Somewhat Reasonable

Syndicate content Somewhat Reasonable | Somewhat Reasonable
The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
Updated: 7 min 23 sec ago

Heartland Daily Podcast – Fred McMahon: U.S. Drops to 16th in Economic Freedom Index

September 21, 2015, 4:34 PM

In today’s episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Fraser Institute resident fellow Fred McMahon joins managing editor of Budget & Tax News Jesse Hathaway to talk about the newest results of the Canadian think tank’s annual Economic Freedom of the World study.

The study, ranking almost every country in the world using 42 different variables measuring economic freedom and legal stability, finds that American citizens are less free to engage in voluntary exchange than Canadian citizens, as well as the citizens of 14 other countries.

As recently as 2000, the U.S. was among the five freest countries in the world, but the report suggests weakened rule of law and increasingly confusing regulatory codes have caused America’s decline over the past 15 years.

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


Categories: On the Blog

EMP Versus AGW – Is There a National Death Wish?

September 21, 2015, 3:29 PM

EMP or ElectroMagnetic Pulse is a disturbance that affects and sometimes destroys electrical and electronic devices. There are two kinds of EMP. A natural EMP is created by a storm on the sun that causes a cloud of particles to be ejected at high speed. If this cloud strikes the Earth it causes a natural EMP. There were important natural EMP’s in 1859, 1921, and 1989. The 1989 EMP crashed the electrical grid in Quebec and destroyed an important transformer at a nuclear plant in New Jersey. A natural EMP “heaves” the Earth’s magnetic field and induces destructive currents in long power lines. The 1989 event was far from the worst that can be expected.

A different type of EMP can be created by detonating a nuclear weapon at very high altitude, for example 200 miles. Such a detonation does not damage buildings or people. Only a flash would be visible. It does, however, create a very fast electromagnetic pulse that can damage computers, as well as many types of electronic equipment, over the entire continental United States. Like, a natural EMP, it also heaves the Earth’s magnetic field and can destroy critical large transformers, a part of the electrical grid that would take years to replace.

Because a single nuclear weapon can cause massive damage, EMP is the strategy of choice for minor powers such as Iran and North Korea, or even terrorists. Widespread destruction of the electrical grid and computers could leave the population of the entire country without electricity, water, heat, fuel, sewage, ATM’s, or credit cards. When emergency generators run out of fuel there would be no functioning hospitals and no manufacturing of drugs. Of course, the emergency generators might not function at all because control computers might fail. Our nuclear forces would still be ready, because they have long been hardened against EMP. If it is any consolation, guns would still work. They don’t use electricity.

At a minimum the electrical grid has to be protected so that it can quickly be bought back on line after an attack. The large transformers, without which the grid cannot function, can be protected at a very reasonable cost. But practically nothing has been done. If those transformers are destroyed — melted — it would take years to replace them and most of the transformer manufacturing capacity is in foreign countries. The oil refineries, the natural gas distribution system, coalmines, water systems and sewage systems must all be hardened against EMP.

Of course, the intelligence agencies and the military must be vigilant and do their best to head off an EMP attack by a hostile power. If a nuclear bomb is exploded in Manhattan and 2 million people are killed, there will still be 318 million people left in the U.S. with their productive capacity intact. But a successful EMP attack could put the entire country back in the 19th century for years.

An EMP attack requires both nuclear weapons and missiles to loft the weapon into near space. For that reason it is dangerous to allow our enemies to develop either missiles or nuclear weapons. It is extremely naive to suppose that our enemies lack ingenuity or to suppose that our intelligence agencies can effectively spy on them. It is also naive to suppose that we are well prepared for eventualities or that nothing will surprise us. The very fact that outside of the military we are totally undefended against an EMP attack is proof that our homeland security people are lethargic and not in the least bit alert to danger. That much of EMP technology is classified does not hide information from our enemies as much as it hides information from the Congress and the people, encouraging complacency.

The notion that nuclear weapons can only be acquired by establishing a vast industrial infrastructure to produce enriched uranium or plutonium is naive. The weapons can also be acquired from someone who has them or has access to them. The same considerations apply to missiles.

Much is uncertain about an EMP attack. It might not be as bad as the worst case. It might turn out that our infrastructure is fairly resistant. We don’t know a lot because not enough testing has been done. We do know that relatively minor efforts at hardening could make a huge difference in national survival. Yet nothing is being done.

For some reason best explained by psychiatrists, we are spending vast sums, potentially trillions, to reduce CO2 emissions in order to protect ourselves from Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Besides the fact that AGW is supported by the worst sort of junk science, even if you believe the junk science, reducing U.S. CO2 emissions will have practically no effect because CO2 emissions and growth in CO2 emissions is concentrated in Asia. To compound the craziness, vast sums are being spent on windmills and solar electricity, rather than nuclear power. Solar electricity suffers from not working at night and wind power has the problem that the wind isn’t always blowing. Nuclear power is the one type of CO2-free power that is scalable, reliable and technically mature. It is also resistant to EMP.

What is the threat poised by the imaginary global warming? According to the promoters, in 100 years it will be slightly warmer. Chicago will become as warm as St. Louis. Reality is that the Earth hasn’t warmed in 18 years and some experts think we may be on the verge of a cooling cycle. Predictions of AGW are based on computer models. The Earth is not following the computer models and vice versa.

This should scare everyone: “The Department of Energy has been charged with orchestrating the wholesale modernization of our nation’s electrical grid.”

While pursuing the supposed threat of AGW, the government is taking measures that will make the electrical grid less resistant to an EMP attack. An example is forcing the closure of coal plants in favor of natural gas plants. If the natural gas distribution system fails, so do the generating plants dependent on the gas. Coal plants; on the other hand typically have piles of coal on their premises. The government promotes a so-called smart grid. The idea is to use computers and communications to centrally control the electrical grid, an approach that is highly susceptible to EMP.

Norman Rogers writes about global warming and energy, among other topics. He maintains a website here and here.

[Originally published at the American Thinker]

Categories: On the Blog

Economies Collapsing, Middle East Imploding – and Obama & Pals Obsess Over … the Climate!

September 21, 2015, 9:28 AM

The Middle East is imploding. Islamic State butchers are annihilating Christian and other communities. Putin is sending arms to Assad. Under the Obama-Iran nuclear deal, the mullahs will get $100+ billion to expand their proxy terror war on Israel and the West. Saudi Arabia has 100,000 empty air-conditioned tents but won’t take any of the millions who’ve been driven from their homes. Neither will most of the other 22 Arab League nations or 57 Organization of Islamic Cooperation member countries.

Instead, millions of mostly Muslim migrants, militants and refugees are heading to Europe – with limited money, education, job skills, or desire to assimilate. They demand entry into EU countries whose energy, economic, employment and welfare systems are already foundering or nearing collapse.

EU nations have hobbled their nuclear and carbon-based energy systems so completely that unsubsidized German and Danish electricity prices are almost ten times higher than in US states that still rely on coal-fired generation. Industrial giant Siemens is cutting 1,600 jobs in its power and gas division, companies are hard-pressed to compete internationally, and 0.5% annual economic growth is deemed “robust.”

So naturally, President Obama, Pope Francis, the European Commission, United Nations, and many poor countries are obsessed with – climate change! It’s insanity on steroids. The alarmist assertions are absurd.

“Climate change is already disrupting our agriculture and ecosystems, our water and food supplies,” Obama recently inveighed. “If we do nothing, Alaskan temperatures are projected to rise between six and twelve degrees by the end of the century.”

