF conducted investigations absolving Mann of any wrongdoing in ClimateGate, but with the offending institutions effectively investigating one of their own, would anyone expect a different outcome?
Influence, Conflicts of Interest
Princeton professor Michael Oppenheimer has written more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and testified before Congress on multiple occasions. He was the Environmental Defense Fund’s senior scientist (1981-2002) and remains as science advisor to the multimillion-dollar lobbying group (2013 assets: $208.7 million). EDF has received $2.8 million in federal grants since 2008, spent $11.3 million on lobbying, and has 55 people on 32 federal advisory committees.
Since 2008, EDF has received 3,332 grants from 600 foundations, totaling $544,487,562. EDF is deeply rooted in left-wing foundation agendas. Oppenheimer’s professorship is supported in part by private equity tycoon Carl Ferenbach’s High Meadows Foundation, which has given Princeton $6.5 million and the Environmental Defense Fund $6 million. Ferenbach is both EDF’s Chairman of the Board and a trustee of Princeton, suggesting a strong conflict of interest.
The proudly progressive Center for American Progress (CAP) has five people on federal advisory committees, spent $3.6 million on lobbying, and gave $312,400 to Democrat candidates in 2014. CAP Senior Fellow and Chief Science Advisor Joe Romm has testified before Congress on global warming and coauthored numerous peer-reviewed studies. Yet Romm failed to file conflict-of-interest disclosures for an article in Environmental Research Letters although the journal explicitly requires it.
Since 2004, CAP has been supported by left-wing foundations including Marilsa (Getty Oil fortune, $7 million), Rockefeller (Standard Oil fortune, $5 million), Sea Change (ties to Russian oil money laundering, $4.8 million), and 200 other left-wing foundations.
Government and foundation monies go only toward research advancing a pro-regulatory climate agenda. That is the greatest threat to the integrity of scientific research.
If you don’t visit Somewhat Reasonable and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! The Heartland Weekly Email is here for you everyFridaywith a highlight show.
Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.Sen. Harry Reid Retires Amidst Green Energy Scandal
H. Sterling Burnett, Somewhat Reasonable
One scandal that could haunt Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) even after his retirement is the improper help he gave to the green energy company Ormat Technologies – a firm that owns and manages geothermal plants in California and Hawaii. Reid helped Ormat secure nearly $136 million in economic stimulus funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. READ MORE How Peer-to-Peer Businesses Give Consumers a Lyft
Jesse Hathaway for the Chicago Tribune
The rise of peer-to-peer services, such as Lyft, Uber, and Airbnb, represents a revolution in the power of free markets to empower consumers and service providers alike. More great innovations are ahead, as long as politicians and policymakers stay out of the way and stop protecting stagnant business models. READ MORE Discrimination in Indiana – Private or Political?
Richard Ebeling, Heartlander
“The path of using political power to try to bring about changes in social attitudes and actions is both morally wrong and often far too counter-productive. The road to liberty, equality, and tolerance runs through a respect for and defense of individual rights of freedom of association, not by way of collective punishment and group privilege.” READ MORE Featured Podcast: The Marketplace (un)Fairness Act
Host Jesse Hathaway talks with Andrew Moylan, executive director of the R Street Institute, about the recent reintroduction in Congress of the Marketplace Fairness Act. Moylan explains how the act isn’t very fair at all because it treats e-commerce customers differently, based on their physical location.LISTEN TO MORE Heartland Is Hiring!
Do you believe in smaller government and more individual liberty? Do you believe free markets solve social and economic problems better than government planning? The Heartland Institute might have just the job for you! We’re looking for eager self-starters to manage several important projects that will have a real impact on policy in this country. READ MORE Nevadans Deserve Better Options than Common Core
Joy Pullmann for the Las Vegas Review Journal
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, various teachers unions, and endless recipients of money from Bill Gates’ private foundation who cheer Common Core are cheering for cut-and-paste students. They are applauding and rewarding an education-to-workforce machine that is cheating the children of Nevada’s families out of a joyful and liberal education fit for free citizens. READ MORE Rick Perry Deserves Credit for Shrinking Texas’s Welfare Rolls
Justin Haskins and Logan Pike in Breitbart Texas
They say “everything is bigger in Texas,” but Texas’s welfare rolls are shrinking, and presidential hopeful and former governor Rick Perry (R) deserves a lot of the credit. When Perry first became governor of Texas in 2000, the number of people enrolled in the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was well over 300,000. Since then, the number has declined to below 80,000, and a new study says key policy changes help explain why. READ MORE
Pulling the Plug on Renewable Energy
H. Sterling Burnett for the Washington Times
For 50 years, green-energy gurus in industry and the environmental movement have sold the snake oil that renewable power would soon be as cheap and reliable as coal, oil, nuclear, and natural gas. The nation has been told the turning point has always been just around the corner. We never seem to get close to turning that corner. READ MORE Book Review: Bitcoin and the Age of Cryptocurrency
Jay Lehr, Heartlander
“Because the cryptocurrency system requires no bank and no government control it is truly disruptive, and multiple agencies described by the authors are already trying to block it or control it. An interesting outgrowth of this in the authors’ eyes is that bitcoin has attracted libertarian-leaning techies, and in some parts of the book it is clear that they themselves have a strong libertarian bent.” READ MORE Bonus Podcast: Leonie Haimson: Student Privacy Laws in the U.S.
School Reform News Managing Editor Heather Kays is joined by Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, to talk about the current state of student privacy laws in the U.S. Haimson expresses concern about the ability of parents to protect their children given the current laws on student privacy. LISTEN TO MORE Study: Los Angeles Fast-Food Ban Went Bust
Warner Todd Huston, Heartlander
“In 2008, the city of Los Angeles passed strict regulations on fast food restaurants in an effort to force citizens to adopt a better diet. But seven years later, the regulations have had no effect on either the diets or weight of area residents.”READ MORE Invest in the Future of Freedom!
Are you considering 2015 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make.
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A stimulus-backed Department of Energy loan program that has not been tapped for four years, and was deemed unwanted two years ago by the Government Accountability Office, is suddenly ready and willing to dole out more taxpayer millions again – to a corporation that doesn’t need it.
In fact, Alcoa’s expansion project for which the funding is targeted – to produce special aluminum for automotive companies in Tennessee – has already been underway for 19 months and was first revealed almost two years ago.
DOE announced on Thursday that the renewed activity out of its Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program will deliver a $259 million loan to the multinational conglomerate. The excuse for the financing – considering that ATVM’s purpose was to support production of alternative energy-powered automobiles – is to produce “high-strength” aluminum for automakers “looking to lightweight their vehicles.” Yes, they used “lightweight” as a verb, and claimed the funding would create an additional 200 factory jobs and 400 construction jobs in the process.
“The Department’s ATVM loan program can play an important role in helping to finance expanded domestic manufacturing of fuel-efficient technologies that will support the next generation of advanced vehicles and protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz, in photo.
The amount being loaned represents pocket change for the corporation that had $23 billion in revenues in fiscal year 2013 and ended the year with $35.7 billion in assets. And the purpose is (or was) to expand “one of the most modern aluminum fabricating facilities in the world.” But the company long ago announced its groundbreaking for the facility – at a cost of $275 million – in an August 2013 press release, citing the 200 factory/400 construction jobs expansion. So the DOE loan covers pretty much the entire cost.
“The…expansion will convert some of the plant’s can sheet capacity to high-strength automotive aluminum capacity,” Alcoa announced, “as well as install incremental automotive capacity, making it a key supplier to both the packaging and automotive markets.”
So the project is happening without need for the DOE loan. In fact, demand is so high for Alcoa’s automotive aluminum that it’s the secondsuch expansion of one of its plants for that purpose. The first was a $300-million revamp of its Davenport, Iowa facility. According to the company, “much of the volume for the automotive expansions is secured under long-term supply agreements.” In other words, justification for the added capacity at the two plants is guaranteed by promises from auto manufacturers that their aluminum will be bought.
It’s pretty audacious that DOE and Secretary Moniz would try to extract credit for a project that was already two years into development and construction. But even if the agency’s role in business expansion and job creation was legitimate, it makes no sense. A $259 million “investment” for 200 factory jobs and 400 temporary construction jobs works out to high-six figures per job; if you count just the “permanent” jobs produced, the taxpayer backing comes out to $1.2 million per job.
Ironically, the DOE announcement about its financing for Alcoa comes 19 months (like the Tennessee groundbreaking) after the agency said it would renew efforts to find new loan recipients in an “active outreach campaign.” The effort had to be revitalized because the ATVM program was in a moribund state, in part because of a lot of bad publicity.
