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Community Schools are Not Just a Fantasy! – Part 2

September 21, 2015, 9:12 AM

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil – 

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

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

See here for Part 1.

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

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

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

One Step at a Time Toward Federal Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to Expect When Government Intrudes Upon Parental Rights

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

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

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

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

Big Government and Education Not Compatible

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

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

Part 1:


Categories: On the Blog

Solution to Government Overreach Is in the Constitution

September 21, 2015, 8:44 AM

By: Kyle Maichle and S.T. Karnick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


[Originally published at Townhall]

Categories: On the Blog

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

September 21, 2015, 8:40 AM

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

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

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

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

Categories: On the Blog

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

September 21, 2015, 7:12 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trial Trolls

September 20, 2015, 3:34 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: On the Blog

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

September 18, 2015, 4:10 PM

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOP Candidates’ Information on Climate Change

September 18, 2015, 3:26 PM


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Categories: On the Blog

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

September 18, 2015, 3:14 PM

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil – 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

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

September 18, 2015, 12:20 PM

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

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

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

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


Categories: On the Blog

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

September 18, 2015, 7:50 AM

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

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

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

The Inquirer reported:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Daily News reported:

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


Categories: On the Blog

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

September 17, 2015, 4:28 PM

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

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

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

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

Categories: On the Blog

Chicago Citizens Take On The “Netflix Tax”

September 17, 2015, 11:12 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: On the Blog

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

September 17, 2015, 11:10 AM

Solar power station

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

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

Categories: On the Blog

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

September 17, 2015, 11:09 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



[Originally published at Townhall]

Categories: On the Blog

New Jersey’s Christie Fights Obama on Climate Plan

September 17, 2015, 11:01 AM

Earth melting into water

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

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

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

Categories: On the Blog

The FCC Built its Net Neutrality House on Legal Sand

September 17, 2015, 8:04 AM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Originally published at Precursor Blog]

Categories: On the Blog

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

September 16, 2015, 2:47 PM

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

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

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

Categories: On the Blog

Austrian Economics, Monetary Freedom, and America’s Economic Roller Coaster

September 16, 2015, 1:13 PM

For over a decade, now, the American economy has been on an economic rollercoaster, of an economic boom between 2003 and 2008, followed by a severe economic downturn, and with a historically slow and weak recovery starting in 2009 up to the present.

Before the dramatic stock market decline of 2008-2009, many were the political and media pundits who were sure that the “good times” could continue indefinitely, including some members of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, America’s central bank.

When the economic downturn began and then worsened, many were the critics who were sure that this proved the “failure” of capitalism in bringing such financial and real economic disruption to America and the world.

There were resurrected long questioned or rejected theories from the Great Depression years of the 1930s that argued that only far-sighted and wise government interventions and regulations could save the country from economic catastrophe and guarantee we never suffer from a similar calamity in the future.

The Boom-Bust Cycle Originates in Government Policy

Not only is the capitalist system not responsible for the latest economic crisis, but all attempts to severely hamstring or regulate the market economy out of existence only succeeds in undermining the greatest engine of economic progress and prosperity known to mankind.

The recession of 2008-2009 had its origin in years of monetary mismanagement by the Federal Reserve System and misguided economic policies emanating from Washington, D.C. For the five years between 2003 and 2008, the Federal Reserve flooded the financial markets with a huge amount of money, increasing it by 50 percent or more by some measures.

For most of those years, key market rates of interest, when adjusted for inflation, were either zero or even negative. The banking system was awash in money to lend to all types of borrowers. To attract people to take out loans, these banks not only lowered interest rates (and therefore the cost of borrowing), they also lowered their standards for credit worthiness.

To get the money, somehow, out the door, financial institutions found “creative” ways to bundle together mortgage loans into tradable packages that they could then pass on to other investors. It seemed to minimize the risk from issuing all those sub-prime home loans, which we viewed afterwards as the housing market’s version of high-risk junk bonds. The fears were soothed by the fact that housing prices kept climbing as home buyers pushed them higher and higher with all of that newly created Federal Reserve money.