Projected by whom? Who concocts these fables? Nature-driven climate change has disrupted lives throughout human history. Seas have risen 400 feet since the last mile-thick glaciers melted off the northern half of Asia, Europe and North America. How did “imperiled” Pacific islands survive that?

Some Alaskan glaciers have been retreating for decades, but Hubbard is growing and Glacier Bay’s ice retreat began around 1750. Arctic sea ice has increased some 26% (400,000 square miles) since 2012, in a cycle that’s continued for millennia. The sea ice “was thick in the 1920s, thin in the 1930s and 1940s, thick again in the 1960s and 1970s, and thinner in recent decades,” oceanographer Igor Polyakov noted in 2004.

“Not only in the summer, but in the winter the [Bering Sea region] was free of ice, sometimes with a wide strip of water up to at least 200 miles away from the shore,” Swedish explorer Oscar Nordkvist reported in 1822. “We were astonished by the total absence of ice in the Barrow Strait,” Francis McClintock, captain of the Fox, wrote in 1860. “I was here at this time in 1854 – still frozen up – and doubts were entertained as to the possibility of escape.” How did cars and power plants cause all that?

Meanwhile Greenland’s ice mass has grown by some 200 cubic kilometers (48 cubic miles) just since 2014. Vikings built homes, grew crops and raised cattle in Greenland between 950 and 1300, before they were frozen out by the Little Ice Age and encroaching pack ice and glaciers. Antarctic sea ice set another record in May, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center reports, climbing 12% above the long-term 1981-2010 average, to reach 12.1 million square kilometers (800,000 square miles) – almost as much as Alaska and Texas combined!

If it’s global warming and climate change, shouldn’t melting phenomena be constant and global?

Pope Francis nevertheless plans to meet with President Obama September 23, to discuss “dangerous manmade climate change” and how to ensure “preferential treatment of the poor,” by building “clean” energy economies and stopping “carbon pollution.” Their concerns and solutions are illusory.

They disdain fossil fuels and capitalism – though they have brought greater health and well-being to more people than any other systems in history. They prefer the socialism, centralized government control, higher energy prices, fundamental economic transformations and wealth redistribution schemes advanced by the UN and Climate Crisis, Inc. By denying the world’s poorest people energy, jobs and economic growth, this agenda will sentence them to perpetual poverty, disease and early death. By mandating the use of biofuels, wind turbines and solar panels, it will turn food into fuel, increase malnutrition, convert wildlife habitats into enormous inefficient energy facilities, and kill countless millions of birds and bats.

The pope and president dismiss these impacts. They insist that climate change is a far worse problem, and that modern energy, housing and living standards for the world’s poor would not be “sustainable.” They believe “morality,” “climate justice” and “preferential treatment” mean protecting people from hypothesized, exaggerated and fabricated climate disasters 25, 50 or 100 years from now – by destroying millions of jobs and keeping the world’s poor energy-deprived and impoverished now and in perpetuity.

The pope and president denigrate plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide as “carbon pollution” and say this 0.04% of Earth’s atmosphere has replaced the powerful natural forces that have always driven climate and weather fluctuations and events. They disregard satellite and weather balloon data and records from East Anglia University, which show there has been no planetary warming since at least late 1997, if not 1995.

They studiously ignore the fact that even full implementation of EPA’s fraudulent and destructive Clean Power Plan would at best prevent a global temperature increase of only 0.03 degrees F and a sea-level rise of barely 0.01 inches by 2100. And those “benefits” assume CO2 is the culprit in climate change.

Like other climate alarmists, they refuse to recognize that some 2,300 coal-fired power plants are already operating worldwide, and almost 2,200 more are being proposed, developed or built. Nearly 900 are planned for China and India alone. In barely ten years, Asia’s energy consumption will increase 31% and some two-thirds of that demand will be oil, natural gas and coal. So a US shutdown would do nothing.

Developed countries have dug a tiger trap – and walked into it. Their constant rants about “catastrophic manmade climate change” are driving policies that shut down carbon-based energy, economic growth and job creation in Formerly Rich Countries, while telling developing nations to hold us for climate ransom.

Following Obama’s recent GLACIER conference in Anchorage, China, India and Russia (three of the four biggest CO2-emitting nations) refused to sign a nonbinding declaration seeking greater international action to combat Arctic melting and climate change. Nearly all developing countries oppose agreements calling for binding emission targets or even “obligatory review mechanisms” of their voluntary efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, they now insist on $100 billion to $400 billion per year in climate change “mitigation, adaptation and compensation,” plus free energy technology transfers.

Denmark is dropping plans to phase out coal-fired power plants and be fossil-fuel-free by 2050. Britain is junking its wind energy subsidies and pushing ahead with fracking for gas to fuel more power plants. But meanwhile, Mr. Obama is thumbing his nose at Congress and American voters and unemployed workers – and imposing ever more restrictions on coal and natural gas use, and more taxpayer subsidies for wind, solar and biofuel programs, on top of water, ozone and other regulations. This will cost trillions of dollars, inflict heavy costs on poor and middle class families, and bring few or no health or ecological benefits.

The agenda being driven by President Obama, Pope Francis, the UN and Climate Crisis, Inc. means our huddled masses will be forced to share ever-greater scarcity, ever-lower living standards, ever-fewer jobs and opportunities. But of course it all will be apportioned “fairly and equitably” – by ruling elites and their cronies, whose desk jobs, six-figure salaries and upper crust life styles will be protected by the same executive powers they employ to protect the planet from climate raptors and hobgoblins.

It’s time for Congress to pass bills dismantling and defunding Obama’s energy and climate dictates – and dare Democrats to vote against them and in favor of this destructive Executive Branch power grab.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

Categories: On the Blog

Community Schools are Not Just a Fantasy! – Part 2

September 21, 2015, 9:12 AM

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil – 

We should have known America was in for major changes when Michelle Obama stated: “We are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.” A few months later, Barack confirmed by stating: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Oh, yes, there were warnings as to their plans, but who thought they had meant to change the very core of who we are as a people?

Our first major clues of the changes our president had in mind were evident in those he chose for his cabinet. Victor Davis Hanson mentioned some of Obama’s questionable liberal choices in an article that described the “worst of the worst.” However, he missed Arnie Duncan, Secretary of Education, who ushered in the controversial Common Core Standards.

See here for Part 1.

Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, is now pressing forward to go beyond the controversial Common Core.  Duncan has a new plan for America’s children as outlined under S1787, which aims to amend Title V of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to establish a full-service community schools grant program, specifically for those who are our most vulnerable children. This is no surprise considering Duncan has the support of President Obama who shares his liberal ideas. Duncan’s newest education plan is a huge leap towards fulfilling his radical goals, one of which is seen in this statement:

“…We have pursued a cradle-to-career education agenda, from early childhood programs through post-secondary graduation.  We have to learn to think very differently about time. I think our school day is too short.  I think our school week is too short.  I think our school year is too short.”

Diane Ravitch presents this devastating critique of Arne Duncan assigning him an F grade.  Ravitch believes it will take years to recover from the damage that Arne Duncan’s policies have inflicted on public education.

One Step at a Time Toward Federal Control

Secretary Duncan would prefer our children spend up to 12 hours a day at school and cut out most summer vacation time.  He has even discussed having public boarding schools, although it is unclear who will pay for such an expense. Suzanne Hammer explained Duncan’s philosophy in this statement:

“With this administration, the mantra of “the end justifies the means” governs these officials’ actions.  If the end is to have more control over the indoctrination of children by keeping them away from parents longer, the administration feels justified in using whatever steps are necessary to do so.  It seems the government is willing to convert and expand government controlled schools into public boarding schools, at taxpayer expense.”