The program’s highest profile failure was Fisker Automotive, which went belly-up after receiving $193 million in stimulus support. Another that went bankrupt, Vehicle Production Group, received a $50 million loan that wasn’t repaid. Nissan and Ford Motor Company received billions of dollars to spur electric vehicle production, but none of their models have taken off and none would be sustainable with massive subsidies. Tesla Motors – the one alleged “success” story from the program – paid back its $465 million ATVM loan and has plenty of stock market fanatics, but is far from profitable and is largely surviving on hype and other subsidies.
Back in March 2013, DOE had trouble finding takers for the remaining $16.5 billion that had been allocated to the ATVM program. According to a report produced by the Government Accountability Office that reviewed DOE’s loan programs, those who might otherwise be interested in the financial help cited things like bureaucratic red tape, reporting requirements, uncertainty about credit subsidy costs, lengthy review times, and the expenditure of time and resources for an uncertain outcome as obstacles. A number of smaller companies had been strung along by government loan administrators, who allegedly gave impressions that financing would be forthcoming if certain conditions were met, but never came through. But what stood out most – especially in the ATVM loan program – was that many electric vehicle entrepreneurs were deterred by bad publicity surrounding previous loans.
So for the last few years the ATVM money has sat dormant at DOE. Now all of a sudden Alcoa is ready to accept a small sum that only seems to serve the purpose of helping the agency justify the continuation of the program. The announcement happened to come just a day following a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in which Sen. Lisa Murkowski criticized the program.
Rather than show the funding for alternative energy vehicle projects is needed, the Alcoa financing further demonstrates that DOE is mismanaging the money. The ATVM program should be shut down immediately.
[Originally published at NLPC]
“The American people have spent 30 years and $15 billion to determine whether Yucca Mountain would be a safe repository for our nation’s civilian and defense-related nuclear waste.” That’s a quote of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) reported in the April issue of The Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News.
Compare that with the one year and 45 days it took to build the Empire State Building or the five years it took to build the Hoover Dam in the depths of the Great Depression. In the first half of the last century, Americans knew how to get things done, but the rise of environmentalism in the latter half, starting around the 1970s, has increased the cost and time of any construction anywhere in the U.S. In the case of Yucca Mountain it has raised issues about nuclear waste that is currently stored is less secure conditions.
As reported by CNS News in January, “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released the final two volumes of a five-volume safety report that concludes that Nevada’s Yucca Mountain meets all of its technical and safety requirements for the disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste.” Five volumes!
So why the delay? The NRC says the Department of Energy “‘has not met certain land and water rights requirements’ and that other environmental and regulatory hurdles remain.”
A Wall Street Journal editorial on March 30 asserted that It is not about environmental and regulatory hurdles. It is about a deal that Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader, cut with President Obama to keep Yucca Mountain from ever opening for use. In return, Reid blocked nearly all amendments to legislation to shield Obama from having to veto bills. He virtually nullified the Senate as a functioning element of our government.
“Since there is no permanent disposal facility, spent fuel from the nation’s nuclear reactors—‘enough to fill a football field 17 meters deep’ according to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report—is currently being stored at dozens of above-ground sites. The GAO expects the amount of radioactive waste to double to 140,000 by 2055 when all of the currently operating nuclear reactors are retired.”
The United States where the development of nuclear fission and its use to generate electrical energy occurred is now well behind other nations that have built nuclear facilities and are adding new ones. As Donn Dear, an energy expert with Power For USA, points out “there are only four new nuclear power plants under construction, all by Toshiba-Westinghouse LLC. One other plant, Watts Bar 2, whose construction was held up for several years, is being completed by TVA.”
Meanwhile, as Dear notes, “South Korea is building four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates. The Russian company, Rosatom, is building power plants in Turkey, Belarus, Vietnam, and elsewhere. The China National Nuclear Corporation is scheduled to build over twenty nuclear power plants.”
These represent jobs and orders for equipment that are not occurring in the United States, along with the failure to utilize nuclear energy to provide the growing need for electricity here. The same environmental organizations opposing construction here are the same ones supporting the Environmental Protection Agency’s attack on coal-fired electrical plants. The irony is, of course, that nuclear plants do not produce carbon dioxide emissions that the Greens blame for the non-existent “global warming”, not called “climate change.”
A cynical and false propaganda campaign has been waged against nuclear energy in the U.S., mostly notably with the Hollywood film, “The China Syndrome” about a reactor meltdown. If you want to worry about radiation, worry about the Sun. It is a major source. Three incidents, Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, added to the fears, but no one was harmed by the Three Mile Island event and Chernobyl was an avoidable accident.
More recent was the March 11, 2011 shutdown of the Fukushima reactor in Japan as the result of an earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Three of its cores melted in the first three days, but there have been no deaths or radiation sickness attributed to this event. That’s the part you’re not told about. In the end, all it takes is one ignorant President to set progress back for decades. In this case it was President Jimmy Carter for not allowing reprocessing of nuclear waste, a standard practice in France where only one-fifth of spent fuel requires storage. In the 1980s there were three U.S. corporations leading the way on the introduction and use of nuclear energy to produce electrical power; General Electric, Westinghouse Electric, and Babcock & Wilcox. Today only Babcock-Wilcox continues as a fully owned American company.
Thanks to President Obama, we have lost another six years on the Yucca Mountain project. That fits with his refusal to permit the Keystone XL pipeline. No energy project that might actually benefit America will ever see his signature.
Some are arguing that America is a nation in decline and they can surely point to the near destruction of our nuclear energy industry as one example. That decline can begin to end in 2017 with the inauguration of a new President.
Heartland friend Julia Seymour at the Media Resource Center reminds us that the “experts” the media relies upon to tell us what is happening to our climate — and why it is happening — are not to be taken as the Word of God. That is what Walter Cronkite was considered in the 70s and 80s, and he was also wrong — or purposefully grabbing whatever he needed to grab in order to perpetuate the idea that your “betters” should plan your life.
In a great post at the MRC site, Seymour notes that the stone tablets brought down from the priests of climatology in the 70s have since been ground to sand — as will those of today’s climate alarmists.
A while after the report below, the “coming Ice Age” was replaced by “run-away global warming,” which was then replaced by “catastrophic man-caused climate change,” “global weirding,” and other nonsense. None of the actual science has borne this out, mind you. But the media, and the world’s governments, must continue to perpetuate the notion that humans need to be strictly controlled, lest the earth be destroyed. Funny how that is always the default position after government-approved “scientists” weigh in.
Some climate alarmists are already trying to play up legendary journalist Walter Cronkite’s April 3, 1980, coverage of “global warming” and the “greenhouse effect.” But what they will almost certainly ignore is that only a few years earlier Cronkite and fellow journalists were warning about a “new ice age.”
The media have been susceptible to climate change alarmism for more than 100 years, but it wasn’t always about warming. In the 1970s journalists were chilled to the bone and found arguments for a coming ice age “pretty convincing.”
Like Cronkite, “the most trusted man” in news, reporter and commentator Howard K. Smith also brought up the threat of a new ice age. Smith did so repeatedly.
“Warm periods like ours last only 10,000 years, but ours has already lasted 12,000. So if the rhythm is right, we are over-ready for a return of the ice,” Smith said in his comment on the January 18, 1977, ABC evening newscast.
He cited “experts like Reid Bryson” who based their worries on “cooler temperature readings in the Great Plains” and elsewhere and the “retreat of the heat-loving Armadillo from Nebraska to the southwest and to Mexico.” Bryson argued the return to an ice age had begun in 1945.
Read Seymour’s whole post. Watch the video below, and share liberally — especially among your liberal friends.
In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Health Care News Sean Parnell speaks with Devon Herrick. Herrick, a senior fellow in health care policy at the National Center for Policy Analysis, discusses the fifth anniversary of Obamacare and what the touted drop in the number of uninsured really means.
Herrick and Parnell also discuss what Medicaid block grants could do to help bring innovation into the troubled program. Also discussed is the so-called ‘Doc Fix’ in Medicare and what it could mean for doctors and patients.
We won’t even get into prospective First Laddie Bill Clinton. Hillary Clinton is the woman (well, a woman) who blamed the Benghazi, Libya murder of four Americans on an Internet video. She claimed to have come under sniper fire in Bosnia. She claimed to have been named after Sir Edmund Hillary. Her long list of lies is legendary.
Mrs. Clinton has an equally troublesome history with transparency. The 900+ FBI files. The Rose Law Firm records. Her then chief of staff shuttling boxes and boxes of documents out of the late Vince Foster’s Justice Department office. And on, and on, and….
Inspector General (IG) John Roth described the improper favoritism shown to several Democrats including the brother of Hillary Clinton, Sen. Harry Reid, and Virginian Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman during the Clinton administration.
