After six years of dithering, the Keystone pipeline project has finally cleared both the Senate and the House with strong bipartisan support—mere percentage points away from a veto-proof majority. Now it goes to the White House where President Obama has vowed to veto it.
We won’t have to wait long. He has ten days to make a decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act.
The Keystone pipeline should have never been an issue in Congress. Because it crosses an international border, the pipeline requires State Department approval.
With millions of miles of pipeline already traversing the country and dozens already crossing the U.S.-Canada border—not to mention the “almost universal” support of the American public, the Keystone pipeline should never have made news, except that Obama’s environmental base (made up, according to Pew Research, of “solid liberals”) has made it the literal line in the sand, by which he can burnish his environmental legacy.
Within the President’s base, only two groups feel strongly about the Keystone pipeline—the unions want it, the environmentalists don’t. Each has pressured him to take its side.
I’ve likened the conflict to the classic cartoon image of a devil on one shoulder prodding an activity saying, “Oh it will be fun, everyone is doing it,” vs. the angel on the other warning, “be careful, you’ll get into trouble.” Only in the battle of the pipeline, the opposing sides have been in his pockets—environmental groups threatened to pull support from Obama’s 2012 re-election bid if he had approved Keystone. (Remember, billionaire activist Tom Steyer promised $100 million to candidates in the 2014 midterms who opposed Keystone.)
Trying to appease both sides, the president resisted taking a stand. Instead of a firm answer, he’s avoided a decision that would ultimately anger one side or the other. First, the problem arose of the pipeline crossing over the aquifer—so it was re-routed. Next, it was held up in the Nebraska Supreme Court—but, that received a favorable resolution. Waiting for the State Department’s fifth Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) provided another delay. When the EIS finally came out, it declared the project would have minimal environmental impact and that it would produce the least amount of greenhouse gasses of any other alternative transportation method. (Note: Canadian oil sand’s crude is already pouring into America via train and truck—both methods which produce more CO2 and pose higher risk of environmental degradation due to accidents than a state-of-the-art pipeline.) Now Obama says Congress needs to let the State Department’s approval process play out—though no one knows when that might occur.
The labor unions, which want some of the 42,000 jobs the State Department projects grow increasingly impatient.
In 2012, the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) broke ranks from a long-standing relationship with green groups over the Keystone pipeline and pulled out of the BlueGreen Alliance. LIUNA President Terry O’Sullivan said of his fellow union leadership: “We’re repulsed by some of our supposed brothers and sisters lining up with job killers like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to destroy the lives of working men and women.”
Having its epiphany later, after the 2014 midterms, the AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, according to the Washington Examiner, cited economic benefits and “urged the new Republican-controlled Congress and the White House to get together and approve the controversial, long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline project.”
Finally, last month, James P. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, penned an op-ed pushing the president to approve the pipeline. In it, he calls the administration’s Keystone pipeline veto threat “passing on an opportunity to create jobs.”
Representative Donald Norcross (D-NJ), citing “the economic woes he heard about from voters while campaigning,” voted with the Republicans for the third time in the February 11 House vote. In a column for The Record, Herb Jackson explained: “One reason some Democrats broke with environmentalists on the project is its support from organized labor.” Prior to running for Congress, Norcross was assistant business manager of Local 351 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Jackson reports: “Building trades unions were the most generous group contributing to his [Norcross] campaign.”
Norcoss’ crossing over exhibits the divide in the Democrat Party: unions vs. environmentalists. When it comes to lawmakers for whom the union vote is important, Keystone wins.
Once the bill is vetoed, it goes back to Congress where it must be “reconsidered”—which means it can be voted on again or can go back to committee where some adjustments may be made that will make it more attractive to members, who didn’t vote on it the first time around.
Because the Senate and the House have both voted, which Democrats voted against the bill is also well known—many of those Democrats represent heavily unionized districts.
To override the presidential veto, 5 more votes are needed in the Senate (Marco Rubio wasn’t present during the January 29 vote and would be assumed to be a “yes” vote, meaning only 4 Democrats need to be swayed.), in the House, about 12.
With some arm twisting from the unions, those additional votes shouldn’t be all that difficult to come by and the Keystone XL pipeline can finally move forward—providing Americans with thousands of good-paying jobs and increased energy security. Meanwhile, President Obama will have made his position perfectly clear.
A little more than seventy years ago, on March 10, 1944, there appeared in Great Britain one of the most amazing and influential political books of the twentieth century, The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich A. Hayek, which forewarned of socialist trends in Britain and America that ran the danger of leading to tyranny if taken to their logical conclusions.
Written during the Second World War, Hayek’s main and crucial thesis was that many of the ideological and economic trends that had culminated in the triumph and tragedy of German Nazism could be seen developing and taking hold in Great Britain, where Hayek was then living, and also in the United States.
Hayek did not argue that either Great Britain or America were inevitably and irretrievably heading for a totalitarian state exactly like the National Socialist regime then existing in Hitler’s Germany, and against which the combined economic and military strength of Great Britain and the United States were at that moment in mortal combat.
But as I shall try to explain, the threat against which Hayek was warning was that there were certain underlying political philosophical and economic policy currents at work in these two bulwarks of Western civilization that if continued ran the risk of moving these countries further away from being societies of freedom.
Great Britain and the United States, Hayek argued, were increasingly becoming politically controlled and managed states in which the individual human being faced the danger of being reduced to a cog in the machine of governmental planning. Individual liberty would be lost in societies of socialist paternalism and centralized economic direction of human affairs.
The Life and Contributions of F. A. Hayek
Friedrich August von Hayek was born on May 8, 1899 in Vienna, in the now long gone Hapsburg Empire of Austria-Hungary. While still a teenager he served in the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War, seeing military action on the Italian front. When released from military service shortly after the end of the war in November 1918, he entered the University of Vienna in an accelerated program that enabled him to earn a doctorial degree in jurisprudence in 1921. Two years later in 1923, he earned a second doctoral degree in political economy from the University of Vienna.
Hayek’s first international reputation was as one of the most highly regarded economists of the 1920s and 1930s, the years between the two World Wars. With the assistance and support of his mentor and friend, the well-known Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, Hayek became the founding director of the Austrian Institute for Business Cycle Research in1927, a position that he held until the summer of 1931.
Hayek was invited to deliver a series of lectures at the London School of Economics in January1931 on what has become known as the Austrian theory of money and the business cycle, which resulted in his being offered a professorship at the London School, a position that he accepted and took up in the autumn of 1931.
His lectures were published shortly after under the title, Prices and Production. Along with his other writings during this period of the 1930s, he was soon recognized as one of the foremost monetary and business cycle theorists in the English-speaking world, and as a leading critic of the emerging new Macroeconomics of the Cambridge University economist, John Maynard Keynes.
Also in the 1930s and 1940s, Hayek was an outspoken critic of socialism and government central planning, editing and contributing to a collection of essays on Collectivist Economic Planning (1935); his two most famous writings on this theme during this period were his book, The Road to Serfdom (1944) and an article on “The Use of Knowledge in Society” (1945).
At the beginning of the 1950s, Hayek moved to the University of Chicago here in the United States. But his attention had turned from economic theory and policy in the narrow sense to the broader problems of social and political philosophy and the nature of societal order and the competitive market system. These interests culminated in two major works, The Constitution of Liberty (1960) and Law, Legislation, and Liberty that appeared in 3-volumes between 1976 and 1979,
In recognition for his work on monetary and business cycle theory and his analysis of social evolution and the institutional structures of human society, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1974. Friedrich Hayek died on March 23, 1992, at the age of 92.
Growing Collectivism in Great Britain and America
As I pointed out, when The Road to Serfdom was published Great Britain and the United States were engulfed in a global war, with Nazi Germany as the primary enemy and Soviet Russia as their primary ally. In 1944 the British had a wartime coalition government of both Conservative and Labor Party members, with Winston Churchill as its head. During these war years plans were being designed within the government for a postwar socialist Britain, including nationalized health care, nationalized industries, and detailed economic planning of both industry and agriculture.
For the eight years before America’s entry into the war Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal had transformed the United States through levels of government spending, taxing, regulation, and redistribution the likes of which had never before been experienced in the nation’s history. Many of the early New Deal programs had even imposed a network of fascist-style economic controls on private industry and agriculture; the only thing that prevented them from being permanently in place were a series of decisions by the Supreme Court that declared most of these controls unconstitutional in 1935.
At the same time, the Soviet Union was frequently portrayed as a model – however one rather rough around the edges – of an ideal socialist society, freeing “the masses” from poverty and exploitation. The Nazi regime, on the other hand, was usually depicted as a brutal dictatorship designed to maintain the power and control of aristocratic and capitalist elites that surrounded Hitler.
Nazism an Outcome of Bismarck’s Welfare State
Hayek’s challenge in The Road to Serfdom was to argue that German Nazism was not an aberrant “right-wing” perversion growing out of the “contradictions” of capitalism, as Marxists and many other socialists insisted.
Instead, Hayek documented, the Nazi movement had developed out of the “enlightened” and “progressive” socialist and collectivist ideas of the pre-World War I era in Imperial Germany, ideas that many intellectuals in England and the United States had praised and propagandized for in their own countries in the years before the beginning of the First World War in 1914.
Large numbers of American graduate students went off to study at German universities in the 1880s, the 1890s, and the first decade of the 20th century.
They returned to the United States and spoke and wrote about a new and higher freedom observed in Germany, a “positive” freedom provided through government welfare state paternalism rather than the mere “negative” freedom of individual liberty in the form of absence of coercion in human relationships as practiced in America.
It was in Bismarck’s Germany during the last decades of the 19th century, after all, that there had been born the modern welfare state – national health insurance, government pension plans, regulations of industry and the workplace – and a philosophy that the national good took precedence over the interests of the “mere” individual. In this political environment Germans came to take it for granted that the paternalistic state was meant to care for them from “cradle to grave,” a phrase that was coined in Imperial Germany.
Two generations of Germans accepted that they needed to be disciplined by and obedient to the enlightened political “leadership” that guided the affairs of state for their presumed benefit. Beliefs in the right to private property and freedom of exchange were undermined as the regulatory and redistributive state increasingly managed the economic activities of the society for the greater “national interest” of the German fatherland.
The German government restricted competition and fostered the creation of monopolies and business cartels under the rationale of directing private enterprise into those avenues serving the higher interests of the German nation as a whole.
Germany’s trade with the rest of the world was hampered by taxes and tariffs designed to shift German industry and agriculture into those forms the government considered most useful to prepare the nation for greater self-sufficiency during the war that was expected to come, and which finally broke out in 1914.
By 1933, Hayek argued, fifteen years after Germany’s defeat in the First World War, when Adolf Hitler came to power during the Great Depression, the German people not only accepted the idea of the “führer principle,” – the belief that people should follow and obey the commands of the political leaders of the nation – but many in German society now wanted it and believed they needed it. Notions about individual freedom and personal responsibility had been destroyed by the philosophy of collectivism and the ideologies of nationalism and socialism.
