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The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
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Grappling with the Burden of Student Debt

April 02, 2014, 2:04 PM

Every year the percentage of American high school graduates enrolling in college increases. Yet the cost of attaining those degrees has been growing at an astronomical pace, one that is harmful and unsustainable.

Using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to assess the rising prices of goods, it is immediately clear that something very strange is going on in the higher education market. The cost of attending college has increased by nearly three times that of the CPI taken as a whole.

Today, most students can only afford college by taking out loans. While less than half of undergraduates needed loans in the early 1990s, the figure has risen to more than two-thirds. The average loan burden is now an astonishing $29,400.

In a recent interview with CCTV America, The Heartland Institute’s Director of Government Relations, John Nothdurft, described the serious woes created by the more than $1 trillion in federal student loan debt currently hobbling a generation of young Americans. Rather than being a sure way to enter the middle class, the lodestone of debt has made life a struggle for many young graduates trying to start careers. Instead of being liberating, college has shackled these people to a struggle to stay afloat, forcing many to make hard decisions; some have to move back in with their parents because they cannot get decent work, while those who can work are so laden with debt that they have to put off life milestones, like buying their first houses or starting families, far longer than did previous generations.

The sheer amount of debt is staggering, and it continues to grow as costs increase and post-college employment prospects remain the doldrums.

Why then are students continuing to enroll in college in record numbers? One reason appears to be the bizarre sensibility propagated by the media and education establishment that college must needs be the natural follow-on from high school, that all normal people go on to college. Essentially, college has been transformed in the public psyche from an optional undertaking designed to educate professionals and develop human capital into a mandatory rite of passage. Should it hold such an exalted place?

In a country ever more dependent on technology and innovation to stay ahead of global competitors, a well-educated populace is essential to success. It is absolutely true that America relies upon its superior advancement to remain a powerhouse in world commerce. Some promoters of increased college enrollment argue that it is only by getting more people into college can we retain our knowledge edge. However, that argument is not borne out by the facts.

In reality, increased college enrollment and graduation do not translate to gains to a “smart economy.” When lots of students enroll in college to study the humanities, they do not contribute to the technological gains of the country. What college so often turns out to be is an expensive four-year detour that does little to boost the career potential of a graduate.

The problem is exacerbated by the heavy government involvement in the student loans market. The government makes loans on the basis of financial need alone, and does not consider what the recipient intends to do with the money. The result is countless billions of dollars of taxpayer money spent on educations that will yield no great economic value for the country. It is the definition of a poor investment decision. In the interest of treating students equally, the federal government does nothing to shepherd the people’s funds which are entrusted to its care, instead treating the people who might be able to succeed in the information economy with an engineering degree as an equal risk to the students of 19th century French poetry. This willy-nilly assessment of the value of college has no doubt contributed to the poor allocation of educational resources.

If the government insists on funding higher education, then it should make assessments in the same way private loaners would, namely to actually assess the risk-reward frontier of the loans it gives. Such assessments could go a decent way toward blunting the currently distorted incentives of loan recipients whose interest rates and borrowing amounts are unaffected by chosen courses of study.

Yet there are better ways to allocate these federal resources. One way would be to just stop distorting the higher education mark with its deluge of cash, so that colleges have to set tuition more along the lines of market-price, rather than tuition based on the amount they think they can squeeze from the government. It could also make access to vocational education more readily available so that there is a genuine alternative to college that won’t break the bank or waste government funds egregiously.

The way to an innovative society cannot be paved with crushing debt. Ultimately, something’s got to give. Rather than bankrupting the next generation, we should lay the groundwork for its success. Radically reforming the federal loan system would be a good start.

Categories: On the Blog

Annual State-Local Tax Burdens Report Released

April 02, 2014, 12:06 PM

The nonpartisan Tax Foundation released its Annual State-Local Tax Burdens report on Wednesday showing results from the 2011 fiscal year. The main findings include an overall decrease in state-local tax burdens. Americans paid 9.8% of their collective income in state and local taxes in 2011. Depending on the state, the burden ranged from 6.9% to 12.6%.

The report released highlights major burdens in many states. In states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the taxpayer forgoes 11.9% of their income or higher. These states have topped of the list since 2005. These states also find themselves at the top of the lists for most liberal states in the United States and worst-run states in the United States.

Although there has been a decrease in tax burdens from 2010 to 2011, states like Connecticut have seen an overall rise in their tax burden since 1977. Despite the fact that a taxpayer in these states will never see a significant amount of their income, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are each still experiencing major budget shortfalls. The heavy tax burden has not translated into lower deficits and smart budgets.

The states with the lowest state-local tax burdens include Wyoming, Alaska, and South Dakota. Taxpayers forgo 6.9%, 7.0%, and 7.1% of their income in each state respectively. These states, along with many of the other least-burdened states, do not have a tax on wage income. Places like Alaska and Wyoming also have the advantage of being resource-rich.

By taking advantage of these resources such as oil, residents are relieved from a hefty tax burden. The same advantages are seen in states with major tourist destinations through tax exportation. This report by the Tax Foundation acknowledges this differentiation, unlike the Census Bureau, making its conclusions unique and potentially more accurate when measuring tax burdens.

Since 1977, all three of these least-burdened states have experienced major decreases in tax burdens. Unlike the states with the most burdensome tax policies, Wyoming, Alaska, and South Dakota are some of the most conservative states in the United States as well as some of the best run states. Notably, none of these states are facing major budget shortfalls. The taxpayers and residents of Wyoming, Alaska, and South Dakota are facing a low burden, while reaping the benefits of a well-run and well budgeted state government.

Overall, the Tax Foundation’s Annual State-Local Tax Burdens report offers important insight into burdens imposed on certain state’s residents. The report takes into account tax collections that cross state borders giving accurate accounts of the burdens faced by individuals. States that burden their residents the most are facing budget problems that high tax revenue has yet to fix. Conversely, states with a low burden simultaneously experience well run state governments and budgets.

Categories: On the Blog

Scaring the World About its Climate

April 02, 2014, 12:00 PM

Ever since the creation in 1988 of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it has engaged in the greatest hoax of modern times, releasing reports that predict climate-related catastrophes as if the climate has not been a completely natural and dynamic producer of events that affect our lives.

The IPCC was set up by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Program. It has enlisted thousands of scientists to contribute to its scare campaign, but as Joseph Bast, the president of The Heartland Institute, noted in a recent Forbes article regarding the vast difference in the assertions of the IPCC scientists and those of its puckishly named Nonintergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), “What is a non-scientist to make of these dueling reports? Indeed, what is a scientist to make of this?”

“Very few scientists are familiar with biology, geology, physics, oceanography, engineering, medicine, economics, and scores of other more specialized disciplines that were the basis of the claims…” The IPCC has depended on the ignorance of those scientists outside their particular disciplines and recruited them to be involved in the UN hoax. The rest of us look to them to provide guidance regarding issues involving the climate and, as a result, have been deliberately deceived.

The NIPCC, anticipating the latest IPCC addition to its climate scare campaign, has just issued a new addition to its “Climate Change Reconsidered” reports. The first volume was 850 pages long and the latest is more than 1,000 pages. It represents the findings of scores of scientists from around the world and thousands of peer-reviewed studies. At this point they represent some twenty nations.

I have been an advisor to The Heartland Institute for many years and have been exposing the climate change lies since the late 1980s. A science writer, I have benefited from the work of men like atmospheric physicist, S. Fred Singer, a founder of the NPCC who has overseen five reports debunking the IPCC since 2003.

The Heartland Institute has sponsored nine international conferences that have brought together many scientists and others in an effort to debunk the UN’s climate scare campaign.

I have always depended on the common sense of people to understand that humans have nothing to do with the climate except to endure and enjoy it. We don’t create it or influence it.

The global warming campaign is based on the Big Lie that carbon dioxide (CO2) traps the Sun’s heat and warms the Earth, but the fairly miniscule amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (0.038%) does not do that in a fashion that poses any threat. Indeed, it is the Sun that determines the Earth’s climate, depending where you happen to be on the Earth. Next to oxygen, CO2 is vital to all life on Earth as it is the “food” on which all vegetation depends. More CO2 is good. Less is not so good.

The IPCC has depended in part on the print and broadcast media to spread its Big Lie. It also depends on world leaders, few of whom have any background or serious knowledge of atmospheric science, to impose policies based on the Big Lie. These policies target the use of “fossil fuels”, oil, coal and natural gas, urging a reduction of their use. The world, however, utterly depends on them and, in addition to existing reserves, new reserves are found every year.

One reason the IPCC has been in a growing state of panic is a new, completely natural cooling cycle based on a reduction of solar radiation. As James M. Taylor, the managing editor of Heartland’s “Environment & Climate News”, pointed out recently, “Winter temperatures in the contiguous United States declined by more than a full degree Celsius (more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit) during the past twenty years.” He was citing National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. “The data contradicts assertions that human induced global warming is causing a rise in winter temperatures.”

In addition to the recent extremely cold winter, there have been others in 2000-2001 and 2009-2010. There will be more.

The IPCC report is full of claims about global warming, now called “climate change” since the world is obviously not warming. In March, Taylor rebutted an IPCC claim that crop production is falling, noting that global corn, rice, and wheat production have more than tripled since 1970. In recent years, the U.S. has set records for alfalfa, cotton, beans, sugar beets, canola, corn, flaxseed, hops, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sugarcane, sunflowers, peanuts, and wheat, to name just a few.

The Earth would benefit from more, not less, CO2 emissions, but the Obama administration has been engaged in imposing hundreds of new regulations aimed at reductions. It targets the development and expansion of our energy sector. The President has repeated the lies in his State of the Union speeches and we have a Secretary of State, John Kerry, who insists that climate change is the greatest threat to mankind and not the increase of nuclear weapons.

Every one of the Earth’s seven billion population are being subjected to the UN’s campaign of lies and every one of us needs to do whatever we can to bring about an end to the United Nations and reject the IPCC’s claims.

[Originally published at Warning Signs]
Categories: On the Blog

U.N. Agenda 21 Impacts Private Property Rights and Freedom

April 02, 2014, 11:00 AM

[This piece is co-authored by Bonnie O'Neil]

Our last article, “Are You Under Attack by UN Agenda 21,” exposed the “United Nation Agenda 21″ scheme to grab American citizens’ property rights and freedoms. While that information is not exactly going viral throughout America, more and more people are realizing something unusual and troubling is happening in America.

That is good news, because the more citizens become observant and knowledgeable, the better chance we have of stopping what many now believe is an invasive attack upon us. While property rights are a major part of Agenda 21, it encompasses far more areas of our lives, with new laws and adverse changes from our government. We will explain the other tentacles of this odious United Nations agenda in future editions. This article will inform you of more ways it impacts our property and freedom, as well as our natural resources, parks and historic landmarks.

We must deny the assumption that only government can protect nature, air, soil, water, and open spaces. History informs us that all societies run by totalitarian governments experience severe environmental degradation where there is little or no private property and a misuse of resources. The end result is a chasm which develops between the haves and have-nots and a resulting bleak future for individual citizens.

An example of personal property being taken by the government is The Wildlands Project. It dictates how land is to be set aside for non-humans, and if your property happens to be located in one of their designated areas, you become less important than animals. In Kern County, California, there are 400 such areas planned.  The pretense to confiscate the land is that it is national forest land, with the claim “it is good for the people.”

There is a definite push to have people become more dependent by relocating them from suburbs into cities, out of private homes into condos, and out of private cars onto their bikes or electric cars.  Bike lanes and bike paths are all the rage right now, as cities and rural areas are being remade in accordance to the sustainable model.  With high density urban developments, parking for cars could be eliminated, as there would be no need for vehicles that sprew forth CO2.  As documented in the Fifth Assessment Report issued by the U.N. International Panel of Climate Change (ipcc) on September 27. 2013, manmade Global Warming was attributed in large part to CO2 emissions.