Cozy. Now it has been revealed that she never, ever set up a government email account.
Her alleged self-defense? “Trust me – I alone decided which emails were pertinent. Oh – and I deleted everything else.” When “everything else” was under Congressional subpoena.
Feel comfortable trusting her? Think this is a lifetime’s worth of truth and transparency? Me neither.
In this regard, Mrs. Clinton fit right in with the Barack Obama Administration. On truth:
And in moments of harmonic convergence – truth about transparency.
Is this ceaseless dearth of truth, transparency and fair play exclusive to Administration Democrats? Of course not.
Is this ceaseless dearth exclusive to federal Democrats? Of course not.
Let’s look at Oregon, their attempt at ObamaCare and their disgraced, under-investigation, resigned-from-office ex-Democrat Governor John Kitzhaber, shall we?
Have some Oregon Democrat cronyism.
How’d that Kitzhaber crony do running the show?
Not so good. How about a little Oregon Democrat truth-transparency combo?
Want some more Oregon Democrat transparency?
The former governor and Hayes showed up at the Knott Landfill southeast of Bend in a pickup and an SUV about 2 p.m. last Friday and spent a few minutes dumping trash, according to Timm Schimke, the director of the Deschutes County Solid Waste Department….
(W)orkers recognized who they were dealing with and apparently decided the dumping might be of interest to law enforcement. Kitzhaber and Hayes are targets of a federal investigation.
Positively translucent. And of course this is as much a federal government problem as it is an Oregon one.
Early in its life, Cover Oregon was given a $48 million “early innovator” grant from the federal government. That amount would later grow to $59 million.
There were a few strings attached.
To keep the money flowing, the website would have to hit specific benchmarks between 2011 and 2013. The state needed to show the feds it had picked a company to provide software and technical assistance; it had to demonstrate that the website was safe from hackers; and, most importantly, it had to show that people could actually sign up for insurance on the website.
Either the Obama Administration dropped the ball over and over and over again – or it simply allowed a fellow Democrat to run wild with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
Thankfully, not everyone in Washington is quite so comfortable with this.
Unfortunately, this is likely made more than a little problematic by Kitzhaber’s little trip to the landfill – the old school version of Mrs. Clinton wiping clean her email server.
Regardless, the investigations must press forward. Of Mrs. Clinton – and both ObamaCare messes. In Oregon and D.C.
Truth, transparency and anti-cronyism are all being eviscerated. And like all political fish – this one is rotting from the head of state.
Start with the Obama Administration – and work your way down.
[Originally published at Human Events]
Missouri’s dreadful welfare system is perhaps the worst in the nation, and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) has a unique opportunity to reform the failing program and provide significant and lasting changes that will improve the lives of thousands of Missouri’s citizens, but all indications are the governor won’t.
According to a new welfare reform report card published by The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank headquartered in Chicago, Missouri earned the dubious honor of being ranked dead last among all states for its dismal welfare policies.
Heartland’s study assigned letter grades and ranks in five categories—work requirements, cash diversion, service integration, time limits, and sanctions—and Missouri received F grades in three of those categories and D grades in the remaining two.
Recognizing the need for reform, legislators in the Missouri Senate advanced Senate Bill 24 in late February, legislation that aims to add strict work requirements, lower the cap for lifetime benefit limits, and provide a variety of programs that will help Missourians stay off of welfare rolls entirely. The House approved much of the bill on March 18, and the legislation is now awaiting final approval from the Senate. Analysts agree that Mr. Nixon, who has yet to announce his position on the proposed reforms, will eventually have to either pass the legislation or veto it.
Mandating strict work participation requirements is the most significant reform offered by the bill. Missouri is currently one of only 13 states that do not require recipients to obtain significant employment in order to receive government assistance and is one of the worst-performing states in the area of work participation. Without work experience and job training, it is incredibly difficult for individuals trying to leave welfare to find reliable, well-paying jobs. If recipients are required to work and develop job skills employers are looking for, the likelihood of gaining employment and moving from poverty to self-sufficiency is much higher.
Although many of the reforms offered by the Missouri General Assembly are commonsense solutions that have already been implemented by myriad states, analysts say it’s unlikely Mr. Nixon will agree to sign the bill into law, due in part to the recent battles between the governor’s office and the Republican-dominated legislature. Nixon’s proposal to expand Medicaid eligibility in the state received significant opposition from Republicans, who refused to provide any funding for that proposal in the House’s version of the state budget that passed on March 12.
Even if Mr. Nixon vetoes the welfare reform bill, the Republican supermajority in the General Assembly has the votes needed to overturn a veto—and they almost certainly will.
Although the General Assembly will likely push needed welfare reform through any attempts made by Mr. Nixon to block the legislation, there’s no questioning what Nixon’s support for reform would mean for the divided state.
Not only would welfare reform help thousands of Missourians move from poverty to self-sufficiency, it would send a signal to the rest of the nation that both Democrats and Republicans are willing to work together, as they did in the 1990s in Washington, DC, to put partisan differences aside in the pursuit of improving the lives of Americans still struggling to recover from the 2008 economic crash.
Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio probably doesn’t cook much these days. Having built his reputation preparing expensive entrées for his well-heeled customers at Craft Restaurants, Colicchio is now cooking up liberal food policy to expand the government’s ever-encroaching role in how we eat, and what.
His self-promotion schedule and branding pursuits could put Kim Kardashian to shame. He’s the star and producer of two reality shows on Bravo, Top Chef and Best New Restaurant. Colicchio owns several pricy restaurants and “ethical sandwich” joints on both coasts. He lends his name to a collection of expensive artisanal kitchenware, including a coffee mug for only $46.
But apparently television and restaurant fame don’t hold enough gravitas for this wannabe political star. Over the last few years, Chef Colicchio has emerged as the face of the food movement, culinary elitists who insist that every bite of food is a political statement (think climate-change folks going after your shopping cart instead of your SUV).
Testifying before Congress a few years ago about the school-lunch program whet his appetite for politics. Since then, Colicchio has visited Capitol Hill several times to promote mandatory labeling of genetically modified foods, and as the guest of organic farmer Representative Chellie Pingree (D., Maine) he even attended the State of the Union address in January. No doubt the chef will want a seat at the table to spin the now controversial update to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, due for approval later this year.
To further impact food policy, Colicchio co-founded Food Policy Action, a PAC that scores lawmakers on how liberal they vote on food issues. Far from reflecting a consensus of top food and nutrition experts, the FPA scorecard represents a narrow view of some of the nation’s most ideologically divisive activists. The group grades House members and senators on whether they “promote policies that support healthy diets, reduce hunger at home and abroad, improve food access and affordability, uphold the rights and dignity of food and farm workers . . . and reduce the environmental impact of farming and food production.” The implication is that members of Congress who don’t agree with Colicchio and his leftist cohort oppose healthy food and the reduction of hunger and are indifferent to degradation of the environment.
In a video released during this month’s TEDxManhattan, Colicchio attempted to credit FPA for the loss of one Republican congressional seat last year because the candidate was “terrible on food issues” — a stretch given several other factors contributing to the congressman’s defeat. The PAC is gearing up to challenge Republicans on “food security” issues, including labeling GMO products and restoring cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The FPA board is filled with Obama-administration sympathizers, including Gary Hirshberg, an organic-food cheerleader and the Stonyfield chairman, and Robin Schepper, the former executive director of the Let’s Move! campaign, which just celebrated its five-year anniversary with the first lady gushing over her own bean-kale burgers and curried pumpkin with peas.
To buttress his political agenda, Colicchio serves up one amuse-bouche after another of half-truths and platitudes. Despite hundreds of billions spent each year to feed people in America, Colicchio insists that “we don’t have the political will in this country to fix hunger.” His biggest whopper is that the only reason that people prefer fast food to fresh produce is that the latter is more expensive, as if the demand for Big Macs reflected only people’s economic decisions and had nothing to do with what they like.
The chef is a big defender of SNAP, which he calls “one of the best-run programs in the country,” and is furious about the 1 percent funding cut for it in last year’s farm bill. He insists that poor people are obese not because of bad choices but because “the inability to afford healthy food is the biggest problem for millions struggling with obesity,” even though the program allows for the purchase of fruits and vegetables (fresh and frozen), lean meats, dairy, and other healthy items.
Serving as a mouthpiece for liberal foodies has paid off for Colicchio; MSNBC named him its first-ever food correspondent last month. (MSNBC host Alex Wagner is married to former White House chef Sam Kass, another food scold, who banned boxed macaroni and cheese from the White House kitchen.)