At the same time, government-created home-insurance agencies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were guaranteeing a growing number of these wobbly mortgages, with the assurance that the “full faith and credit” of Uncle Sam stood behind them. By the time the Federal government formally took over complete control of Fannie and Freddie 2008, they were holding the guarantees for half of the $10 trillion American housing market.

Easy Money and Lower Interest Rates Led to the Bust

Low interest rates and reduced credit standards were also feeding a huge consumer-spending boom that that resulted in a 25 percent increase in consumer debt between 2003 and 2008, from $2 trillion to over $2.5 trillion. With interest rates so low, there was little incentive to save for tomorrow and big incentives to borrow and consume today. But, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, during that five-year period average real income only increased by at the most 2 percent. Peoples’ debt burdens, therefore, rose dramatically.

The easy money and government-guaranteed house of cards all started to come tumbling down 2008, with a huge crash in the stock market that brought some indexes down 30 to 50 percent from their highs. The same people in Washington who produced this disaster then said that what was needed was more regulation to repair the very financial and housing markets their earlier actions so severely undermined.

That included, at the time, a shotgun wedding between the U.S. government and the largest banks in America, when in October of 2008, the heads of those financial institutions were commanded to come to Washington, D.C. for a meeting with, then, Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson and former Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke.

They were told the Federal government was injecting cash into the banking system with a purchase of $245 billion of shares of bank stocks in the financial sector. The banking CEOs present – some of who made it clear they neither needed nor wanted an infusion of government money – were basically told they would not be allowed to leave the Treasury building until they had signed on the dotted line. (The money was eventually returned to the Treasury, with bank buybacks of the shares in which the government had “invested.”)

Opening the Monetary Spigot Again

The Federal Reserve, in the meantime, turned on the monetary spigot, increasing the monetary base (cash and bank reserves) between 2007 and 2015 from $740 billion to around $4 trillion, brought about through a series of monetary creation policies under the general heading of “quantitative easing.”

A variety of key interest rates, as a consequence, when adjusted for inflation, have been in the negative range most of the time for seven years. Nominal and real interest rates, therefore, cannot be considered to be telling anything truthful about the actual availability of savings in the economy and its relationship to market-based profitability of potential investments.

Interest rates manipulation has worked similar to a price control keeping the price of a good below its market-determined and clearing level. It has undermined the motives and abilities of some people to save on the supply-side, while distorting demand-side decision-making in terms of both the types and time-horizons of possible investments to undertake, since the real scarcity and cost of borrowing for capital formation has been impossible to realistically estimate and judge in a financial market without market-based interest rates.

Markets have been distorted, investment patterns have been given wrong and excessive directions, and labor and resources have been misdirected into various employments that will eventually be shown to be unsustainable.

Low Inflation and Faulty Price Indexes

Keynesians and other supporters of “stimulus” policies have argued that there has been no need to fear “excesses” in the economy because price inflation has been tame – running less than two percent a year practically the entire time since 2008.

First, it needs to be remembered that this measurement of price inflation is based upon one or another type of statistical price index. This by necessity hides from view all the individual price changes that make up the statistical average, and which has seen in the last few years significant price increases in subsectors of the market.

Second, the full impact of the massive monetary expansion has been prevented from having its full effect due to a policy gimmick that the Federal Reserve has been following since virtually the start of its quantitative easing policies. The central bank has been paying banks a rate of interest slightly above the interest rate it could earn from lending to borrowers in the private sector.

Thus, it has been more profitable for many banks to leave large amounts of their available reserves unlent as “excess reserves” that have been totaling almost $2.8 trillion of the nearly $4 trillion that Federal Reserve as created. Having created all this additional lending potential, the Fed has been manipulating interest rates, again, this time to keep a large amount of it from coming on the market.

Third, particularly since 2014, the world has been increasingly awash in expanding oil supplies that has resulted in dramatically lower prices for refined oil products of all types, and most visibly to the average consumer in the form of falling prices to fill up one’s car with gasoline.

Greater supplies of useful and widely used raw materials and resources at significantly lower cost should be considered a boon to all in the economy, in making production and finished goods less expensive, and thereby raising the standards of living of all demanding such products.

Instead, the Federal Reserve worries about “price deflation” as a drag on the economy, rather than as a market-based stimulus through supply-side plentifulness that, in the long run, reduces the scarcity and cost of desired goods and services.