In 2013 San Francisco Bay Area residents battled city planners on the implementation of “Plan Bay Area and Senate Bill 345″– known as the “smart growth” program — which called for the moving of people from rural communities into the city’s urban sprawl so government would have more control over how they impacted the environment.   Rosa KIoire, a former forensic appraiser and the founder of Democrats Against UN Agenda 21, believes the smart growth plan is more about making people live closer together so government can have more control over them than about any environmental impact.

The Monument Act was originally created to protect America’s historical landmarks and/or structures from being destroyed. That Act is now being used by the federal government to grab land for their own purposes.  Those who designed the Act did not foresee something as odious as Agenda 21, and trusted that our federal government would never use the Act for any other purpose than to preserve our monuments. However, abuses are happening, as the citizens of New Mexico can testify. In December of 2012, President Obama used the Monument Act to grab the area known as the Taos Plateau, even though that area lacked properties that would qualify it for a national monument.  That area of the state has enormous underground resources, such as oil, coal, and uranium, resources that could be providing economic benefits to both the state and its residents.  Rather than create jobs that would benefit the people who live in New Mexico, that land now belongs to the government.

Then there is the Clean Water Act of 1972 where even mud puddles can become wetlands that must be protected.  Should an area be deemed a wetland, the owner is no longer allowed to use or sell it. One of the more mindless abuses of the law happened in California.   Using a provision in the Clean Water Act, which provided for a healthy habitat for fish, California officials purposely diverted the Sacrament River and allowed that essential water supply to flow into the ocean. Sound too incredible to believe?   What would ever cause such a strange action?

A relatively unknown, small SMELT fish was being caught in pumps that supplied water to the valley.  The fish was on the endangered list and citing the Endangered Species Act, a judge ordered the pumps that watered the valley turned off and the water diverted, lest the Delta melt be disturbed   That water supply was needed to irrigate hundreds of thousands of acres  of farm area in California, and without it, farmers were forced to watch once thriving fruit groves to wither and die, as well as other types of crops throughout a huge region in the California valley.  Jobs were lost, lives were destroyed, all because the government chose to protect a fish over peoplewhose lives depended upon their farming their land for a living.  Even when California fell victim to a severe drought, the government would not relent and let the river flow along its normal course.  We now live in a land in which a fish is more important than people.  Certainly this is not what our forefathers intended of the law, but an overreaching government has abused our freedoms.

The erosion of property rights has continued despite public backlash, as it did in the Supreme Court Kelo v. New London decision in 2005, which allowed a Connecticut town to seize private property not just for public use, but also for private development surrounding new offices for the Pfizer Inc. drug corporation. In 2009, New York state’s highest court ruled the state could use eminent domain to seize large numbers of homes and businesses in Brooklyn to make room for a new arena for New Jersey Nets basketball. Even more grievous, in 2005, The Supreme Court ruled that local governments may force property owners to sell out and make way for private economic development when officials decide it would benefit the public, even if the property is not blighted and the new project’s success is not guaranteed.

You are probably wondering whom is behind the U.N. Agenda 21 plan. Unfortunately, quite a few world-wide leaders, including many in our own country.   Not surprising, one of the more prominent is George Soros, a billionaire and liberal socialist, who strongly supports Agenda 21.   Soros’ money has been tracked to funding parts of ICLEI, as early as 1997 when his “Open Society” gave ICLEI over 2 million dollars to support a Local Agenda 21 Project.  His billions fund over 90 leftist organizations such as ACORN, SEIU, MoveOn.org, Occupy Wall Street, the ACLU and most any that promote his far-left agenda. In a subsequent article we will discuss how Soros’ Open Society Institute has partnered with the U. S. Department of Education to promote a global education initiative to bring about the nationalization of the American education system known as Common Core, endorsed by Arne Duncan, Obama’s left leaning Secretary of Education.

We can only hope that we can defeat Agenda 21 before experiencing any more government abuses.  One way to stop Agenda 21 from infiltrating American is to vote for Conservative candidates who oppose U.N. Agenda 21.  Oh, and not just vote, but support them in every way possible.  Educate yourself about the candidates and then talk to your friends, relatives, and neighbors …. maybe even your grocery store clerk.  Whatever it takes:  Vote against the slick liberals who make claims they have no intention of keeping.  Look at their records, not their rhetoric.  There is an ongoing war for our future, and we need good men to fight on the side of liberty and freedom.

When the defense of liberty becomes a crime, tyranny is already in force. At that point, failure to defend liberty makes slavery a certainty.

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Classical Liberalism and the Quest for World Peace

April 02, 2014, 10:00 AM
Failed Attempts for World Peace

In the immediate aftermath of the First World War, the League of Nations was seen as the great hope for world peace and security. Its failure in the years between the two world wars (1919-1939) was taken as proof that a better and stronger organization was needed if yet a third world war was to be prevented.

Out of the ashes of World War II emerged the United Nations. Once again were heard the heralds proclaiming that world peace and security were in man’s reach. And, once more, mankind’s hopes were dashed during the Cold War rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union.

In the post–Cold War era since 1991, the world has been in search of global peace once again. It has taken the form of United Nations or NATO political and military interventions in various parts of the world. And, sometimes, it has been in the form of unilateral military actions by the United States and others countries when they have declared it to be in their “national interests.”

But the quest for world peace through either political internationalism or unilateralism is a false path to the goal of ending global conflicts.

During the twentieth century, when peace was pursued through international organizations such as the League of Nations and the UN, the world suffered from wars, civil wars, and mass murders on a scale that practically exceeds the capacity of the human mind to comprehend.

Wars and domestic political murder by governments around the world may have resulted in the deaths of more than 300 million people during the last one hundred years.

Less Government Equaled Global Order

In stark contrast, during the one hundred years between 1815 and 1914, when no global political organizations for world peace existed, wars were few in number, relatively short in duration, and, compared with the twentieth century, fairly limited in their destructive effects on human life and property.

(The American Civil War of the 1860s, with more than 600,000 deaths was one striking exception to this pattern.)

For many people in the first half of the twentieth century who still had an adult’s memory of the period before the First World War, that era before 1914 seemed like a golden age.

The distinguishing characteristic of nineteenth-century Europe and North America is that, however inconsistently and imperfectly it might have been practiced, that hundred-year period between 1815 and 1914 can rightly be said to have been the product of the classical-liberal spirit.

The guiding principle that directed much of public policy in practically all the countries of the “civilized world” was the depoliticizing of social life. Its underlying premise, however incompletely grounded, was the right of the individual to his own life, liberty and honestly acquired property, with government to be the protector and no longer the violator of men’s rights.

With the triumph of free trade over mercantilism in the early and middle decades of the nineteenth century and with the elimination of many of the domestic regulations, monopoly privileges, and restraints on enterprise, the state was dramatically removed from the affairs of everyday life.

In its place arose “civil society,” the blossoming of the “private sector,” and an extension of the network of “intermediary institutions” of voluntary association and market relationships.

The “cosmopolitan ideal” that inspired many of the thinkers of the eighteenth century became a partial reality in the nineteenth century.

Men, money, and material goods, as well as all the products of intellectual discovery and inquiry, increasingly traveled freely from one corner of the globe to another, with few political impediments standing in their way.

Knowledge about the arts and the sciences became internationalized for an expanding circle of the general public.

“Rules of the Game” for Peace and Prosperity

Governments of the “civilized world” did form international associations and reached various agreements with each other in the nineteenth century, it is true. . But for the most part (and separate from various changing political and military alliances), their associations and agreements were designed to facilitate the smooth functioning of private intercourse among their citizens and subjects.

They included international river commissions, railway and transportation agreements, telegraph and postal unions, health rules and guidelines, procedures for uniform weights and measures, and respect for patents and copyrights.

Governments occasionally still tried to influence the construction of these international standards and procedures to benefit some domestic interest and limit the commercial penetration of some foreign competitors.

But to a great extent the thinking behind them was to establish general “rules of the game” to assist in the further globalization of private commercial and cultural exchange. (Whether even these matters concerning standards, measures, and procedures should have been left to voluntary private association and agreement is a separate historical issue.)

Governments also attempted to agree upon rules for arbitration of disputes among themselves, on “civilized rules” for combat on land and sea, and for the humane treatment of noncombatants and neutrals if wars should break out.

These were meant to establish restraints on the destructiveness of modern warfare and to limit the damage to human life and private property. If wars were still to be fought, then at least the negative consequences for civil society should be confined as much as possible. Again, however imperfectly, the underlying concept was supposed to be a respect for the rights of the individual and his property, even in times of war.

World Peace the Outcome of Greater Individual Liberty

In this classical-liberal era before 1914, a vast international order was created that facilitated a globalization of trade, commerce, and investment that fostered a cosmopolitan climate in which national borders no longer inhibited the movement of either men or ideas and in which wars were considered wild things that were to be tamed, confined, and prevented from excessively harming human life.

The fundamental force behind all of this, in cannot be emphasized enough, was the idea of individual liberty and the sanctity of private property as an inseparable extension of that freedom of the individual. Governments were endowed with legitimacy and authority to preserve and protect the individual and his property from violence and spoliation. Their function was negative and defensive.

International order and a high degree of international peace was maintainable because, to a greater or lesser degree, all of the governments of the “civilized world” shared the belief that this was among their most essential functions.

No special organization for world peace and security was needed, since the leading nations of the world all tended to follow the same “rules of the game” and because they all shared the same general classical-liberal-oriented outlook concerning man, society, and government.

I appreciate that I am making a broad generalization; numerous particulars concerning each of these countries could easily be used to argue against my sweeping conclusion. Understanding of and respect for the individual and his rights varied greatly in these Western countries of “civilized world.” And in some areas of life this respect was weak or almost non-existent in some of these countries on the European continent.

Yet I believe that when looking over an historical period, it is sometimes possible to see an idea or a belief that can be said to have captured the “spirit of the times” and that can be seen to have influenced the course of events in various ways.

And in this sense, the classical-liberal idea helped to restrain governments and set free the individual; and it served as the underlying conception that determined the “rules of the game” that international relationships required in an era of free men, private enterprise, and civil society.

International peace and order, in this sense, were inseparable from the classical-liberal ideas of private voluntary association, peaceful competition, and a globalized system of division of labor.

Collectivism Meant Less Freedom and More Conflict

In the last decades of the nineteenth century, another idea began to challenge and finally superseded the classical-liberal ideal. That idea was political and economic collectivism. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it took various forms: Marxian socialism, fascism, Nazism, welfare statism, social democracy, neo-mercantilism, protectionism, and imperialism.

But regardless of its permutation, its conceptions of man, society, and government opposed those of classical liberalism. Individual liberty, civil society, and market relationships were made subordinate to political ends and, in the extreme forms of political and economic collectivism, suppressed by them. Man and society were repoliticized.

It was the new idea of collectivism that set the world on the course that led to the First World War. Leading up to the war were the drive for monopolized markets; domestic regulation of trade and commerce; militarization of international relationships; the ascendancy of “great-power” politics to which individual interests were to be subservient; individual obedience to the interests of the state; and welfare statism, with its nationalization of income and redistribution of wealth.

The First World War dramatically reinforced these tendencies in a way that permanently brought an end to the classical-liberal era. It also ended the particular conditions that were conducive to international peace.

In the collectivist era of the twentieth century, everything became an affair of state because nothing was outside of political consideration. Trade and commerce were no longer matters of private individuals searching for mutually advantageous gains from trade; instead they became issues of national prosperity, national employment, national industrial development, and national standards of living.

Ownership and control of resources and raw materials in various parts of the world became matters of “national security,” as they had been under the older mercantilism, before classical liberalism had freed and privatized the economic and international affairs of life.

Every aspect of life, every human relationship, every form of commerce, enterprise, and exchange was politicized once again. Once more they were made affairs of state, rather than matters of private agreement and competition for improvement of the human condition.

What motivated the shift from classical liberalism to the collectivist era?