If you’re looking for practical dinner advice, look elsewhere. Colicchio will continue his “food is political” crusade. Gone are the days of mindless food shopping; culinary elitists like Colicchio want a trip to the grocery store to be a political experience. “In today’s world, it is impossible to separate our food culture from the politics and policies that shape our choices as consumers and taxpayers, whether we’re aware of them or not,” Colicchio said about his new gig.
Of course, Colicchio is just one line chef in the busy liberal kitchen of shamers and elitists determined to strip the joy and fellowship out of eating. The main problem with this movement isn’t its self-proclaimed noble intentions: it’s the impracticality of its core tenets, which are largely unattainable for most Americans. Consider the new executive director of the Let’s Move! campaign, Deb Eschmeyer. Her central qualification for the job? She sought to fight obesity by encouraging city kids to go to local farms for organic produce.
But the culinary elitists behind the food movement aren’t truly interested in how to get dinner on the table. Theirs is a political crusade disguised as a public-health campaign. They use food as a wedge to further divide Americans between blue plates and red plates.
Listen, for example, to Colicchio’s comparison of the food movement with social and political struggles of the past: “At some point, we need to take this social movement and turn it into a political movement,” Colicchio said during the Food for Tomorrow conference. “It’s what happened in other social movements as well, whether it was civil rights or whether it was marriage equality.”
The hyperbole is not only bad politics but will do nothing to improve Americans’ health.
Julie Kelly is a cooking instructor, food writer, and owner of Now You’re Cooking in Orland Park, Ill. You can reply to her on Twitter @Julie_Kelly2 Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, and you can reply to him on Twitter @JeffaStier
[Originally published at Pundicity]
Heartland Daily Podcast – National Association of Scholars: Sustainability – Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism
In Today’s Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Environment and Climate News H. Sterling Burnett speaks with Rachelle Peterson and Peter Wood of the National Association of scholars. After sharing the history and mission of the NAS, Peter and Rachelle discuss their new report: “Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism.”
This report examines the thousands of sustainability programs and efforts that have been incorporated into college and university missions, operations and curricula and how the sustainability movement threatens to undermine democratic political institution and market capitalism in a quest to take us back to some utopian, bucolic simpler time with out modern technology and the reliance on fossil fuels for energy. The NAS report shows how colleges are being led by the nose by left-leaning institutions to buy into false promises of sustainability and climate alarmism, and how those same schools are in turn inculcating or attempting to brainwash students into rejecting the economic and political systems that has made modern liberal education and economic well-being possible and instead embracing paternalistic, elitist ideals of how society should be.
Heather Kays speaks with Leonie Haimson, co-chair of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, about the current state of student privacy laws in the U.S. Haimson expresses grave concerns about the ability of parents to protect their children given the current laws on student privacy.
Kays and Haimson talk about a recent controversy regarding Pearson/PARCC testing and social media. They also discuss a bill proposed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) intended to protect student privacy.
America’s cities (metropolitan areas) changed radically since the dawn of World War II. At that point, cities were dominated by their core municipalities (central cities), around which people traveled much greater percentages by transit and lived in much higher densities. Automobile oriented suburbanization had increased rapidly in the 1920s, but was slowed by the economic upheavals of the 1930s.
After World War II, suburban house building expanded and automobile ownership became near universal. Automobile ownership has expanded so much that the percentage of low income workers using cars to get to work is nearly the same as the overall population.
Classifying Urban Cores, Suburbs & Exurbs
The latest data, for 2011 (from the 2009-2013 American Community Survey) indicates that 15% of the population lives in the urban cores of the 52 major metropolitan areas (those with more than 1 million population). The urban core is defined by urban development and lifestyles similar to those that prevailed before the start of World War II.
The urban core percentage is smaller than may be expected, because it is based on small areas (Zip Code Tabulation Areas or ZCTAs) rather than the much larger core municipalities and other “principal cities” that are often represented as the equivalent of the urban core.
Many central cities, such as Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Phoenix, Kansas City, Indianapolis and others have large areas of postwar suburban development, with detached housing and a near monopoly on cars for mobility. Overall, the central cities are 42% urban core and 58 percent suburban and exurban.
The term “principal cities” was coined by the Office of Management and Budget before the 2000 census to recognize that American cities had become polycentric in their employment patterns. All of the formerly designated “central cities” are principal cities, but many additional municipalities were added because of their large, mainly suburban, job counts. Examples include Aurora in the Denver area, Arlington in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Mesa in the Phoenix area, White Plains in the New York area and Fountain Valley in the Los Angeles area. Principal cities other than central cities have a population that is 8% urban core and 92% suburban and exurban.
The small area analysis classifies ZCTAs as urban core where (1) 20% or more of work trip travel is by transit, walking or cycling, and (2) population densities are 7,500 per square mile or greater. Urban cores also include the large downtowns (central business districts or CBD’s) that have job densities of 20,000 per square mile or more (Figure 1). There are five functional urban classifications, ranging from the urban core CBD to the exurbs (Figure 2).
As would be expected, New York has by far the largest urban core, with 10.4 million residents (Table). This densely populated urban core represents the ultimate conception of American urbanization and includes the world’s second-largest CBD. This comprises most of the area south of Central Park. New York’s urban core stretches well beyond the city of New York to areas of New Jersey, such as Jersey City and Newark as well as to much of the rest of Hudson and Essex counties. However the urban core excludes most of New York City’s Staten Island, south of Interstate 278, which looks more like suburbs in New Jersey or Kansas City, for that matter.
Chicago has the second largest urban core, though its population of 2.5 million is somewhat less than that of the city of Chicago, indicating that part of it is suburban.
Boston shows that an urban core can be substantially larger than the core municipality. Boston’s urban core, the third largest in the nation, has 1.6 million residents, nearly 3 times the city of Boston’s 600,000. Philadelphia, at 1.5 million has an urban core slightly larger than its core municipality.
Despite its reputation for “sprawling,” low density suburbs, Los Angeles has the fifth largest urban core, with 1.4 million residents. Many people learn in disbelief that Los Angeles has by far the highest density of any urban area in the nation (area of continuous urban development). Los Angeles is approximately 30% denser than New York, because the suburbs of Los Angeles are so densely populated that they more than compensate for the higher central area densities of Manhattan and the rest of New York City.
Washington also has an urban core much larger than its core municipality. With nearly 1 million residents, Washington’s urban core stretches into the Virginia jurisdictions of Arlington and Alexandria and into Montgomery County in Maryland.
There are 25 urban cores with more than 100,000 residents in the 52 major metropolitan areas. There are also 12 urban cores with populations of less than 10,000, including seven with zero population. In these metropolitan areas, none of the small areas meet the criteria for urban cores (Figure 1). These core municipalities were much smaller in 1940, with Phoenix, Raleigh and Orlando having had populations far short of 100,000.
Of course, metropolitan areas without pre-World War II urban cores have the same inner city challenges as those with large urban cores. The difference is simply in their urban forms.
The trend toward greater suburbanization was strong through most of the period between 2000 and 2011, though faltered in the later years, as the economy declined. At the same time, the CBDs were adding population for the first time in decades, which contributed to a net urban core gain of 40,000 new residents between 2000 and 2011. This welcome trend seems likely to continue.
Yet, in context, the CBD gains are small. Between 2000 and 2011, 99.8% of the growth was in the suburbs and exurbs (18.5 million). The latest Census Bureau estimates, just released, show a strengthening of suburban and exurban growth, with rising net domestic migration. With a good economy, there could be favorable prospects for growth in the entire city, from the urban core, through the suburbs to the exurbs.
[Originally published at Huffington Post]
Many suggestions have been put forward to explain why Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is retiring, including that he is getting out of DC in the hopes that if a Republican wins the Presidency in 2016, the new Attorney General would launch an investigation of Reid for possible abuse of power for intervening in the Department of Homeland Security’s issuance of EB-5 visas to investors in a Las Vegas casino and hotel that was represented by his son, Rory Reid.
I don’t know why he is retiring, I’m just glad this particular power hungry Grinch is gone.
He should be known more for changing long-standing Senate filibuster rules to get unqualified political appointees approved and as the “obstructionist in chief” for preventing good legislation from even getting a vote because it conflicted with his parties progressive ideological biases, rather than serving with distinction as a selfless public servant and a wise manager of the upper body of the federal legislature.
One scandal that could haunt Reid for his remaining time in the Senate (and possibly beyond) was reported on recently in the Washington Free Beacon and Courthouse News. It seems the Reid helped the green energy company, Ormat Technologies, a firm that owns and manages geothermal plants in California and Hawaii, secure nearly $136 million in economic stimulus funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Two former employees are suing the firm, claiming Ormat executives defrauded the United States of more than $130 million by reporting false information about two projects to get government grants, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Tina Calilung and Jamie Kell filed the lawsuit against Ormat Industries in 2013 under the False Claims Act to recover money the corporation allegedly obtained illegally from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
At the center of the complaint are Ormat’s two energy-producing geothermal plants known as North Brawley, in Imperial Valley, Calif., and Puna, in Hawaii.