Central banks around the world have all gravitated to the idea that the “ideal” rate of price inflation that assures economic stability and sustainability is around two percent a year. Fixated on averages and aggregates, the central bankers continue to give little or no attention to the really important influence their monetary policies have on economic affairs: the distortion of the structures of relative prices, profit margins, resource uses and capital investments.

The “Austrian” Theory of Money and the Business Cycle

In my new book, Monetary Central Planning and the State, which will be published in October 2015 by the Future of Freedom Foundation in a eBook format available from Amazon, I explain the “Austrian” theory of money and the business cycle in contrast to both Keynesian Economics and Monetarism.

Developed especially by Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich A. Hayek in the 20th century, the Austrian theory uniquely demonstrates the process by which central bank-initiated monetary expansion and interest rate manipulation invariably sets the stage for both an artificial boom and an eventual, inescapable bust.

Their theory is explained in the context of an analysis of the most severe economic downturn of the last one hundred years, the Great Depression. The crash of 1929 and the depression that followed was the outcome of Federal Reserve monetary policy in the 1920s, when the goal was price level stabilization – neither price inflation nor price deflation. But beneath the apparent stability of the statistical price level, monetary expansion and below-market rates of interest generated a mismatch between savings and investment in the American economy that finally broke in 1929 and 1930.

But the depth and duration of the Great Depression through the greater part of the 1930s was also not due to anything inherent in the market economy. Rather than allow markets to find their new, post-boom market-clearly levels in terms of prices, wages, and resource reallocations, governments in America and Europe undertook a wide variety of massive economic interventions.

The outcome was rising and prolonged unemployment, idle factories, unused capital and vast amounts of economic waste caused by wage and price interventions, large government budget deficits and accompanying accumulated debt, uneconomic public works projects, barriers to international trade due to economic nationalism and protectionism, and introduction of forms of government planning and control over people’s lives and market activities.

Faulty and Misguided Keynesian Ideas

Many of these rationales for “activist” monetary and fiscal policy emerged and took form under the cover of the emerging Keynesian Revolution as first presented by British economist, John Maynard Keynes. In Monetary Central Planning and the State, I also offer a detailed critique of the fundamental premises of the Keynesian approach and why its policy prescriptions in fact lead to the very boom-bust cycle the Keynesians claim to want to prevent.

Furthermore, it is shown why it is that every essential building-block of the Keynesian edifice is based on faulty economic premises, superficial conceptions of how markets actually function, and why its end result is more government control with none of the benefit of economic stability that the Keynesians say is their goal.

Also, in spite of Milton Friedman’s valuable contributions to an understanding of the superiority of competitive markets in general, his own version of activist monetary policy through a “rule” of monetary expansion and “automatic” fiscal stabilizers was more an “immanent criticism” within the Keynesian macroeconomic framework, rather than a fundamental alternative such as the “Austrian” economists have offered.

Private Free Banking, Not Central Banking

What, then, is to be done, in terms of the workings and the institutions of the monetary system? A good part of Monetary Central Planning and the State is devoted to explaining the inherent economic weaknesses and political shortcomings of all forms of central banking.

In a nutshell, central banking suffers from many of the same problems as all other forms of central planning – the presumption that monetary central planners can ever successfully manage the monetary and banking system better than a truly competitive private banking system operating on the basis of market-chosen forms of money and media of exchange.

It is shown how systems of private competitive banking could function if government central banking were brought to an end. This is done through a critical analysis of the proposals for a private monetary and banking system as found in the writings of Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich A. Hayek, Murray N. Rothbard, and the “modern” proponents of monetary freedom: Lawrence H. White, George Selgin, and Kevin Dowd.

Monetary Central Planning and the State ends with a brief list of the steps that could and should be taken to begin the successful transition from central banking to a free market monetary and banking system of the future.

If the last one hundred years has shown and demonstrated anything, it is that governments – even when in the hands of the well intentioned – have neither the knowledge, wisdom nor ability to manage the social and economic affairs of multitudes of hundreds of millions, and now billions, of people around the world. The end result has always been loss of liberty and economic misdirection and distortion.