The Danger of Special Interests and Social Engineers

Two forces came into play in the twentieth century. First was the power of special interests and the second was the appeal of the social engineer.

The principle of the equality of individual rights for all before the law was replaced with the idea of group privileges and entitlements for some at the expense of others at home and abroad. Rather than the “umpire” enforcing the “rules of the game” of respected individual rights for all, the government became an engine for redistributions, regulations and controls to benefit pitting groups within nations against each other for political favors, as well conflicts between nations wishing to plunder each other.

Adam Smith’s conception of a system of natural liberty under which every man was free to peacefully follow his own interests, with the cumulative results of men’s interactions generating a spontaneous order of human relationships, was replaced with the hubris of the government planner who considered himself wise and knowledgeable enough to reorder society according to his higher vision of the proper, fair, and just relationships that should prevail among men.

The fetish of the social engineer did not pass away with Nazism in World War II or with the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. It is the essence of the welfare state and has been the implicit agenda behind America’s and other country’s military interventions around the world both during and since the end of the Cold War.

Whether such foreign intervention is undertaken unilaterally by the United States or jointly by several nations under an aegis such as NATO’s or even in the name of the entire world with authorization from the UN, the attempt to bring peace and order in the present era will invariably fail to achieve all that is hoped from it.

The fundamental reason for this continuing failure is that such peace and order can be established on a permanent basis only in a world in which classical-liberal ideas once more predominate.

Freedom Makes for World Peace, Not Social Engineers

But an understanding of a free society and ultimately its establishment cannot be socially engineered, centrally planned, or coercively imposed. It must grow within each individual.

When a sufficient number of people within a society come to share that common vision of a free civil and market society based on a respect for individual rights, with government simply the protector of those “rules of the game,” then the institutional changes will develop to transform that society into a community of free men.

This is made more difficult when the leading nation espousing a restructuring of the world has itself lost any real understanding of the meaning of freedom. How can America teach other countries and remold them into models of freedom when America itself has lost an understanding of what freedom means.

Can freedom mean government-supplied health care, government standardization of education across the nation, politically motivated favors and privileges for special-interest groups, government surveillance of and intrusion into the private affairs of ordinary citizens, regulation of industry and commerce, arrests and indefinite imprisonment without charges, and growing tax burdens to pay for the costs of domestic and foreign interventionist policies?

How can freedom be taught and planned for others when in these and many other areas neither Americans nor Europeans have any real and clear understanding what freedom means and requires in everyday daily life?

And can how foreign political and military intervention be free of both justifiable and false suspicions concerning the motives of the interventionists on the part of those being “liberated” when the intervening governments involve themselves in various domestic and international affairs precisely to use their power to benefit some at the expense of others?

Only a real and successful rebirth of the classical-liberal ideas of individual freedom, private property, impartial rule of law, freedom of trade at home and abroad, and strictly limited government can bring about a world of peace.

Only when these ideas are once again believed in, direct men’s choices, and are established will the world reduce and eliminate the primary reasons that governments go to war with each other or that men fight civil wars against each other within their own countries.

Only then will the preconditions be present for the type of world community of peaceful nations that the eighteenth- and nineteenth- century classical liberal friends of freedom envisaged and partly brought into existence in that earlier epoch of human history.

No Peace in the World Without Freedom in Practice

Until then wars and civil wars will continue to break out and wreak havoc upon the world. And even the might of the most powerful nations in the world cannot prevent them from happening or eliminate their causes.

If America is to have a role in bringing about world peace, the finest and best path for it to follow is to rediscover and practice freedom within its own borders.

By reestablishing strictly limited government; by freeing the individual from the social and economic regulations, restrictions, and controls under which the people in the United States now live; by restoring the spirit of individual self-government and responsibility for the affairs of life, America will do more for world peace and order than any misguided and counterproductive political and military interventions aboard could ever hope to achieve.

By following such a course, America can serve as a model and ideal for millions around the world of what freedom and peace can achieve. There would be a respect for the American example and a legitimacy would be given to it, as people in other lands saw that America actually practiced the noninterventionist policy that it often preaches but which it continually violates in both domestic and international affairs.

The classical-liberal ideal that provided more freedom and prosperity to more people than has ever been known before can be restored, if only the ideas of individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism are more widely understood and appreciated, and most importantly valued and implemented.

 

[Originally published at EpicTimes]

Categories: On the Blog

More Fraudulent Science from EPA

April 02, 2014, 9:00 AM

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency recently slashed the maximum allowable sulfur content in gasoline from 30 parts per million to 10 ppm. The agency claims its new “Tier 3” rule will bring $7 billion to $19 billion in annual health benefits by 2030. “These standards are a win for public health, a win for our environment and a win for our pocketbooks,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy insists.

It’s all hokum. Like all too many rules emanating from EPA these days, the gasoline regulations are a case study in how America’s economy, jobs, living standards, health, and welfare are being pummeled by secretive, deceptive, and indeed fraudulent and corrupt government practices.

Since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, America’s cars have eliminated some 99% of pollutants that once came out of tailpipes, notes air quality expert Joel Schwartz. Since 2004, under Tier 2 rules, refiners have reduced sulfur in gasoline from an average of 300 ppm to 30 ppm – a 90% drop, on top of pre-2004 reductions. In addition, because newer cars start out cleaner and stay cleaner throughout their lives, fleet turnover is reducing emissions by 8% to10% per year, steadily improving air quality.

The net result, says a 2012 Environ International study, is that ground-level ozone concentrations will fall even more dramatically by 2022.  Volatile organic pollutants will plummet by 62%, carbon monoxide by 51%, and nitrous oxides by 80% – beyond reductions already achieved between 1970 and 2004.

EPA (which once promised to be ultra-transparent) claims its rules will add less than a penny per gallon to gasoline prices, but it won’t say how it arrived at that estimate. Industry sources say the Tier 3 rules will require $10 billion in upfront capital expenditures, an additional $2.4 billion in annual compliance expenses, significant increases in refinery energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and an extra 5 to 9 cents per gallon in manufacturing costs, all of which will certainly hit consumers at the pump.

But regardless of their ultimate cost, the rules will reduce monthly ozone levels by just 1.2 parts per billion during rush hour, says Environ. That’s equivalent to 12 cents out of $100 million or 1.2 seconds out of 32,000 years. These minuscule improvements could not even have been measured by equipment existing a couple decades ago. Their contribution to improved human health will be essentially zero.

Not so, say the EPA, the Sierra Club, and the American Lung Association (ALA). The rules will reduce asthma in “the children,” they insist. However, asthma incidences have been increasing, while air pollution has declined – demonstrating that the pollution-asthma connection is a red herring. The disease is caused by allergies, a failure to expose young children to sufficient allergens to cause their immune systems to build resistance to airborne allergens, and lack of sufficient exercise to keep lungs robust. Not surprisingly, a Southern California study found no association between asthma hospitalizations and air pollution levels.

Moreover, EPA paid the ALA $20 million between 2001 and 2010. No wonder it echoes agency claims about air quality and lung problems. The payments continue today, while EPA also funnels millions to various environmentalist pressure groups – and even to “independent” EPA scientific review panels – that likewise rubber stamp too many EPA pollution claims, studies and regulatory actions.

As Ron Arnold recently reported in The Washington Examiner, 15 of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee members have received $180.8 million in EPA grants since 2000. One CASAC panelist (Dr. Edward Avol of USC) received $51.7 million! The seven CASAC executive committee members pocketed $80.2 million. Imagine Big Oil paying that kind of cash to an advisory group, and calling it “independent.” The news media, government, and environmentalists would have a field day with that one.

The Clean Air Act, Information Quality Act, Executive Order 12866, and other laws require that agencies assess both the costs and benefits of proposed regulations, and implement them only if the rules’ benefits clearly exceed and justify their costs. However, EPA and other agencies systematically and illegally violate these rules, routinely inflate the alleged benefits of their rules, and habitually minimize or ignore their adverse impacts on energy supplies and prices, jobs, the economy, and human health and welfare.

Reporting on a hearing held by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Arnold noted that CASAC members say they weren’t even aware that they are obligated to advise EPA on both benefits and costs. Former EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Jeff Holmstead testified, “As far as I know, CASAC never fulfilled this requirement as it relates to the ozone standard or any other” rule.

Former CASAC chairman Dr. Roger McClellan told Rep. Smith he did not think the panel “ever advised EPA to take account of the role of socioeconomic factors, unemployment, or other risk factors” adversely affecting people’s health. Another former CASAC member testified that the advisory committee was not even “allowed to discuss any of the adverse consequences” associated with new rulemakings.

EPA regulations impose countless billions of dollars in annual impacts on the U.S. economy, according to studies by the Heritage FoundationCompetitive Enterprise Institute and Government Accountability Office. Estimates of total compliance costs for all federal regulations range to nearly $2 trillion per year. Some may bring benefits, but many or most also inflict significant harm on human health.

They mean millions of layoffs, far fewer jobs created, and steadily declining quality of life for millions of Americans, who cannot heat and cool their homes properly, pay the rent and mortgage, or save for retirement. They mean increased commuting to multiple jobs, poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, higher incidences of depression and alcohol, drug, spousal and child abuse, and lower life expectancies.

In another example, EPA justifies its onerous carbon dioxide regulations by asserting that Earth’s climate is highly sensitive to C02, hypothesizing every conceivable carbon cost, and imputing huge monetized damages from hydrocarbon use and CO2 emissions ($36/ton of CO2 emitted). This completely ignores the most obvious and enormous job, health and welfare benefits of using fossil fuels; the benefits of higher carbon dioxide levels for food crops, forests and grasslands; and even the harmful effects that these regulations are having on energy prices and reliability, and thus people’s jobs, health and welfare.

The EPA, ALA, and CASAC likewise insist that new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards for coal-fired power plants will bring huge health benefits. However, the mercury risks were hugely overblown, the proclaimed dangers from fine particulates were contradicted by EPA’s own illegal experiments on human subjects – and the agency never assessed the health and welfare damage that the MATS rules will impose by causing the loss of 200,000 jobs and 23,000 megawatts of reliable, affordable electricity by 2015.

Similarly, EPA and CASAC blithely failed to consider the human carnage that will result from their new 54.5 mpg vehicle mileage standards, as people are forced into smaller, lighter, less safe cars. Having based numerous regulations on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that have been roundly criticized as erroneous and even fraudulent, EPA now refuses to reconsider any of its rules, even though there has been no warming for 17 years and the IPCC itself is back-peddling on previous claims.

Ignoring all these facts, the nation’s automakers nevertheless supported EPA’s Tier 3 sulfur rules. They prefer to have a single national standard, instead of one for California and one for the other 49 states. But to “Californiacate” America’s regulatory system is exactly the wrong direction to go. The once-Golden State has among the most perverse taxes and regulations – and thus some of the highest unemployment rates, especially for blacks, Hispanics and inland communities. Instead of emulating its strangulation by regulation proclivities, we should be forcing it to adopt more commonsense, scientifically sound rules.

Congress, state legislatures, attorneys general, people, and courts need to exert much greater control over now unaccountable government agencies. We need to terminate regulations based on the absurd view that there is no safe pollution threshold. The dose always makes the poison.

We also need to end the million-dollar payoffs to advisory groups, make them represent multiple interests and viewpoints – and ensure that government agencies fully and honestly assess and account for the harmful effects of regulations on human health and welfare, as required by law.

 

[Originally published at CFACT]

Categories: On the Blog

Core Opposition Will Grow

April 01, 2014, 12:10 PM

[This article is a response to an editorial in The Augusta Chronicle]

Your editorial “Rotten to the core” (March 23) pointed out a truth that many news articles omit or gloss over – namely, that opposition to the national Common Core standards crosses partisan and ideological lines. That is one reason to remain optimistic about the prospect for eventual repeal, despite anti-Common Core bills stalling out recently in Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.