Calilung, an economist who worked as Ormat’s asset manager, claims the company misrepresented the date the Brawley plant was put into service, intentionally drove up costs, and misrepresented the viability of the plant so that it could qualify for the funds. Indeed, she argues that the Brawley plant is losing money but Ormat is keeping it open and fighting the lawsuit in order to prevent the federal government from taking back the money it has granted the company as allowed under the law. After 2006, when the clawback provision lapses, Calilung believes Ormat will then close the plant rather then suffer decades of losses.
Calilung claims that Ormat misrepresented the Puna project as new, though it was an expansion of an already constructed facility. Only 8 megawatts of capacity was added to the the 30 megawatts of original capacity, yet in its stimulus filings Ormat treated the existing capacity as eligible for the grant.
“But for these purposeful misrepresentations, Ormat would not have received Section 1603 funds to support these projects and such funds could have been invested by the U.S. Treasury into truly viable geothermal projects actually qualified to receive the funds,” Calilung said in the complaint.
Reid’s ties to Ormat are deep. The company runs geothermal plants in Nevada and Reid has been a big booster of the company in D.C. As reported in the Free Beacon, “Reid bragged about securing Ormat a $350 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy (DOE) and took credit for expanding the Treasury program that the former employees say illicitly provided Ormat with millions more in taxpayer funds.”
By the same token, Ormat executives have generously supported Reid with donations for his election campaigns and causes. For instance Ormat Chairman, Yoram Bronicki, donated the maximum permitted amount to Reid’s 2010 reelection campaign.
The company has also donated to a nonprofit group founded by Reid’s top political operative, the Clean Energy Project (CEP) that employs two of his former aides as lobbyists.
The Nevada-based law firm McDonald Carano Wilson, a CEP donor with a partner on the group’s board, is representing Ormat in its 1603 litigation. One of the attorneys working on the company’s behalf, John Frankovich, a managing partner at McDonald Carano Wilson, has donated $4,500 to Reid. In 2011, Reid, then the Senate majority leader, praised Frankovich on the Senate floor, calling him “an outstanding lawyer.”
It is also worth noting that Ormat’s DOE award came a year after investors sued the company for allegedly inflating its stock price through “fraudulent accounting and overstated financial results.” Ormat settled the allegations in 2012 for $3.1 million.
So far Reid has stood by Ormat. That’s Reid, true to his donors rather then the people of the United States he has sworn to serve.
Over the past few years, innovative new services such as Airbnb and Uber have sprung up across the nation, creating what’s been termed the “sharing” economy or “peer-to-peer” economy. These services have endured varying levels of resistance from local and state governments, as lawmakers have applied 19th- or 20th-century modes of regulatory theory to 21st-century technologies.
Instead of fighting the future of the economy, policymakers should embrace the power of the peer-to-peer process.
For example, finding a place to sleep in a new city is now as easy as tapping a smartphone, thanks to Airbnb. Safely getting from point A to point B is now much easier, thanks to transportation network services such as Lyft and Uber. The list of new conveniences goes on and on.
These services, and many more, have one thing in common: They were created and smoothly function without government involvement. To use the example of ride-sharing services, drivers have the ability to check out how riders have treated drivers, based on feedback from those drivers. Likewise, riders can see how highly a driver has been rated by other riders.
By enabling both sides to rate their respective experiences, both parties’ feedback creates a self-regulating framework where people have more information about providers and consumers of services and thus are able to make better-informed decisions about the provision and use of services.
In addition to those less-tangible benefits, the peer-to-peer economy benefits consumers in measurable, material ways.
Studying the effects of Airbnb on consumer behavior, Boston University marketing professor Georgios Zervas collected data on hotel revenue and Airbnb use in Austin, Texas. Zervas found a correlation between increases in Airbnb’s popularity and decreases in hotel prices, as consumers replaced lower-tier hotel accommodations with Airbnb stays.
This pattern of substitution, Zervas writes, led him to conclude “a supply of inexpensive accommodations can increase travel and tourism spending overall, and thus the sharing economy could be a net producer of new jobs.”
Thus even consumers who do not use peer-to-peer economy services benefit from it, as incumbent firms reduce the prices of their goods and services to attract consumers away from their alternative competitors. Zervas writes, “affected hotels have responded by reducing prices, an impact that benefits all consumers, not just participants in the sharing economy.”
By cutting regulatory red tape and maximizing freedom of voluntary economic exchanges, local and state governments can empower consumers to take charge and receive the services they want in the manner they want.
People generally know what’s best for them, or at least they know better than government regulators. The peer-to-peer economy helps them get what they want, faster, cheaper and more efficiently. That makes for happier consumers and more efficient businesses. That’s an outcome everyone should embrace, including the policymakers entrusted with responsibility for fostering the best interests of both consumers and service providers.
[Originally published at the Chicago Tribune]
There is never a good time for bad public policy. For few policies is this more evident than renewable energy mandates (REM), variously known as renewable portfolio standards, alternative energy standards and renewable energy standards.
The first renewable energy mandate was adopted in 1983, but most states did not impose these mandates until the 2000s. Though the details vary from state to state, in general, renewable energy mandates require utilities to provide a certain percentage of the electric power they supply from “renewable” sources, notably wind and solar, with the required percentages rising over time.
At the height of the renewable-energy mania, 30 states and the District of Columbia had imposed REMs and another seven had established voluntary standards.
Renewable energy mandate proponents included environmental lobbyists with a hatred for capitalism and fossil fuels that make modern society possible, crony socialists who saw the mandates as way of strong-arming exorbitant payments from government and ratepayers alike, and paternalistic politicians who look down on people’s choices in the marketplace, believing they know best what sources of energy people ought to choose.
Green-energy advocates, crony socialists and government elitists have seen their fortunes wax and wane over five decades. Government subsidies for unreliable, expensive renewable fuels had risen, fallen, been scrapped and begun anew since the 1970s. The existence and amount of subsidies tended to rise in fall with various energy crises — crises often created by the same government that then proposed subsidies for renewable energy as the solution for the problems it created.
For 50 years, green-energy gurus in industry and the environmental movement have sold the snake oil that renewable power would soon be as cheap and reliable as coal, oil, nuclear and natural gas. The nation has been told the turning point has always been just around the corner, always requiring a little more public funding and tax breaks before we have abundant, cheap, clean, reliable energy materializing from thin air.
All these promises were false, and the public and more-honest politicians have seen through the sales pitch. Now, support for renewables is as unreliable as the energy it provides.
To guarantee a market for renewables, green lobbyists fought successfully for mandates ensuring green-energy producers a slice of the electricity market regardless of the price and quality of the energy they produced.
Energy prices skyrocketed, as predicted by numerous energy analysts.
Though cost is an important concern, it is not the only problem with renewable power sources. Renewable energy is not environmentally friendly. Renewable energy mandates have turned millions of acres of wild lands and wildlife habitats into a vast wasteland of wind and solar industrial energy facilities. In the process, renewable energy facilities have condemned to death hundreds of thousands of animals, including endangered birds, bats and tortoises. Finally, the construction and maintenance of these facilities have polluted the air and water. There is nothing green about all this. Still, continuing high costs, not environmental concerns, may finally spell doom for the mandates.
Citing high costs, Ohio became the first state to freeze its renewable energy mandate. Under Ohio’s mandate, utilities would have been required to provide 25 percent of the state’s electricity from qualified renewable sources by 2025. Under a law signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich in June 2014, Ohio froze its mandate at the current level of 12.5 percent, halving the mandated level.
In January, West Virginia repealed its renewable energy mandate entirely, and the New Mexico House of Representatives passed a bill freezing the state’s renewable standards in March.
Kansas has also recently held hearings on repealing its renewable energy mandate, spurred on in part by a new report from Utah State University reporting Kansas ratepayers are paying $171 million more than they would without the mandate. These additional costs have resulted in a loss of $4,367 each year in household disposable income.
What’s true for Kansas is true for other states with renewable energy mandates. States with mandates experienced 10 percent greater unemployment, due to higher energy prices resulting from the REM, than states without mandates. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy has found electricity prices in states with renewable energy mandates have risen twice as fast as in states with no renewable requirement. Electricity prices in states with mandates are 40 percent higher than in non-REM states.
With these facts, it is little wonder that states are doing a slow walk back from their previous support of costly, environmentally harmful renewable energy mandates. It’s a classic case of legislate in haste, repent in leisure.