Some would claim that Hammer’s opinion is outrageous, and such a plan will never happen?  Well, maybe not immediately, but it is possible when its  promoters take one step at a time. Common Core acquainted the public with a break from education being the total responsibility of the state, by first introducing and then promoting it at the federal level.  The end result was a definite reduction of local control.

We also know several states have begun increasing student school time.  President Obamas’ former Chief of Staff and Secretary Duncan’s friend, Chicago Mayor Rham Emanuel, increased public school hours in Illinois. Teachers were required to work 58 hour weeks.  However, problems occurred when teachers began complaining about the extra hours and excessive work load.  Teacher unions demanded raising salaries and/or hiring part time teachers.  Assessing the high financial costs of increasing school hours became a significant issue, as estimates indicated the need for hundreds of millions in funding, depending upon the specific number of increased hours.  Ideas as to how to procure the extra financing were discussed, but the possibility of raising the amount deemed necessary within the state proved difficult.

Other states bought into the concept of longer school hours and additional school days, and they too realized the need for additional funding.  It became obvious in order to have longer hours and more school days, additional financing would be necessary from federal sources.  Perhaps the additional funding requirements associated with adapting to Common Core, had already caused a funding crisis in their schools, which might help explain why Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown introduced S.1787:  Full-Service Community Schools Act of 2015.

As we look at S1787, which authorizes federal funding for “Community Schools” and knowing plans for these schools are already in place, we all need to take a closer look at the escalating problem of federal intervention into our schools.  It might be prudent to take another close look at dismantling the federal Department of Education.

Alex Newman in his August 12, 2015 article states:  “Obama’s ‘Community Schools’ program aims to replace parents.”  He provides facts highly critical of Obama’s and Duncan’s project, and makes it clear that children ensnared by these schools can spend virtually most of the day confined to classrooms.

Duncan’s selling point is that students will benefit by all of the ’services’ the school will provide.  The end result is that “Community Schools”, with long hours and special “services”, will make a child’s family irrelevant.”  Some say, “of course, that is one of the program’s major goals.”

What to Expect When Government Intrudes Upon Parental Rights

When schools go way beyond their role of providing a strong academic education and instead assume responsibilities traditionally expected of parents, it could be described as welfare on steroids. It is an unhealthy intrusion upon parental rights, with the possibility of families becoming addicted to another federal government welfare program.  For low income families, a school that provides for their child’s every need from academics to health care; supplying students with every meal and choosing their entertainment in the evening hours is tempting.

However, is it really beneficial to the health of our country to allow government to become responsible for raising our children?   Is it prudent to force students to be at school the whole day? The apologists for this extreme system claim it will keep “at risk” kids off the streets and have them in a safe environment.  However, what is the ultimate impact on children to have teachers as their custodians and psychologists hearing their problems?  Parents are not perfect, but they are more likely to offer a more authentic love and interest in their child than paid strangers.

Critics might ask what we recommend to solve the problem of crime in the most vulnerable cities, as they suggest a lack of education can be part of the problem. The answer is that America has endured far more difficult hardships and financial times than anything experienced in our lifetime. Previous generations not only survived hard times, they did so without government assistance. The  difficulties caused them and America to grow stronger. Family, neighbors and churches helped those in need, and that system worked best, because it was temporary assistance born out of a personal relationship with someone going through hard times.

The recipients were greatly appreciative of those who helped them, and the provider felt good about the help offered. It was a far better system than the “forced” system today. Economically, having government as the facilitator, automatically cuts into funds before reaching the needy. Even more problematic is that after years of accepting welfare, recipients have begun to  feel entitled to the steady support, and tax payers resent paying the taxes, without the reward of knowing or seeing the recipient helped. When individuals give on a one to one basis, they know who is deserving of assistance … and who is not.  The personal welfare system proved effective and also  benefited children who learned the reward of personal giving and the feeling of  gratitude when their family was helped.   Children learned life changing lessons, such as the value of a good education, because that translated into well paying jobs.

Big Government and Education Not Compatible

Proof that the government cannot solve people’s financial situations is the “War on Poverty”, in which government has already invested  fifty years of time and a whopping $22 trillion cost to taxpayers.  The result has been a colossal failure:  poverty actually increased.  The answer to prosperity is that people need to be empowered, not enslaved by easy money from the government.   Children learn life lessons best through experiences, both good and bad.

If S1787 becomes law, parents will become increasingly irrelevant over time.  Government must have more faith in the public, and parents need to have more pride and confidence in themselves.  It is best when children are taught and raised by parents, with minimal intrusion from our government, otherwise we will appear more like a socialist state than citizens living in the land of the “free and the brave”.    America  became great through the efforts of  self-sufficient, proud, caring, and capable people. It is those attributes that will most benefit our families and successfully lead us into the future.  Let us never forget President Reagan’s famous quote:  “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

Part 1:


Categories: On the Blog

Solution to Government Overreach Is in the Constitution

September 21, 2015, 8:44 AM

By: Kyle Maichle and S.T. Karnick

As is clear from the rise of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina in the Republican presidential primaries and the groundswell of support for socialist Bernie Sanders among Democrats, a large portion of the American public has become fed up with the national government’s apparent takeover by powerful special-interest groups. Each new day brings another story of bad legislation and worse court decisions giving certain classes of people advantages denied to the rest of the people.

Partisan gridlock and the battles between various interest groups have made it impossible to roll back ill-conceived government policies. Gridlock, however, is partly a product of elements of the Constitution the nation’s founders considered essential. James Madison, the fourth president of the United States and widely considered to be the “Father of the Constitution,” was well aware of the potential for gridlock, and he saw it as a positive thing.

Writing in Federalist No. 62 about equality of representation in the Senate, Madison noted, “As the facility and excess of law-making seem to be the diseases to which our governments are most liable, it is not impossible that this part of the Constitution may be more convenient in practice than it appears to many in contemplation.” The policy is good, he observed, because it makes it more difficult for the national government to act.

Elaborating on that thought, Madison wrote, “It is a misfortune incident to republican government, though in a less degree than to other governments, that those who administer it may forget their obligations to their constituents, and prove unfaithful to their important trust. In this point of view, a senate, as a second branch of the legislative assembly, distinct from, and dividing the power with, a first, must be in all cases a salutary check on the government. It doubles the security to the people, by requiring the concurrence of two distinct bodies in schemes of usurpation or perfidy, where the ambition or corruption of one would otherwise be sufficient.”

The fundamental beauty of the U.S. Constitution is that it essentially gave everybody veto power over the actions of the national government. Nothing could become the law of the land unless both houses of Congress, the president, the Supreme Court, and the states all agreed that it should be. Any action of the national government had to run a long gantlet in order to become law.

As is clear from the rise of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina in the Republican presidential primaries and the groundswell of support for socialist Bernie Sanders among Democrats, a large portion of the American public has become fed up with the national government’s apparent takeover by powerful special-interest groups. Each new day brings another story of bad legislation and worse court decisions giving certain classes of people advantages denied to the rest of the people.

Partisan gridlock and the battles between various interest groups have made it impossible to roll back ill-conceived government policies. Gridlock, however, is partly a product of elements of the Constitution the nation’s founders considered essential. James Madison, the fourth president of the United States and widely considered to be the “Father of the Constitution,” was well aware of the potential for gridlock, and he saw it as a positive thing.

Writing in Federalist No. 62 about equality of representation in the Senate, Madison noted, “As the facility and excess of law-making seem to be the diseases to which our governments are most liable, it is not impossible that this part of the Constitution may be more convenient in practice than it appears to many in contemplation.” The policy is good, he observed, because it makes it more difficult for the national government to act.