The corporate and political bigwigs pushing for uniform national standards did not give up when their first attempt failed during the Clinton years. They continued to work behind the scenes through an organization they named Achieve Inc., and they were ready to push the cause hard again after the 2008 election of President Obama.

Americans who want to preserve local and parental control of education must be no less determined. They are winning some battles as several states follow Georgia’s lead and withdraw from the nationalized student assessments linked to Common Core, and others ponder delays or following Indiana’s path to repeal. As more and more Americans discover the nature of the one-size-fits-all education being foisted on their children’s schools without their knowledge or consent, broad-based opposition will continue to grow.

[Originally published by The Augusta Chronicle]

Categories: On the Blog

Can Anyone Tell How Obamacare is Doing?

April 01, 2014, 11:55 AM

I don’t agree with the New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn very often, but in a recent article he said, “everybody should be cautious about making firm pronouncements about how the Affordable Care Act is doing.” Amen to that.

Of course, Mr. Cohn can’t help himself. He uses that reasonable statement as a launching pad for attacking, “…Cruz, Barrasso, and all the other hard-core Obamacare opponents on the right.” He just can’t imagine why these people might be skeptical of Administration claims about enrollment.

And, of course, he didn’t bother admonishing folks like Zeke Emmanuel for declaring recently in the Wall Street Journal that, “At least 12 million have received coverage directly through a provision of the law.”

Zeke was particularly impressed that the Gallup survey showed the percentage of uninsured Americans has plunged from 18% in the third-quarter of 2013 to a mere 15.9% today.  Mr. Cohn also cites that survey.

Neither gentleman bothers to notice that what Gallup really shows is an astonishing spike in the percentage of uninsured in 2013 (see below) In fact, this survey is quite interesting. It shows an increase in the numbers of insured from a low of 14.4% just before Obama took office as the effects of the recession and poor employment numbers took hold. This peaked in late 2011 at 17.5% and was starting to come down, all the way to 16.3% in late 2012, when it suddenly shot up again in 2013 to 18%. This spike is likely the result of pre-Obamacare cancellations.

So, does that Administration really deserve credit for lowering the percentage today, when it also caused the rise last year? In fact, even at 15.9% the Administration has yet to get back to the 14.4% before the President was sworn in to office.

Now, Mr. Cohn writes that Obamacare critics, “are doing what they almost always do when data confounds their previously held beliefs. They are challenging the statistics….” I didn’t realize that it is somehow illegitimate to “challenge (some) statistics” by offering other statistics. I always thought that is what researchers were supposed to do.

But let me offer a mea culpa to Mr. Cohn. I was one of those people who made a “firm pronouncement about how the Affordable Care Act (was) doing.” I fully expected the numbers of uninsured to skyrocket this year.

But that was because I thought the law was the law. I expected that the massive cancellations of group plans throughout 2014 would result in 25 million people previously covered to be wandering in the wilderness this year trying to figure out what to do next.

I had no idea that the law could be changed or delayed with a wave of the imperial hand. Silly me. Today, I have completely lost track of what is still required and what has been delayed. So I have sworn off making “firm pronouncements” of anything having to do with this bucket of porridge known as Obamacare… and I suggest others should, too.

 

[Originally published at The Federalist]

Categories: On the Blog

The Film Common Core Educrats Don’t Want You to See

April 01, 2014, 11:00 AM

It’s crucial you don’t see a free 40-minute documentary film out today or you might get concerned about an effort to control and dramatically reshape every American child’s education. Building the Machine has Common Core right: It’s the biggest reform you know nothing about.

The movie’s ominous background music is a tip-off to its generally negative take on the national curriculum and testing mandates, but that is mostly the fault of Common Core itself and its proponents. Of the many proponents the documentary’s director contacted for an interview, only two agreed to appear in the film.

That’s not a fluke. In my own reporting on the subject, it typically takes months of email and voicemail nagging to get some PR flack to finally refuse to answer my questions, if I get any response at all. And it’s not just me. Last month, a public relations guy for a national schools organization called me to ask if I knew how to get ahold of any of the key Common Core players so he could help them promote it. They wouldn’t answer any of his calls, either.

“‘You are really going to have to work on this Common Core thing if you think that it’s going to be accepted around the country,’” Jim Dunn said he wanted to tell Bill Gates’s foundation. Gates essentially bankrolled Common Core, as the documentary notes. “Calling people names and trivializing their concerns is shooting themselves in the foot.”

Too bad they’re not listening, because he’s right. In response to this movie, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSS) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which received big bucks from Gates to, respectively, create and promote common Core) have decided to again call people names and trivialize their concerns. Oh, and release a counter-documentary and “fact sheets” spinning what they clearly view as a devastating film.

A bunch of Missouri moms came across an email from CCSSO (more at Breitbart) complaining that “The film implies that the Common Core was created through politics, misinformation and corruption.” That’s because this is essentially true. If CCSSO wants to dispute that, it should stop releasing content-less talking points and instead release all the documents, emails, and deliberations related to creating these national mandates to prove that they really did run an open process like, you know, public bodies such as school boards must when they make policy. Unfortunately, the truth makes them look bad, so they have to stick to carefully worded talking points.

That’s probably why, instead of facing straight questions from interviewers who might not already be in the tank for them, Common Core proponents prefer instead to stick to pitched interviews to friendly news organizations, like Bill Gates’s recent one-on-one with George Stephanopoulos. I challenge any Common Core proponent to name one factual error in this movie. No, smears, labels, and insinuations won’t do. I want anyone to quote a factual error. My Twitter feed’s open.

But enough of this manufactured spit fight. How about instead of letting overpaid spinmasters filter Common Core information for you, you actually take a look at the documentary for yourself? It’s free, and it’s only 40 minutes long. That was mercifully short enough for this mom of three kids under age four to be able to see it in just three viewing sessions! Even shorter, here’s a two-page fact sheet for an appetizer.

As for the film itself, it’s likely most folks will agree with its premise: You deserve to know more about the biggest education shift since progressives began centralizing American education in the late 1800s. It matters to everyone, no matter what type of school you send your kids to, or even if you don’t have kids, because the people interviewed for this film charge that Common Core endangers our economy and political freedoms. Their concerns cross political boundaries.

As Building the Machine concludes, no matter where you eventually raise your flag on the topic, it’s important that you get informed and get involved. The more central planners control education, the darker America’s future. For all that, however, there’s still hope. There are still people in this country brave enough to speak truth to power. Some of those people are on this film. And they need you to join them.

(Full disclosure: I was interviewed for the documentary almost a year ago. After that, I have had no involvement with the film besides suggesting other potential interviewees and signing a waiver allowing them to use their recording of me.)

 

[Originally published at The Federalist]

Categories: On the Blog

Section 706, Wild Assumptions, and Regulatory Restraint

April 01, 2014, 10:00 AM

I was pleased that Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O’Rielly accepted my invitation to participate as a keynoter at the Free State Foundation’s Sixth Annual Telecom Policy Conference on March 18. We engaged in an informative and interesting lunchtime conversation, and I am grateful to Commissioner O’Rielly for indulging my questions.

I’m also grateful that C-SPAN broadcast the entire FSF conference. You can find the video of my conversation with Commissioner O’Rielly here.

I commend to you the entire conversation. But for now I just want to focus on Commissioner O’Rielly’s discussion of Congress’s intended meaning of now-famous Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. In the post-D.C. Circuit Verizon case world, Section 706 is considered to be an independent source of authority for the FCC to regulate broadband Internet providers (and perhaps other market participants as well, the so-called “edge” providers). Tom Wheeler, the FCC’s Chairman, has announced that the Commission will look to Section 706 for authority as it considers whether to adopt new non-discrimination and no-blocking rules, along with other regulatory actions.

Before taking his seat at the Commission, Commissioner O’Rielly spent almost twenty years in various congressional staff positions. At the time the Telecom Act of 1996 was being drafted, Commissioner O’Rielly served on the House Energy and Commerce Committee staff. According to his account, he was closely involved in the negotiations leading up to passage of the 1996 Act. In other words, as I said during our exchange, Commissioner O’Rielly had a “bird’s eye” view of the drafting process, including that relating to Section 706.

To my mind, this makes what he has to say about his understanding of Section 706 worth contemplating – seriously.

As recounted by Commissioner O’Rielly, in order to accept the court’s (and the FCC’s new) interpretation of what Section 706 means, you would have to make “some wild assumptions.”

·      You would have to believe that a Republican Congress with a deregulatory mandate inserted very vague language into the statute to give complete authority over the Internet and broadband to the FCC, but then didn’t tell a soul. It didn’t show up in the writings, it didn’t show up in the summaries. It didn’t show up in any of the stories at the time.

·      You would have to believe that the conference committee intended to codify Section 706 outside of the Communications Act, thereby separating it from the enforcement provisions of the Act, Title V, but somehow we still expected it to be enforced. [The Communications Act was not amended to include Section 706.]

·      You would have to believe that the congressional committees that went on to do an extensive review of FCC authority afterwards, and even proposed legislation to rein it in, in terms of FCC reauthorization legislation, that they went through that effort, but at the same time they had provided a secret loophole to the Commission to regulate.

·      You would have to believe that when Congress is having extensive debates over the ability to regulate, or the ability to give the Commission authority to regulate net neutrality, at the same time they had already given the Commission this authority.

·      You would have to believe that when Congress did legislate in this space, and more particularly when they legislated on certain edge providers in certain narrow instances mostly related to public safety, you would have to believe that they went through that extensive process, and then it didn’t matter, the fact that they had already given the Commission that complete authority under Section 706.

Commissioner O’Rielly’s conclusion: “It’s mindboggling to believe that all of those assumptions, and there are many more, are true. You would have to suspend your rational thought to get to that point.” [The bullet points above are close to verbatim, but please feel free to listen to Commissioner O'Rielly in his own words directly in the video.]

I don’t want to suggest that Commissioner O’Rielly’s recounting of his personal knowledge of what went on behind the scenes as the 1996 Act was written, itself, should be considered determinative for a court construing Section 706. And I don’t think Commissioner O’Rielly means to suggest that his personal recollections constitute official legislative history. Rather, the importance of what he relates is to show the irrationality – the arbitrariness and capriciousness, if you will, in administrative law terms – of adopting a novel interpretation of Section 706 that necessarily is based on so many implausible assumptions.

Commissioner O’Rielly’s persuasive recounting shows that the court’s – and now, apparently, the FCC Chairman’s – interpretation of Section 706 not only is implausible, but far afield from what was widely understood to be the provision’s original meaning – that the provision was not intended to constitute an independent grant of affirmative regulatory authority. Recall that this was the Commission’s own understanding of Section 706 as well until the agency switched its view after its first foray into net neutrality regulation met with defeat in Comcast Corp. v. FCC.

In providing a convincing account of what Congress intended – and did not intend – Section 706 to mean, Commissioner O’Rielly has performed a valuable service. Even though, for now, the D.C. Circuit panel’s opinion remains the controlling interpretation, it is important to remember that, other than holding unlawful the no-blocking and no-discrimination net neutrality rules, the court did not purport to define the boundaries of the Commission’s Section 706 authority or adjudicate any particular exercises of such authority. The court did not require the agency to adopt any new regulations. Under all the circumstances – and especially the circumstance that there is no evidence of a present market failure or consumer harm resulting from Internet provider practices – there is no reason for the Commission to move forward at this time to adopt new net neutrality or net neutrality-like rules.

Indeed, under the circumstances, and having in mind the doubt cast on the validity of the D.C. Circuit’s Section 706 reasoning by Commissioner O’Rielly’s recounting, shouldn’t this be an occasion for the FCC to exercise some (rare) regulatory humility?

In my view, it should be. The FCC Chairman should announce that the Commission will stand down and, as far as attempts to revive net neutrality regulations go, engage in watchful waiting. To adopt such a posture of regulatory restraint would not be a sign of weakness, but rather of wisdom.