But Hayek’s main point was that this tragic history was not unique or special to the German people. The institutional changes that accompanied the implementation of socialist and interventionist welfare-state policies potentially carried within them the seeds of political tyranny and economic servitude in any country that might follow a similar path.
Government Planning Means Control over People
The more government takes over responsibility for and control over the economic activities of a society, the more it diminishes the autonomy and independence of the individual. Government planning, by necessity, makes the political authority the ultimate monopoly, with the power to determine what is produced and how the resulting output shall be distributed among all the members of the society.
Belief in and expectation of government paternal care from the everyday vicissitudes of life, employment, and enterprise, Hayek insisted, weakens the spirit of self-reliance and independence. It makes for a more passive people who lose any sense of a loss of personal freedom and autonomy, as they increasingly cannot imagine a world in which government does not guaranteed many if not most of the necessities and amenities of human existence.
But it is not only economic independence that is lost as the government extends the safety nets of welfare statism and expands regulatory and planning control over society.
What personal and intellectual freedom is left to people, Hayek asked, when the government ownership of industry or heavy-handed regulation of business has the ability to determine or influence what books will be printed or movies will be shown or plays will be performed? What escape does the individual have from the power of the state when the government controls everyone’s education, employment, and consumption?
He also warned that the more that government plans production and consumption, the more the diverse values and preferences of the citizenry must be homogenized and made to conform to an overarching “social” scale of values that mirrors that hierarchy of ends captured in the central plan.
Each Free Man an End in Himself and a Means to Others’ Ends
One of the hallmarks of a free society in which people associate and cooperate through the networks and institutions of the market economy is that each individual is at liberty to peacefully pursue those interests, inclinations, and desires that suggest themselves as a source of personal meaning and happiness for him.
The more developed and complex the market society becomes with a growing population, the more there will emerge and develop diverse conceptions of the good life among people.
In the competitive market order there is no need or necessity for society-wide agreement about desired ends and goals among its members. In the division of labor of the market order, individuals earn the living that enables them to have the financial wherewithal to pursue the self-interested purposes that give value and meaning to their own lives by specializing in the production and sale of goods and services that serve as the means to the desired ends of others.
Thus, in the liberal, free market society, every man is an end in himself with his own chosen scale of values reflecting what he considers important and worthwhile. And each can try to attain those values by producing and supplying others in trade with the goods and services that serve as the means for trying to achieve their respectively chosen ends.
Fulfilling the Government Plan Requires Obedience by All
One of Hayek’s central points was the fact that a comprehensive system of socialist central planning would require the construction and imposition of a detailed system of relative values to which and within which all in the society would have to conform, if “the plan” imposed by the government was to succeed.
This was the origin of Hayek’s warning that government central planning ran the danger of becoming tyranny and a new form of “serfdom,” since any meaningful dissent in word or deed could not be permitted without threatening the fulfillment of the goals of the government’s plan. All would have to be assigned to their work, and be tied to it to assure that “the plan” met its targets.
Even dissent, Hayek warned, becomes a threat to the achievement of the plan and its related redistributive policies. How can the plan be achieved if critics attempt to undermine people’s dedication to its triumph? Politically incorrect thoughts and actions must be repressed and supplanted with propaganda and “progressive” education for all.
Thus unrestricted freedom of speech and the press, or opposition politicking, or even observed lack of enthusiasm for the purposes of the state becomes viewed as unpatriotic and potentially subversive.
Rule of Law or Unequal Treatment for Equal Outcomes
In addition, the classical liberal conception of an impartial rule of law, under which individuals possess equal rights to life, liberty, and the peaceful acquisition and use of private property, would have to be replaced by unequal treatment of individuals imposed by the political authorities to assure an ideologically preferred redistributive outcome.
In the free society, equality of individual rights under rule of law inevitably means an inequality of economic outcomes. Men widely differ in how they use and take advantage of their equal rights to life, liberty and property. We all know that people are far from being the same in terms of inherited traits and potentials, as well as attitudes and inclinations concerning acquiring an education, working hard, and being willing to make personal sacrifices in the present for some hoped for and possible greater benefits in the future.
In addition, our fellow men value more highly some things than others and are willing to pay more to get them. This means that some of us, as a result of intelligent forethought in deciding what occupations and trades to undertake, the education and skilled talents to acquire, as well as general circumstances and even a bit of luck, will earn higher salaries than those who market less valued goods and services in the eyes of the buying public.
To make people more “equal” in terms of the economic outcomes that emerge in the marketplace requires people to be treated very differently by the political authority responsible for that equalization.
In the foot race of life, it is inevitable that some will speed ahead of others in terms of financial and other forms of social success. But if the government is assigned the task to reduce these disparities, then it must place weights on the ankles of some in the form of taxes and regulations to slow down their outdistancing the others, while those others must be allowed to cut across the field in the form of wealth transfers, subsidies or other special treats provided by the government so they can catch up with or get ahead of those in front of them on the racecourse of society.
But, asked Hayek, by what benchmark, other than prejudice, caprice, or the influence of interest groups, would or could the planners make their decisions concerning who would be treated better and who worse in the form of government interventions, regulations, redistributions and controls? How will it be found out who is more deserving or meritorious for government differential benefits at the expense of others?
Who is more deserving? The man to whom things such as learning and luck often seem to come easily but who has eight children, a sick wife and an elderly mother to care for? Or a man to whom luck never comes, has to work hard for everything he finally gets but has only himself and a one high school honors student daughter to take care of?
And if it is replied that the answer to that requires detailed gradations of evaluation and judgment, then in whose evaluating and judging eyes and on what standard or benchmark of relative merit, deservedness and neediness shall the decisions be made by those in government?
The means available are always insufficient to attain all our desired ends, and some in the society will invariably consider any politically decided trade-offs in these matters to be unfair, unjust, and uncaring.
Whether a dictatorial minority or a democratic majority makes such decisions, there is no escape from the imposition of advantages and disadvantages given to or imposed on different members of the society by those in political authority, and upon whom the individual becomes dependent and subservient for the social and material fortunes and misfortunes of much if not all of his life.
Why the Worst Get on Top
Finally, in one of the most insightful chapters in the book, Hayek explained why, in the politicized society, there is a tendency for “the worst to get on top.” Fulfillment of the government’s plans and policies requires the leaders to have the power to use any means necessary to get the job done.
Thus those with the least conscience or fewest moral scruples are likely to rise highest in the hierarchy of control. The bureaucracies of the planned and regulated society attract those who are most likely to enjoy the use and abuse of power over others.
One form of this in Hitler’s Nazi Germany was known as what was called “working towards the Fuhrer.” In 1934, a senior Nazi government official told his subordinates, “It is the duty of every single person to attempt, in the spirit of the Fuhrer, to work towards him.” And, “the one who works correctly towards the Fuhrer along his lines and toward his aim will in future as previously have the finest reward . . . “
As historian Ian Kershaw explained in his biography, Hitler, 1889-1936 – Hubris (1998), “The way to power and advancement [in the Nazi regime] was through anticipating the ‘Fuhrer’s will’, and, without waiting for directives, taking initiatives to promote what were presumed to be Hitler’s aims and wishes.”
As Kershaw continues, “Through ‘working towards the Fuhrer’, initiatives were taken, pressures created, legislation instigated — all in ways which fell in line with what were taken to be Hitler’s aims and without the dictator necessarily having to dictate.”
In this instance, the government bureaucrat was stimulated by his superiors to anticipate Hitler’s will in instituting policies and actions in the hope for material gain and promotion within the Nazi hierarchy, and to do so with often brutal ruthlessness to the misfortune of many helpless victims.
Those who pursue such careers and who are willing to introduce and implement whatever policies necessary in the name of explicit or implicit government goals will be those who often care little about the unethical and immoral conduct that holding such political positions will require of them.
But there are others who may be led to do things in their government role and position that as a private individual in their personal life they would consider immoral or unethical behavior. This often is due to a person’s confidence of patriotic purpose and belief in his superior understanding of what must be done regardless of the violation of other people’s rights or the sacrifices imposed on other members of society to attain the greater “national” or “social” good.
With the realization that it is a controversial subject, let me suggest that a type of person who searches out employment and specialized surveillance work in the National Security Agency because he truly believes that there are potential “enemies” everywhere threatening harm to the “homeland” is highly likely to be a person who gives few second thoughts about whether intruding into the privacy of ordinary people’s emails, phone conversations, text messages, and private computer documents is unethical, illegal or even simply “bad manners.”
Indeed, the more zealous among such types of individuals will at the end of their workday not lose sleep due to a guilty conscience that a human being’s privacy rights have been violated. He is more likely to be thinking of tomorrow’s day of work and how he can find ways to do it even more effectively, regardless of high much more other people’s rights and privacy might have to be abridged in the attempt to attain the highly allusive goal of “national security.”
Indeed, way back in 1776, the famous Scottish economist, Adam Smith, warned about such people in government, when he said that nowhere would such political power “be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit to exercise it.”
Men are easily subject to arrogance and hubris, and never is that human weakness so to be feared as when government has the power that allows such individuals to practice their pretensions of superior knowledge and wisdom over their fellow human beings.
The Continuing Relevance of The Road to Serfdom
It may be asked how relevant remains Hayek’s arguments and warnings more than seventy years after the appearance of The Road to Serfdom? After all, Nazi- and Soviet-style totalitarian socialism, with their attempts to comprehensively control and plan every facet of human life, and with a ruthlessness and violence unsurpassed in any period of modern history, are now things of past. They are closed chapters in the history of the 20th century.
First, as I said earlier, Hayek never claimed and went out of his way to insist that he was not forecasting that Western nations like Great Britain or the United States would become carbon copies of either Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.
What he did say was that the more governments extended their power and control over the personal, social and especially economic affairs of the private individuals of society, the less freedom of choice and decision-making would the individual continue to retain in his own hands.
The less flexible and dynamic would become the society, with the greater the direction of production, investment and employment under the influencing hand of government agencies, bureaus and departments.
The wider the net of welfare state dependency and guarantees for the circumstances of everyday life, the weaker would become the sense of initiative, self-reliance, and risk-taking to improve one’s own life.
The type of serfdom that has increasingly enveloped parts of human life in the Western world was, in fact, anticipated with concern and fear by the 19th century French social philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville, in his study of Democracy in Americapublished in the 1830s:
“After having thus taken each individual one by one into its powerful hands, and having molded him as it pleases, the sovereign power extends its arms over the entire society; it covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated, minute, and uniform rules, which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot break through to go beyond the crowd; it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces action, but it constantly opposes your acting; it does not destroy, it prevents birth; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, it represses, it enervates, it extinguishes, it stupefies, and finally it reduces each nation to being nothing more than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.
“I have always believed that this sort of servitude, regulated, mild and peaceful, of which I have just done the portrait, could be combined better than we imagine with some of the external forms of liberty, and that it would not be impossible for it to be established in the very shadow of the sovereignty of the people.”
The Freedom We have Lost
Ask yourself, what corners of your daily life, in its most mundane and important aspects, are not controlled, regulated, planned, and overseen by the guiding hand of government?