Elaborating on that thought, Madison wrote, “It is a misfortune incident to republican government, though in a less degree than to other governments, that those who administer it may forget their obligations to their constituents, and prove unfaithful to their important trust. In this point of view, a senate, as a second branch of the legislative assembly, distinct from, and dividing the power with, a first, must be in all cases a salutary check on the government. It doubles the security to the people, by requiring the concurrence of two distinct bodies in schemes of usurpation or perfidy, where the ambition or corruption of one would otherwise be sufficient.”

The fundamental beauty of the U.S. Constitution is that it essentially gave everybody veto power over the actions of the national government. Nothing could become the law of the land unless both houses of Congress, the president, the Supreme Court, and the states all agreed that it should be. Any action of the national government had to run a long gantlet in order to become law.


[Originally published at Townhall]

Categories: On the Blog

The Climate Has Been Changing Since Genesis 1:1, So Why Is Pope Francis Suddenly So Concerned?

September 21, 2015, 8:40 AM

Pope Francis meets with murderous communist thug Fidel Castro in Cuba. His Holiness is now coming to the U.S. to talk environmental politics.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) tells that he is planning to boycott the Congressional address of Pope Francis this week. The reason? The Congressman is concerned that the speech is going to be completely politically correct, not traditionally Christian in focus. He also is outraged that the secular progressives at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) helped co-write His Holiness’ environmental encyclical earlier this year, and does not want to offer even tacit support for that ideological document.

“Media reports indicate His Holiness instead intends to focus the brunt of his speech on climate change–a climate that has been changing since first created in Genesis. More troubling is the fact that this climate change talk has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into climate justice and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies. If the Pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line,” wrote Rep. Gosar. “If the Pope spoke out with moral authority against violent Islam, I would be there cheering him on. If the Pope urged the Western nations to rescue persecuted Christians in the Middle East, I would back him wholeheartedly. But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one. Artist and columnist Maureen Mullarkey effectively communicated this fallacy stating, ‘When papal preferences, masked in a Christian idiom, align themselves with ideological agendas (e.g. radical environmentalism) [they] impinge on democratic freedoms and the sanctity of the individual.’”

Concluded the Congressman, “the earth’s climate has been changing since God created it, with or without man. On that, we should all agree. In Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment (written with the consultation of that great seminary the EPA and its embattled head Gina McCarthy), he condemned anyone skeptical of the link between human activity and climate change and adopted the false science being propagated by the Left. If the Pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change then he can do so in his personal time. But to promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous.”

Categories: On the Blog

Following ‘Best Practices’ in School Management Boosts Students’ Scores in Reading and Writing

September 21, 2015, 7:12 AM

When teaching standards are enforced, middle school students see their test scores soar.

A middle school in North Texas which serves Hispanic and black students is seeing solid gains in student achievement, including increased scores in writing and reading, as a result of implementing “best practices” in teacher management identified by researchers.

The evidence-based practices were identified by Middle School Matters, a project of the George W. Bush Institute in a 2014 study, according to a briefing by staff from the organization for The Heartland Institute on Friday.

The student outcomes at Uplift Mighty Preparatory are an example of what is possible when research identifying best practices is implemented in the classroom, according to Anson Jackson, principal of the school.

The tuition-free middle school in the Uplift Education public charter network of North Texas has a focused mission: ensuring that 100 percent of its students become ready for college. Seventy-five percent of Uplift students are Hispanic, 25 percent are African American, and 90 percent are from low-income families.

Among the best practices implemented at the middle school, are the following, according to the Bush Institute:

  • Aligning goals, strategies, structures and resources so that all staff members are working on increasing student achievement.
  • Creating a sense of shared responsibility, balanced autonomy and continuous learning and improvement.
  • Effectively manage and support principals, including through regular feedback and opportunities for development; and
  • Give principals the authority and backing to manage the teaching talent on their campuses.
Categories: On the Blog

Trial Trolls

September 20, 2015, 3:34 PM

Over the last several decades, trial lawyers have found increasingly “creative” ways to use the legal system to enable themselves to cart off huge portions of legal settlements for themselves. Some of these high profile abuses made headline news, such as the class action exploitations of the 1990s. But actually being required to take a case to court does come with expense, and wanting to enhance their riches trial lawyers have found some new legal system weaknesses to exploit for less out of pocket expense.

Partnered with patent trolls (Few of the current definitions or usages of the term are helpful as many of them disparage some otherwise enterprising individuals or companies. That said, there are bad actors who bring, or threaten to bring, abusive, frivolous litigation that is designed to leach onto innovation and drain its value), trial lawyers, in those cases where the trial lawyer is not also the troll, are exploiting weaknesses in the patent system to enrich themselves while draining away value from creators and inventors.

The typical operation begins with an abusive demand letter, that is a written demand for the target to pay royalties for presumably violating a patent. Often such demands are frivolous, such as with the recent shake down letter objecting to restaurant menus being posted online, but the demand for cash is very real as is the threatening language. This process requires little in the way of cost or work, just a moment to change the name and address and drop the form letter in the mail. Because the demand is often kept relatively low, settlement is often thought a better financial option, especially for small businesses and sole proprietorships. The intent is the shakedown, not justice. To have a strong patent system that protects intellectual property, means that these abuses must be made to stop.

As Carry Lukas with the Independent Womens Forum has written, “This isn’t how things are supposed to work. And it isn’t just multibillion dollar companies that are harmed by legal abuses, but small businesses that are the least likely to be able to afford the payments much less a protracted legal battle. In fact, we all end up facing higher prices as a result of this economic drain on legitimate companies.

We need legislation to prevent this obvious abuse of the legal system. The good news is that there are proposals out there to make changes, such as requiring that lawsuits are filed in districts with some relationship to the issue at hand. That-along with other reforms to require that patent trolls are truthful in their communications with businesses and to facilitate the dismissal of frivolous cases-would be a much needed dose of common sense to our legal system. It would also take pressure off of legitimate companies and entrepreneurs trying to build businesses and create jobs, could bring down prices a bit for the rest of us, and make our system more just.”

Trial lawyers have chipped away at various pieces of our country in the past. Now, they are after innovation. The threat is real, especially when a troll is at their side.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly Email: Donald J. Devine to Receive Heartland Liberty Prize at 2015 Benefit Dinner

September 18, 2015, 4:10 PM

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

Solution to Government Overreach Is in the Constitution
Kyle Maichle and S.T. Karnick, Townhall
“The fundamental beauty of the U.S. Constitution is that it essentially gave everybody veto power over the actions of the national government. Nothing could become the law of the land unless both houses of Congress, the president, the Supreme Court, and the states all agreed that it should be. Any action of the national government had to run a long gauntlet in order to become law.” READ MORE

The History of National Standards and Common Core
Lennie Jarratt,
Lennie Jarratt, project manager for school reform at The Heartland Institute, has constructed a timeline of the major events in the history of Common Core. Unbeknownst to many, the roots of Common Core and national standards extend back for decades. Jarratt tracks the growth of this federal intrusion into the education system and points out the major players in the effort, including the Gates Foundation.  READ MORE

Donald J. Devine to Receive Heartland Liberty Prize at 2015 Benefit Dinner
Join us on Thursday, October 8 at The Heartland Institute’s 31st Anniversary Benefit Dinner as we celebrate the career of political scientist, author, and former Reagan administration official Donald J. Devine with this year’s Heartland Liberty Prize. Past recipients of the award include fellow conservative and libertarian titans M. Stanton Evans, Gary Becker, Ed Crane, Walter Williams, and John Stossel. Space is limited, so reserve a seat today! READ MORE