It is the Time for Monetary Freedom

A hundred years of central banking in the United States since the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913 has equally demonstrated the inability of monetary central planners to successfully direct the financial and banking affairs of the nation through the tools of monopoly control over the quantity of money and the resulting powerful influence on money’s value and the interest rates at which savers and borrowers interact.

It is time for a radical denationalization of money, a privatization of the monetary and banking system through a separation of government from money and all forms of financial intermediation.

That is the pathway to ending the cycles of booms and busts, and creating the market-based institutional framework for sustainable economic growth and betterment.

It is time for monetary freedom to replace the out-of-date belief in government monetary central planning.


[Originally published at Epic Times]

Categories: On the Blog

Trump Shouldn’t Blame Oreos – It’s Governments’ and Unions’ Fault

September 16, 2015, 12:12 PM

The Donald Trump presidential phenomenon rolls on. Higher and higher his primary polls climb.   He’s caught the irretrievably corrupt Hillary Clinton in a prospective general election matchup.

The DC Establishment – made up of both Democrats and Republicans – for decades ignored our immigration laws. And dismissed and impugned, misunderstood or altogether missed the growing fervor for someone who would simply enforce our laws – and not slander those who want them enforced. Trump correctly identified all of this – and embraced it.

How high and far can Trump go? Where he stops – no one yet knows. We do know that Trump’s rocket ride – fueled largely by immigration policy – misfires at least a bit on trade policy. Behold the Case of the Moving Oreo Cookie.

Oreos have been for years made in Chicago, Illinois (and several other American cities). Mondelez International, Inc. – the company that delivers us the chocolatey, spherical goodness – announced they would make their next wave of Oreo manufacturing investment not in Chicago, but in Mexico. This move will reduce – not end – Chicago’s role in production. Jobs in the Windy City will be halved – from 1,200 to 600. (Other cities will continue their current roles.)

Trump, sadly, possesses a bit of a protectionist streak. He immediately vowed to stop eating Oreos – a protest diet, of sorts. But Team Oreo is only doing what any rational person – or gaggle of rational people who decide to incorporate – do when faced with the wide array of impediments job creators face here in the United States. Governments and unions are overwhelmingly antagonistic to domestic economic growth.

(Laurie) Guzzinati, a Mondelez representative,…said the decision to invest in the Mexico plant came after discussions with union representatives for workers at the Chicago plant. She said the company determined that the new production lines would cost $46 million less per year in Mexico than in Chicago, and said labor was “one of many factors.”

$46 million in higher costs is a lot of coin. Created and inflated by – as Ms. Guzzinati rightly points out – “many factors.” Unions are certainly one. The others – are almost all government.

The United States has the world’s highest corporate tax rates – 39.1%. Which is in large part why U.S. companies are stashing $2.1 trillion (and likely much more) overseas – they don’t want the 40% initial haircut. Which Trump gets: ”Corporations rightfully don’t bring it back because they have a massive tax to pay. We’ve got to make it so they can bring it back.” If we don’t radically change course, Oreos could eventually, exclusively be an import. As so many other once-domestic products now are.

Our ridiculous taxes lead to corporate inversions: “The relocation of a corporation’s legal domicile to a lower-tax nation,…usually while retaining its material operations in its higher-tax country of origin.” Big Democrat Billionaire Warren Buffett buddies up to the Big Taxers – but when the rubber meets the road, he inverts. Because, he says: “I will not pay a dime more of individual taxes than I owe, and I won’t pay a dime more of corporate taxes than we owe. And that’s very simple.”

Another factor? The regulations imposed by all manner of governments. Federal Leviathan compliance alone costs businesses $1.9 trillion – just this year. And in the Age of Barack Obama, you know that tally is rocketing skyward. And Illinois ain’t exactly Less-Government-Texas. And Democrat-Machine-Chicago? Ummm….

And on, and on, and….

Obviously, too much government is a huge part of the Oreo departure. Trump understands much of that – but doesn’t close the circle. He wants to make the United States more business friendly – but he should understand and not be upset with businesses that leave because it isn’t. Trump is even threatening tariffson companies that manufacture overseas. No thanks, Herbert Hoover. You’re so close to correct, Donald. But the solution to too much government isn’t even more government – it’s less.