Americans are free to say whatever they want – as long as it does not offend any ethnic, gender or racial group. They can pursue any career they choose – as long as they have been certified or licensed and have successfully passed inspection by an army of state regulators.
Americans may come and go as they please – as long as they have been approved for a government-issued international passport, declared whether they are carrying more than $10,000 in currency, reported all taxable or forbidden items they wish to bring into the country, and have not attempted to visit any foreign lands declared off-limits by the state.
They may buy whatever satisfies their fancy – as long as it has been manufactured, packaged, and priced according to government standards of safety, quality, and fairness, and as long as it has not been produced by a foreign supplier who exceeds his import quota or who offers to sell it below the state-mandated “fair market price.”
Americans may go about their own affairs – as long as they send their children to government schools or private schools approved by the state; as long as they do not attempt to employ too many of a particular ethic, gender, or racial group; as long as they do not attempt to plan fully for their own old age rather than pay into a mandatory government social security system.
They may enter into market relations with others – as long as they do not pay an employee less than the government-imposed minimum wage; as long as they do not attempt to construct on their own property a home or a business in violation of zoning and building ordinances; that is, as long as they do not try to live their lives outside the permissible edicts of the state.
And Americans freely take responsibility for their own actions and pay their own way – except whey they want the state to guarantee them a job or a “living wage”; except when they want to state to protect their industry or profession from competition either at home or from abroad; except when they want the state to subsidize their children’s education or their favorite art or the preservation of some wildlife area, or the medical research into the cure of some hated disease or illness; or except when they want the state to ban some books, movies, or peaceful acts between consenting adults rather than trying to change the behavior of their fellow men through peaceful persuasion or by personal example.
That many who read such a list of lost freedoms in the United States will be shocked that anyone should suggest that the state should not be concerned with many or all of these matters shows, I would suggest, just how far we have come and are continuing to go down a road to serfdom.
Restoring a Philosophy of Individual Rights
Yet, a hundred years ago before the First World War, when the citizens of the United States still lived under the influence of 19th century classical liberalism with its emphasis on individual liberty, free enterprise, limited government and voluntary association to service and solve many of the “social problems” of modern society, most people would have strongly opposed anyone who suggested that the government should envelope society with such a vast spider’s web of paternalistic plans, regulations, controls and redistributions.
It would have been considered “socialistic” and “un-American,” and not only by some supposed “right-wing fringe group” but by a wide consensus of the American people as a whole.
If we are to find a way to get off this road to paternalistic serfdom that has been weakening an understanding and draining existence out of the free society, the first task is to appreciate how this came about and what its implications can be.
Most importantly, the immorality of collectivism, with its insistence that the individual must live and sacrifice his life for “the tribe, “the nation,” “the society” must be wholeheartedly challenged and rejected. And in its place we must recover a sound and rational philosophy of individual rights that defends and respects the right of every human being to live his own life for himself as the core ethical concept in all human relationships.
As part of undertaking this task, Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom still serves an invaluable role in explaining how this road was first entered upon, what it led to in the middle decades of the 20th century century and why government planning and regulation carries within it a loss of personal freedom and choice, and undermines the human spirit of creative thought and self-responsibility from which have come all the great accomplishments of mankind.
This is why The Road to Serfdom remains a classic of political and economic ideas that still speaks to us in our own time, and why anyone who values liberty and fears for its diminishment and loss can do no better than to open its pages and absorb its lessons.
(The text is based on a talk delivered at the College of Coastal Georgia, St. Simon Island, Georgia, February 12, 2015)
[Originally published at Epic Times]
As a pathologist working at two large medical centers, I have studied the effects of smoking on health for over 20 years. I’ve published scores of papers on the impressive benefits of switching from cigarettes to safer, non-combustible forms of tobacco (such as Swedish snus). This strategy – called tobacco harm reduction – has vast potential for improving public health.
In countless discussions about smoking’s devastation, people ask me: “If tobacco harm reduction is a viable quit-smoking option with huge public health benefits, why don’t U.S. medical schools advocate this concept? Why are you almost alone among American university professors in openly endorsing tobacco harm reduction?”
The answer resides within a powerful government agency, the National Institutes of Health.
The NIH is the pre-eminent source of research funding for virtually all universities and medical centers; it is the cudgel in the government’s campaign to create “a world free of tobacco use.” (here). The NIH “invests nearly $30.1 billion annually in medical research for the American people,” according to its website (here). “More than 80% of the NIH’s funding is awarded through almost 50,000 competitive grants to more than 300,000 researchers at more than 2,500 universities, medical schools, and other research institutions in every state and around the world.”
The NIH hostility to tobacco harm reduction was demonstrated in 1994, when the National Cancer Institute attacked me and my university because I published an article in a scientific journal (here). Nothing has changed in 20 years. For example, a recent NIH announcement to fund research on smokeless tobacco, which is 98% safer than cigarettes, called for investigators “to develop an evidence base to inform smokeless tobacco control efforts, and to develop effective ways to limit the spread and promote cessation of smokeless tobacco use.” This prohibitionist mindset produces NIH-funded researchers who are hostile to tobacco harm reduction; the rest are cowed into silence.
It is hard to overestimate the influence of NIH funding. Universities aggressively pursue grants, and retaining NIH support is obligatory for faculty survival at most universities – influence and prestige are directly proportional to the size of one’s grants. Due to its magnitude, NIH funding is hugely influential in determining “legitimate” areas of research conducted by hundreds of thousands of university faculty throughout the U.S. The agency’s influence is compounded by the NIH peer review system, in which groups of 20 colleagues pass judgment on grant proposals, and from which emerges a nationwide network of researchers who are intolerant of politically incorrect topics like tobacco harm reduction.
NIH dollars are vitally important to faculty and to institutions. Agency grants cover direct research costs, which typically pass through the university as faculty, staff and graduate student salaries, equipment and other project-specific charges. More importantly, the NIH also covers indirect costs, which are not specific to the project but involve administration and facility support. These are negotiated by each university, and they range from 25% to 100+% of direct costs. If a principal investigator (or PI – the faculty member leading the project) gets a $1 million grant at a university with a 50% indirect cost rate, the university pockets $500,000.
How much money does the NIH spend on tobacco research? I conducted a search of the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (here) for the word “tobacco”. In 2014, the NIH (mainly the National Cancer, Heart Blood Lung, Drug Abuse and Mental Health Institutes) dispensed $623 million (total costs) in 1,300 grants to over 1,000 PIs at almost 300 universities, medical centers and other institutions. That works out to about $600,000 for each investigator. Few researchers will jeopardize grants of that size by doing or saying anything that conflicts with NIH dogma.
To explore the influence of NIH funding, start with members of the FDA Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee. TPSAC advises the FDA about regulatory actions, including “any application submitted by a manufacturer for a modified risk tobacco product,” which is a vital part of tobacco harm reduction.
A federal judge ruled last year that members of TPSAC, including current chairman Jonathan Samet, had significant conflicts of interest in the form of funding from (1) pharmaceutical manufacturers who compete with tobacco companies for the nicotine market, and (2) lucrative contracts to testify in lawsuits against the very industry they judge. He called TPSAC’s findings and recommendations “at a minimum, suspect, and, at worst, untrustworthy.” (here)
TPSAC members also have a conflict of interest with respect to NIH funding: In 2014, six of the nine current TPSAC members had grants totaling $28 million (Table 1). Such outsized funding must be assumed to color decision-making, particularly on regulations as NIH-toxic as tobacco harm reduction.
Table 1. NIH Support in Fiscal Year 2014 for Tobacco Projects to Members of the FDA Tobacco Scientific Advisory Committee TPSAC Member University/Institution Total Support (million $) Jonathan Samet Southern California 8.00 Warren Bickel Virginia Tech 0.39 Thomas Eissenberg Virginia Commonwealth 3.91 Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin Yale 5.79 Richard O’Connor Roswell Park 0.47 Kurt Ribisl North Carolina 9.21 Total 27.77
Followers of this blog know that major health organizations aggressively oppose tobacco harm reduction; they also receive considerable NIH funds to pursue tobacco-related projects. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics received $406,000 in support of Adolescent Smoking Cessation in Pediatric Primary Care. The American Cancer Society was awarded $343,000 for Building Research and Capacity on the Economic Policy-Tobacco Control Nexus (the title was truncated in the database). The American Heart Association scored $7.5 million for its Tobacco Regulation and Addiction Center and other projects.
Another big grantee last year was the American Legacy Foundation, recipient of $2.1 million for eight projects. One of its employees, David Levy, obtained $703,000 via Georgetown University for Modeling the Policy Impact of Cigarette and Smokeless Tobacco Use on U.S. Mortality. (I will be eager to see Dr. Levy’s mortality estimate from smokeless tobacco use, as my research indicates that it is close to zero.)
Individuals at the University of California San Francisco have engaged in an aggressive campaign against e-cigarettes (examples hereand here). Table 2 shows that they were awarded $12.5 million in 2014, with over half going to PI Stanton Glantz.
Table 2. NIH Support in Fiscal Year 2014 for Tobacco Projects to Faculty at the University of California San Francisco Faculty Member Total Support (million $) Stanton Glantz 6.61 Pamela Ling 1.49 Ruth Malone 1.34 Lyudmilla Popova 1.09 Judith Prochaska* 1.05 Neal Benowitz 0.95 Margaret Walsh 0.53 Total 13.03
*Also affiliated with Stanford University
I have discussed in this blog distorted research results concerning smokeless tobacco and harm reduction from several investigators, including Gregory Connolly (here and here), Christopher Haddock (here), Stephen Hecht (here and here, Irina Stepanov (here) and Robert Klesges (here and here). Together, they received $8.5 million for tobacco projects in 2014 (Table 3). Haddock and Klesges continued work on tobacco use in the military: Haddock studied Barriers to Effective Tobacco Control Policy Implementation in the U.S. Military, while Klesges was PI on a project with a particularly intimidating title: Preventing Relapse Following InvoluntarySmoking Abstinence (my emphasis).
Table 3. NIH Support in Fiscal Year 2014 for Tobacco Projects to Individuals Aggressively Campaigning Against Smokeless Tobacco Faculty Member University/Institution Total Support (million $) Stephen Hecht Minnesota 4.49 Robert Klesges Tennessee 2.02 Irina Stepanov Minnesota 0.76 Gregory Connolly Harvard/Northeastern 0.70 Christopher Haddock National Development and Research 0.57 Total 8.54
The federal government, via the Department of Health and Human Services, is engaged in a coordinated, expensive campaign to create a tobacco-free society. The NIH, which contributes annually $24 billion to the American research establishment and $623 million specifically for tobacco research, strongly influences some in the academic community to vigorously oppose – and many others to ignore – tobacco harm reduction.
[Originally published at Tobacco Truth]
In this episode of the ITTN podcast, Budget & Tax News managing editor Jesse Hathaway is joined by Heartland Institute telecom policy analyst Steven Titch.