Featured Podcast: Mark Steyn: Breaking Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick
America’s “undocumented anchorman” Mark Steyn joins Director of Communications Jim Lakely to discuss Steyn’s new book, A Disgrace to the Profession. The Canadian-born writer and conservative political commentator talks about the fallacies of the popular and well-known hockey stick graph by the fake Nobel Laureate Michael E. Mann. LISTEN HERE


Our October 8 Benefit Dinner: The Heartland versus The Ruling Class! The Heartland Institute’s 31st Anniversary Benefit Dinner will take place Thursday, October 8 at The Cotillion, 360 South Creekside Drive in Palatine, Illinois. This year’s theme is “The Heartland versus The Ruling Class,” featuring keynote speaker Angelo Codevilla, Ph.D., author of The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It. Donald J. Devine, Ph.D., will receive this year’s Heartland Liberty Prize. Join us for dinner, drinks, great conversation, and fellowship in liberty! MORE INFO HERE

CON Laws Hinder Health Services Competition in Virginia
Matthew Glans, Fairfax Times 
Virginia is one of 36 states that require a certificate of need (CON) to approve the construction of a new health facility. Because of this regulation, Inova – a health care system based in Northern Virginia – has been able to obtain a near-monopoly over health services in the state’s most-populous area. CON laws limit health care competition across the state and leave fewer options for everyone, especially the poor. READ MORE

German Energiewende vs. American Fracking: A Tale of Two Energy Revolutions
Isaac Orr, Townhall 
Germany and the United States are embarking on two drastically different energy policies … and reaping dramatically different results. Germany’s “Energiewende” plan intends to make the country the renewable-energy center of the world. The effort has yielded only heavily subsidized renewable energy projects and increasing electricity prices. America, on the other hand, is enjoying lower carbon emissions and lower energy prices due to the fracking boom. READ MORE

Senators Call for Plan to Liquidate Ex-Im Bank
Brady Nelson, The Heartlander
Several U.S. senators, including presidential candidates Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), are pushing to formally liquidate the Export-Import Bank, a government agency subsidizing domestic companies’ costs when selling goods in foreign countries. Heritage Foundation Senior Fellow Diane Katz says, “Contrary to the propaganda of Ex-Im proponents, the subsidies hurt U.S. small businesses more than they help.” READ MORE

Obamacare Waste Continues to Pile Up
Justin Haskins, Consumer Power Report 
One of the many promises made by President Barack Obama about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also know as Obamacare, was that the costs of providing 30 million Americans with health insurance would be offset by reducing government mismanagement and fraud. However, a new government audit shows the 20 contracts “most critical to the [] website’s operation” were incredibly mismanaged. READ MORE

Bonus Podcast: Heather Kays: Troubling Education News from Washington State
School Reform News Managing Editor Heather Kays joins Director of Communications Jim Lakely to discuss a recent spell of bad education news coming out of the state of Washington. In recent weeks, Washington has seen the state supreme court rule charter schools unconstitutional, teachers go on strike in Seattle, and fines imposed for the state’s supposed “chronic underfunding” of the education system. LISTEN TO MORE

High U.S. Tax Rates Force American Companies to Flee Overseas
Jen Kuznicki, The Heartlander 
Richard Ebeling, a professor of economics at The Citadel and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, says U.S. tax policies achieve the opposite of their stated goals. “Not only would keeping a lower corporate income tax rate, in general, mean more money in the hands of businesses to reinvest,” Ebeling said. “But also by eliminating the double taxation, we would see more of these earned profits coming back to the United States, and again see a greater rate of growth.” READ MORE

Interview: Carbon Dioxide Feeds the World
Sherwood B. Idso, The Heartlander
Research Fellow H. Sterling Burnett talks with Sherwood Idso, Ph.D., one of the world’s leading authorities on the effects of carbon dioxide on plants. Idso discusses his work with the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and his perspective on the benefits of carbon dioxide. READ MORE

Invest in the Future of Freedom! Are you considering 2015 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make. Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at  
Categories: On the Blog

GOP Candidates’ Information on Climate Change

September 18, 2015, 3:26 PM


Some GOP candidates have responded “I am not a scientist” when confronted by questions about climate change (global warming).  President Barack Obama singled out the phrase in his 2015 State of the Union speech stating,   “I’ve heard some folks try to dodge the evidence [of global climate change] by saying they’re not scientists; that we don’t have enough information to act. Well, I’m not a scientist, either. But you know what, I know a lot of really good scientists at NASA, and at NOAA, and at our major universities. And the best scientists in the world are all telling us that our activities are changing the climate, and if we don’t act forcefully, we’ll continue to see rising oceans, longer, hotter heat waves, dangerous droughts and floods, and massive disruptions that can trigger greater migration and conflict and hunger around the globe.”

The scientists that advise President Obama are paid by him and they tell messages he wants to hear.  Look at what happened to EPA scientist Dr. Alan Carlin who was told to shut up in 2009 when he wrote a report responding to climate change was not worth the economic damage.

Quite a few GOP 2016 presidential candidates have responded “I am not a scientist” which may come back to haunt them in the future.  This GOP response is unsatisfactory because political candidates should be aware of important issues.  In particular about climate change; where the Democrat Party’s response is overturning our entire energy supply system by abandoning our abundant, inexpensive, and geographically distributed fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas.  The U. S. is the most blessed nation on the planet with abundant fossil fuels.

The issue is as follows:  Is global warming from burning fossil fuels sufficiently dangerous to stop its use and replace our vast, inexpensive energy sources with possibly expensive and environmentally challenged solar, wind, ethanol from corn, other biofuels, and biomass (predominately burning wood)?


Fortunately for GOP candidates, resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation Merrill Matthews published a brilliant paper “A GOP candidate’s primer of climate change answers”.  The paper gives rebuttals to Democrats arguments carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels causes catastrophic climate change (global warming).  The paper contains so much important material it is reproduced in its entirety at the end of this commentary.   Additional comments follow to amplify Merrill Matthews remarks.

President Obama’s Alaska Trip. President Obama’s Alaska trip is analyzed in detail by an article “Obama’s Climate Alarmism Tour (contradictory data + tuned-out public = failure)” posted on Master Resource.  The trip was totally for propaganda purposes and many remarks are misrepresentations at best.

Is the earth warming?  For thousands of years the earth has followed warming and cooling cycles of very approximate 500-year durations.  Tracing back into the past we have the Current Warming Period (1850-present), Little Ice Age (1350-1850), Medieval Warm Period (900-1350), Dark Ages (400-900), and Roman Warming Period (100 BC-400).  Because satellite temperature data shows no warming since 1998; those promoting abandoning fossil fuels stopped using the words global warming around 2005 and now call it climate change.  Naturally climate change has pestered the planet since its origin 4.5 billion years ago.

Is Arctic ice melting?  Satellite data for polar sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic is shown at the website The Cryosphere Today for the period 1979 to present.  Inspection of Arctic sea ice shows the minimum for 2015 has recovered by 30 percent above the minimum for 2012.  In 2012 a cyclone tore through the Arctic in late August, passed over the North Pole, and propelled much of the ice south where it melted.

Are humans to blame?  Antarctic ice core data shows temperature increases are followed by carbon dioxide increases that lag by 600 +/- 400 years.   This is a clear demonstration carbon dioxide increases don’t produce temperature increases.

Can the U. S. solve the problem?  An article by energy columnist Marita Noon “Republican candidates must by strong on energy” cites additional polling data that shows energy will be an important issue in the 2016 election.