Florida Senator and Trump presidential primary opponent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) proposes Less Government as the solution – here, and everywhere else. Rubio rightly points out: “All these other countries we trade with have quotas, they have their own protectionist programs.” They just don’t have as much Huge Government as do we – so Oreo and many, many others here flee. Rubio continued: “We should get rid of trade barriers. Let’s go to the World Trade Organization, let’s go to multi-national, international forums – let’s get rid of these trade barriers.”

Trump gets right up to the goal line – then on first down…punts. Donald, don’t sour on Oreo and others for leaving a bad deal – make it sweeter for them to stay, and they will. And the decades-long U.S. business exodus will finally begin to reverse itself.

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

All the Pontiff’s Advisors

September 16, 2015, 11:38 AM

Embraced initially by American Catholics for his focus on humility and charity, Pope Francis has more recently seen his popularity decline (July Gallup Poll) from 89% to 71% among all U.S. Catholics, but more notably, from 72% to 45% among conservative Catholics.

The genesis of this inchoate schism appears rooted in the liberal positions taken by his closest advisors on an array of social issues, among them the Vatican’s pronouncements on climate change and capitalism, with such views sowing confusion and disillusionment among Catholics. Who are these advisors and how much have their opinions filtered into the Pope’s statements on these issues?

Most prominent among the Pope’s advisors are the head of the Vatican’s social justice ministry, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, and Chair of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. While each of these individuals have played a key role in helping craft the Vatican’s stance on climate change, there are two problems with their positions.

First, the cardinals’ assessments on climate change quickly unravel when held up to the light of objective scientific scrutiny. Second, their harshly critical statements of climate change skeptics conflict sharply with Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si for “honest debate” and “respecting divergent views.” Finally, there also appears an obtuse logic to some of Cardinal Sorondo’s statements linking climate change to various social ills such as poverty, human trafficking and even abortion. Such inane opinions tear at the credibility of the Vatican’s message.

Other principals who have advised the Pope on climate change include U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and social activists Naomi Klein and Jeffrey Sachs. Each of these figures also worships at the altar of a global sustainability cult that promotes abortion as an acceptable means of limiting the world’s population. This clearly conflicts with the Pope’s encyclical message highlighting the incongruity of combating so-called climate change while advocating for the death cult of abortion. Yet all three figures have maintained a strong voice in helping the Vatican formulate its position on climate change, much to the dismay of many Catholics.

A second topic of discussion in the encyclical receiving considerable attention is capitalism, both in terms of its purported links to climate change as well as its suggested role as a catalyst in furthering wealth inequality. For his part, Cardinal Maradiaga claims a mutual exclusivity between capitalism’s profit motive and the ability of private enterprises to be responsible stewards of the planet. Meanwhile, another papal advisor, Cardinal Peter Turkson, freely opines on the perceived social injustices that he claims derive from the capitalist system.

While Americans are willing to admit the shortcomings of the capitalist system, they are also well aware of the prosperity that such a system has fostered and the generosity of the American people that attaches to it.   Thus while criticism of our capitalist system may have been well received by Marxist liberation theology adherents such as Bolivia’s Evo Morales and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa during the Pope’s recent South American tour, they are generally not welcome by Americans.

On a more theological level, this anti-capitalist polemic is, moreover, inconsistent with the more balanced views espoused by St. John Paul II in his Centesimus Annus (1991). Written against his experiences as a victim of both Nazi and communist oppression, his encyclical offers a more balanced view of free market economic systems that engender the potential to enhance mankind’s standard of living.

How can the Pope better articulate a message to his U.S. Catholic audience that is consistent with Catholic theology while distancing himself from the divisive rhetoric of his advisors? One good piece of advice is contained in the words of Cardinal George Pell, a long time climate skeptic who in the wake of Pope Francis’ encyclical stated “the church has no particular expertise in science… and has no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters.”

In light of the lack of evidence and sound reason as noted by Cardinal Pell in previous lectures on climate change, it might behoove the Pope to prevail upon his advisors to be less close-minded on the issue. Likewise, a more conciliatory message on the virtues of capitalism would be regarded as a welcome counterbalance to the collectivist hyperbole emanating from some of his advisors and one that would help heal the Vatican’s emerging rift with many Catholics.

Categories: On the Blog