A private information technology consultant and editor of multiple telecom trade magazines, Titch explains how the Internet really works, and how the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) proposed “net neutrality” plan would effectively break the Internet.
Titch says the FCC’s grab for regulatory power over such a large sector of the U.S. economy threatens the way the Internet has worked for years, as well as the stability of the rest of the economy.
They don’t want to admit it, but we know it’s true. There are countless organizations that hate humanity enough to do everything in their power to put a stop to anything that might benefit it. Their focus is on the use of science to improve and protect our lives.
A recent example is the discussion over the need to ensure youngsters are vaccinated against measles. When I was a child, the great fear parents had was polio and, when the vaccine was created against it, it ceased within my lifetime to be a major health threat. Measles, too, went from being a common disease in my youth to where it occurred rarely.
Even so, some idiots keep spreading the lie that vaccinations can cause autism. That was enough for some parents to fail to vaccinate their child. In other cases, children brought here from foreign nations where vaccination is not as widespread as here can and do cause outbreaks like the one at a California amusement park. It is occurring in other states as well. A disease like measles exists with a life force of its own to spread as widely and rapidly as possible.
On February 14, the Wall Street Journal carried an article, “First Genetically Modified Apple Approved for Sale in U.S.” The previous day I received an email from Friends of the Earth (FOE) citing the apple and bewailing the fact that “Like other GMO’s, this apple won’t be labeled and regulators are relying on assurance from the company that made the apple that it’s safe for human consumption and the environment.”
Why won’t it be labeled? Because it poses no harm to anyone’s health.
What FOE wants to do is create obstacles to genetically modified foods, but the World Health Organization is on record saying that “GM foods currently available on the international market have passed safety assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”
Listen to what a farmer has to say about GMOs. Larry Cochran is the president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers. “Most people don’t even know what GMO stands for, but for me as a farmer it’s just another way of speeding up the breeding process. I have a boss, Mother Nature, who does her own form of GMO breeding, whether it’s new races of disease or insects that have evolved. She’s always changing the rules. If we in agriculture want to be able to feed the world’s population, we have to be able to grow more food on less land, and I believe GMOs can help me do that.”
In a December 31, 2014 commentary posted on the Daily Caller, Mischa Popoff, an expert on the organic food sector, the author of “Is it Organic?” and a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute, pointed out that “GMOs meanwhile have NEVER caused any health problem at any level.”
Popoff’s book reveals what a scam organic farming is and, if you have had a choice between organic or not in the supermarket, you will instantly realize organic is much more expensive. Why? Because it does not use GMOs or other means to protect their crops against drought, weeds, or insect predation.
“The real goal for organic activists,” says Popoff, “is to ban GMOs outright the way DDT was banned in 1972, a terrible move by these very same activists which resulted in more deaths from mosquito-borne malaria in the Third World than were cause by both world wars.”
Fear of GMOs is spread monthly by countless articles condemning genetic modification. As Amy Paturel notes in an article on WebMD.com, “The World Health Organization, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Medical Association all say these crops are safe as, and often safer than, foods changed the old-fashioned way, such as when a new plant is bred from two different types.”
The irony of all the efforts to scare people in the fashion that the Friends of the Earth and comparable groups are trying to do—calling for labeling of GMO foods—is that the new apple has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The producer has voluntarily asked the Food and Drug Administration to likewise determine its safe consumption. What’s new about it? It does not turn brown after you cut it into slices by shutting off the enzyme that initiates the browning process. It also resists bruising. All good news for consumers.
It is essential that companies that purchase large quantities of food products not fall prey to the anti-GMO lies. A biotech potato, Simplot, is also less susceptible to black spots from bruising and has lower levels of sugar and asparagine. Despite DOA approval, McDonald’s decided not to use it and it is a company that buys 3.4 billion pounds of potatoes a year.
If farmers and ranchers are going to be able to feed the Earth’s human population of seven billion and growing, GMOs hold the key to avoiding widespread hunger while at the same time offering products like Golden Rice that would prevent a half million kids from going blind and dying every year due to Vitamin-A deficiency in the Third World.
As Patrick Moore, a Greenpeace co-founder who left the organization when he realized it was operating from an anti-science, anti-capitalism agenda, warns, “There is now an anti-intellectual element that doesn’t care about people. There is no logic or science involved—only ideology and ignorance.”
People live longer, healthier lives these days because of the discoveries of science. Genetic modification is just one of them. Vaccines are another. The Friends of the Earth and others who oppose such advances want you to die because they believe humans are a plague on the Earth.
In today’s podcast, Kays and Lakely talk about the developments in Common Core debate. They discuss the recent comments made by Governor Jeb Bush as well as the stances taken by Governors Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker. Kays also explains the core arguements against Common Core.
The new Republican-led Senate is moving extremely quickly to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, the nation’s most expensive and comprehensive K-12 education law. In fact, it appears there will be no more hearings on the proposal, and it will face a full House vote this month. The bill in play, sponsored by Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN), was released two weeks ago. So we’re getting six weeks between a release of a 400-page bill plus whatever amendments show up, and a final floor vote.
It’s not clear why Republicans are rushing to send President Obama a reauthorization, given that he far prefers ruling education with his phone and pen. Right now, Obama has granted himself dictatorial power over U.S. education by requiring states to submit to his policy preferences rather than the law Congress passed 14 years ago. He calls it “NCLB waivers” or “flexibility,” but the only entity who gets any flexibility out of this is Obama, which is why he’s partial to the situation.
If Obama does decide to restrict his own tyranny, anything he is likely to sign is likely to be a bad bill, given that his education priorities in the past six years have been 1) pushing states into Common Core 2) expanding federal data collection about individual children and removing requirements that their parents know what government agents collect and share about their kids 3) pushing states into teacher evaluations based on tests, which has not yet resulted in any measurable increase in student achievement or higher rates of bad-teacher dismissal, and 4) expanding the cradle-to-grave nanny state (e.g. more government daycare—euphemistically termed “preschool”—”free” community college, and a dramatic expansion in schools taking feeding and healthcare responsibilities from parents).
Loving School Choice to Death
Obama and Republicans have common ground on K-12 education in one major area: Charter schools. In this, Obama has long bucked the teachers union gorillas in the Democrat closet. And who can really rage against charter schools, given that high-quality studies keep showing these independent public schools educate children better and for less cost than traditional public schools? Unions can, but Obama occasionally ignores them, since they backed Hillary instead of him in 2008.
The problem with federal support for charter schools is the problem with federal support for a lot of things: Federal support usually means money with strings attached, which often ends up suffocating the thing you’re trying to inflate. Charter schools have flourished—exploded, even—with little federal interference. They are already a successful local- and state-driven experiment. Federal programs for regular schools have been notoriously ineffective. So how can anyone suppose that new federal programs for charter schools will be any better?
Alexander’s draft bill authorizes the U.S. Secretary of Education to carry out a “charter school program” that “conducts national activities to support…dissemination of best practices of charter schools for all schools,” and provides both states and charter networks grants for the start-up, replication, and expansion of “high-quality” charter schools.
Don’t Bully People’s Kids If You Want Their Votes
This is small potatoes, though, compared to a greater danger in federal meddling with private schools. The clued-in parents angry about Common Core are by now well-educated on the federal mechanisms Obama used to push it down states’ throats, and this politically influential demographic is paying attention to the NCLB rewrite. One of their major concerns is reflected in the growing national resistance to testing mandates. Parents are hearing two things from their schools, whether private, charter, or public: We have to do Common Core because we have to get the kids to pass Common Core tests. And, second, your child is absolutely required to take those tests or we may hold him back a grade.
I recently received an email from a high-school teacher, who forwarded a note from her school district, responding to growing inquiries from parents about excusing their children from these tests (which, by the way, is perfectly legal in almost every state). It said any teacher caught informing parents of their right to refuse tests would be disciplined or fired. The intimidation tactics are getting intense, and they are provoking the response you might expect. Many school districts force test resisters to sit in class during the test and stare at their paper or computer screen, doing nothing for the several hours it takes their classmates to complete the tests. They call this “sit and stare.” Imagine how moms and dads feel about that one, and how likely it is to intensify their opposition to testing mandates.
Essentially every standardized test in the country has become a one-way ratchet towards Common Core. The SAT and ACT are now Common Core-aligned tests, which matters to every parent whose child might attend college. Almost every state test is a Common Core test, which in states with voucher programs forces private schools into Common Core because they often have to administer these tests to admit voucher students. So much for school choice. Even the tests common to private schools, such as the Iowa Basics or Stanford Achievement Test, are all newly absorbed by the Common Core Borg (previous, non-Common Core versions of these tests are still available, FYI, but rarely used).
Mainstream Republicans have insisted that most voucher programs established to date force private schools to measure their curriculum according to state criteria by administering state tests, in the name of “accountability,” even though that same “accountability” applied to public schools has yielded essentially no statistical difference in the number of abysmally performing schools, which remain open decades after test-based “accountability” became the national policy. This is why Alexander’s current testing provisions, which would let states choose to either keep annual testing mandates or propose their own alternative, is a good step forward. Indeed, to avoid having conservative parents team up with teachers unions to kill off school-choice programs just as they’re getting a foothold, state lawmakers should lift testing mandates and other government intrusions on private schools pronto.
And Alexander’s bill needs some improvement, as Bill Evers and Ze’ev Wurman, both former USDOE officials, point out in the best analysis of the proposal I’ve seen yet:
We like the effort Alexander’s draft makes to prohibit the Secretary from meddling (whether controlling or just ‘incentivizing’) not only in state curriculum and assessment like before but also in state standards, cutting off the disingenuous excuse Secretary Duncan used to dictate his preferred curriculum and assessment to states under the guise of peddling ‘only’ standards. We feel, however, that this prohibition is currently present in the draft in varying forms in different sections, potentially contributing to confusion. We believe that using a largely uniform prohibition language in different sections and—perhaps even better—also having a strong and detailed global prohibition on Secretary’s meddling in the General Provision (Title IX) of the bill, similarly to what the Roberts draft suggests, is a necessary improvement.
The danger in Alexander hurrying his bill through so quickly is that this major reset of federal K-12 policy will occur without sufficient time to discuss what will rule the nation’s schools for the next decade. Concerns such as those from Evers and Wurman should be heard, and senators should have the time to consider revisiting the A-PLUS proposal from previous congresses, which offers an even more appropriately limited federal role.
Federal education policy under Obama and former President George W. Bush has gone off the rails. Neither No Child Left Behind nor its regulatory rewrite from Obama, nor previous federal policies, have yielded anything but a drastic increase in taxpayer-employed paper-pushers and pronounced shift of power from parents and communities to Washington. It’s time to do a lot more than put this ravening monster on a slightly lower-calorie diet.Cato Institute. [First published at The Federalist.]
Much of New England, especially Boston, has been slammed with severe cold and blizzard conditions approaching record proportions.
This past weekend’s blizzard in New England packed power of a category 2 hurricane resulting in the Northeast being predicted to suffer its lowest temperatures in 20 years.