97 percent of scientists say humans cause global warming.  This topic was not covered in Merrill Matthews paper; but invariably those promoting reducing fossil fuel use bring up some high percentage of scientists, like 97 percent, claim humans consuming fossil fuels cause climate change (global warming).  The proper response is science is not ruled by consensus; but continuous experimental data supporting a theory.  By cherry-picking, one can produce papers claiming any percentage of scientists support a position.  This is a nonsense argument.


The Obama administration’s position on climate change is depriving the nation great opportunities and producing possible annual financial loss of hundreds of billions of dollars.

The Heritage Foundation published a paper “Energy Policy Agenda for the New Administration and Congress” that lists numerous suggestions for a new energy policy that is described by its Abstract.  “Free markets will produce the energy America needs to power its economy. Government policies that allow markets to operate freely will expand opportunity for all and show favoritism to none. There is no role for government central planning, government subsidies for the favored few, or government overregulation that stifles economic activity. The next Administration and Congress should open access to natural resource development, encourage fossil fuel exports, cut tariffs on energy technology, eliminate subsidies, devolve commercial activities to the private sector, and eliminate costly, job-killing regulations that have little benefit.”

A new book sponsored by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, The Price of Oil, argues that “oil has experienced an extraordinary price increase over the past few decades, a turning point has now been reached where scarcity, uncertain supply and high prices will be replaced by abundance, undisturbed availability and suppressed price levels in the decades to come. We also examine the implications of this turnaround for the world economy, as well as for politics, diplomacy, military interventions and the efforts to stabilize climate”.

Recent examples of waste of tax dollars are shown by U. S. government news releases.  On September 9, the DOE release cited a $6 million grant establishing clean energy and energy efficiency on tribal lands, a nine-day collegiate competition building solar energy houses, and solar energy programs supporting President Obama’s Climate Goals.  Also on September 9, the DOI announced the First-Ever National Climate Boot Camp to Address Tribal Needs and Concerns Related to Climate Change.  On September 1, NPR issued a report about the “ U.S. Department of Agriculture promising more than $200 million for sage grouse conservation efforts over the next three years, with the hopes of almost doubling the current amount of protected habitat. That’s on top of about $400 million that it has already spent since 2010.”  With thWith tens of millions of dollars in federal and state subsidies and hundreds of thousands in county grants and tax credits, the plant was built to a production capacity of 8 million gallons of ethanol per year, which would require some 300 dry tons of feedstock per day.e U. S. having 400,000 sage grouse, this is $1500 per bird.  On September 10, the USDA announcedawarding $100 million for adding 4880 pumps to 1400 fueling stations to sell higher grades of ethanol mixes such as E-15—over $20,000 per pump.

biofuels company named INEOS, located west of Vero Beach, FL, was built in 2011 at a cost of $130 million to produce ethanol from yard waste.  With tens of millions of dollars in federal and state subsidies and hundreds of thousands in county grants and tax credits, the plant was built to produce 8 million gallons of ethanol per year from daily 300 dry tons of feedstock.  To date nothing has been produced and the company is considering importing yard waste from the United Kingdom because of failed output from local waste.

Categories: On the Blog

If Common Core is Scary, Hide From New “Community Schools” – Part 1

September 18, 2015, 3:14 PM

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil – 

By now most Americans are familiar with Common Core as a scheme by the federal government to rewrite education. This experimental program was sold to state governments, sight unseen; without a shred of proof it was better than the program it replaced. This maneuver was largely accomplished through taxpayer-funded bribes, deception, and federal bludgeoning. Common Core proponents used vague language about “excellence” in education, “raising the bar,” and “getting this nation’s children ready for the workforce”, as selling points that new standards were needed. Little or nothing was mentioned about the accompanying curriculum, rewritten textbooks, or the extensive, expensive new testing programs.

Now that Common Core is entrenched in most American classrooms, a multitude of problems have been exposed and experienced by students, parents, teachers, and administrators. The extensive testing program is why parents are becoming activists to get Common Core out of their schools. It is why many teachers, child psychologists, and education experts are continually speaking out against the flawed program and why some states are regretting their hasty decision to accept it.

Because Common Core is copyrighted, it cannot be altered by anyone other than the owners of the copyright. The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) have been granted a limited, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to copy, publish, distribute, and display the Common Core State Standards for purposes that support the Common Core State Standards Initiative. These uses may involve the Common Core State Standards as a whole or selected excerpts or portions. This License extends to the Common Core State Standards only.

Under Common Core, an Orwellian nightmare is already taking place through the data-mining of students and their families.  An unprecedented monitoring and tracking of students, including everything from biometric data to information on children’s beliefs and personal family values has become far too common.  Employing the same tactics as those used to foist Common Core on state governments, the Obama administration has states monitoring or increasing existing programs that accumulate student information.  Privacy rights are being abused, and most parents are either unaware or too trusting of their schools and government to understand the potential harm.

It stands to reason that all the data collected will be shared with the U.S. Department of Education and other entities both within and outside the federal government.  Consider also how advancing technology will likely increase the scope of data gathering and expand it beyond most people’s wildest nightmares.Facial expression cameras are already being strapped to wrists of students to detect emotion and capture facial expressions.  How long will it take before all vestiges of privacy are stripped from vulnerable students?

However, as controversial and unsettling as Common Core has proved to be, prepare yourself, because there are even more disturbing educational programs currently being designed and enacted at the federal level.  Blame it on the “slippery slope” explanation or possibly the progression of a determined administration that knows they have just one more year left to put forth their liberal plans to “fundamentally change America.”  Either way, every conservative should be exceedingly alarmed with the most recent change in education that this administration has planned for America.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse. . .

Despite campaign promises by Republicans to reign in the Obama administration on issues such as healthcare, illegal immigration, and education, little or nothing has been achieved. Even though, Common Core is now recognized as an educational disaster in the making, there has been little action from either party at the federal level to reign in the continually expanding federal Department of Education or preferably eliminate it altogether.  The education of our children was assigned by law to the States, not the federal government.

Communists’ dream education bill is currently in the Senate as witness to the danger of allowing the Department of Education to exist. It is S1787 or “The Full Service Community Schools Act” bill (full text is here), crafted to amend Title V of the Great Society Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.  S1787 gives the current administration virtually everything it wants, and then some, even when our laws do not give the federal government any right to meddle in what has been granted to individual states.  Actually, they are more than just meddling, they are making enormous, radical changes.  Unfortunately, these changes will most likely shape the future of America and thus the future of our children and grandchildren.

The essence of the new education system, “Community Schools,” is to provide every need (every meal, health care, of the student.  Although the bill sounds friendly, it is not.  Any initiative that shifts the center of a child’s universe away from home, church, and family to that of complete dependence upon a government entity should be seriously questioned. “Community Schools” goes further than just strengthening government’s authority over our children.  It robs parents of their role, their responsibilities, and the time honored family unit that allows families to unite in a bond of cooperation and love that can only be fully realized by those who have nurtured the child from conception to birth and each stage of that child’s life.  Parents are not perfect, but even with all their flaws, nobody loves that child as much as they do.   It is in the home in which bonding occurs and most often lasts a lifetime.  Is there anything more important for a child than the unconditional love of parents and family?  The government thinks there is.  They believe they can do a better job of raising our children than we can. No, they cannot!