[Originally published at The Washington Times]
The annual calendar is filled with days and months designated for the purpose of calling attention to some event, personality, or cause. The U.S. celebrates the birthdays of Lincoln and Washington that fall close together. There’s Mother’s and Father’s Day, Labor Day and Veteran’s Day, Valentine’s, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas.
But who decided that April was “Earth Month” or that April 22 is “Earth Day”?
Why are we expected to worship the planet that was here billions of years before we showed up and will likely be here long after we manage to destroy ourselves with cataclysmic wars. And it is worship that is at the heart of these two events. That alone should tell you how essentially pagan they are.
This Earth Month will celebrate its 45th anniversary, having begun in 1970 and, not surprisingly, its theme is “Our planet in peril.” Our planet is not in peril. It’s been around for 4.5 billion years and short of a rogue asteroid or our getting sucked into a black hole, the planet will be around several billions of years more. The galaxy in which we live is relatively predictable and stable, so the notion that the Earth is in peril borders on idiocy.
Well, idiocy, if you think that it is in peril from us, the human species. This is at the core of the environmental mindset. It appears that merely using the Earth as a place to live is reason enough to hold us responsible for everything that naturally occurs to it.
Environmentalists do not like the human race and will not hesitate to tell you there are too many of us. They do what they can to reduce the population through disease by, for example, banning DDT and any other chemicals that protect us from insect and rodent pests that are major vectors for the transmission of disease.
According to the 2015 Earth Month Network, Inc. announcement “There are literally hundreds of problems and issues plaguing our global environment, i.e., climate change, global warming and their effects; and the continuation of polluting our delicate ecosystem just to mention a few.”
Which is it? Climate change or global warming? There hasn’t been any dramatic global warming in the past 19 years during which the planet has been in a natural cooling cycle, along with the Sun which we depend upon to warm us. So anyone claiming the Earth is warming is blowing smoke up your skirt.
As for climate change, that has always been occurring. Short term it’s called the four seasons. Long term it takes the form of ice ages, major glaciations that have occurred every 140 million years, and other eras such as the Great Permian Extinction, the largest in Earth’s history that wiped out an estimated 95% of every kind of life-form on Earth. It was one of four mass extinctions over the course of the 3.5 billion years that life has existed on Earth. Remember the mammoths? They died a mere 11,500 years ago.
Last year, the Earth Month theme was “Returning to Nature.” Do you really want to return to nature? No electricity. No shelter other than a nice cave. No food except for the animals or fish you would have to catch for dinner. No vegetables or fruits except those you could find wherever you lived. That’s right, no supermarkets! And, if you want to go anywhere, you will have to walk.
Yes, nature sounds wonderful and, in its own way, is wonderful, but the human species has devoted a great deal of time to finding ways to survive it.
I was reminded that April was Earth Month when I received an email from the Saybrook Point Inn & Spa which said this Connecticut site was “excited to offer a special package to honor Earth Day.” It is “a Certified Green Hotel” and you will be treated to a “unique Ecotourism Getaway” that provides an “environmentally friendly stay without sacrificing comfort.” Why would you want to pay them for their special package if it didn’t include comfort and lots of it? Mostly what Saybrook Point wants is your money, just like any other perfectly ordinary inn and spa that isn’t “certified.”
One can be confident that we are going to be regaled with all manner of “environmental” messages and events throughout April, all of which have the same theme: the Earth is in danger from YOU!
Do yourself a favor. Ignore them. Get in your car and go where you want. Go to the supermarket and don’t worry about the plastic packaging or the plastic bags. Set the temperature in your home or apartment to a level of comfort that you like. It’s your life and you pay good money to benefit from all the conveniences of modern life.
Let’s appreciate the Earth, not worship it.
Environmentalism is one of the great scams of the modern era. Its emphasis on “renewable energy” has been a huge, expensive failure. Its claims of disappearing forests are bogus and its demands for the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will only harm all vegetation everywhere. The Earth needs CO2 in the same way you and all other living creatures need oxygen.
Let’s celebrate mankind’s mastery of the Earth in the form of agriculture, ranching, sophisticated shelters from the log cabin to the skyscraper, the channeling of rivers to produce energy and the technology that provides clean water for us. And, yes, manufacturing. You can’t even imagine what the world was like before the discovery of coal, oil, and natural gas.
The Earth is not in peril, only the truth and common sense are.
The National Review Institute, founded by William Buckley, Jr. in 1991, and The Heartland Institute joined forces for an event with Charles C. W. Cooke featuring his book, “The Conservatarian Manifesto”, on Wednesday, March 25, in the Crystal Room of the Union League Cub, 65 West Jackson, Chicago. “The Conservatarian Manifesto” is a call to arms for an underserved movement among conservatives. The crucial tenets of this movement includes fiscal responsibility, constitutional obedience, and controlled government spending.
Author Charles C.W. Cooke is a writer at “National Review” and a graduate of Oxford University in England, where he studied modern history and politics. His work has focused especially on Anglo-American history, British liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment, and American exceptionalism. Cooke is the cohost of the “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” podcast and has appeared on HBO (“Real Time” with Bill Maher), BBC, MSNBC, Fox News, The Blaze, CNBC, CTV, ABC, Sun News, and CBS. In addition to “National Review”, Mr. Cooke’s writings have also been published by the “National Interest”, “The Washington Times”, and the “New York Post.”
A “Conservatarian” is neither a libertarian or a conservative, as the word itself implies, but members of the right that are fiscally conservative but socially liberal. The question posed in Mr. Cooke’s book, “The Conservatarian Manifesto”, is whether conservatives and libertarians can find common ground and forge the next American political realignment. Set forth in Cook’s book are issues on which conservatives and libertarians can agree, such a limited government and gun rights, while libertarians often disagree with conservatives on the drug war, foreign policy, abortion and immigration. The blending together of the two is important if the Founders’ vision for liberty is to be preserved for future generations of Americans.
To Charlie Cooke, unlike how conservatives are generally described on the Left, they are the radicals who want the government to leave them alone. Conservatism is therefore marked by its unorthodoxy and its radicalism, standing for the more eccentric ideas that have surfaced only recently like property rights, separation of powers, a preference for local government over central planning, and a free and dynamic market economy.
History and Conservatism
It was Republican discouragement in the 2008 presidential election which led to Barack Obama capturing the presidency. Republicans, thinking G.W. Bush was a conservative, became discouraged when Bush changed his tune when in office with his compassionate brand of conservatism by passing the federal takeover of education with No Child Left Behind and other big spending programs that had nothing to do with 9/11. As such the Bush era was not a time worthy of celebration by most Republicans. For when looking back to the 90’s, the years under Clinton were quite good.
The state of the economy was a big factor in 2012. Only 1/4 of the American people thought the economy was getting better. Also, a majority of Americans favored repealing Obamacare. But despite these negatives, Obama won a second term.
Regarding 2016, Cooke believes that despite the disastrous policies imposed upon this nation by President Obama and his administration, they have not yet resulted in forever changing the realignment of the American political scene. In speaking about Republican chances for 2016, Democrats have slim pickings when it comes to presidential candidates. President Obama may not be on the ticket, but he has effectively wiped out the Democratic Party in many states.
Cooke did give this warning to conservative candidates who so often seek to go back to the presidency of Ronald Reagan in describing what they are all about. As Reagan left office in 1989 and it is now 2015, such a comparison is odd sounding to young people who weren’t even alive when Reagan was president. Conservatives need all the votes they can get, which means attention must be paid to the existence of a generational divide. A majority of young people believe in gay marriage, legalization of marijuana and abortion.
Federalism vs. progressivism
Conservatives are warned time and again that they must be more socially liberal, yet there is nothing that connects drugs to gay marriage or abortion. All are separate issues and separate questions that can’t be treated in the same way. Conservatives must highlight their opponents’ inconsistencies whenever and wherever they can, hammering home that it is best to leave social questions to local localities, to civil society, and to individuals.
In regard to the contraception controversy, this winning line is shared by the author: “We have no issue with contraception, but we don’t think nuns should be forced to pay for it.” The good news is that young Republicans are becoming more pro-life, even as they remain more in line with Democrats on gay marriage and illicit drugs.
As alluded to in the above two paragraph, with a nation that is moving more and more to a one size fits all policy which brings with it a host of problems, conservatives and libertarians must insist on a return to federalism in contrast to progressivism which is irreconcilable with federalism. Roughly 10 years ago 2/3’s of Americans offered positive assessment of all three levels of government: federal, state and local. Now a favorable rating for federal government has fallen to just 33%; state favorability is at 52%; and local government wins at 61%
Federalism allows Americans at the state level to make laws concerning pot use; marry members of the same sex; drink at 18; drive cars at 75 mph instead of 55; or to carry loaded guns on their hips. Ton Cruz was noted as consistent in wanting to remove the federal government from solving problems. For liberals who love power concentrated at the federal level with a single national policy as the best way forward, conservatives must remind liberals how big government hangs over them, even as they insist this is what they want.