With temperatures expected to remain well below normal in the coming days, it’s going to be difficult to dig out from the series of winter storms that slammed the Northeast resulting in Boston’s snowiest month in history. With 6 feet (1.8 meters) of snow since late January Boston had already set a record for snow accumulations in a single week. Now Boston has set the record for its snowiest month since records have been kept, according to National Weather Service (NWS). Indeed, in the month-and-a-half since 2015 began, Boston has received more snow than it normally gets in two years.
Reuter’s reported “Blizzard conditions forced the cancellation of more than 1,800 U.S. airline flights, most of them into and out of airports in Boston and New York, where wind gusts of up to 60 miles per hour (97 kph) were predicted.” [In addition,] temperatures are 25 to 30 degrees (14 to 17 degrees Celsius) below normal for the East Coast, with meteorologist Bruce Sullivan of the National Weather Service, saying region was in the grip of ‘a brutally cold air mass.'”
Other parts of Massachusetts and the Northeast also suffered. On Sunday alone 20 inches of snow was recorded in Ipswich, Massachusetts and in Alton, New Hampshire, wretched winter conditions forced the town to call off its annual ice carnival this past weekend.
In another ironic twist, the Yale Daily News reported winter conditions were so bad Fossil Free Yale, a group pushing the university to divest itself from fossil fuels, had to cancel its scheduled global warming protest.
Leave to the pointy-headed would-be intellectuals at Yale to schedule a global warming protest in the middle of winter.
Moving west, the Detroit News reported every region of Michigan was under some form of winter weather warning or advisory. Temperatures bottomed out at 8 below zero in Detroit on Sunday morning, while overnight lows in Flint were -11, in Alma -13 in Alma and in Ann Arbor -9. In Northern Michigan, it was even worse, with lows bottoming out at -28 in Newberry and -25 in Houghton. Several stretches of Interstate Highway were closed in Michigan due to weather related accidents involving dozens of cars and extreme weather.
Those who ventured out on the roads in frigid Chicago were also put at risk. Lake-effect snow and icy conditions contributed to a 40-vehicle chain reaction crash on the Kennedy Expressway.
America is not alone in suffering winter disasters, with The Guardian reporting the death rate in England and Wales is nearly third higher than normal for this time of year. As winter tightens its grip the UK, according to the Guardian, “About 28,800 deaths were registered in the fortnight ending 23 January, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This is 32% higher than the average for that period over the previous five years (21,859).”
These reports out of the UK highlight the fact colder temperatures are far more deadly than warmer temperatures. Death visits far more people in winter than summer, a point made time and again by climate realists like Bjorn Lomborg.
The cold and snow may not get climate alarmists to give up their pet theory, but at least it made them scramble for the bunkers at Yale. Weather: 1, Climate Alarmists: 0. As for the rest of us, a little warming might be welcome at this time.
The great John Fogerty classic was a testament to bad news and deception that seemed to be coming from all angles. It was truly a free-thinking song, ripping socialist agendas as enslaving (“Five year plans and new deals wrapped in golden chains”) and also a rallying point for those who questioned the Vietnam War.
I have no idea where Mr. Fogerty stands on any of the issues of the day, but to me this song has always represented a true free-thinking man’s challenge to authority in pursuit of the truth. That is how I view this art.
A song is valuable when both sides think it’s an anthem for them.
What I took from the song was that deception came in a form that seemed to have good intentions, but was trapping people and enslaving them. Taken to the limit, anything short of the truth is a lie, and lies are meant to do evil no matter how they appear.
I was asked several months ago by a close friend and advisor, “Joe, what do you want to be remembered for?” It was then I realized this global warming debate borders on insanity. My stand was and is principled, based on my need and love of climate to form a needed foundation to forecast. If a person said something you knew not to be true about someone you loved, how would you react? It’s that simple. I am this way because I have used climate to help me in what God made me to do. But the argument itself is getting progressively crazier to me.
Look at the distortion we have going on today. I was told I am not a “climate scientist” on national TV by a guy whose hands were shaking as he recited talking points and who said that a one in a hundred year synoptic-scale event – the Great Ohio Valley blizzard of 1978 – was lake effect snow. At the time, Lake Erie was frozen and a southwest wind was blowing over it.
So after 40 years of studying this and using it daily, I’m not a climate scientist, but one of the alarmists’ heroes, an engineer-turned-actor who bills himself a science guy, is?
That he had my kids thinking he was Santa Claus means he has a whole generation of people willing to buy what he says, no matter how inane. Perhaps if I lost three inches off my neck and stuck on a bow tie, it would give me more credibility.
Then there’s this headline from the London Telegraph: “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever.”
When I saw it, my first thought was: This is old news. And to guys like me, very old news. Perhaps the most newsworthy thing about it was that this is not mainstream and, therefore, the whole issue is settled.
Juxtapose the Telegraph with this from USA Today: “Buried in Boston? Blame it on climate change – maybe.”
Notice how the author in typical Utopian fashion takes no real stand: Blame it on climate change –maybe.
Let me take a stand and inform him of some facts he seems to not understand.
1. Boston averages close to 6.6 inches of precipitation in the months of January and February and 26 inches of snow. That means in any given 15-day period (roughly 25%) Boston would average about 1.6 inches of precipitation and about six inches of snow. How is it the city had twice the amount of precipitation (around 3.2 inches) – which really is not that big a deal since even back-to-back rainstorms can do that – and ten times the amount of snow (64 inches)? It’s not because it’s warm. It’s because it’s so cold. The frigid air masses have resulted in a high snow ratio. The storms did what most storms do – intensify – but it’s the cold that has lead to the very high snow-to-liquid ratios. In a normal temperature-structured storm, the same parameters would likely produce closer to the classic 10-1 ratio.
2. The author is also unaware of a sudden drop in the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), something Weatherbell.com jumped on to warn people in the East that the period Jan. 26-Feb. 10 would be tough. I used the same method before the “Snowmageddon” siege in the winter of ‘09-‘10. It’s something you look for in seasons when there is a warm event in the tropical Pacific, which in this case is a weak Modoki El Nino. It’s not a question of if or when, but where you see that happen. In 2010, it was centered further southwest, so we knew well beforehand something was up.
By the way, just how does climate change know to blast Boston (last 15 days close to 10 degrees Fahrenheit below normal with 10x the normal snowfall) while leaving places like DC alone (near normal temperatures, little snow) at the same time? How did it know in 2010 to blast DC, but leave places in northern New England with normal temperatures and snow? Amazing how it can pick and choose like that on a local level, given its assigned global dominance.
3. The water is warm off the East Coast, but that’s because we are in the waning days of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) warm cycle. This is well known among meteorologists who have studied these periods. In fact, this winter is mimicking to a large extent the winter of 1957-1958, which was non-eventful until later January right through March! The AMO is falling and is below 0 now, much like Bill Gray of Colorado State said it would be by 2020, ending completely the warming observed when the Pacific and Atlantic warmed. This means the remaining warm water in the Atlantic basin is still in the Western Atlantic as the northern, eastern and southern areas cool, until the full flip takes place, still several years off. Guess what happens when there is change naturally? There are places where there can be enhanced conflict in the weather.
Gee, imagine that. Clashes in the weather.
The term “climate change” is the biggest piece of deception one can use. Nobody denies the fluid back and forth on all time scales of the earth’s weather and climate patterns. It’s redundant and a sound bite that means nothing, except as something to smear people who bring countering points to light. When global warming was debunked by nature herself, alarmists adapted “climate change” and then blamed a perfectly natural occurrence on man. The “golden chain” is the wrapping of oneself in a mantle of “saving the planet climate heroism”; the enslavement is the diminishing of hope for billions of people yearning for more freedom.
So the question is: Who’ll stop the rain on this issue? Certainly not the people pushing it. But it is the tip of an iceberg that makes the ’60s look like child’s play. Think about what is going on here. You have what can be looked at as genocide occurring in the Middle East, and this is what passes for the most pressing problem?
“Climate Change”: Because they realized the global warming missive was too nonsensical.
Who’ll stop the rain? “It ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate son.” We get the leaders we deserve.
[First published at Patriot Post.]
I come not to praise but to bury scandal plagued Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, who was forced to resign amidst the growing weight of public scandals, ethics investigations and criminal proceedings concerning political payoffs related to various green energy schemes and the governor ha pushed.
I don’t know if Kitzhaber’s support for energy efficiency, low-carbon energy standards, carbon-dioxide limits and renewable electricity was strictly driven by the quest for filthy lucre for his friends or if Kitzhaber was a blind true-believer in the green energy schemes he supported. I suspect the later, which makes his resignation even better in my opinion.
After all, a corrupt politician usually stops pushing bad policies when he/she stops receiving payoffs to support them whereas a true believer will push them regardless of the harm done in the belief that despite harming the people they are supposed to serve, “its the right thing to do.”
I suspect the jobs for is fiancé and green energy cronies were just added benefits received in the pursuit of environmental boondoggles that the Governor deep-down believed in.
My suspicion is that not all governors who support unreliable, expensive, environmentally harmfully green energy schemes are true believers. Regardless, it might be fruitful for muckraking purposes or from the perspective of legitimate investigative journalism to examine the books of green energy companies, and the governors, political advisors and gubernatorial appointees doing business in states at the forefront of the highly subsidized green energy revolution and attacks on reliable, relatively inexpensive fossil fuels that consumers, voting with their dollars, indicate they truly love.
Could other green governors be tied to similar scandals? As one who despises paternalistic intervention in individuals’ lives and the effect crony capitalism has on the economy, I hope so!
The title of Justin Gillis’ recent NYT article is an excellent tip-off of how bad environmental reporting has gotten: “What to Call a Doubter of Climate Change?”
Now, as a skeptical Ph.D. climate scientist who has been working and publishing in the climate field for over a quarter century, I can tell you I don’t know of any other skeptics who even “doubt climate change”.
The mere existence of climate change says nothing about causation. The climate system is always changing, and always will change. Most skeptics believe humans have at least some small role in that change, but tend to believe it might well be more natural than SUV-caused.
So, the title of the NYT article immediately betrays a bias in reporting which has become all too common. “He who frames the question wins the debate.”
What we skeptics are skeptical about is that the science has demonstrated with any level of certainty: (1) how much of recent warming has been manmade versus natural, or (2) whether any observed change in storms/droughts/floods is outside the realm of natural variability, that is, whether it too can be blamed on human activities.
But reporters routinely try to reframe the debate, telling us skeptics what webelieve. Actually reporting in an accurate manner what we really believe does not suit their purpose. So (for example) Mr. Gillis did not use any quotes from Dr. John Christy in the above article, even though he was interviewed.
Mr. Gillis instead seems intent on making a story out of whether skeptical climate scientists should be even afforded the dignity of being called a “skeptic”, when what we really should be called is “deniers”.
You know — as evil as those who deny the Holocaust. (Yeah, we get the implication.)
He then goes on to malign the scientific character of Dr. Richard Lindzen (a Jew who is not entirely pleased with misplaced Holocaust imagery) because the majority of scientific opinion runs contrary to Dr. Lindzen, who is also a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.