The full scope of Obama’s newest change to schools is a subject that deserves a detailed, fact packed Part 2.  Our next article will be a more in-depth look at “Community Schools” and will provide facts as to why we believe this system mirrors that which can be seen in Communist schools and why Americans must wake up to the dangers of allowing a liberal federal government to once again interfere with state rights for the purpose of making drastic changes to our public school system

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

In The Tank (ep4): Mini-Skirt Bans, U.S. Dropping in Economic Freedom, & the GOP Debate

September 18, 2015, 12:20 PM

Donny Kendal and John Nothdurft host episode #4 of the “In The Tank”. This weekly podcast featuring interviews, debates, roundtable discussions, and stories and light hearted segments on a variety of topics on the latest news. The show will be available for download as a podcast every Friday.

In today’s episode of In The Tank, Donny and John bring in special guest, Emily Zanotti, an investigate journalist to  some of most latest interesting stories from the week as well as her new website, These stories include Mars One update, robots taking over professions, U.S. dropping in the economic freedom rankings, the real value of $100 in your state, mini-skirt bans, and the GOP debate. John and Emily also go head to head on a quiz about the Constitution in celebration of Constitution Day.

I hope you’ll listen in, subscribe, and leave a review for our podcast on Itunes. We welcome your feedback in our new show’s inbox at or follow us on twitter @InTheTankPod.

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


Categories: On the Blog

Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Other Media Report on Heartland’s Papal ‘Pre-Buttal’

September 18, 2015, 7:50 AM

Papal bobble-head merchants, and purveyors of papal bling have popped up in Philadelphia, in advance of His Holiness’ visit next week. (Photo by Gene Koprowski.)

A team from The Heartland Institute — led by science director Dr. Jay Lehr — traveled to Philadelphia yesterday for a press conference on the papal environmental encyclical. His Holiness, Pope Francis, will next week be in the city of brotherly love, as well as New York City and Washington D.C. The Heartland team offered a “pre-buttal,” a nifty neologism coined by Jim Lakely, communications director of the think tank, to the expected onslaught of liberal media coverage of the Pope’s visit and his secular progressive message on the environment.

Joining Dr. Lehr were Elizabeth Yore, an attorney, formerly with Oprah Winfrey’s HARPO production company, and Gene Koprowski, director of marketing at the Heartland Institute. The press event was well-attended with journalists from the Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the local ABC-TV affiliate, and environmental publications present. The hour-long event was held at The Independence Visitors Center near historic Independence Hall in downtown Philadelphia, and also coincided with Constitution Day in the U.S., the day commemorating the signing of the U.S. Constitution.

The Inquirer reported:

They spoke in a conference room at the Independence Visitor Center, a location picked for its significance. The speakers view the pope’s message as tantamount to an anti-capitalist infringement on U.S. independence and sovereignty. Foreigners should not be telling Americans to spend money on curbing emissions, they said.

“This is about taxation without representation,” said Elizabeth Yore, an attorney known for fighting child abuse and human trafficking.

Gene Koprowski, Heartland’s marketing director, said he and colleagues initially thought the pope had spoken about climate change because he was getting “bad advice.” They now think he is inspired in part by “pagan remnants” of “nature worship” that have crept into the church, he said.

“I think we’re seeing the revelation of an animistic form in the church,” Koprowski said.

Jay H. Lehr, the Heartland’s science director and a hydrologist, sought to poke holes in the science Thursday. Among other points, he said any human impact on the climate is dwarfed by natural variability in temperatures throughout Earth’s history.

Going back millions of years, that is true, the paper added.

The Daily News reported:

Local radio host and columnist Dom Giordano attended the event in support of Heartland, and the event’s co-producers, The Independence Hall Foundation.


Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Jared Meyer: Uber Benefits Lower-Income Neighborhoods

September 17, 2015, 4:28 PM

In today’s episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, managing editor Jesse Hathaway talks with Manhattan Institute fellow Jared Meyer about a new study examining how Uber, the popular transportation network company, benefits lower-income households and minority neighborhoods in New York City.

Using ZIP code-level data from Uber’s own logs, Meyer found that UberX—Uber’s basic service tier—saw the most uptake in low-income neighborhoods outside of the city’s core. The fastest growing segment of Uber’s customer base was not people traveling from Manhattan to the airport, but people travelling to and fro in the city’s outlying neighborhoods. 

Meyer explains how economic freedom and providing a service people like benefits everyone, as opposed to the taxicab industry’s past practices of refusing to serve minorities or minority neighborhoods.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Chicago Citizens Take On The “Netflix Tax”

September 17, 2015, 11:12 AM

Chicago citizens, concerned that the city has violated federal law by imposing a surcharge on internet streaming services, have filed a lawsuit to halt the “Netflix tax” before it starts impacting their pocketbooks.

Six Chicagoans have sued the Windy City over its new 9 percent tax levied as part of the “Amusement Tax Ruling” that went into effect on September 1.

The tax, which the city of Chicago maintains is “not an expansion of the laws,” imposes an additional surcharge on various online services, including Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, Xbox Live, and others…

The lawsuit, which was filed on September 9, alleges that the tax goes beyond the Finance Department’s mandate and violates the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act. If successful, the ruling would be declared invalid and the amount that the plaintiffs had already paid would be refunded.

The nine plaintiffs assert that the city of Chicago overstepped its boundaries when it designed the surcharge, which took effect September 1st, raising Spotify, Hulu XBox Live and Netflix costs (among others) by around 9% on average.

The city of Chicago contends that they are authorized, under an existing “amusement tax” provision, to levy the surcharge, even though the “amusement tax” has no specific reference to Internet-based amusements. The provision itself covers a wide-range of activities – basically any event that charges admission or a fee to participate – but, until now, has never been interpreted to include electronically-transmitted entertainment (though it does include pay-per-view television).

The plaintiffs also assert that Chicago violated federal law when it extended its amusement tax to entertainment streamed directly from the web. The Internet Tax Freedom Act, adopted by Congress just this year, notes that a city must be non-discriminatory in applying taxes to goods and services purchased over the Internet, meaning that where products are available both through brick-and-mortar and online stores, the tax has to be the same on both products, regardless of purchase medium. The plaintiffs note that Chicago does not levy a 9% surcharge for Netflix’s rental-by-mail services, as they do to streaming rentals, even though they are basically, according to the Plaintiffs, the same service.

Regardless of the legality, the surcharge’s imposition itself is interesting. The city clearly identified a source of revenue it was not benefiting from, and created a tax system to handle it at the first available opportunity. Netflix customers should beware, across the country, that other states and municipalities will follow Chicago’s lead.

Categories: On the Blog

Government Torpedo’s Taxpayers Once Again Funding Flailing Green Energy Giant

September 17, 2015, 11:10 AM

Solar power station

Abengoa, a Spanish renewable energy company, is on the brink of failure. Few in the United States might care except for the fact the Obama administration showered Abengoa with more than $2.9 billion in federal grants and loan guarantees: If Abengoa goes belly up, taxpayers will be on the hook for a bankruptcy that makes Solyndra’s look small by comparison.

As part of the president’s climate change efforts, the Department of Energy supported Abengoa’s solar projects in Arizona and California and the construction of a cellulosic ethanol plant in Kansas. With subsidies for solar in Europe, where most of Abengoa’s operations are based, being sharply curtailed, the firm’s financial health has declined, leading the brokerage firm BNP Paribas to downgrade Abengoa’s rating on August 3 from “Neutral” to “Underperform” after the company’s shares dropped 31.76 percent in three months. The company’s stock price on NASDAQ fell from $29.32 on September 2, 2014 to $5.62 on September 1, 2015.