[Originally published at The Free State Foundation]
Categories: On the Blog

The Left’s Ever-Expanding, All-Encompassing Net Neutrality

April 01, 2014, 9:00 AM

Network Neutrality is socialism for the Internet – it guarantees everyone equal amounts of nothing.

We’ll let college professor and avowed Marxist (please pardon the redundancy) Robert McChesney identify Net Neutrality’s objective:

“(T)he ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.

How very Hugo Chavez of them.

If you want to use Net Neutrality to end the private sector Web – leaving us all stuck with Government as our sole Internet Service Provider (ISP) – dramatically expanding its definition and reach is a highly useful way to go.

There are two Internet terms we need to rightly define – since the Left is in the word-warping business: “The Last Mile” and “Peering.”

“The Last Mile” refers to your house or business’s connection to the bigger Web – the last stretch of residential road to your place, well off of the main Information Superhighway.

“Peering” is the myriad data-sharing agreements between the myriad different companies on the Superhighway’s multitudinous miles – the World Wide Web’s “backbone.”

If two companies transport roughly equal amounts of data for each other – their Peering deal calls for no charge for either party.  If it starts getting lopsided – the heavier data company pays for the extra freight.

Pretty simple – a fairly basic economic principle.  It costs more to ship five thousand pounds than it does five.

Peering happens – on the fly, all the time.  And there have been Peering deals on the Web for as long as there has been a Web.

Of late some Peering arrangements have become decidedly unequal – mostly because of video.  Video consumes gi-normous amounts of broadband.  The more an online-video-delivery company like Netflix grows – the more unequal their Peering arrangements get.

A Resurgent Netflix Beats Projections, Even Its Own

Netflix Surpasses HBO in U.S. Subscribers

So ISPs are cutting new Peering deals with big data drivers like Netflix to offset the cost of this dramatic inequality.  If they’re shipping five thousand pounds instead of five – they of course should pay more.

Apple Trying To Cut Streaming TV Deal With Comcast

ESPN Eyes Subsidizing Wireless-Data Plans

Comcast and Netflix Reach Deal on Service

Verizon and AT&T Have Netflix Deals in the Works, Too

Except Netflix is balking.  They want to have their dramatically increased freight weight paid for by everyone – except them.

So they are disingenuously claiming that these oh-so-common Peering deals – violate Net Neutrality.

Netflix Blasts Comcast and Verizon on Net Neutrality

And of course the Left has joined the chorus.

Why the Comcast-Netflix Deal Should Worry You

The deal should also be a wake-up call to regulators who are…grappling with what to do about Net Neutrality.

(Democrat Congressman) Pingree Says Comcast-Netflix Peering Deal Is Net Neutrality Threat

The Comcast-Netflix Deal Threatens Net Neutrality

Except very recently, the Left insisted Net Neutrality had nothing to do with backbone Peering deals like these – that it was only about the Last Mile.  They in fact accused others of the obfuscation in which they are now engaged.

“AT&T here seems unable to tell the difference between the last mile and the backbone.

“The FCC’s general counsel made clear that the proposal applies only to service that is offered directly to the public, and the last time we checked, the public was not offered backbone Internet connections.”

So the Left has now created a hay-yuge new, uber-expansive definition of Net Neutrality.  From covering just the Last Mile – to encompassing the entire World Wide Web.

Which would give the government hay-yuge new, uber-expansive power over the Internet.

Which is exactly what the Left wants.

 

[Originally published at RedState]

Categories: On the Blog

Latest IPCC Report Deliberately Excludes, Misrepresents Important Climate Science

April 01, 2014, 12:01 AM

This week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is releasing its latest report, the “Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report.” Like its past reports, this one predicts apocalyptic consequences if mankind fails to give the UN the power to tax and regulate fossil fuels and subsidize and mandate the use of alternative fuels.

But happily, an international group of scientists I have been privileged to work with has conducted an independent review of IPCC’s past and new reports, along with the climate science they deliberately exclude or misrepresent.

Our group, called the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), was founded in 2003 by a distinguished atmospheric physicist, S. Fred Singer, and has produced five hefty reports to date, the latest released on March 31.

So how do the IPCC and NIPCC reports differ? The final draft of the IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers identifies eight “reasons for concern” which media reports say will remain the focus of the final report. The NIPCC reports address each point too, also summarizing their authors’ positions in Summaries for Policymakers. This provides a convenient way to compare and contrast the reports’ findings.

Here’s what the reports say:

IPCC: “Risk of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states, due to sea-level rise, coastal flooding, and storm surges.”

NIPCC: “Flood frequency and severity in many areas of the world were higher historically during the Little Ice Age and other cool eras than during the twentieth century. Climate change ranks well below other contributors, such as dikes and levee construction, to increased flooding.”

IPCC: “Risk of food insecurity linked to warming, drought, and precipitation variability, particularly for poorer populations.”

NIPCC: “There is little or no risk of increasing food insecurity due to global warming or rising atmospheric CO2 levels. Farmers and others who depend on rural livelihoods for income are benefitting from rising agricultural productivity throughout the world, including in parts of Asia and Africa where the need for increased food supplies is most critical. Rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels play a key role in the realization of such benefits.

IPCC: “Risk of severe harm for large urban populations due to inland flooding.”

NIPCC: “No changes in precipitation patterns, snow, monsoons, or river flows that might be considered harmful to human well-being or plants or wildlife have been observed that could be attributed to rising CO2 levels. What changes have been observed tend to be beneficial.”

IPCC: “Risk of loss of rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity, particularly for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions.”

NIPCC: “Higher atmospheric CO2 concentrations benefit plant growth-promoting microorganisms that help land plants overcome drought conditions, a potentially negative aspect of future climate change. Continued atmospheric CO2 enrichment should prove to be a huge benefit to plants by directly enhancing their growth rates and water use efficiencies.”

IPCC: “Systemic risks due to extreme [weather] events leading to breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services.”

NIPCC: “There is no support for the model-based projection that precipitation in a warming world becomes more variable and intense. In fact, some observational data suggest just the opposite, and provide support for the proposition that precipitation responds more to cyclical variations in solar activity.”

IPCC: “Risk of loss of marine ecosystems and the services they provide for coastal livelihoods, especially for fishing communities in the tropics and the Arctic.”

NIPCC: “Rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels do not pose a significant threat to aquatic life. Many aquatic species have shown considerable tolerance to temperatures and CO2 values predicted for the next few centuries, and many have demonstrated a likelihood of positive responses in empirical studies. Any projected adverse impacts of rising temperatures or declining seawater and freshwater pH levels (“acidification”) will be largely mitigated through phenotypic adaptation or evolution during the many decades to centuries it is expected to take for pH levels to fall.”

IPCC: “Risk of loss of terrestrial ecosystems and the services they provide for terrestrial livelihoods.”

NIPCC: “Terrestrial ecosystems have thrived throughout the world as a result of warming temperatures and rising levels of atmospheric CO2. Empirical data pertaining to numerous animal species, including amphibians, birds, butterflies, other insects, reptiles, and mammals, indicate global warming and its myriad ecological effects tend to foster the expansion and proliferation of animal habitats, ranges, and populations, or otherwise have no observable impacts one way or the other. Multiple lines of evidence indicate animal species are adapting, and in some cases evolving, to cope with climate change of the modern era.”

IPCC: “Risk of mortality, morbidity, and other harms during periods of extreme heat, particularly for vulnerable urban populations.”

NIPCC: “A modest warming of the planet will result in a net reduction of human mortality from temperature-related events. More lives are saved by global warming via the amelioration of cold-related deaths than those lost under excessive heat. Global warming will have a negligible influence on human morbidity and the spread of infectious diseases, a phenomenon observed in virtually all parts of the world.”

How could two teams of scientists come to such obviously contradictory conclusions on seemingly every point that matters in the debate over global warming? There are many reasons why scientists disagree, the subject, by the way, of an excellent book a couple years ago titled Wrong by David H. Freedman. A big reason is IPCC is producing what academics call “post-normal science” while NIPCC is producing old-fashioned “real science.”

What is a non-scientist to make of these dueling reports? Indeed, what is a scientist to make of this? Very few scientists are familiar with biology, geology, physics, oceanography, engineering, medicine, economics, and scores of other more specialized disciplines that were the basis for the claims summarized above.

It is frequently said of the global warming debate that it comes down to who you believe rather than what you know. Many climate scientists say they “believe in man-made global warming” even though their own research contradicts key points in the arguments advanced in support of that hypothesis. They say this because they believe the IPCC is telling the truth about findings outside their areas of expertise. Ditto influential science journals such as Nature and Science, which claim to speak on behalf of “climate science.”

The NIPCC reports were conceived and written to offer a way out of this conundrum. They are written in a style that laymen without special training can understand, provide explanations of how research was conducted and summarizing the actual findings, often quoting at length from original scholarly sources. Chapters often present research chronologically, in the order in which the studies were published, so readers can understand how the debate has changed over time.

The NIPCC reports are hefty – the first volume in the Climate Change Reconsidered series was 850 pages long, and the latest volume is more than 1,000 pages – but executive summaries and “key findings” at the beginning of each chapter make them easy to navigate and fascinating to browse. They are all available for free online at ClimateChangeReconsidered.org.

How credible are the NIPCC reports?  Endorsements by prominent scientists, reviews, and citations in peer-reviewed journals appear at the Web site mentioned above. NIPCC reports are produced by scores of scientists from around the world (some 20 countries so far), cite thousands of peer-reviewed studies, and are themselves peer-reviewed. In June 2013, a division of the Chinese Academy of Sciences published a Chinese translation and condensed edition of the 2009 and 2011 volumes.

We know the authors of the IPCC’s reports have financial conflicts of interest, since the government bureaucracies that select them and the UN that oversees and edits the final reports stand to profit from public alarm over the possibility that global warming will be harmful. The authors of the NIPCC series have no such conflicts. The series is funded by three private family foundations without any financial interest in the outcome of the global warming debate. The publisher, The Heartland Institute, neither solicits nor receives any government or corporation funding for the Climate Change Reconsidered series. (It does receive some corporate funding for its other research and educational programs.)

So is man-made global warming a crisis? Don’t just wonder about it, understand it yourself. Read one or a few chapters of one of the NIPCC reports, and ask if what you read is logical, factual, and relevant to the debate. See if the UN or its many apologists take into account the science and evidence NIPCC summarizes, and then decide whether its predictions of “of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods” is science or fiction.

[First published at Forbes.]

Categories: On the Blog

Clouds on the Solar Horizon

March 31, 2014, 2:44 PM

Consumers considering installing solar panels on their rooftops have far more to think through than the initial decision to “go solar.”

They may search for the best price, only to discover, as customers in central Florida did, that after paying $20,000-40,000 for their systems, they are stuck with installations that may be unusable or unsafe. BlueChip Energy—which also operated as Advanced Solar Photonics (ASP) and SunHouse Solar—sold its systems at environmental festivals and home shows. Buyers thought they were getting a good deal and doing the right thing for the environment. Instead, they were duped.

A year ago, it was revealed that BlueChip Energy’s solar panels had counterfeit UL labels—this means that the panels may not comply with standard safety requirements established by the independent global certification company Underwriters Laboratory. The Orlando Sentinel reports: “UL testing assures that a product won’t catch fire, will conduct electricity properly and can withstand weather. Without such testing, no one is certain if the solar panels may fail.” Additionally, it states: “Without the safety testing, they shouldn’t be connected to the electric grid”—which leaves customers nervous about possible risks such as overheating. Other reports claim that BlueChip inflated the efficiency rates of its photovoltaic panels, which do not meet “65 percent of the company’s published performance ratings.”

In July 2013, BlueChip’s assets were sold off at pennies on the dollar and customers were left with rooftop solar packages that now have no warranty.

With the shakeout in the solar photovoltaic industry, bankruptcy is a key concern for buyers. No company equals no warranty.