Do I need to remind Mr. Gillis that the cause(s) of climate change are much more difficult to establish than, say, the cause of stomach ulcers? There is only one climate system (patient) to study, but many millions of ulcer sufferers walking around.
And yet the medical research community was almost unanimous in their years of condemnation of Marshall and Warren, two Australian researchers who finally received the 2005 Nobel Prize in medicine for establishing the bacterial basis for peptic ulcers, one of the most common diseases in the world.
Does Mr. Gillis really want to be a journalist? Or just impress his NYC friends?
The idea that the causes of climate change are now just as well established as gravity or the non-flatness of the Earth (or that ulcers are caused by too much stress and spicy food, too?) is so ridiculous that only young school children could be indoctrinated with such silly tripe.
Which, I fear, is just what is happening.
[First published at Roy Spencer’s blog.]
What made Brian Williams inject himself into an Iraq war incident? Perhaps the reason is as simple as a juvenile desire to remain in the center of adoring attention. When prominent personalities in the global warming issue say things about themselves that isn’t accurate, that’s a whole other ballgame.
This isn’t about science details, either, which are subject to interpretation that’s best left to experts. But we don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a climatologist to spot faulty personal embellishments. All it takes is basic level fact-checking.
Many will remember how Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 – one man and one organization. However, that apparently didn’t stop various IPCC participant scientists from claiming they individually won a Nobel Prize. This became enough of a problem in 2012 that the IPCC had to issue a formal instruction (as reported at Anthony Watts’ WUWT blog) that,
The prize was awarded to the IPCC as an organization, and not to any individual associated with the IPCC. Thus it is incorrect to refer to any IPCC official, or scientist who worked on IPCC reports, as a Nobel laureate or Nobel Prize winner.
This is an ongoing problem, so much so that book author/blogger Donna Laframboise created a site dedicated to exposing it, FakeNobelLaureates.com. One of my own recently added tips there concerned Camille Parmesan, a professor of Integrative Biology having a Ph.D. in Zoology. At her UK Plymouth University web page, now you see her Nobel Prize winning designation (circa last October, anyway, three lines down in the purple box), and now you don’t at the current page, a change that happened just a couple of weeks after I alerted Prof Parmesan to that problem.
Some embellishments are heaped onto others perhaps with the people not being aware of it. Naomi Oreskes, a science historian with a soon-to-be-released movie based on her “Merchants of Smear” book, was described in the 2010 Climate Cover-Up book as an “outspoken scientist.” Many others make thissame error, one site going so far as to elevate her to “climate scientist”.
Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of IPCC, was described in global warming crusader Bill McKibben’s350.org web site as “Nobel Prize winner and Indian climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri”, no less. At least they got his country origin correct. Prominent global warming book author / critic of skeptic climate scientists Ross Gelbspan described Pachauri in a 2007 Grist.com article as a ‘leading scientist‘, The easily found fact is that Pachauri only has a Master’s and a PhD degree in Industrial Engineering.
But then we have Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist Ross Gelbspan, widely described as such, among those being Al Gore’s description of him in the companion book for “An Inconvenient Truth.” In a nutshell, Gelbspan is a hero to the enviro-activist community for supposedly exposing a conspiracy of industry-funded corruption of skeptic climate scientists. Problem is, Gelbspan didn’t win a Pulitzer, by his own admission he was not a working journalist at the time of his ‘funding corruption discovery’, and he apparently did no investigation of skeptic scientists’ funding in any way that suggests he had evidence proving skeptic climate scientists were paid industry money to lie to the public – the latter being what I dissect in detail in my GelbspanFiles.com blog. Instead, careful and in-depth scrutiny of Gelbspan’s claims reveals how they all fall apart. It’s a time consuming process comparing one narrative against another, but in the end, it becomes quite obvious how inconsistent his and others’ accusations are about ‘industry-corrupted skeptics’. People label me as an investigative journalist for my work, but I protested that label.
There’s one big difference between what Brian Williams probably did and what Gelbspan and other prominent personalities in the global warming issue do. Pro-global warming people seem to embellish themselves or the people they support in order to create an appearance of unquestionable authority, so that the ponzi scheme of man-caused global warming — constantly infused with questionable science reports and character assassination of skeptics — stays alive in the eyes of the public. If the public loses faith in the promoters of global warming the same way they lost faith in Brian Williams, the issue is toast.
[Originally published at RedState]
In some ways, our culture idolizes childhood, but in others, it utterly destroys it. Perhaps the two go hand-in-hand. The New York Times asked recently, “Is Your First Grader College Ready?” It details classes full of elementary students going on college visits and filling out mock applications. At some colleges, the wait list for elementary-school tours is so long, they offer virtual campus visits. But that’s not all. Oh, no, that is not all.
When her boys join the science club, volunteer at the food bank, even serve on the elementary school safety patrol, Ms. Meyer said, she can’t help but view it as a steppingstone to college. ‘You have to have this resume built or your kids will not even be looked at.’
Thousands of schools are buying software that shows kids the trajectory for which specific colleges they’ll be on for picking certain middle-school classes. A companion article shows kindergartners journaling their SAT “words of the week.” The number of eighth and ninth graders taking the PSAT (a sort of preliminary test that predicts SAT performance and can earn one scholarships) has increased by a factor of 10 since it was introduced in 2000.
The demand that high school now prepare every graduate for entrance into college with no remedial coursework is now a national requirement, thanks to Common Core, the “college- and career-ready pathway.” It is a dramatic increase in the expectations for high schools, or a dramatic decrease in the expectations for colleges, or both. But it’s not entirely Common Core’s fault the college frenzy has reached six-year-olds (or, rather, the parents and teachers of six-year-olds). It’s the culture of the people who produce and enforce Common Core and things like it. The Washington Post regularly publishes stories about the haggard, henpecked children of DC-area politicos, who forego sleep, internal dialogue, and all personal space to load their resumes with things like “lacrosse team captain” and “debate society president” while taking 27 Advanced Placement classes each semester. In seventh grade. While going on repeated service trips to third-world countries.
Creating Box-Checkers, Not Box Smashers
Parents like this are the forerunners of the lifestyle now reaching into the middle class: Register your child for the “best” “infant learning center” as soon as you know you’re pregnant, and plan to dump him in there as soon as you hit your sixth week of maternity leave. Concurrently check out the “best” “preschools” that are proven feeders for the “best” elementary schools that in turn feed the “best” middle and high school and colleges and jobs. Because if he doesn’t get into an Ivy he’ll never get into Goldman Sachs or the Justice Department or whatever is the raging parent status symbol of the day.
They really cared about their child they’d have considered arranging their lives so they would spend more than 20 minutes a day face-to-face with him.
Notice this is a parent thing, not a child thing. We have no proof that a child herded into Goldman Sachs as he has been everywhere else will be happy there, or if he might have been happier developing his own interests, loves, and personality. The parents tell themselves they do all this for their child, but if they really cared about their child they’d have considered arranging their lives so they would spend more than 20 minutes a day face-to-face with him (checking email on their smartphones nearby doesn’t count). And they feel that guilt, unconsciously, so to compensate they prove they love their kid by buying him advantages instead of developing them, in person, over the years, together. It seems kind of like the table salads my garden-center-owning uncle says fly off the shelves to his yuppie clientele. He charges $20 for a cute little multi-lettuce arrangement that would have cost customers about $3 to make themselves. It rivals the cost of prewashed, precut lettuce from the store. Salad, just add water.
But kids are not a salad arrangement. You can’t just “add activities” or “burnish resumes.” They’re people. People need mentoring. They need relationships. They need discipleship. They need more than an endless cycle of paid caretakers. They need to be more than stimulation whores or bores. They are more than that. They can be more than that. But they need someone to show them how.
Do parents have no other goals for their children besides locking them into a career treadmill paved with cash? Perhaps they have no knowledge of finer milestones, a more meaningful way to approach life, so grasp at the only measurement of goodness they know. Remember, folks: The same greed turned King Midas’s daughter into a lifeless golden statue. Our country is populated with thousands of little statues like her.
Don’t Make Kids Live Like a Refugee
We have good and growing evidence that loading so much onto children’s lives and minds overwhelms them. So while having the nanny drag Johnny to every extracurricular known to man may reduce a mother’s guilt, making her feel like she’s doing right by her kids, it actually makes Johnny feel like a refugee. Not kidding:
Kim John Payne has traveled the world and spent time treating children in refugee camps. While running a private practice in England, he was shocked to see so many similarities between the children there and the refugee children. Over many years, it became increasingly clear that certain kids from affluent families – living perfectly safe, privileged lives – were behaving in a manner similar to children halfway around the globe near war zones.
The refugee children were living out the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. As Payne describes: ‘They were jumpy, nervous, and hypervigilant, wary of anything novel or new. Many had adopted elaborate little rituals around everyday tasks, such as very specific, complicated ways of navigating the maze of the camp, which they imagined would somehow keep them safe. They were distrustful of new relationships, whether with adults or their own peers, and quite a few had hair-trigger tempers.’
He says the main distinction between the two groups was that the privileged children in England were physically safe. But mentally, they too were living in a sort of war zone where they needed coping strategies to feel safe.
Payne cites a recent study about child sports. It found that participating in organized sports reduced a child’s creativity and initiative. But participating in unorganized sports—spontaneous, child-organized play—significantly improved a child’s creativity. In 2012, a researcher from the College of William and Mary found that American kids’ scores on a well-known creativity measure have dropped substantially since the 1980s. The particular test he used to measure seems to be “seems to be the best predictor of lifetime achievement that has yet been invented. It is a better predictor than IQ, high-school grades, or peer judgments of who will achieve the most,” says Boston College professor Peter Gray.
That should make status-anxious parents sit up. Not incidentally, top corporate recruiters say creativity is one of their priorities when headhunting. We’ve all heard about Google and Apple and other hot companies’ odd hiring tests, designed to measure this very thing because GPA and SAT scores don’t. How ironic—and tragic—that the same activities parents push on their children in an effort to get places like this actually handicaps them.[This first appeared in The Federalists]
Isaac Orr, a Research Fellow for energy and environmental policy gave a talk on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and frac sand mining in Appleton, Wisconsin as part of the Fox Valley Conservative Forum series.
Isaac addresses one of the main questions everyone seems to ask when they talk about fracking “Will fracking make my water catch on fire?” and discusses the economic benefits, as well as the environmental protections put in place to minimize the effect of oil and natural gas development.
What should citizens do when confronted with an intrusive, all encompassing government agenda that will eventually affect every aspect of their lives? That is the question we need to be addressing, because United Nations Agenda 21 is a reality, and it already has many countries, including the United States, complying with its mandates.
Information about U.N. Agenda 21 has not been widely published, but neither is it a secret. One only needs to do a minimum amount of research to discover the many tentacles of Agenda 21 and realize it has infiltrated into many of our cities and certainly our country, with the full cooperation of those in our highest positions of authority.