The massive number of laws passed at the national level was referenced in accordance to the number of Americans who are exempted from them. One group of Americans, the Amish, were described as “the canary in the coal mine.” They want to be left alone. They are quite happy in their own communities. With so many laws past at the federal level, it’s impossible to know much of what is really legislated unless laws affect us personally. There are even laws for lumberjacks!
Nations are defined by more government
Often forgotten is that nations are more than just their governments. From the first days of this nation’s independence, of importance was preserving the national ethos. Hispanics generally have the same expectations and want the same things as white Americans, but when voting Hispanics most often select the Democratic Party, the perception being that the Democratic Party stands for the downtrodden and the poor. But unlike what many Republicans are told to believe, for many Hispanics amnesty is not the main issue. Republicans should start to appeal more effectively to the poor and the middle class. Simply starting to speak Spanish is not enough. Also to be recognized is that Republicans don’t really need to win the Hispanic vote. They only need to win more of it than they are winning now, while winning other votes.
For those who are pushing for amnesty, why would libertarians and many Republican be willing to import an unlimited number of individuals who will most likely vote Democratic, and who will increasingly outnumber those who are friends of liberty. What is more, this nation’s welfare system is going bankrupt. Importing millions of poor immigrants, though no fault of their own, will completely bankrupt the social welfare system at a time when many Americans are out of work. The interests of our own citizens must be served above the interests of citizens of other countries.
Regarding foreign policy, Charles Cooke makes no bones about it, Obama has no interest in foreign policy. For libertarians and others who believe in a non-interventionist foreign policy, they must be reminded that if this nation pulls back who will we leave the world to? Just who will fill the vacuum?
One success story is the gun issue. Facts have outweighed fiction and liberty has trumped fear to counter the emotional and dishonest anti-gun position which fails to hold up under scrutiny.
Confessing to not being a particularly religious person, Mr. Cooke did convey the importance of fighting tooth and nail for religious freedom.
One comment made by Cooke stands open to questioning: “As this country becomes more and more divided the pressure for one size government to fit all should evaporate?” How much more divided can this nation become?” Doesn’t division usually breed more dissatisfaction and strife?
The road ahead is uncertain
Conservatives have not drawn their cases well. This comment by Cooke could have lasting, positive implications: “If conservatives play their cards right they can begin to establish that those on the Left moderate and censor the culture and serve as the speech police, the arbiters of taste and the purveyors of mandates.”
In the final paragraph of Cooke’s book he presents a positive view of what conservatives have to offer this nation which could bode well for its future.
Conservatives have on their side the most successful, virtuous, and radical political philosophy in the history of the world. Unlike their opponents, whose ideology is distressing ahistorical and therefore liable to be shaped by the transient and fashionable demands of self-serving interest groups, conservatives have a North Star to guide them and to establish their place in history’s complex sky. Conservatives have lost their way from time to time: “Their task is to catch sight of the star once again, to work out what went wrong, and to sail on without loss of enthusiasm or purpose. The future is there for the taking.
The end result, as it involves the future of our nation, will depend on sufficient pressure applied from below at the grass roots level by conservatives and libertarians coming together to return this nation to federalism, under which this nation was conceived, to take back the Republican Party from the establishment which now controls the Party.
Heartland touts its accomplishments
Charles Cooke was introduced by Jim Lakely, Communications Director at The Heartland Institute. Before introducing Mr. Cooke, Jim Lakely shared three ways in which The Heartland Institute is making a difference in its 31 years of operation.
- Heartland is unique in that it’s the only organization that has a national reach and can likewise get into each state to make a difference.
- Heartland publishes four newspapers which are sent to every state and federal legislator: “Environmental & Climate News”; School Reform News”; Health Care News”; and “Budget and Tax Issues.”
- Known throughout the world for its work on the environment, Heartland will sponsor its 10th International Global Warming Conference this June in Washington, D.C. Notable is that the “National Review” for April will feature an insert from The Heartland Institute placed right in the middle of the magazine entitled “Global Warming: Crisis or Delusion?”, which will go to all 129,000 subscribers.
In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Budget & Tax News Jesse Hathaway speaks with Michelle Minton. Minton is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Minton and Hathaway discuss the recently introduced Restoring America’s Wire Act (RAWA). Minton explains how RAWA would benefit some very entrenched special interests at the expense of everyday Americans.
Ostensibly intended to crack down on Internet fraud, RAWA would actually make online gambling, a legal pastime for many Americans, illegal. According to Minton, RAWA is being supported by owners of physical casinos, who feel online gambling cuts into their business. Also, Minton explains how some of the bill’s supporters may lack the necessary technological information to make informed decisions on the issue, a situation which may lead to fewer entertainment choices for consumers, if the bill passes.
My Mother taught gourmet cooking, haute cuisine, for three decades in the local adult schools, first just to women and later with courses just for men as they too wanted to learn how to make succulent dishes, delicious sauces, and to bake as well. She also wrote a cookbook, “Cooking with Wine and High Spirits”, as well as one filled with dishes that the colonial Americans enjoyed.
Meanwhile, at home, my Father and I dined daily like royalty and neither of us got fat. Why? Because eating well means listening to your body when it is hungry and not eating when it’s not. What we are never told amidst the hourly deluge of print and broadcast advertising and reports is that we are each quite individual in terms of inherited genetic traits and that our bodies have different needs as we age,
Instead we are told over and over again that we must be “thin” and that our bodies are not what the culture says is “beautiful.” Try watching television for an hour without getting this message. It starts early and, currently, the First Lady is dictating what school children should or should not eat. It’s none of her business, but it is most certainly big business when you calculate the billions earned by physicians giving nutrition advice, pharmaceutical companies, diet companies offering pre-prepared dinners, others saying their foods are healthier, and all the others that have climbed on the multi-billion dollar gravy train.
An excellent book by Harriet Brown, “Body of Truth”, ($25.99, Da Capo Press) should be must-reading for everyone who has spent their life obsessing about every bite of food they eat. Based on extensive research, over twenty pages of notes citing her sources, she says what virtually any physician, nutritionist, or diet-peddler already knows. “Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that dieting makes people neither thinner, nor healthier. Quite the opposite, actually nearly everyone who diets winds up heavier in the long run, and many people’s health suffers rather than improves, especially over time.”
“Each of us thinks our obsession with weight and body image is ours alone,” says Brown. “We blame ourselves for not being thin enough, sexy enough, shaped just the right way. We believe we’re supposed to fit the standards of the day” and it starts very early in life; by as early as three to five years old.
“This is not a personal issue,” says Brown. “This is not about your weakness or my laziness or her lack of self-discipline. This obsession is bigger than all of us. It’s become epidemic, endemic, and pandemic.”
“Weight-loss treatments are cash cows,” says Brown, “in part because they don’t work; there’s always a built-in base of repeat customers.”
In page after page Brown cites facts that too often do not make it into the pages of the newspapers and magazines we read, or on the radio and television we listen to and watch. For example, “The average American is in fact heavier (by about twenty pounds) and taller (by about an inch) than we were in 1960. And dire predictions notwithstanding, the rates of overweight and obesity leveled off around 2000. We’re not actually getting heavier and heavier; our collective weight has pretty much plateaued.”
Moreover, all those psychotropic medications we’re being prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, psychoses, and other mental health conditions “are known to cause weight gain, especially when taken over a period of time.”
We are constantly told that being overweight or even obese takes years off one’s life, but Brown’s research found that neither condition increased a person’s risk of dying prematurely and being mildly obese increases it only slightly. As you might already suspect, it is the lack of physical activity that poses a great health risk.
Brown cites studies that found that being physically unfit was as much or more of a risk factor for heart disease and death as diabetes, obesity, and other weight-based risk factors. Researchers argue that “it’s better to be fit and fat than unfit and thin.
If any of this hits home with you, if you find yourself criticizing a child for their size and weight, looking in the mirror and being displeased with your own, obsessing over everything you eat or serve, then Brown’s words should be embraced when she says “We’d do better for ourselves and our children if, instead of pushing diets and surgeries and medications, we look at real-world strategies for eating more fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep, dancing, playing sports, and other joyful physical activities.”
“Normal eating is going to the table hungry and eating until you are satisfied. It is being able to choose food you like and eat it and truly get enough of it—not just stop eating because you think you should.”
“Normal eating is giving yourself permission to eat something because you are happy, sad, or bored, or just because it feels good.”
Listen to what your body is telling you. The message has been passed down from generation to generation of your ancestors through your genetic code. Eat what you want. Stop dieting. Stay active and fit.
There’s countless, endless messages about your weight and how your body looks. When you decide to feel good about yourself, you will be free to ignore them.
[Originally published at Canada Free Press]
Discrimination has become a “dirty word.” It has come to carry the “politically incorrect” connotation of prejudice, hatefulness, racism, and cruel intolerance towards others in society. There is only one problem: which one of us does not discriminate? Indeed, everything we do reflects discriminating choices and decisions.
The issue of discrimination has captured the headlines, once again, because of a recent law passed by the Indiana legislature and signed by the state’s governor, which allows people to not associate with those who are “gay” under certain circumstances, if such association were to conflict with their religious beliefs concerning sexual relationships between those of the same gender.
The Indiana Law and the Response
The law, as I understand it, does not allow the state government of Indiana to discriminate among the citizens on the basis of sexual orientation or any other standard. All Indianans still continue to have equality before the law. None of their civil liberties are abridged or violated by the legislation.
What the law does, as the press has described it, is permit individuals and businesses to choose not to associate with those whose sexual or other orientation crucially comes into conflict with some of their firmly held religious beliefs.
In response, according to the Associated Press, large demonstrations of hundreds of people were held in Indianapolis against the law. The BBC reported that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, condemned the law, while the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that the law threatened to open “the floodgates to discrimination against LGBT people.” The Indiana Chamber of Commerce said the law “was entirely unnecessary.” Plus, a number of national businesses have suggested that they may limit or stop some of their business activities in Indiana if the law is not overturned or radically modified.
The Fundamental Principle of Freedom of Association
I would like to suggest that a wider principle is at stake here than simply this piece of legislation. It raises, again, the issue of the individual’s right of freedom of association.
First of all, we all discriminate because our time and resources are limited, and our interests, values and tastes are not all the same. If I am a vegetarian and I purchase broccoli instead of beef, I am discriminating against (refusing to commercially associate with) all those connected with the cattle raising industry. I diminish their ability to earn a living due to the forgone revenue they do not earn because I buy a vegetable product, instead.
If I buy economics books instead of romance novels, I discriminate against all those who author such widely read volumes of romantic fantasy and sexual suggestion. I like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington. So I have discriminated against Lady Gaga by never purchasing a ticket to go to one of her concerts.
Intentional and Unintentional Discrimination
It is possible that over the years there have been some people whom I have met who had wished that I had taken the time and interest to become their friend, and thus spent time with them over light discussion and serious conversation.
But I did not, because of other interests, other commitments and other people whom I found more interesting or important to me; in addition, time just did not enable me to include those others who I unintentionally discriminated against by not including them in my circle of friends and activities.
Sometimes the discrimination is intentional. Let’s be frank. Very rarely do we like to spend our “free time” with those whose views, values or attitudes differ so much from our own that interaction soon becomes nothing but irritating disagreement, argument, or even heated words of anger.
We enjoy interacting with those who share our same beliefs, values and attitudes about life, art, economics, politics and many other things. We join clubs or associations with those who have similar interests as our self.
I am not interested in joining a Nazi political organization or a “We Love Stalin” fan club. Neither am I interested in becoming a member of either the Republican or Democratic Party. By refusing to do so, I discriminate against all of these people, by intentionally not associating with them.
If you are heterosexual, you have discriminated against all those of the same sex as you who might have wanted to be romantically involved with you. At the same time, if you are homosexual, you have discriminated against all those of the opposite sex who found you attractive and a potential “partner.” And if you are bi-sexual, you have discriminated against all those of either sex who might have been interested in an intimate relationship with you.
There is no getting around human discrimination in every facet of life. Indeed, I would consider you, right now, to be the “discriminating reader” by choosing to take the time to read my article rather than someone else’s, or to do something different than read with your available time!
Anger at Seemingly Unfair Treatment
So why is there the opposition to this Indiana law or any similar piece of legislation? At one level, it can be taken to be an objection to judging a person by their beliefs, or values, or way of living their private life that may have nothing to do with the character or quality of that person.
Merely finding people of the same sex attractive does not mean you’re a “bad person,” or not someone of worth in terms of your skills, creativity, or knowledge and knowhow. And why should who you may or may not find romantically attractive have anything to do with someone refusing to rent you a house, or sell you a car, or take pictures at your wedding, for instance?
In “this day and age” it seems atavistic, crude and simply narrow-minded and mean. And so it may very well be. The world is full of people – sometimes right next door – who hold views, express beliefs, and act in ways that we consider wrong, misguided, and insensitive to others.
But what is the proposed solution? Clearly it is to compel people with these “out-of-step” ideas to conform to “right acting” and “right thinking” through forced association imposed by the government.
In other words, disapproval of private non-coercive discrimination in matters concerning views about sexual orientation are to be remedied through compulsory “anti-discrimination” legislation by forcing some to associate with others who they do not want to associate with.
Furthermore, those who have said they may end all or some of their business activities in the state of Indiana as long as this law remains on the books are, themselves, practicing discriminatory collective guilt. They are marking all in the State of Indiana for “punishment,” even those who may not agree with this law or who are indifferent about the legislation and who never think about sexual orientation issues.
So the “innocent” are to be punished along with the “guilty” through a form of “guilt by association.” What is being said is, “We will refuse to have any business dealings with any of you until you get all of those in your state to accept our views on the social acceptability of sexual orientations.”
Now, in the free society anyone should be able to refuse to do business with anyone with whom they choose not to associate. So, these enterprises are in their right to choose not to do some or all of their business in the State of Indiana for whatever reason.
But what those threatening such a boycott want is for the State of Indiana to force citizens in that state to be coerced into associative relationships into which they do not want to enter. In other words, this is a threatened economic boycott for purposes of gaining legal privileges for some at the expense of others – the compelling of commercial interactions that not all possible participants want to be a part of.
The Broader Issue of Freedom of Association
This broader issue has nothing to do, per se, with whether or not those with strong anti-homosexual religious views and values are right or wrong. One can strongly believe that such views and values are misplaced or out-of-date in these “modern times.”
The more fundamental issue is one of whether or not an individual may or may not be compelled into associations and relationships with those who they do not want to do business, or indeed to have any interaction?
Should a black photographer be required to take photos at a neo-Nazi wedding with banners saying “Death to All N_ _ _ _ _s”? Should a devote Muslim running a catering business be required to prepare and serve pork, if insisted upon at a Christian family gathering? Should an atheist running a printing business be compelling to publish religious works calling for the silencing of all non-believers as agents of the Devil?
And if not, then on what reasonable or objective basis is it to be determined whose beliefs and values are to be protected as “freedom of association” and whose are not – other than social and ideological fads and fashions of the particular time and place, and those who can succeed in gaining the ear of and influence over those who can pass the relevant legislation?
A free society does not come without a price. Part of that price is the realization and acceptance that there are and always will be people in society who hold views very different from one’s own, and live their lives accordingly.
Government Coercion Should Not be the Answer
Bringing government into these matters merely brings coercion to the table, and therefore makes politics even more than it already is a war for power and control to impose one set of beliefs and values over another on the members of society.
The benefit from leaving discrimination issues out of the political arena is that it remains part of the private sphere. And in the private sphere everyone must weigh the costs and benefits from their own actions and interactions with other private individuals.
A racist or a homophobe is free to discriminate on that basis in the society, and if he runs a business he can refuse to hire those he considers racially inferior or sexually unacceptable. But there is a cost. He misses the opportunity to employ those of useful and profitable skills, abilities and talents, who end up finding jobs with his competitors who place more importance on a financial “bottom line” than personal prejudice.
He equally forgoes the business that could have been his from turning down customers that he chooses not to sell to and deal with, and his rivals gain those sales and larger revenues, instead.
Such an individual may still decide that given his beliefs and values the cost is worth bearing for the benefit of not participating in such commercial associations.
However, the advantage of leaving such matters to the marketplace and out of the legislative halls of power is that his prejudices do not control the decisions of other businessmen or anyone else in society. He can be as anti-homosexual as he wants in his hiring practices and customer dealings. But he cannot prevent any existing or potential competitors from having a different “orientation” – will hiring this individual or accepting this person’s business make me more money and give me an enlarged market share compared to my racist or homophobic rival?
In the eyes of the friend of freedom this is the ethically superior and socially more sustainable manner of breaking down and finally eliminating many misplaced and even irrational prejudices, superstitions, and atavistic attitudes and actions.
The path of using political power to try to bring about changes in social attitudes and actions is both morally wrong and often far too counter-productive.
The road to liberty, equality, and tolerance runs through a respect for and defense of individual rights of freedom of association, not by way of collective punishment and group privilege.
[Originally published at Epic Times]