Two of China’s biggest panel makers have failed. On March 20, 2013, Suntech, one of the world’s biggest solar panel manufacturers, filed bankruptcy. Earlier this month Shanghai Chaori Solar became China’s first domestic corporate bond default. The Wall Street Journal reports that another, Baoding Tainwei, has reported a second year of losses and investors are waiting to “see if officials will let it fail.”

Regarding Suntech’s bankruptcy, an industry report says the following about the warranties: “While Suntech has said that it was committed to maintaining the warranty obligations on its products following the bankruptcy, we are unsure if customers will be willing to take a risk considering the firm’s faltering financials.”

Last month, it was reported that solar panels can be “dangerous in an emergency.” Firefighters have been forced to stop fighting a fire due to electrocution concerns. The report quotes Northampton, MA, Fire Chief Brian Duggan as saying electrocution is not their only concern: “cutting through the roof for ventilation would also take a lot longer.” Springfield fire commissioner Joe Conant says: “nothing will stop them if there’s a life to be saved, but if it’s simply to save the structure, solar panels may keep them from going on the roof.

A Fox News story on the risk solar panels pose to fire-fighters states: “Two recent fires involving structures decked with solar panels have triggered complaints from fire chiefs and calls for new codes and regulations that reflect the dangers posed by the clean-energy devices. A two-alarm fire last week at a home in Piedmont, Calif., prompted Piedmont Fire Chief Warren McLaren to say the technology ‘absolutely’ made it harder on firefighters. Weeks earlier, in Delanco, NJ, more than 7,000 solar panels on the roof of a massive 300,000-square foot warehouse factored into Delanco Fire Chief Ron Holt’s refusal to send his firefighters onto the roof of a Dietz & Watson facility.”

Then, of course, there are new concerns about scam artists like the one in North Carolina who collected “money from victims under false pretense that he would buy and install solar panels in their residences.”

As if all of that wasn’t enough, a new potentially fraudulent scheme has just been exposed.

A recent report from the Arizona Republic, points to complaints the Arizona Corporation Commission—the state’s top utility regulator—is getting from Tucson customers of SolarCity Corporation. They claim: “the solar leasing company is misleading them regarding the state rules for hooking up a solar array.”

In essence, customers in Tucson are being told one thing by their utility, Tucson Electric Power (TEP), but something else by a private solar power company, SolarCity—the nation’s second largest solar electrical contractor. This has drawn the ire of Bob Stump, Chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). “This is an issue of consumer protection and solar installer transparency,” Stump told the Arizona Republic.

Stump made his concerns clear in a March 12 letter to Lyndon Rive, SolarCity’s Chief Executive Officer: “I am concerned that you—as well as other solar providers—may be communicating with customers in a way that is both confusing and misleading and which deprives them of the balanced information they need in order to make informed decisions.”

The letter states: “Some customers … say that solar providers have told them that the rates, rules and regulations applicable to net metering are ‘grandfathered,’ thereby implying that the rates associated with net metering are not subject to change.” As a result, Stump says: “Customers are then surprised, disappointed, and angry to learn from TEP that this may not be the case.”

As a vocal advocate for responsible energy—which I define as energy that is efficient, effective and economical—I have closely followed what is happening with Arizona’s solar industry. There, when the ACC proposed a modification to the net-metering policies to make them more equitable to all utility customers, the solar industry mounted an aggressive PR campaign in attempt to block any changes. When the decision was made in November to add a monthly fee onto the utility bills of new solar customers to make them pay for using the power grid, I applauded the effort.

In light of this new issue, with a leading solar company misleading customers, it is time for the nation’s regulators to take a hard look at their states’ policies. Remember, this past summer, Georgia regulators voted for solar leasing such as SolarCity offers.

Pat Lyons, one of New Mexico’s Public Regulatory Commissioners, watched what happened in Arizona’s net metering battle. Upon learning about SolarCity’s potential deception, he was alarmed. “As solar leasing, like SolarCity pushes, moves into additional markets, regulators across the country need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and misrepresentations.”

It is vital that solar providers be held to the same high standard to which we hold our electric utilities and are made to answer tough questions about consumer protection, safety, and operation issues. Stump’s letter to SolarCity’s CEO asked for responses to his questions by March 31 and said he will “be placing this matter on a Commission open meeting agenda in the near future in order to discuss these important concerns with my fellow commissioners.”

It may be too late to protect some solar customers in Tucson, but there is still a chance to make sure others are treated fairly. If things don’t change, the dark clouds hovering over the industry will be raining on unsuspecting customers.

 

[Originally published at TownHall.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Obama May Give Internet Control to “Global Community”

March 31, 2014, 2:29 AM

On March 14, the Obama administration announced it was initiating a process to transfer oversight of the Internet from the United States to some yet-to-be-defined global entity.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Strickling said, “The timing is right to start the transition process.”

You don’t need to be a credentialed foreign-policy expert, however, to harbor reservations concerning the plan to turn over management of key Internet functions to what the Commerce Department called the “global multi-stakeholder community.”

It is enough to inject a note of caution to point out that the Obama administration’s proclivity to rely on cooperation from the “international community” — rather than U.S. leadership — has not always produced hoped-for outcomes.

To understand what is at stake, it is important to know the essence of the current Internet governance regime and a bit of recent history. Currently, pursuant to a 1998 agreement with the Commerce Department, an entity called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) manages the assignment of Internet domain names and addresses for websites across the globe.

ICANN is a nonprofit, private-sector-led multi-stakeholder organization. ICANN is required to operate in a collaborative and transparent manner that fosters accountability to the various nongovernment stakeholders — commercial enterprises, civil society organizations representing Internet users, technical experts, and so forth — that are represented in ICANN’s governance structure.

While it is not true that Al Gore invented the Internet, it is true that the Net’s roots are grounded in the United States. It is also true that the U.S. is the only nation with a formal role in overseeing the Internet’s functioning, even though the Commerce Department’s oversight has been mostly hands-off since ICANN took over management of the domain-name system 15 years ago.

With the growth in Internet usage and the number of websites across the globe during the past 15 years, perhaps it is not surprising that other countries increasingly have come to question the U.S. government’s role as the sole sovereign overseeing Internet management. After all, for a century, international telephone communications have been regulated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an arm of the United Nations. Each of the ITU’s 193 countries has one vote in its deliberations.

Whatever the current arrangements for overseeing international voice communications, turning over management of the Internet to the ITU almost certainly would be harmful. The likely result would be increased telephone-style economic regulation that would discourage continued investment in Internet facilities and innovation in services.

It would increase the likelihood that censorship of Internet communications and speech curbs would be sanctioned as official policy. Sound farfetched?

In advance of a meeting in 2012 to consider changes to the ITU’s international communications regulations, Russia’s Vladimir Putin explicitly stated that he wanted to achieve “international control of the Internet using the monitoring and supervisory capability” of the United Nations.

What’s more, several countries did not hide their intent to adopt as official policy government censorship of Internet communications. A proposal floated by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran — countries not known for respecting free speech — declared that ITU member states should be allowed to restrict communications “used for the purpose of interfering in the internal affairs or undermining the sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity, and public safety of other states; or to divulge information of a sensitive nature.”

That language is an engraved invitation for governments to engage in censorship.

It is true that currently, under the existing governance structure, individual countries often attempt to censor Internet communications, and frequently, they succeed. Right now, Turkey is blocking Twitter communications and Syria routinely has done so over the past three years.

There is a difference, though, between countries acting in contravention of current ICANN and U.S. policies intended to preserve an open Internet and some new international government-controlled organization adopting edicts that give official sanction to such speech restrictions.

To be sure, the Obama administration did state that the current nongovernmental, multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance should be maintained. Indeed, its announcement said the United States will not accept a proposal for replacing U.S. control “with a government-led or an intergovernmental organization solution.”

The U.S. government’s resolve must remain firm in this regard, especially when Russia and other like-minded countries already have declared their intent to change the open nature of the Internet if they can gain control over its governance.

While the administration says it will not turn over the Internet’s management to an intergovernmental organization like the ITU, frankly, it is not easy to envision the emergence of a replacement entity that will not be controlled by governments around the world — many of which we shouldn’t wish to see possessing such authority.

I don’t want to foreclose the possibility that such a new entity may emerge. However, I do want the Obama administration to keep its proclivities in check for relying on the “international community” to take on tasks for which such an ephemeral community may not be well-suited.

Contrary to Mr. Strickling’s claim, considering the current troublesome state of world affairs, the timing may not be right for moving ahead with plans to relinquish U.S. oversight of the Internet. At a minimum, the watchwords must be “proceed with extreme caution.”

 

[Originally published at The Washington Times]

Categories: On the Blog

UN Agenda 21 Schemes to Grab Property Rights

March 31, 2014, 2:10 AM

[This piece is co-authored by Bonnie O'Neil]

You may be one of the unlucky Americans that have already experienced the heavy hand of government intruding on your personal property rights. However, today most Americans remain unaware of the planned and unprecedented power grab, inflicted on Americans by a relatively “quiet” agreement our government made with the United Nations, known as U.N. Agenda 21.

It is thought by many to be more of a scheme, with the claim it is being initiated in order to save the world by creating a sustainable environment. If allowed to continue, the plan will change America in many ways. Many of our treasured freedoms and rights will be systematically removed. Many see Agenda 21 as the ultimate goal to gain world-wide control and create a one-world-governing body.

What would it involve and how would it impact American citizens? Forget your dream of a two story home on your own piece of land. Instead the plan is to force us to settle for a nightmare. Conjure up an image of China … specifically a city like Beijing with few private homes and massive apartment buildings. A place where people will likely live in zones connected by congested freeways, and all controlled by an untouchable government.

It was George Washington who said, “Private property and freedom are inseparable,” with John Adams affirming that “Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist.” Those wise words are no longer embraced by members of the Agenda 21 group, some of whom are America’s top leaders.

How close is this plan to creating an environment much like that of a Communist state?

Well, Communism is defined as a system of social organization in which economics and property are controlled by the state, offering its citizens few rights or freedoms. One would think that since such a system has never prospered, it would not be attempted again, and certainly not in a country like the United States, one of the most successful countries in the world. America had the good fortune of forefathers who gave us an amazing Constitution, Bill of Rights, and a form of government that is the envy of the World. We have prospered and welcomed others to embrace and enjoy it with us. We have been blessed with the ability to own property; our very own piece of chosen land, which can be passed on to our heirs. Why would we risk losing our freedoms? Who would willingly hand over their property and lose our many freedoms, due to a United Nations Agenda?

The powers behind Agenda 21 knew most people would resent being manipulated by the government into drastic changes in their life style. They did not expect us to easily give up our homes and move to newly designed, massive apartment complexes in a different neighborhood, and raise families in cramped housing units. They know we want the freedom to choose the car we enjoy driving, where and when we want to travel, and the size of family we choose to have.

They needed to devise a clever way to convince Americans to surrender their rights and basic freedoms granted them by our wise forefathers. Thus, we began to hear reports of man-made global warming, which included dire warnings of calamities likely to occur as a result. They claimed man was causing icebergs to melt, potentially causing oceans to overflow onto our shores. They warned we must make drastic changes in our lives to survive the tragedy. They claimed it to be “proven science”. It was not; in fact quite the contrary. Evidence began emerging indicating the World had actually been in a cooling phase for the past couple of decades.

Soon, a growing number of scientists and climatologists began refuting claims of global warming. When massive ships became stuck in thick ocean ice packs and whales became trapped under large ice pockets off the Canadian coast, Agenda 21 masterminds and global warming enthusiasts quickly changed their terminology to “Climate Change”, a much safer title so that any change in our climate can be blamed on you and me, and thus justify laws that dictate those radical changes.