The following is Part 2, of a series to educate more people about the facets of the agenda, including the plan to scare the public into accepting changes in their life style through threats; the main one being man-made Global warming. For people to make a lifestyle change, those developing the plan needed a tangible, threatening reason to entice the public to quietly comply. The information below provides facts that should make readers more aware of the changes the “elites” in our world are planning for our future.
In November of 2013, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its “Synthesis Report,” which completed its Fifth Assessment evaluation (AR5) on the Earth’s climate. IPCC is the pathway through which the environmental proposals of Agenda 21 are being carried out, such as designing compact cities without cars under the guise of sustainability. The IPCC report claims “Human influence on the climate system is clear and growing, with impacts observed on all continents” However, there is a growing number of critics who will no longer remain or be silenced on this issue. They deserve to be heard.
Known the world over as a skeptic of man-made Global Warming, The Heartland Institute in Chicago had the fortitude and the courage to publish its own report to counter the U.N.’s AR5 report, using its affiliation with The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change or NIPCC to do so. NIPCC is an international panel of non-government scientists and scholars who have come together to present a comprehensive, authoritative, and realistic assessment of the science and economics of global warming. Because NIPCC is not a government agency, and because its members are not predisposed to believe climate change is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, it is able to offer an independent second opinion of the evidence reviewed, or not reviewed, by the United Nation’s IPCC on the issue of global warming. Find here the independent Heartland NIPCC report published to counter the U.N.’s 2013 AR5 report. Read here comments made by 10 Heartland experts about the conclusions reached by AR5. Check here for another report that takes the U.N.s AR5 report to task.
Obama administration equates global warming with the threat of terrorism
The Obama administration has accepted the dogma put out by scientists who concocted the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in close proximity with Agenda 21, while further endorsing the propaganda as the main cause of Global Warming and linking CO2 to Global Warming. Just last week President Obama’s new national-security strategy ranked combating climate change as a top priority, and astonishingly claimed it to be at the same level of threat as terrorism, biological emergencies, and nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue states. A subsequent White House report indicated that the President is committed to confronting the urgent crisis of climate change, largely through national emission reductions, international diplomacy, and commitment to the Green Climate Fund. Rational people continue to demand the subject be given a fair and balanced investigation of all the facts, not the one-sided approach it has been given.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) was not at all pleased with the President’s new assessment of priorities and national-security strategy, as reflected in this response:
“I doubt [the Islamic State], the Iranian mullahs, or [Russian President] Vladmir Putin will be intimidated by President Obama’s strategy of ‘strategic patience,'” Mr. Graham said. “From their point of view, the more ‘patience’ President Obama practices, the stronger they become.
The Obama Doctrine, or “strategic patience,” has led to a world in chaos. So, while President Obama pursues the debatable man-made global warming fear mongering, the known and highly critical problems affecting national security are given less attention.
MIT Professor Emeritus Richard Lindzen contradicts Global-Warming Alarmists
A recent report by MIT Professor emeritus Richard Lindzen, dismisses global-warming alarmists as a discredited “cult” whose members are becoming more hysterical as emerging evidence continues to contradict their beliefs. In discussing the cultish nature of the movement,
“As with any cult, once the mythology of the cult begins falling apart, instead of saying, oh, we were wrong, they get more and more fanatical. I think that’s what is happening here. Think about it, he said. “You’ve led an unpleasant life, you haven’t led a very virtuous life, but now you’re told, you get absolution if you watch your carbon footprint. It’s salvation!”
Professor Lindzen scoffed accordingly at a New York Times report that acknowledged there is only a 38 percent chance that 2014 was the hottest year on record, and if it was, it was only by two-100ths of a degree:
“Seventy percent of the earth is oceans, we can’t measure those temperatures very well. They can be off a half a degree, a quarter of a degree. Even two-10ths of a degree of change would be tiny but two-100ths is ludicrous. Anyone who starts crowing about those numbers shows that they’re putting spin on nothing.”
In reference to CO2, Lindzen said that until recently, periods of greater warmth were referred to as “climate optimum”; optimum being derived from a Latin word meaning “best.” Throughout history there have been natural cooling and warming periods. Climate changes have occurred throughout our planet’s history.
Lord Mockton and others react negatively to Al Gore’s award-winning Oscar documentary of 2006 – “Inconvenient Truth”
The concept of Global Warming, and the idea that CO2 is the main culprit to what is perceived by some as man-made Global Warming, reached the public’s attention with the release of Al Gore’s award-winning Oscar documentary of 2006, “An Inconvenient Truth.” Gore’s movie should have been called “Al’s Science Fiction Movie” or “Seriously Inconvenient Truths About Global Warming”, because after its release many of what he claimed to be facts, were proven to be false.
Lord Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley and political adviser to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, had many negative comments about Gore’s award-winning documentary, which, amazingly, is still considered by global warming enthusiasts as the gospel truth. Mockton announced in a more recent article in September of last year on ClimateDepot.com that his scientific satellite data shows the temperatures have remained fairly stable between October 1966 and August 2014, despite a rise in greenhouse gas emissions. Calling it the “Great Pause,” Monckton wrote, “It is becoming harder and harder to maintain that we face a ‘climate crisis’ caused by our past and present sins of emission.”
Of concern is that much of the false information in Gore’s movie are now being taught as fact in classrooms across this nation, planted within the controversial Common Core curriculum. This recent article (February 5, 2015) by Alex Nussbaum, “Temperatures Rise as Climate Critics Take Aim at U.S. Classrooms”, relates the frustration of those who doubt that humanity is indeed baking the planet. Roy White, a Texan and retired fighter pilot, shared in Nussbaum’s article how climate change is being presented from only one side in classrooms across this nation, and that Al Gore’s promoting the statement that “Global warming is an established fact and the debate has ended”, is neither factual or the truth, as more and more scientific evidence emerges proving man-caused global warming to be a myth.
Another excellent critique of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” appeared in New Scientist in October of 2007 and can be read here.
Epilogue: Wisdom and Truth
Friedrich August von Hayek (1899-1992) Nobel Laureate of Economic Sciences, left this warning for humanity:
“Ever since the beginning of modern science, the best minds have recognized that “the range of acknowledged ignorance will grow with the advance of science.” Unfortunately, the popular effect of this scientific advance has been a belief, seemingly shared by many scientists, that the range of our ignorance is steadily diminishing and that we can therefore aim at more comprehensive and deliberate control of all human activities. It is for this reason that those intoxicated by the advance of knowledge so often become the enemies of freedom.”
As more American city, county, and state governments are duped by the global warming fanatics (alarmists) into initiating new harsh laws and removing individual freedoms, the public can no longer afford to yawn and ignore U.N. Agenda 21 and all its tentacles into our lives. We must remind ourselves of Thomas Jefferson’s warning: “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add “within the limits of the law”, because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
On Tuesday, February 10, a segment of the always-good All-star panel on “Special Report with Bret Baier” broke down presumptive presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s stance on Common Core. Bush said having a “baseline” of federal accountability matters, and insisted that could exist simultaneously with complete local and state control over education policy.
The panel didn’t buy it. Even the liberal Powers didn’t accept Jeb’s premise, and gave him points for standing up for his principle of more federal control of education policy via Common Core.
Both George Will and Charles Krauthammer’s points were excellent, but Will had the luck to go first and make this excellent point:
The problem on Common Core is his critics are talking past one another. He thinks people are objecting primarily to the contents of the standards. There is some of that. But most people feel as I do who oppose Common Core. I don’t care if the standards are written by Aristotle, perfected by Shakespeare, approved by Newton, and endorsed by Jefferson. They are wrong because they are the thin end of an enormous federal wedge that will inevitably give you a standard to cause the textbooks to be aligned with the exams, and you will get a national curriculum which is forbidden by law that will come in by stealth and indirection.
Bingo. Watch the video below. It’s well worth four minutes of your time.
Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com
For governments everywhere, taxes and regulations are like Lays Potato Chips – no one can eat just one.
In part, of course, because governments’ appetite for taking our money and controlling our lives is insatiable. It’s their nature.
And because government intervention just about always makes things worse.
Which makes predictions like this not exactly Nostradamus-esque:
Perversely and manipulatively, governments use the damage they do – to justify more government.
(ObamaCare author Jonathan) Gruber said if ObamaCare was not successful at controlling costs, “we’ll have to revisit single-payer” – i.e. government-only health care.
Governments even manage to give themselves phony props – as their policies do real damage.
Get the heads-governments-win-tails-we-lose nature of all that?
This is absolutely not U.S. government-specific.
Think of this as a permanent government stimulus. Doing all the damage of our domestic stimulus – over, and over, and….
Which inexorably leads to things like:
Brazil’s struggling sugar and ethanol mills got more good news on Monday after the government granted an expected increase in the national blend of the biofuel in gasoline to 27 percent on Feb. 15 from the current 25 percent, industry officials said.
The higher blend is the latest of several measures taken by the government expected to have a positive effect on the industry’s bottom line going forward.
I’m not expecting it to have a positive effect? Are you?
Brazil’s mills get massive government subsidies and Crony Socialist assistance – how on Utopia are they struggling?
Yet somehow Brazil’s answer to too much government is – more government. That’s what passes for “good news” in Huge Government Land.
Again, we incessantly suffer the same warped thinking here.
Let’s just mandate a unicorn in every garage.
Back to Brazil’s poor policies and thinking:
In the past years, local firms such as Raizen , Biosev, Bunge, Sao Martinho and Guarani have struggled to post consistent and robust profits.…
Again, how on Utopia are they not posting consistent and robust profits – what with the consistent and robust government money and Crony Socialist assistance?
Also improving the outlook for mills was the government’s January decision to raise taxes on gasoline starting on Feb. 1, allowing ethanol mills to raise prices in tandem and recover profit margins.
All of these new taxes and higher prices are fabulous news for Brazil’s government and its pet industry. They’ll each be getting a whole lot more money.
It’s abysmal for Brazil’s people – and their wallets. For whom – we’re told by Huge Government proponents – all this Huge Government is created and grown. You know – to ‘help” them.
Government-Uber-Alles proponents are utterly engrossed with their own navels. “Save the Government Programs” becomes an all-encompassing fetish – no matter how grievous the damage done to everyone and everything else.
(See also: Trying to keep together the utterly unrealistic, hurtling apart European Union.)
So – Huge Government Brazil has entered into another round of Huge Government. Doing Huge Government damage to even more economic sectors – to try to save a sector utterly corrupted by Huge Government.
Anyone else notice a pattern here?
The contrast between the spin put on youth e-cigarette use data last Fall and the story told by the actual data, released last month, is startling but not surprising, given the U.S. government’s over-zealous tobacco prohibition posture.
Last November, the Centers for Disease Control released selective information from the 2013 National Youth Tobacco Survey. A resulting New York Times headline was typical: “E-Cigarettes Gain Among High School Students” (here).
The CDC withheld the survey data until a couple weeks ago; now the rates of e-cigarette use can be viewed in context with cigarette smoking. The chart at left shows the real story, and it’s stunning. Past 30-day cigarette use (the CDC definition of current smoking) among high school students was 9.7%, a whopping 34% decline from 2011.