Categories: On the Blog

German Energiewende vs. American Fracking: A Tale of Two Energy Revolutions

September 17, 2015, 11:09 AM

Germany and the United States are embarking on two drastically different energy policies, and these countries are reaping dramatically different results. In Germany, the government devised a top-down plan called Energiewende, a term meaning “turn” or “revolution,” intended to make Germany the renewable-energy center of the world. The United States has experienced its own energy revolution thanks to hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” which has transformed our nation into the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world in spite of, not because of, the federal government.

Both these “revolutions” were supposed to result in growing economies, lower energy prices, and lower carbon-dioxide emissions, but only one has actually achieved these lofty goals. Surprise! It’s not the top-down, big-government policy.

Energiewende was born in the wake of the nuclear accident in Fukushima, where a major earthquake triggered a tsunami measuring over four stories tall, which disabled the power supply and cooling of three reactors. Germany responded by enacting a plan to phase out the use of nuclear and fossil fuel power, heavily subsidizing renewable energy projects. That policy has drastically driven up the cost of electricity and, ironically, increased the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions over the past four years.

Electricity prices have jumped by an average of 60 percent over five years for German companies, and the average German household now pays an extra €260 ($355) a year, largely because of costs associated with renewable energy subsides imposed by the government and passed along to consumers. These rising costs make German companies less competitive with companies in the United States, as the latter benefit from low energy prices thanks to the fracking boom.

How much is fracking saving the average American this year? Quite a bit. The average household in the United States will save approximately $675 dollars in 2015 because gas prices here are approximately $1 per gallon lower than in 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration. Additionally, the Brookings Institution estimates the average American family will save $181 to $432 per person on their natural gas bills, depending on the region where they reside.

Many environmental activists argue the United States should follow Germany’s plan to promote wind and solar to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, but Germany’s carbon dioxide emissions have actually increased in three out of the past four years because German electricity companies are burning significantly more lignite, the dirtiest form of coal, to make up for the loss of nuclear power generation.

In the United States, by contrast, low natural gas prices caused by fracking have encouraged electricity providers to switch from burning coal to burning natural gas. As a result, the United States has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions more than any other country, and in fact we’re the only nation actually complying with the Kyoto Treaty, which we never even signed.

Some environmental groups in the United States express concerns about potential environmental impacts of fracking, but these fears are unfounded. A landmark five-year study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found no evidence of widespread or systemic water contamination from oil and natural gas development using hydraulic fracturing. The report also stated the identified cases where drinking water resources were impacted involved a very small percentage of hydraulically fractured wells.

Energiewende may literally translate to “revolution,” but it is difficult to see exactly what is revolutionary about it. It has led to a switch from cleaner nuclear power to dirtier coal, and has raised energy costs for the German people.

Germany has large deposits of natural gas ripe for fracking. If it is truly seeking an energy revolution, Germany would be far better served by importing the one currently occurring here in the United States.



[Originally published at Townhall]

Categories: On the Blog

New Jersey’s Christie Fights Obama on Climate Plan

September 17, 2015, 11:01 AM

Earth melting into water

On September 2, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie officially moved to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new clean power plan (CPP). Christie denounced the regulations as “unprecedented regulatory overreach.”

Following a directive from Christie, New Jersey’s commissioner of environmental protection, Bob Martin, wrote EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy requesting a stay of implementation and a proceeding for reconsideration of CPP. He noted the regulation “punishes states, including New Jersey, that have already achieved significant reductions in carbon emissions, by setting even stricter goals for them, even though many other states have made much less progress in reducing emissions and are given less stringent emission targets than New Jersey.”

Under CPP, New Jersey is required to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 26 percent from 2012 levels. New Jersey says it reduced carbon dioxide emissions from its power sector by 33 percent from 2001 to 2012 by reducing coal-fired generation’s share of the state’s electric power supply from 20 percent in the 1990s to less than 5 percent today. In a statement referring to CPP Christie said, “This is a fundamentally flawed plan that threatens the progress we’ve already made in developing clean and renewable energy in New Jersey without the heavy-handed overreach of Washington.”

Categories: On the Blog

The FCC Built its Net Neutrality House on Legal Sand

September 17, 2015, 8:04 AM

The FCC’s latest legal brief defending its Open Internet Order, will represent the FCC’s “strongest possible” legal arguments for its Title II net neutrality case – a vainglorious legal fortress.

In reality, the FCC’s legal case is closer to a magnificent beach sandcastle.

Its downfall will be that its case is sand, on top of a sand foundation — that won’t be able to weather the elements intact.

Consider some of the elements the FCC’s sandcastle legal case must withstand.

The term “net neutrality,” or direct Congressional authority to mandate the FCC’s concept of “net neutrality,” is not found in law.

The D.C. Court of Appeals has twice ruled (in 2010 & in 2014) that the FCC does not have the legal authority to mandate FCC-defined net neutrality. This third FCC attempt suffers from many of the legal infirmities of the previous two FCC failures, plus additional, more serious legal infirmities than before.

The linchpin weakness of this FCC case is the FCC’s political premise that it enjoys the sweeping legal latitude to apply Title II common carrier regulation to whomever it wants, whenever it wants, in whatever selective way it wants, without regard to the law or settled court precedents.

Given the opportunity to assert Title II authority over the Internet, three different FCC Chairman decided not to assert it. Chairman Kennard didn’t in 1998; Chairman Martin didn’t in 2008; and Chairman Genachowski didn’t in 2010. Even present FCC Chairman Wheeler on 2-19-15 didn’t originally propose to the full FCC to assert Title II to enforce net neutrality.

The Obama FCC’s partisan Title II regulation of the Internet is a policy U-turn of President Clinton’s bipartisan “light touch” Internet policy and effectively an FCC administrative veto of Congress’ near unanimous Internet policy statement in section 230 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which clearly states: “It is the policy of the United States… to preserve the… competitive free market… Internet… unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”

The FCC is asking the court to interpret the Supreme Court’s 2005 Brand X decision that affirmed the FCC’s decision to not apply common carrier regulation to cable, also as authority to impose common carrier regulation on cable/ISPs now — when the facts and the relevant parts of the statute in question are not interchangeable.

The FCC is asking the court for near carte blanche deference to do an unprecedented, huge double-whipsaw. First allowing the FCC to reverse settled precedents opposing common carrier regulation of data/info services, while second simultaneously reversing much of the reversal for ISPs and all of it for similarly situated edge services.

In addition, the FCC is effectively asking the courts to allow three unelected commissioners of an administrative agency to usurp Congress’ constitutional legislative authority.

Finally, no court has ever found legal what the FCC is mandating in its no paid prioritization rule, i.e. a permanent price of zero for all Internet downstream traffic. That is because settled precedent has never found it reasonable to compel a service offering with no recovery of cost.

In short, the FCC Title II net neutrality legal case is much less a legal fortress built to last on the rock of facts, precedent, direct statutory authority, and constitutional due process principles, and much more a legal sandcastle built on the shifting sands of mob rule, political expediency, and wishful groupthink.

[Originally published at Precursor Blog]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Katie Brown: Obama Admin Now Seeks to Regulate Methane Emissions

September 16, 2015, 2:47 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, research fellow Isaac Orr speaks with Katie Brown. Brown is a contributor to the Energy In Depth blog – a publication which focuses on “getting the facts out about the promise and potential of responsibly developing America’s onshore energy resource base.” Brown joins Orr to discuss the Obama administration’s new regulations which seek to reduce methane emissions.

The proposed rules intend to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas development by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by the year 2025 for new and modified oil and gas wells. These regulations come at a time when energy producers are already dramatically reducing methane emissions despite producing record-high levels of natural gas and will impose burdensome costs that will hit small oil and natural gas producers the hardest.

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

Categories: On the Blog