[ The Heartland Institute, located in Chicago, IL, Joe Bast, President, was called "the world's most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change" by The Economist, May 26, 2012. Due to be released by The Heartland Institute in April are Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts and Climate Change Reconsidered II: Human Welfare, Energy and Policies. The reports are produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel of Climate Change (NIPCC), which counters the reports of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning of dangerous and catastrophic human effects on climate based largely on CO2 emissions. ]

Without the threat of oceans warming and flooding our land, what might entice people to make the uncomfortable changes dictated by Agenda 21? Possibly one or a combination of the following might work: Create a downward economy and/or economic crisis, cause jobs to be scarce, create further economic woes through escalating gasoline costs, and higher taxes. Then develop amazingly attractive advertisements of high rise apartments, with low rental fees that are located close to one’s place of employment. That plan worked in China, and is currently a theme in colleges throughout America.

As documented in our introductory article on the U.N. Agenda 21 published Sunday, March 23, “U.N. Agenda 21 designed to spawn a one-world-government,” a non-governmental organization called the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) is tasked with carrying out the goals of Agenda 21 worldwide. It is currently being implemented locally through ICLEI USA which was launched in 1995 and now has a solid network of cities, towns and counties. Their agenda has not received much attention in the media, so don’t feel badly if the name is new to you. The organization has gradually and quietly been making changes within our cities, often clothed in clever phrases, such as “smart growth”, “clean energy”, “sustainability”, “redevelopment”, “high density urban mixed use development” and “intelligent cities”.

Has ICLEI invaded your county or city yet? Not sure? Check for the “buzz” words on the agendas of your city council meetings. Better yet, begin attending city and county board meetings

An example of how ICLEI operates in our cities and counties was recently evident in a semi-rural area of Santa Rosa, California; a beautiful and quiet area in which family homes and properties are located with a creek running through their property. The residents had never heard of Agenda 21, ICLEI, sustainable development, or any of the other language associated with Agenda 21, until they received a post card in the mail from a concerned citizen, suggesting they attend a City Council meeting where the officials were expected to vote for a law that would take a specific amount of land on each side of the river (100 feet) and claim what was private property to be designated as government property. Shocked, the residents all marched to the meeting, determined to stop the plan to rob them of their property. Surprised by the overwhelming number of furious residents, the Council put their vote on hold. It has not been put on the City’s agenda since.

The action of one knowledgeable citizen saved those Santa Rosa residents’ property rights. If we are to save our cities and our rights, we too must become educated on all the tentacles of United Nations Agenda 21. Watch for our next edition, as we will provide you with more facts about another facet of this insidious plan.

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

A History of the Disastrous Global Warming Hoax

March 31, 2014, 1:56 AM
“It is the greatest deception in history and the extent of the damage has yet to be exposed and measured,” says Dr. Tim Ball in his new book, “The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science”.

Dr. Ball has been a climatologist for more than forty years and was one of the earliest critics of the global warming hoax that was initiated by the United Nations environmental program that was established in 1972 and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established in 1988.

Several UN conferences set in motion the hoax that is based on the assertion that carbon dioxide (CO2) was causing a dramatic surge in heating the Earth. IPCC reports have continued to spread this lie through their summaries for policy makers that influenced policies that have caused nations worldwide to spend billions to reduce and restrict CO2 emissions. Manmade climate change—called anthropogenic global warming—continues to be the message though mankind plays no role whatever.

There is no scientific support for the UN theory.

CO2, despite being a minor element of the Earth’s atmosphere, is essential for all life on Earth because it is the food that nourishes all vegetation. The Earth has passed through many periods of high levels of CO2 and many cycles of warming and cooling that are part of the life of the planet.

“Science works by creating theories based on assumptions,” Dr. Ball notes, “then other scientists—performing their skeptical role—test them. The structure and mandate of the IPCC was in direct contradiction of this scientific method. They set out to prove the theory rather than disprove it.”

“The atmosphere,” Dr. Ball notes, “is three-dimensional and dynamic, so building a computer model that even approximates reality requires far more data than exists and much greater understanding of an extremely turbulent and complex system.” No computer model put forth by the IPCC in support of global warming has been accurate, nor ever could be.

Most of the reports were created by a small group of men working within the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia and all were members of the IPCC. The result was “a totally false picture supposedly based on science.”

The revelations of emails between the members of the CRU were made available in 2009 by an unknown source. Dr. Ball quotes Phil Jones, the Director of the CRU at the time of the leaks, and Tom Wigley, a former director addressing other CRU members admitting that “Many of the uncertainties surrounding the cause of climate change will never be resolved because the necessary data are lacking.”

The IPCC depended upon the public’s lack of knowledge regarding the science involved and the global warming hoax was greatly aided because the “mainstream media bought into and promoted the unproven theory. Scientists who challenged were denied funding and marginalized. National environmental policies were introduced based on the misleading information” of the IPCC summaries of their reports.

“By the time of the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report, the politics and hysteria about climate change had risen to a level that demanded clear evidence of a human signal,” notes Dr. Ball. “An entire industry had developed around massive funding from government. A large number of academic, political, and bureaucratic careers had evolved and depended on expansion of the evidence. Environmentalists were increasing pressure on the public and thereby politicians.”

The growing problem for the CRU and the entire global warming hoax was that no clear evidence existed to blame mankind for changes in the climate and still largely unknown to the public was the fact that the Earth has passed through many natural cycles of warmth and cooling. If humans were responsible, how could the CRU explain a succession of ice ages over millions of years?

The CRU emails revealed their growing concerns regarding a cooling cycle that had begun in the late 1990s and now, some seventeen years later, the Earth is in a widely recognized cooling cycle.

Moreover, the hoax was aimed at vast reductions in the use of coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as nuclear power to produce the electricity on which all modern life depends. There was advocacy of solar and wind power to replace them and nations undertook costly programs to bring about the reduction of the CO2 “fossil fuels” produced and spent billions on the “green” energy. That program is being abandoned.

At the heart of the hoax is a contempt for mankind and a belief that population worldwide should be reduced. The science advisor to President Obama, John Holdren, has advocated forced abortions, sterilization by introducing infertility drugs into the nation’s drinking water and food, and other totalitarian measures. “Overpopulation is still central to the use of climate change as a political vehicle,” warns Dr. Ball.

Given that the environmental movement has been around since the 1960s, it has taken decades for the public to grasp its intent and the torrents of lies that have been used to advance it. “More people,” notes Dr. Ball, “are starting to understand that what they’re told about climate change by academia, the mass media, and the government is wrong, especially the propaganda coming from the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

“Ridiculous claims—like the science is settled or the debate is over—triggered a growing realization that something was wrong.”  When the global warming advocates began to tell people that cooling is caused by warming, the public has realized how absurd the entire UN climate change argument has been.

Worse, however, has been “the deliberate deceptions, misinformation, manipulation of records and misapplying scientific method and research” to pursue a political objective. Much of this is clearly unlawful, but it is unlikely that any of those who perpetrated the hoax will ever be punished and, in the case of Al Gore and the IPCC, they shared a Nobel Peace Prize!

We are all in debt to Dr. Ball and a score of his fellow scientists who exposed the lies and debunked the hoax; their numbers are growing with thousands of scientists signing petitions and participating in international conferences to expose this massive global deception.

[Originally published at Warning Signs]
Categories: On the Blog

Zeke Goes Off the Rails

March 31, 2014, 1:35 AM

Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother and one of the key ObamaCare advisors, has been on quite a roll lately. Consider some of the headlines just from the past few weeks or so –

  • “Insurance Companies as We Know Them Are About to Die” (New Republic)
  • “In Health Care, Choice is Overrated” (The New York Times)
  • “You Don’t Need a Doctor for Every Part of Your Health Care” (CNSNews write up of a Bill O’Reilly interview)
  • “Inside the Making of ObamaCare” (Wall Street Journal)
  • “Progress with Caveats: At least 12 million have received coverage directly through a provision of the law” (Wall Street Journal)

In every instance his message is that he knows better than you do what is good for you. He knows a better way to do insurance than you do, he knows that you don’t really need a choice of doctor or hospital, he knows that you don’t really need a doctor at all for most services, and he knows that “things are actually going well” for ObamaCare despite the fact that you and most Americans don’t like it.

One has to wonder what is going on with this guy. Why is he so confident in offending so many Americans? Either he is triumphant in the idea that what we think doesn’t matter anymore because Obama is firmly in control of our future, or he knows that ObamaCare is such a disaster that he can finally say any damned thing he wants because none of it will ever happen anyway.

In either case, he provides a fascinating window into the minds of the Leftist elite. What do we see in there?

Mostly we see an astonishing level of hubris and arrogance. We see an academic living in a world of dreams and “big ideas” divorced from both political realities and real-world practicalities. We also see an intellectual bubble of group think in which expressing a contrary opinion is seen as a betrayal, rather than a welcomed reality check.

In his telling of how ObamaCare came to be, he says he was pushing for bundled payments, at least for Medicare, as the panacea for controlling costs. We have written before about the limits of bundling but Zeke is not deterred. Unfortunately, he says he “hit a brick wall” because the people who actually run the Medicare program told him it wouldn’t work — “the Medicare bureaucracy wouldn’t budge.”

And this is how it goes in Zeke’s brain. The people who actually know what they are talking about irritate him by getting in the way of his pies-in-the-sky.

This hubris is evident in everything Zeke says or writes. He thinks existing insurance companies will be replaced by Accountable Care Organizations. Although these companies are “in their infancy,” in the next decade they will –

“…succeed at integrating all the components of care and provide efficient, coordinated care. They will have the physician and hospital networks. They will have standardized, guideline-driven care plans for most major conditions and procedures to increase efficiency. They will have figured out how to harness their electronic medical records to better identify patients who will become sick and how to intervene early as well as how to care for the well-identified chronically ill so as to reduce costs.”

How does he know this? Is there any evidence to support it? Well, no. What evidence is available shows quite the opposite, but Zeke won’t let that get in the way.

More recently, he pronounced that 12 million people have already gotten coverage due to ObamaCare. He cites the Gallup survey as showing that “the percentage of uninsured Americans declined from 18% in the middle of 2013 to 15.9% in the first quarter of 2014.” Yes, the Gallup survey does show that but what is curious about this survey is that the rate of uninsured soared from 16.3% in late 2012 to 18% in mid-2013. Either the survey is flawed or the anticipation of ObamaCare caused a whole lot of people to lose their coverage in 2013. In either case, the rate of uninsured has barely budged (from 16.3% to 15.9%) in a year.

More importantly, Zeke reports that 3.1 million young adults are now covered under their parent’s plan without mentioning that most of these were previously getting coverage from their employers, and that 4.5 million are newly eligible for Medicaid without mentioning how many actually enrolled and how many of those were previously covered, and the 5 million have selected a plan without mentioning how many have paid their premiums or how many of these got kicked out of their prior coverage thanks to ObamaCare.

So, now Zeke has gone well beyond just fantasizing to actually lying about the available data. And that is the ultimate lesson from the mind of Zeke Emmanuel and most other Leftists — when their dreams turn into garbage, they lie about the truth.

Or as Nancy Pelosi told us the other day –

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

It’s Affordable

As if repeating a lie enough times will make it true.

 

[Originally published at National Center for Policy Analysis]

Categories: On the Blog

Liberal Fascism: Putting Man-Made Global Warming Skeptics in Jail

March 30, 2014, 1:41 AM

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg has spent a lot of time since the 2008 publication of his seminal work on the history of the progressive political movement defending the book’s title, Liberal Fascism. He can stop now.

Adam Weinstein, elite liberal journalist — who, sadly has been reduced to writing “Rants” for Gawker — is example 13,873 that proves the thesis. And it’s a doozy.

The headline on Weinstein’s piece is plain: “Arrest Climate-Change Deniers.” Why should folks who have evaluated the observed science and found the predictions of the climate alarmists wanting be put in jail? Why should they be deprived of their freedom of speech, and the freedom to live among us? Because the “smartest” elite liberals want to set up American gulags for those who dissent. Because Liberal Fascism.