E-cigarette use increased, as did dual use, but in no way does the data suggest that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking among teens. In fact, this chart, along with the Monitoring the Future study I discussed previously (here), indicates that e-cigarettes may be driving teenage smoking down.
Jacob Sullum at Reason got it right: “Vaping Rises to Record Highs, Smoking Falls to Record Lows, and Activists Insist ‘E-Cigarettes Are a Gateway to Smoking’” (here)
The CDC regularly misrepresents e-cigarette statistics (here, here, and here). The agency cherry-picks information from restricted federal datasets; the media amplifies the CDC’s spin; and the story cannot be challenged until months or years later when the agency provides access to the underlying data. The public should not tolerate such misfeasance from taxpayer-funded public health agencies.
[Originally published at Tobacco Truth]
Things are not going well for Climate Chaos, Inc. The Environmental Protection Agency is implementing its carbon dioxide regulations, and President Obama wants to make more Alaska oil and gas prospects off limits. But elsewhere the climate alarm industry is under siege – and rightfully so.
Shortly after Mr. Obama warned him of imminent climate doom, Prime Minister Modi announced that India would double coal production, to bring electricity to 300 million more people. Hydraulic fracturing has launched a new era of petroleum abundance, making it harder to justify renewable energy subsidies.
Global warming predictions have become increasingly amusing, bizarre and disconnected from real-world climate and weather. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has confessed that its true goal is transforming the world’s economy and redistributing its wealth. More people are realizing that the actual problem is not climate change, which has been ongoing throughout history; it is costly policies imposed in the name of preventing change: policies that too often destroy jobs, perpetuate poverty and kill people.
Those perceptions are reinforced by recent studies that found climate researchers have systematically revised actual measured temperatures upward to fit a global warming narrative for Australia, Paraguay, the Arctic and elsewhere. Another study, “Why models run hot: Results from an irreducibly simple climate model,” concluded that, once discrepancies in IPCC computer models are taken into account, the impact of CO2-driven manmade global warming over the next century (and beyond) is likely to be “no more than one-third to one-half of the IPCC’s current projections” – that is, just 1-2 degrees C (2-4 deg F) by 2100! That’s akin to the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods and would be beneficial, not harmful.
Written by Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David Legates and William Briggs, the study was published in the January 2015 Science Bulletin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Incredibly, it has already received over 10,000 views – thousands more than most scientific papers ever receive.
Instead of critiquing the paper, climate alarmists attacked its authors. Climate Investigations Center executive director (and former top Greenpeace official) Kert Davies told the Boston Globe it “simply cannot be true” that the authors have no conflict of interest over their study, considering their alleged industry funding sources and outside consulting fees. Davies singled out Dr. Willie Soon, saying the Harvard researcher received more than $1 million from companies that support studies critical of manmade climate change claims. An allied group launched a petition drive to have Dr. Soon fired.
Davies’ libelous assertions have no basis in fact. Not one of these four authors received a dime in grants or other payments for researching and writing their climate models paper. Every one of them did the work on his own time. The only money contributed to the Science Bulletin effort went to paying the “public access” fees, so that people could read their study for free.
I know these men and their work. Their integrity and devotion to the scientific method are beyond reproach. They go where their research takes them and refuse to bend their science or conclusions to secure grants, toe a particular line on global warming, or fit industry, government or other viewpoints.
Regarding Dr. Soon’s supposed “track record of accepting energy-industry grants,” the $1 million over a period of years went to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, which took around 40% of the total off the top, for “overhead.” The details are all open public records. Not a dime went to this paper.
But since Davies raised the issues of money, conflicts of interest, failures to disclose financing, and how money supposedly influences science – let us explore those topics from the other side of the fence.
Climate Crisis, Inc. has a huge vested interest in climate alarmism – not merely part of $1 million over a ten-year span, but hundreds of billions of dollars in government, industry, foundation and other money during the past couple decades. Some of it is open and transparent, but much is hidden and suspect.
Between 2003 and 2010, the US government alone spent over $105 billion in taxpayer funds on climate and renewable energy projects. The European Union and other entities spent billions more. Most of the money went to modelers, scientists, other researchers and their agencies and universities; to renewable energy companies for subsidies and loan guarantees on projects that receive exemptions from endangered species and human health laws and penalties that apply to fossil fuel companies; and even to environmental pressure groups that applaud these actions, demand more and drive public policies.
Billions more went to government regulators, who coordinate many of these activities and develop regulations that are often based on secretive, deceptive pre-ordained “science,” sue-and-settle lawsuits devised by con artist John Beale, and other tactics. Politicians receive millions in campaign cash and in-kind help from these organizations and their unions, to keep them in office and the gravy train on track.
The American Lung Association supports EPA climate policies – but never mentions its $25 million in EPA grants over the past 15 years. Overall, during this time, the ALA received 591 federal grants totaling $43 million, Big Green foundations bankrolled it with an additional $76 million, and EPA paid $181 million to 15 of its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee members who regularly vote with it.
Far-left donors like the David and Lucille Packard Foundation (computers), Schmidt Family Foundation (Google), Rockefeller Brothers Fund (oil), Marisla Foundation (oil) and Wallace Global Fund II (farming) support Greenpeace and other groups that use climate change to justify anti-energy, anti-people policies. A gas company CEO and New York mayor gave Sierra Club $76 million for its anti-coal campaign.
For years, Greenpeace has used Desmogblog, ExxonSecrets, Polluterwatch and other front-group websites to attack scientists and others who challenge its tactics and policies. Greenpeace USA alone had income totaling $32,791,149 in 2012, Ron Arnold and I note in Cracking Big Green.
Other U.S. environmental pressure groups driving anti-job, anti-people climate policies also had fat-cat 2012 incomes: Environmental Defense Fund ($111,915,138); Natural Resources Defense Council ($98,701,707); Sierra Club ($97,757,678); National Audubon Society ($96,206,883); Wilderness Society ($24,862,909); and Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection ($19,150,215). All told, more than 16,000 American environmental groups collect total annual revenues of over $13.4 billion (2009 figures). Only a small part of that comes from membership dues and individual contributions.
As Richard Rahn and Ron Arnold point out, another major source of their cash is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. A well-documented new Environmental Policy Alliance report shows how tens of millions of dollars from Russian interests apparently flowed from Bermuda-based Wakefield Quinn through environmental bundlers, including the Sea Change Foundation, into major eco-pressure groups like the Sierra Club, NRDC and League of Conservation Voters. Former White House counsel John Podesta’s Center for American Progress also took millions from Sea Change.
It gets even more outrageous. One of the websites attacking Dr. Soon is funded by George Soros; it works hard to gag meteorologists who disagree with climate alarmists. And to top it off, Davies filed a FOIA request against Dr. Soon and six other climate scientists, demanding that they release all their emails and financial records. But meanwhile he keeps his Climate Investigations Center funding top secret (the website is registered to Greenpeace and the Center is known to be a Rainbow Warriors front group) – and the scientists getting all our taxpayer money claim their raw data, computer codes and CO2-driven algorithms are private property, and exempt from FOIA and even U.S. Congress requests.
By all means, let’s have honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability – in our climate science and government regulatory processes. Let’s end the conflicts of interest, have robust debates, and ensure that sound science (rather than government, foundation or Russian cash) drives our public laws and policies.
And let’s begin where the real money and power are found.
Mythological trolls — described as old and ugly creatures living under bridges or in caves — are known for one central feature: generally troublesome and injurious to human enterprise. Much of the same can be said for today’s patent troll — the dubious business entity again drawing the ire of Congress that exists solely to acquire patents and make claims of infringement in court.
Thankfully key congressional leaders, including Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Partick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and Reps. Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., andDarrell Issa, R-Calif., say that legislation broadly supported by the executive branch will soon move its way through Congress.
These trolls, often called “non-practicing entities,” acquire and stockpile patents, watch the industry for vulnerable and cash-strapped entrepreneurs that have developed a similar idea, and then attack with an infringement claim. Often similarities with the patented material are marginal and the claims frivolous, but the defendant lacks the resources to mount a usually costly defense.
Legislation, such as the America Invents Act of 2011, and a series of White House executive orders to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, has provided patent defendants with additional weapons and tools to battle trolls. Last year the U.S. Supreme Court, in hearing appeals in two patent infringement cases, cited vague language and lack of specificity in plaintiff patent documents in overruling decisions that favored trolls.
Patent reform advocates believe this trend will continue in 2015 with the new Congress. Many anticipate the revival of the Innovation Act, which would require plaintiffs to be more specific in their patent claims. This would give litigious trolls pause while protecting patent holders with legitimate complaints and we have every indication that this issue will be addressed in Congress this month.
Even so, there is room for patent reform that goes beyond addressing traditional NPEs.
For example, foreign governments such as South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, France and China have formed state-sponsored organizations bent on acquiring all the patents possible, regardless of where the patent is filed or who the filer is, to extract settlements from alleged infringers. Intellectual Discovery, an entity backed by the South Korean government, has acquired more than 200 patents, including one for retinal eye scan technology from Singaporean chipmaker Avago Technologies Ltd. Elsewhere, the Chinese government reportedly has backed China’s Ruichuan IPR Funds with $50 billion to acquire patents to be used in actions against U.S. companies.
Congressional leaders must be weary of such blatant free market abuses and work to address foreign trolling during trade negotiations, since many of these entities are operated by allies with whom we trade frequently. These issues can have far reaching impact and when domestic companies are put at a disadvantage, consumers of their products are left picking up the tab.
As I address in “Why Patent Reforms Are Needed: Intellectual Property Abuses Threaten Innovation and Cost Consumers Billions,” released by the Heartland Institute, the consumer impact of patent assertion can perhaps be felt most poignantly by consumers through abuses of bad acting patent “pools.” Pools are designed to streamline research and development investment by allowing innovators to collectively license complimentary patents.
The actions of bad acting patent pools, however, increasingly resemble those of trolls, especially when equipped with government-granted exclusivity for licensing a technology. The for-profit company MPEG LA originated as a patent pool for a relatively small group of patents that comprised the MPEG-2 standard for encoding video signals. Today, the company manages thousands of patents and — critics say — leverages that power by charging high-licensing fees for pools that contain a near preponderance of expired patents.
Digital TV and cable box manufacturers say MPEG LA is exploiting its exclusive licensing of a pool that conforms to government-mandated standards, such the ATSC digital broadcast TV standard, which the Federal Communications Commission requires every television, DVR and cable box sold in the U.S. to conform to. According to the Coalition United to Terminate Financial Abuses of the Television Transition, U.S. consumers pay about $20 to $30 more per digital set than consumers in other countries because manufacturers are being overcharged to use the required intellectual property.
Though legislation may not sufficiently remedy all intellectual property issues, public discourse benefits the process. I applaud policy makers for making patent reform a priority. Sound legislative action will benefit U.S. consumers and the businesses on which our economy relies.
[Originally published at Roll Call]