The lead of Weinstein’s piece:

Man-made climate change happens. Man-made climate change kills a lot of people. It’s going to kill a lot more. We have laws on the books to punish anyone whose lies contribute to people’s deaths. It’s time to punish the climate-change liars.

Weinstein writes (absurdly) that anthroprogenic global warming skeptics — and there are plenty of scientific reasons to be skeptical of that theory — are causing 150,000 people a year to die. That is absurd. But anyone who denies that “liberal fact” is labeled a “denialist.” Such people think and say the wrong things. That free speech is killing people! So what should liberals do about this?

Those denialists should face jail.

It’s good to have that on the record at such a popular website. Liberals who are that soaked in the ideology of catastrophic man-caused global warming are fascists. Full stop. It was good to see a least a couple of folks who commented on Weinstein’s piece call him out on his fascism (you’ll have to just trust me on this), but its sad there were not many more considering Gawker is a “liberal” site.

So this is where we are now. Free-thinking Americans who have seen this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and have attended these eight conferences  — and disagree with liberals like Adam Weinstein — must be put in jail.

Our fascist overlords are clever, and will probably set up work camps in which the undesirables will work as Obamacare facilitators. No thanks. I’m an old-school dissident. I choose breaking rocks.

I invited Weinstein to come to the 9th International Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas this July so he could punish me and hudreds of other inconvenient and undesirable American citizens. I’ll report back how that invitation goes … while I still have my freedom.

Categories: On the Blog

Uncovering Deceptions in the Climate Change Debate

March 29, 2014, 9:34 PM

For more than a decade, the Heartland Institute has tried to explain to the public, in courteous terms, that the idea of a human-caused global warming catastrophe is a delusion, and that its proponents should not be allowed to waste the world’s economic resources through arrogant efforts to alter the planet’s climate.

Tim Ball, Ph.D., takes up the issue with strong words in his new book, The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science. He argues, with overwhelming evidence, that in fact the global warming debate in the halls of science has been an unmitigated fraud perpetrated by people who no longer have the right to be called scientists. Their collective goals have been to alter society radically while enriching themselves, he argues.

Each of the book’s 13 chapters opens with a picture of a major player in this historical drama of the corruption of climate science. A few are heroes, such as Richard Lindzen, Michael Crichton, and Vaclav Klaus, but most are villains, such as Maurice Strong, Paul Ehrlich, James Hansen, Michael Mann, Phil Jones, and Al Gore.

The book is a history of the people and groups who used unwarranted fear of human-caused climate change to undermine science by influencing governments and the private sector to spend vast sums of money on scientists who agreed to climb aboard the global warming gravy train. It also describes the character assassination and dearth of support directed toward those who resisted.

Ball begins correctly at the modern beginning of stifling environmentalism, Paul Erhlich’s egregious and fallacious 1967 book, The Population Bomb, followed by the 1972 Club of Rome report, both of which preached population growth must be stopped or our world was doomed. Then the 1992 UN Rio Conference, led by Canadian tycoon Maurice Strong, developed Agenda 21, a bureaucratic justification for tying population growth to other perceived evils such as global warming.

Strong ultimately conceived of and implemented the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which essentially was engineered to determine that mankind controls the climate. Designating carbon dioxide as an evil, the IPCC created an agenda for stifling economic growth wherever it was occurring. As with so many of our worst politicians, the IPCC is well-described by journalist H. L. Mencken’s famous quote, repeated by Ball: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety), by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Ball explains the many mathematical climate models and the surprising fact that despite all their failures at prediction, governments have been quick to implement actions based on them. He notes the scientists who make the models eliminate many variables from their equations to make it possible for supercomputers to reach a conclusion in less than an eon. These choices just happen to skew the models in the desired direction of predicting disastrous global warming.

Nowhere is Ball more instructive than in his explanation of how the IPCC always releases its Summary for Policymakers well ahead of each session’s full report and then makes sure the full report agrees with the pre-written summary. The summaries never admit to any uncertainty or counter-evidence that may appear in the full reports.

By now you are probably aware of Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” fantasy, but you will be amazed at the full story of how prestigious scientists conspired to hide its obvious flaws. Ball recounts the release of thousands of emails from East Anglia University in the United Kingdom, whose climate center was behind a plot to undermine any real science in the climate change debate. Phil Jones is known to have been the primary figure in this, and Ball lashes him to the mast by reprinting email after email in a chronological manner that leaves no doubt regarding this terrible conspiracy to deceive.

Ball’s passion for this subject is palpable throughout the book, but nowhere more than in the following paragraph:

How much longer can the IPCC maintain the charade? How long before the IPCC and its machinations are understood by enough leaders to elicit some backbone? It is incredible that the IPCC and their manipulation of climate science continue to drive world energy and economic policies. How many more people must starve and economies collapse before this most egregious exploitation driven by environmentalists is stopped?

The book does suffer from a lack of an index or even a table of contents, and it is overly repetitive and contains far more quoted passages than necessary, sometimes reading like the transcript of a trial. In defense of Ball, however, I can say he has left nothing out of this complete history, which is fully known only to those who have been knee-deep in this controversy for decades.

Too many of us on the right side of science still treat the global warming leadership with respect they do not deserve. Too many of us, as old-time radio’s “Shadow” often said, do not know “what evil lurks in the minds of men.” With this book, Tim Ball will clearly disabuse you of such erroneous judgments.

(Editor’s note: Join many hundreds who want to hear the truth about the climate at Heartland’s 9th International Conference on Climate Change in Las Vegas, July 7-9, just before FreedomFest.)

[First published at the Daily Caller.]

Categories: On the Blog

Twin ‘Botched’ Government Programs: Obamacare and Common Core

March 28, 2014, 10:00 AM

President Obama has provided us with many classic statements worthy of making the “famous last words” list.  For instance, on September 26Obama said, “…most of the stories you’ll hear about how ObamaCare just can’t work is just not based on facts.  Every time they have predicted something not working, it’s worked.”  About a month later, with hyped media coverage and much fanfare, HeathCare.org was finally launched and open to enrollment.  Within hours, it became apparent there were critical failures in the system, resulting in a disastrous computer crash and one more obvious embarrassing failure for the president.

This past Sunday, March 23, just happened to be the 4-year anniversary of Obamacare, called by some as the president’s signature domestic policy achievement.  Despite the wishful thinking of Obama, his Administration, and many Washington Democrats, the American people have now realized the computer crash was just the beginning of disappointments and deceptive advertising.  Folks all through America are getting hit with higher premiums and fewer choices, we are not always able to keep our doctor if we like our doctor, and seniors on Medicare are frightened due to mounting uncertainly and confusion over what kind of care they will receive.

The American people certainly aren’t celebrating Obamacare’s 4th anniversary.  The results of the latest Pew Research survey show 53% of respondents disapproving of Obamacare, while only 41% approve. Opposition to Obamacare is just one point shy of the poll’s all-time high.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are on record to spend $52 million more for a final media push before the end of the enrollment on March 31.  Worse yet, consider that an estimated $684 million has been spent on publicity, marketing, and advertising the Affordable Care At, according to The Associated Press.

Even so, signups for Obamacare have fallen short of the Administrations’ original goal of seven million, which has now been lowered to a hoped for six million. Arguably worst of all, the system will only sustain itself if young, healthy adults pay into it, but it appears to be the opposite.  The healthy find it too expensive and a waste of money, while those with known medical problems and staggering expenses are taking advantage of the program.

Isn’t it enough to have one botched government program that adversely affects many more Americans than it promised to help?   The Obama administration is also responsive for launching the highly controversial Common Core.

While everyone has heard about Obamacare, this is not the case with Common Core, a United Nations UNESCO global education agenda.  The Tides Foundation in conjunction with UNESCO and Bill Gates of Microsoft had Common Core prepared prior to Obama’s election and once elected, the funding was incorporated into the Stimulus bill of 2009 and funded without knowledge or consent of Congress as usual.  Most telling is that Arne Duncan, Obama’s Secretary of Education, is a strong proponent of UNESCO.  A “Race to the Top” grant program was used to help persuade the States into signing onto the Curriculum sight unseen in 2010.   If states did not agree to implement the Common core Curriculum, the education grant monies for the States was withheld.

With Common Core curriculum, students will no longer be taught math, literature, history, science or social studies the same way we were taught. Much of this nation’s history has been distorted or eliminated by the authors of Common Core.  It is a one size fits all approach to education which does not address the unique individuality of each child.  Most disturbing is that the progressive movement will flourish through the indoctrination of students, who will be lured into accepting an extreme leftist ideology.  I am not suggesting that this will happen in the U.S., but millions of German young people were won over to Nazism in the classroom. The indoctrination of students is not new; it has happened in Germany and continues in Middle Eastern countries today.

As with most every government program, there are those who stand to make substantial profits from it.  Realizing the escalating controversy over Common Core, those who will benefit from it have begun promoting it through expensive advertisements. They are countered by pockets of parents and concerned citizens all through America who are demanding their state legislators stop implementing Common Core.   Perhaps most significant is the growing number of teachers who are highly critical of the Common Core curriculum and have begun speaking out against it.   Their concern forced the attention of the National Education Association (NEA) president, Dennis Van Roekel, who recently made the startling confession that Common Core was indeed botched.  The battle rages on.

It was on February 19, 2014, when NEA president Dennis Van Roekel posted a letter to union members at NEAToday.org, breaking with his administration pals by admitting that Common core implementation had been botched. This followed intense teachers’ representative dissatisfaction with Common Core during the 2013 NEA convention at which delegates from the floor introduced two measures, both of which failed to pass.  The measures condemned Obama’s education policies outright and were critical of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Teachers, parent, and concerned citizens knew several years ago that Common Core was seriously flawed, but no one wanted to hear those complaints.  Those who did complain were often labeled as extremists, malcontents, and nut-jobs (Thorner spoke several time during public comment time in front of the principal, superintendent and board members of Lake Forest District #115, but to no avail.  All are staunch pro-Common Core supporters.)  Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan even said he found it “fascinating” that Common Core opponents were “white suburban moms who all of a sudden discovered their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were. . . .”  Some wonder if Duncan is equally as fascinated now that the one finding fault with Common Core is his union ally.

In his letter Van Roekel maintains that “scuttling these standards” is a bad idea, but still maintains that “the union wants states to make a strongcourse correction and move forward.”

Van Roekel further suggests allowing teachers “time to field-test the standards in classrooms to determine what works and what needs adjustment.”  As standard have started to be implemented in 46 states and the District of Columbia doesn’t it seem a little late to be field testing?

According to the NGA (National Governors Association) the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers), and their agent, Achieve, Inc., teacher input had been included.  Not so claims Van Roekel who wrote:

“The very people expected to deliver universal access to high quality standards with high quality instruction have not had the opportunity to share their expertise and advice about how to make [CC] implementation work for all students, educators, and parents.”

Van Roekel’s letter ends with this proclamation:

“There’s too much at stake for our children and our country to risk getting this wrong.  That is exactly what Common Core opponents have been saying for years.”

On Wednesday, March 26, State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) presented HR 543 before the House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee in Springfield. This resolution will urged the Illinois State Board of Education to delay the implementation of Common Core Standards until a study is conducted showing the costs associated with Common Core.

What are the chances Illinois will opt out of the Common Core curriculum as was announced by Governor Mike Pence of Indiana on Tuesday, March 25?  Slim to none, indeed!

Illinois accepted Common Core sight unseen in 2010.  Endorsed wholeheartedly by the Illinois Education Union, Common Core is now being implemented across the state.

Abraham Lincoln is credited with the warning:  “The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next”.

Vladimir Lenin, a notorious Russian communist, knew the power of controlling schools and once said, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”

Heed Lenin’s declamation and take action if you care about the future of this nation. It is imperative that you take an interest in how and what your children are learning.  If you don’t have children of school age, attend board meeting, ask questions, and be ready to confront school administrators and school boards with facts about the progressive Common Core experiment which was never tried or tested before using children as guinea pigs.

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog