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The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
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Divesting People of Better Living Standards

February 09, 2015, 5:33 PM

Co-Authored by Roger Bezdek

“Social responsibility” activists want universities and pension funds to eliminate fossil fuel companies from their investment portfolios. They plan to spotlight their demands on “Global Divestment Day,” February 13-14. Their agenda is misguided, immoral, lethal … even racist.

A mere 200 years ago, the vast majority of humans were poor, sick and malnourished. Life expectancy in 1810 was less than 40 years, and even royal families lived under sanitation, disease and housing standards inferior to what poor American families enjoy today. Then a veritable revolution occurred.

The world began to enjoy a bonanza in wealth, technology, living standards and life spans. In just two centuries, average world incomes rose eleven-fold, disease rates plummeted, and life expectancy more than doubled. Unfortunately, not everyone benefitted equally, and even today billions of people still live under conditions little better than what prevailed in 1810. Bringing them from squalor, disease and early death to modernity may be our most important economic, technological and moral challenge.

Many factors played vital roles in this phenomenal advancement. However, as Julian Simon, Indur Goklany, Alex Epstein and the authors of this article have documented, driving all this progress were fossil fuels that provided the energy for improvements in industry, transportation, housing, healthcare and environmental quality, and for huge declines in climate-related deaths due to storms, droughts, heat and cold. Modern civilization is undeniably high energy – and 85% of the world’s energy today is still coal, oil and natural gas. These fuels support $70 trillion per year in global gross domestic product, to power virtually everything we make, grow, ship, drive, eat and do. The rest of the world deserves nothing less.

Demands that institutions eliminate hydrocarbon stocks, and society stop using fossil fuels, would reverse this progress, jeopardize people’s health and living standards, and prevent billions of still impoverished people worldwide from enjoying the living standards that many of us take for granted.

Trains and automobiles would not run. Planes would not fly. Refrigeration, indoor plumbing, safe food and water, central heating and air conditioning, plastics and pharmaceuticals would disappear or become luxuries for wealthy elites. We would swelter in summer and freeze in winter. We’d have electricity only when it’s available, not when we need it – to operate assembly lines, conduct classes and research, perform life-saving surgeries, and use computers, smart phones and social media.

Divesting fossil fuels portfolios is also financially imprudent. Fossil-fuel stocks are among the best for solid, risk-adjusted returns. One analysis found that a 2.1% share in fossil fuel companies by colleges and universities generated 5.7% of all endowment gains in 2010 to 2011, to fund scholarship, building and other programs. Teacher, police and other public pension funds have experienced similar results.

That may be why such institutions often divest slowly, if at all, over 5-10 years, to maximize their profits. One is reminded of St. Augustine of Hippo’s prayer: “Please let me be chaste and celibate – but not yet.” The “ethical” institutions selling fossil fuel stocks also need to find buyers who are willing to stand up to divestment pressure group insults and harassment. They also need to deal with hard realities.

No “scalable” alternative fuels currently exist to replace fossil fuels. To avoid the economic, social, environmental and human health catastrophes that would follow the elimination of hydrocarbons, we would need affordable, reliable options on a large enough scale to replace the fuels we rely on today. The divestment movement ignores the enormity of current and future global energy needs (met and unmet), and the fact that existing “renewable” technologies cannot possibly meet those requirements.

Fossil fuels produce far more energy per acre than biofuels, notes analyst Howard Hayden. Using biomass – instead of coal or natural gas – to generate electricity for one U.S. city of 700,000 people would require cutting down trees across an area the size of Rhode Island every year. Making corn-based ethanol to replace the gasoline in U.S. vehicles would require planting every single acre of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin in corn for fuel. Wind and solar currently provide just 3% of global energy consumption, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports; by 2040, as the world’s population continues to grow, hydroelectric, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy combined will still represent only 15% of the total, the EIA predicts.

Not using fossil fuels is tantamount to not using energy. It is economic suicide and eco-manslaughter.

Over the past three decades, fossil fuels enabled 1.3 billion people to escape debilitating energy poverty – over 830 million thanks to coal alone – and China connected 99% of its population to the grid and increased its steel production eight times over, again mostly with coal. However, 1.3 billion people are still desperate for electricity and modern living standards. In India alone, over 300 million people (the population of the entire United States) remain deprived of electricity.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, some 615 million (100 million more than in the USA, Canada and Mexico combined) still lack this life-saving technology, and 730 million (the population of Europe) still cook and heat with wood, charcoal and animal dung. Millions die every year from lung and intestinal diseases, due to breathing smoke from open fires and not having the safe food and water that electricity brings.

Ending this lethal energy deprivation will require abundant, reliable, affordable energy on unprecedented scales, and more than 80% of it will have to come from fossil fuels. Coal now provides 40% of the world’s electricity, and much more than that in some countries. That is unlikely to change anytime soon.

We cannot even build wind and solar facilities without coal and petroleum: to mine, smelt, manufacture and transport materials for turbines, panels and transmission lines – and to build and operate backup power units that also require vast amounts of land, cement, steel, copper, rare earth metals and other materials.

Coal-fired power plants in China, India and other developing countries do emit large quantities of sulfates, nitrous oxides, mercury and soot that can cause respiratory problems and death. However, modern pollution control systems could – and eventually will – eliminate most of that.

Divestment activists try to counter these facts by claiming that climate science is settled and the world faces a manmade global warming cataclysm. On that basis they demand that colleges and universities forego any debate and rush to judgment on hydrocarbon divestment. However, as we have pointed out here and elsewhere, the alleged “97% consensus” is a fiction, no manmade climate crisis is looming, and there is abundant evidence of massive “pHraud” in all too much climate chaos “research.”

We therefore ask: What right do divestment activists and climate change alarmists have to deny Earth’s most destitute people access to electricity and motor fuels, jobs and better lives? To tell people what level of economic development, health and living standards they will be “permitted” to enjoy? To subject people to policies that “safeguard” families from hypothetical, exaggerated, manufactured and illusory climate change risks 50 to 100 years from now – by imposing energy, economic and healthcare deprivation that will perpetuate disease and could kill them tomorrow?

That is not ethical. It is intolerant and totalitarian. It is arrogant, immoral, lethal and racist.

To these activists, we say: “You first. Divest yourselves first. Get fossil fuels out of your lives. All of them. Go live in Sub-Saharan Africa just like the natives for a few months, drinking their parasite-infested water, breathing their polluted air, enduring their disease-ridden flies and mosquitoes – without benefit of modern drugs or malaria preventatives… and walking 20 miles to a clinic when you collapse with fever.

To colleges, universities and pension funds, we suggest this: Ensure open, robust debate on all these issues, before you vote on divestment. Allow no noisy disruption, walk-outs or false claims of consensus. Compel divestment advocates to defend their positions, factually and respectfully. Protect the rights and aspirations of people everywhere to reliable, affordable electricity, better living standards and improved health. And instead of “Global Divestment Day,” host and honor “Hydrocarbon Appreciation Day.”

Categories: On the Blog

Obama’s Internet Power Grab Visual Aide Hates His Net Neutrality

February 09, 2015, 3:52 PM

President Barack Obama has a repetitive tic when it comes to his myriad power grabs.

The President knows if he is straightforward about his plans to government-ize every sector of the economy – said plans will be even less popular than they already are.  (Hello, November election.)

So he likes to cite successful private sector endeavors as alleged, though-actually-antithetical visual aides for his government takeover model.  He heaps praise upon them – and then announces he is going to bury them with government.

This bait-and-switch approach is working less and less.  And sometimes, for some, it never works at all.  Remember this?

Obama Loves Mayo, But Mayo Does Not Love Him

Throughout his push for (ObamaCare), President Obama has (repeatedly) held up the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota as an example of great medicine at lower prices – something that could and should be emulated all over the country with guidance from his health care overhaul….

The Mayo Clinic does not approve. And, as he’s pointed out, they should know.

“Although there are some positive provisions in the current House Tri-Committee bill – including insurance for all and payment reform demonstration projects – the proposed legislation misses the opportunity to help create higher-quality, more affordable health care for patients. In fact, it will do the opposite.”

And, of course, Mayo was exactly right.

And let us not forget the many private companies who supported ObamaCare – but then experienced grievous endorsers’ remorse.  For instance:

Insurers Regret Backing ObamaCare

Now the President wants to do to the Internet what he’s done to health care.

Dramatically increase regulations on private companies – which will demolish the private sector.  And steamroll state laws and dramatically increase federal government funding of local government Internet providers – to replace the private sector he demolished.

And the President has picked his government Internet visual aide.

The only question is – how does 

anyone not see coming the government’s 

next inevitable, disastrous failure?

Obama Touts Municipal Web in Cedar Falls, Where Everyone’s Wired

Obama used the the well-wired city of Cedar Falls, Iowa, which provides broadband access thats almost 100 times faster than the national average, as an example for the rest of the country.

(The President said) “If you live, or have a business in Cedar Falls, you can get a ‘gig’ … for less than many Americans pay for premium cable.”


Obama Lied: Broadband Speeds Aren’t Faster or Cheaper in Cedar Falls

(Cedar Falls’) 1 gig service…costs more than the most expensive programming packages offered by Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DIRECTV, and DISH Network….

(And) there is no evidence that Internet speeds in Cedar Falls are “almost 100 times faster than the national average.”  This statement in the White House “fact sheet” assumes that the national average download speed is about 10 megabits per second (a Gbps is equivalent to 1,000 Mbps).

Its not clear what the President meant by this, but it fails to pass muster no matter how its construed.

Oh – and:

Obama’s Favorite Internet Provider Hates His Net-Neutrality Plan

In a filing made public Tuesday, Cedar Falls Utilities argued that Obama’s net-neutrality plan would burden the company with unnecessary federal regulations.

Betty Zeman, an executive for Cedar Falls Utilities, along with representatives from other small Internet providers, met with FCC staff last week….

(They said) the president’s net-neutrality plan would hurt the finances of small providers and hamper their ability to expand their services, the industry representatives said.…

The small Internet service providers warned that the move could also empower the FCC to enact other regulations, such as price controls.

When Big Brother has lost Little Brothers – the local-government-run “companies” to whom Big Brother is pledging to give tens of billions of dollars (more than he already has) – just how far from the path has he strayed?

And what do you want to bet that many, many, MANY of the private companies (and just about everyone else) that currently support President Obama’s Internet takeover – end up like the aforementioned health insurers?  Deeply regretting that they ever said anything positive about dramatically more government in their sector.

The only question is – how does anyone not see coming the government’s next inevitable, disastrous failure?

Categories: On the Blog

Fighting Climate Change Through Compact Cities Without Cars

February 09, 2015, 3:42 PM

How would you respond if told you could no longer drive your children to school in the morning, or use your car to rush them to the nearest hospital or health clinic if they suddenly were hurt or became ill?

Not favorably I would imagine, because we all have become quite attached to the convenience and necessity of our cars, which is why you might want to know what former Vice President Al Gore, former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and a small army of other influential people have been busy devising and deciding for our future.

During the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; regarding the economy and climate, both men claimed  in order to fight global warming, cars must be banned from cities and replaced with a mass transit system in which people will be wholly reliant on public transit.  They suggest devoting $90 trillion for the purpose of studying this issue, so that our cities can become more dense and thus climate friendly.

An observer may wonder why, if these people are really serious about the danger of global warming, did they travel to the Conference in Switzerland on 1,700 private petroleum-using jets,  instead of fly on commercial airlines.  How could they  talk about the dire need to use only public transportation, with their private jets lined up outside?   It has been suggested,  that they may not be as concerned about fossil fuels causing climate change, as they profess.  Could it just be a scare tactic to frighten and force us into their plan for governing population management?

Gore and Calderon are far from alone in their obsession with population management. There is a growing industry of people involved in planning our future, and they have some very wealthy and well connected people who support their efforts to define our lives, lifestyle, and future.  They envision and are planning a world in which the masses live together in large cities of high rise apartments rather than individual homes and where cars are forbidden and only public transportation available. Do not be surprised when we begin hearing of laws forbidding couples to have more than one child, much like current laws in China today.

Origin of Agenda 21

Where did all this begin? The sounding board for what Gore and Calderon are proposing for our cities dates back to The United Nations Agenda 21, signed by the United States in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which included world leaders, including George H. Bush.   Agenda 21 is a non-binding, unenforceable, voluntary policy paper, developed in 1992 and signed by 178 countries.  It’s available online in its entirety in a variety of languages.  Portions of Agenda 21 are meant to be implemented at the local level, coordinated by a United Nations subsidiary group called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).  You might be surprised to learn that your city is already using their guidelines of ICLEI to change your city into one that abides by Agenda 21.   While further planning is underway, part of their agenda is already happening, as the “elite”  prepare for the new world as envisioned by Gore, Calderon, and many other liberal world leaders.

Al Gore is just one of many who enthusiastically endorsed Agenda 21, in the name of “sustainable development”.  They use the excuse of promoting a green agenda for our environment, and rarely, if ever, discuss their real agenda, which is population control.  Their concern is that each birthresults not only in the emissions attributable to that person in his or her lifetime, but also the emissions of all his or her descendants.  That was the issue; U.N. Agenda 21 the solution.

President Obama’s choices for deciding who will be a part of his administration testify to his advancement of Agenda 21 ideals.  An example is John P. Holdren, Barack Obama’s top science advisor, who co-authored a textbook entitled “Ecoscience” in 1977, in which he advocated mass sterilization, compulsory abortion, a one-world government and a global police force to enforce population control.  Obviously not something people would endorse in 1977, and which resulted in Holdren and his ideas being scorned.  Since then Holdren’s ideas and plans have been repackaged with different, more appealing labels, all in a matter of a few decades, and now sold under a variety of labels such as “sustainable development” and “emerging cities”.  Do not be fooled, only the title and rhetoric have changed, not the long term goals.

The speed in which these concepts have been promoted can be attributed to those who support the ideas, such as billionaire Bill Gates. Gates stands firmly behind this new World Order Global Government and has used his wealth to advance Agenda 21. When speaking with Germany’s “Süddeutsche Zeitung” newspaper, Gates called for “a kind of global government”, arguing that the creation of such a system would be needed to combat major issues such as “climate change.”  Gates stressed his position by stating that a global government was “badly needed” in order to combat an array of issues ailing the planet.

Everything from gun control, Common Core and geoengineering (the practice of spraying toxic particles into the stratosphere to block the sun’s rays), have received millions in funding from Gates.   Gates made headlines in late January after introducing a plan to implement a cashless system in multiple third-world countries, a program that would undoubtedly give financial elites total control over monetary systems.  In reality, many believe that the call for global government by Gates and other wealthy elitists has little to do with lifting up impoverished nations. Instead their plans would guarantee global surveillance, global wealth inequality and a world run by the exact corrupt interests

Items already declared “unsustainable”

It may seem too Orwellian to suspect that at some future time the proposals set forth by Agenda 21 will come to fruition, with people crammed into city-wide “stack ‘em and pack ‘em” towers located in urban human habitation zones, with public transportation mandated, suburban growth banned, personal choice abolished, freedom to travel restricted, family planning mandated and environmental impact put before human happiness … but for those who have submersed themselves in U.N. Agenda 21, it is an absolute reality in the making.

In fact, in accordance with U.N. Agenda 21, these items have been declared “unsustainable” and need to be abolished, even if considered essential to the American people.

  • ALL private property rights (ownership of private property)
  • ALL forms of irrigation, pesticides & commercial fertilizer
  • Livestock production and most meat consumption
  • Privately owned vehicles and personal travel
  • Use of fossil fuels for power generation or mechanized travel
  • Single family homes
  • Most forms of mineral extraction and timber harvesting
  • Human population reduced to fewer than 1 billion people, from the present 7.1 billion

How could such drastic proposals ever be accepted by our officials?  Could officials be seduced into destroying their own rights, and the rights of fellow Americans?  Unfortunately, yes!   This has already been happening through federal grants and “easy” money being made available to implement plans for “smart growth”, all under the mantel of U.N. Agenda 21.  What is euphemistically called smart growth usurps property rights and constitutional rights, such as when local officials, at the behest of State Government, revise zoning laws to fit into a “smart code” zoning template.

2005 Supreme Court decision pathway for implementation

Most Americans will remain unaware of the practice and implications of smart growth and Agenda 21, until it begins to personally affect them. Unfortunately, and according to the elite’s plan, by that time it will be difficult if not impossible to stop. Consider that already farmers are losing subdivision rights; conservation land adjacent to population centers are rezoned into commercial employment centers; low-density land in towns are re-designed as growth area and rezoned to accommodate high-density apartments.  Arguably, the worst Supreme Court decision in our lifetime was a five-to-four ruling in 2005 that ruled government could exercise eminent domain power in furtherance of an economic development plan, if the land is for “public use”, which tragically opened the door to government taking our land if that land benefits the public in any way.

Granting government the right to take someone’s property, opened the door for Agenda 21, not just for a public highway, park, or bridge, but for any purpose that benefited the public.  Change is happening in Orange County, CA and in the city O’Neil calls home.  High rise, massive apartment buildings are replacing former low density sites.  Land is being rezoned and in some areas of California land is being deemed “blighted” (when it is NOT blighted) in order for the city to rededicate the land for high density purposes.

Most likely change is already taking place in your neighborhood.  For as more and more people are crammed into cities, under the guise of saving Mother Earth (Gaia), the environment will outstrip the rights of man.

[Originally posted on Illinois Review.]

Categories: On the Blog

It’s Not Just Brian Williams

February 09, 2015, 1:56 PM

“When reporters forfeit their credibility by making up stories, sources, or quotes, we are right to mock them. When their violations are significant or repeated, they should be fired,” says Charles Lipson, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. “Demanding honest reporting has nothing to do with the reporter’s politics, personality, or personal life. It is about professional standards and our reasonable expectations.”

 Writing at Real Clear, Prof. Lipson concluded by saying, “It’s essential for our news organizations, and it matters for our democracy.”

 Are we seeing a trend here? Dan Rather at CBS and now Brian Williams at NBC? Well, two news anchors are not a trend, but biased and bad reporting is. It’s not new, but it does seem to be gathering momentum and nowhere has it been more apparent than the millions of words written and spoken about “global warming” and now “climate change.”

 It would be easy and convenient to lay the blame on America’s Liar-in-Chief, President Barack Obama, but the “global warming” hoax began well before he came on the scene. It was the invention of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) dating back to its creation in 1988 when it was established by the UN Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization.

 The IPCC came to world attention with the creation of the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty that committed the nations that signed it to reduce “greenhouse gas emissions” based on the premise that global warming—a dramatic increase—was real and that it was man-made. The Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on December 11, 1997. The United States Senate rejected it and our neighbor, Canada, later withdrew from it. Both China and India were exempted, free to continue building numerous coal-fired plants to generate the energy they need for development.

 Today, though, the President is an unrelenting voice about the dangers of “climate change” which he and John Kerry, our Secretary of State, have rated the “greatest threat” to the world. Obama’s national security strategy document was released just a day before he equated the history of Christianity with the barbarism of today’s Islamic State.

 The national security document included terrorism to which it devoted one out of its 29 pages.  Essentially Obama sees all the problems of the world, real and imagined, as challenges that require “strategic patience and persistence.” This is his way of justifying doing nothing or as little as possible.

 Still, according to Obama, the climate is such a threat, his new budget would allocate $4 billion to the Environmental Protection Agency for a new “Clean Power State Incentive Fund” to bribe more states to close even more power plants around the nation. He wants to increase the EPA’s overall budget by 6% to $8.6 billion. The Republican Congress is not likely to allocate such funding.

 As for the environment, there have been so many lies put forth by the government and by a panoply of environmental organizations of every description, buoyed by legions of “scientists” and academics lining their pockets with billions in grants, that it is understandable that many Americans still think that “global warming” is real despite the fact that the Earth is now 19 years into a well-documented cooling cycle.

 Not only are all the children in our schools still being taught utter garbage about it, but none who have graduated in recent years ever lived a day during the non-existent “global warming.”

 On February 7, Christopher Booker, writing in The Telegraph, a British daily newspaper, wrote an article, “The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever.”  You are not likely to find any comparable reporting in a U.S. daily newspaper.

 Citing research comparing the official temperature graphs from three weather stations in Paraguay against what had originally been reported by them, it turned out that their cooling trend had been reversed by the U.S. government’s Global Historical Climate Network and then amplified by “two of the main official surface records, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Giss) and the National Climate Data Center.” 

 Why should we be surprised that the national media continues to report on “global warming” when our government has been engaged in the deliberate distortion of the actual data? It is, however, the same national media that has provided virtually no investigative journalism to reveal what has been going on for decades.

 What fate befalls Brian Williams is a mere blip on the screen of events. At this writing, I cannot see how NBC could ever keep him as the managing editor and news anchor.

 What matters regarding much of the product of the mainstream media is the continuing torrent of “news” about “global warming” and “climate change”; the former is a complete hoax and the latter a factor of life on planet Earth over which humans have no control, nor contribute to in any fashion.


Categories: On the Blog

OPEC Prediction of $200 a-barrel-oil Ignores Market Realities—or Maybe Not

February 09, 2015, 1:45 PM

OPEC’s Secretary General Abdulla al-Badri made headlines when he announced that the oil price may have bottomed out—indeed, we had four straight days of increase—and predicted “you will see more than $200 when it comes to future oil prices.”

Al-Badri makes a strong argument. In the current reduced-oil-price environment, we see oil companies cut back on budgets, curtail exploration, and pull in rigs—as in many places it costs more to get the oil out of the ground than the present sales price. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports: “the number of rigs drilling in the U.S. has sunk to a three-year low.” Reuters states: “The rig count is down 29 percent from its October peak … a clear sign of the pressure that tumbling crude prices have put on oil producers.”

In today’s market for crude oil, a reduction in the number of drilling rigs in the U.S. does not mean overall production declines. It only means less future production, Tim Snyder, an energy economist with Lubbock, Texas, based Pro Petroleum Inc., who analyzes trends to help his company, and others, make educated decisions and manage risk, told me: “We anticipate a decrease in ‘new’ production in the U.S. as exploration and production companies reallocate capital expenditures and reduce drilling exposure.”

Economics 101 tells us that less supply results in higher prices. Addressing the recent up-tick in prices, Yahoo News says: “Investors bet supplies would tighten in the long term because major oil companies were scaling back investments and drilling to cope with falling prices.

Al-Badri extrapolates this scenario out to a future of $200 a-barrel oil.

What he apparently misses is that as soon as prices increase, activity in the oil industry will pick back up. Snyder says: “Once prices reach the $70-75 per barrel range, the more complex drilling solutions begin to become attractive and we will see new production increasing; putting downward pressure on prices all over again.

There are plenty of smaller companies that can be very nimble. The equipment they have pulled and the employees whose jobs they cut can get back in the field quickly—in fact, they must. Every day that equipment sits on a lot, they are losing money. The trained talent wants to be working.

Yes, it will take some time to get the bigger projects up and running again and to build the needed infrastructure, but as prices climb, more and more production will come back online—bringing balance to the markets.

When prices are high, human ingenuity comes in and finds a solution—which is how the technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing combined to unleash America’s new era of energy abundance and helped lower prices worldwide.

Maybe al-Badri’s comments were designed to talk the markets up—after all, several OPEC countries’ economies are grim due to the drop in oil prices. For example, oil-rich Venezuela is facing default and is rationing food. Business Insider reports: “The country is broke … in large part because oil prices are so low. And now … its economic crisis is leading to a health crisis”—a pack of 36 condoms costs about $750. Both Venezuela and Iran have called “for OPEC’s cooperation in stabilizing oil prices,” but Saudi Arabia—OPECs biggest producing member—is maintaining its current output.

Al-Badri is not stupid. He has held several high-ranking positions in his native Libya, starting in 1990 as Minister for Oil. He was appointed Secretary General for OPEC in 2007. His January 26 $200-a-barrel prediction focuses on the future production losses that will result from the industry pulling back—which, as outlined above, are not likely to result in $200 oil.

Snyder believes al-Badri may be signaling something bigger: “The only way for prices to reach the level mentioned is for there to be a decline in available supply through a disruption in production or a break in the supply chain.”

Libya, al-Bardi’s homeland, has the largest oil reserves in Africa. It, according to the WSJ, “helped trigger the world-wide rout in oil prices” when it “surprised the world with a sudden burst of new oil” last summer. However, as Reuters points out: “Libya is in the middle of a struggle between two governments and parliaments allied to armed factions fighting for legitimacy and territory.” In the WSJ, Richard Mallinson, an analyst at London-based consultancy Energy Aspects explains: “There was an implicit agreement between the different factions to avoid disrupting oil production. Now the parties have realized that controlling oil means power.” As a result of the fighting, “Libyan oil output has fallen to about 325,000 barrels a day in January from nearly 900,000 barrels a day in October.”

The situation in Libya is deteriorating and western oil companies are pulling out. Then, on Sunday, security guards at the last functioning export port, that used to export 120,000 barrels a day, went on strike because their salaries were not being paid—which closed the port and lowers Libya’s oil output to less than 300,000 barrels a day.

Libya does have one remaining port open, but it is used to supply the Zawiya refinery with crude rather than for export. Reuters states: “All other ports and most oilfields have shut down due to fighting nearby or pipeline blockages by rival factions.”

Snyder posits: “Maybe al-Badri is telling the world that, left unattended, the rapid increase in terrorist activity seen lately could be the only thing to lead to the $200 level in crude oil—which will have catastrophic results.”

With Jordan’s accelerated air strikes, and the United Arab Emirates rejoining the fight against ISIS, added to the already troubled situation in Libya, a major supply disruption becomes extremely plausible.

Maybe al-Badri is right—though not for the reasons he outlined. Maybe he knows more than his simplistic explanation revealed. If he is, if he does, the U.S. is going to need every drop of oil found within our borders, including the Arctic resources that President Obama just proposed be permanently put off limits.

With the current low oil prices, we can easily think that we have too much oil already—after all, last week’s sudden price drop came after the release of official data remain a factor and, if al-Badri is correct, America’s energy abundance can provide us with energy security and global stability—not to mention the economic benefit of supplying our allies with oil and refined-petroleum products. Suddenly, the Keystone pipeline’s critical role becomes perfectly clear.



Categories: On the Blog

Will President Obama’s New Drilling Policy Give the Arctic Over to Russian Domination?

February 08, 2015, 2:50 PM

The anger, outrage and frustration in Alaska are palpable after the president stripped the state of vast stores of its oil and gas wealth. His reckless offshore oil and gas restrictions reduced Alaska’s Arctic Ocean presence to one exploration site each in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and left us with the lowest number of prospects in the history of the Outer Continental Shelf leasing program.

Alaska’s U.S. senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and at-large Rep. Don Young, all Republicans, vowed at a press conference to fight Obama’s offshore decision, which came only days after his Interior Department announced the shocking designation of nearly all of Alaska’s 19.6-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as untouchable wilderness lands. These two moves would lock up the nation’s richest continental oil prospect and lock up America’s share of the Arctic Ocean’s estimated 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13 percent of its oil reserves.

The famously outspoken Rep. Young said, “It’s becoming undeniably clear that this administration does not view Alaska as a sovereign state, but rather an eco-theme park for the most extreme environmentalist allies of the president and his party.”

Young didn’t know how stunningly accurate his claim would turn out to be. A day later, a story about some of Obama’s “most extreme environmentalist allies” broke under the headline, “Foreign Firm Funding U.S. Green Groups Tied to State-Owned Russian Oil Company.”

Former Heritage Foundation investigative reporter Lachlan Markay wrote for the Free Beacon that Russian money for anti-oil and gas campaigns had been laundered through a Bermuda investment house, bank, and shell corporation and the California-based Sea Change Foundation.

“The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Food and Water Watch, the League of Conservation Voters and the Center for American Progress were among the recipients of Sea Change’s $100 million in grants in 2010 and 2011,” Markay wrote.

John Podesta, White House Counselor to Obama, founded the Center for American Progress, which acts as a two-way pipeline for administration and Democratic Party policy promotion.

One of Markay’s key sources was an untitled, exceptionally detailed report by the Washington-based research group, Environmental Policy Alliance, replete with names, amounts, source documents and infographics.

It reveals money flows from two notorious Russian money launderers—the convicted IPOC Group run by Russian telecommunications minister Leonid Reiman and Russian telecom firm VimpelCom, which is under criminal investigation. Both Mikhail Fridman, VimpelCom’s majority owner, and Reiman are close advisors to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In addition, three Russian energy investment firms kick in money to Wakefield Quinn, a Bermuda law firm which runs it through Klein, Ltd., an “exists-only-on-paper” firm with Kremlin ties that was mentioned in a 2014 Senate majority report on “Billionaire Club” donors to environmental groups.

Klein passes the money to Sea Change, which dispenses it in perfectly legal laundered grants to U.S. anti-oil-and-gas green groups.

That’s infuriating, but what’s it got to do with Obama’s war on Alaska’s Arctic offshore oil and gas resources?

Well, perhaps everything: While President Obama panders to the extreme environmental left, Putin prepares for an Arctic war.

The very day Rep. Young slapped Obama for appeasing his extremist green group base, the respected global intelligence company Stratfor released a report titled, “Russia’s Plans for Arctic Supremacy.”

As Obama retreats from the Arctic Ocean with contempt for its fossil energy might, Putin sees in it global power. Russia is laying claim to great swaths of Arctic oil and gas with deployed rigs, more nuclear-powered icebreakers and a huge new strategic military command: the Northern Fleet, which represents two-thirds of the entire Russian Navy.

In addition, Putin has activated Arctic warfare units in a 6,000-soldier military group with two motorized infantry brigades and air force facilities from the Soviet era on the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya, “renovated to accommodate modern and next generation fighter aircraft in addition to advanced S400 air defense systems,” he report says. In other words, according to Stratfor, the Russians are out to dominate the retreating United States.

Putin is no fool when it comes to dealing with weak enemies – witness Ukraine. He is particularly harsh on those who give policy power to the sort of people he puts in jail. Putin is grabbing Arctic resources while Obama turns his back on them.

The U.S. has no leadership anywhere in the high north and Russia does. There are no U.S. military bases on the entire Alaskan Arctic coast; our fighter pilots have to fly long distances to intercept increasingly numerous and bold incursions.

In August and September of last year, Russian jets made several incursions to the Air Defense Identification Zones off the coast of Alaska (officials say such incidents happen around 10 times a year), and Russian strategic bombers in the Labrador Sea near Canada practiced cruise missile strikes on the United States. American and Canadian fighters intercepted and diverted the Russians.

Russia has increased its bomber patrols and submarine activity and is watching Obama’s every move with a newly opened Arctic military reconnaissance drone base 420 miles off mainland Alaska.

The United States lacks ships able to operate in or near Arctic ice – two medium icebreakers to Russia’s 25 nuclear-powered monsters that look like battleships. We could send our ships, but Arctic Alaska has scant support facilities and hopelessly inadequate communications.

Our nation is in a bind that few even realize. Who will take action and put our energy wealth to use for the strength of America?

Alaska is in the middle of that bind. Alaska is not nearly angry, outraged and frustrated enough with President Obama, Harvard Law graduate—and not yet fearful enough of President Putin, former lieutenant colonel, KGB.

[Originally published at the Daily Signal]

Categories: On the Blog

Could This be the Case That Ends Obamacare?

February 06, 2015, 5:25 PM

State officials in Ohio filed a lawsuit on Monday, Jan. 26 alleging Obamacare tax assessments against government agencies are unconstitutional. Unsurprisingly, the case was covered closely by major media outlets across the nation.

But while the Ohio case may be getting all the headlines, it could be a case brought forward by an unknown Pennsylvania tax collector that ends up taking down key provisions of President Barack Obama’s signature law when the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit considers the case in the spring.

Like countless other Americans, Jeffrey Cutler, currently the tax collector of East Lampeter Township, Pennsylvania, lost his health insurance in October 2013 when his insurance company notified him that his plan did not qualify for renewal due to provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Cutler, who was covered by the same plan from 2007 to its cancellation in 2013, was pleased with his coverage and did not wish to obtain a different—and in his opinion an inferior—plan through the Obamacare exchange in Pennsylvania.

On Nov. 14, 2013, facing intense political pressure over thousands of cancelled policies, Obama announced a “transition policy” that promised to allow individuals like Cutler to keep, at least temporarily, health insurance plans that originally did not qualify for renewal under the ACA.

Cutler soon discovered, however, Obama’s promise was not a universal policy applying to all the states; only citizens in those states whose regulators chose to implement Obama’s transition policy would be able to keep their health insurance plans. In other words, the Obama administration gave individual states the power to decide for themselves whether or not existing federal law would be enforced in their own states.

Unfortunately for Cutler, Pennsylvania was not one of the states that mandated what became known as Obama’s “administrative fix.” Then-Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine did allow individuals to keep their insurance plans that would otherwise be cancelled by Obamacare mandates, but the decision was ultimately left to the insurance companies to decide whether or not insurance plans would be cancelled.

Cutler’s insurance company chose to cancel Cutler’s plan, and Cutler went without insurance in 2014, which means he now owes the federal government at least $95 for failing to have adequate health insurance coverage.

Critics of Obamacare, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), immediately questioned the constitutionality of the Obamacare administrative fix; they alleged the Obama administration violated the Constitution when it single-handedly, without the approval of Congress, altered the ACA’s clear provisions about when plans considered to be inadequate would be cancelled.

Cutler’s suit, filed on December 31, 2013, took a different approach. Cutler claimed the law violates the Constitution because it does not apply the law equally, which past Supreme Courts have determined is a guarantee of the Fifth Amendment.

Cutler, who is now represented by constitutional lawyers David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, argues that because the so-called administrative fix allowed states to apply federal law unequally, the Obama administration violated the Constitution.

Further, Cutler asserts that because the religious exemptions provided in the law do not apply to all religions—Cutler is Jewish born—the ACA violates his First Amendment rights as well.

The government filed for a dismissal in the district court on the grounds that Cutler, who initially sued without legal representation, did not have standing and that he did not sufficiently allege a legal claim. The court granted the motion and Cutler’s case was dismissed.

In an interview, Cutler said now that his case is being handled by expert constitutional lawyers Yerushalmi and Muise, he is confident his appeal will be successful. A brief laying out Cutler’s case will be filed in February and the government’s response is due in March. Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled.

Cutler’s case raises important questions about how the government must apply its laws. Can the federal government arbitrarily choose which states, religious groups, or other classes of people must follow national law and which do not? The Obama administration certainly seems to think so.

“The United States is currently the greatest beacon of freedom in the world,” Cutler said. “If we fail to challenge unconstitutional executive actions and laws, we risk our own humanity. Every person in the United States that liked their old health plan better than their new plan but could not keep it is a harmed individual and deserves judicial relief.”

For Cutler’s sake and for the sake of the nation, let’s hope the Court of Appeals agrees.

[Originally published at Breitbart]

Categories: On the Blog

Lukewarm About Climate Change

February 06, 2015, 1:39 PM

“In short, climate change is not worse than we thought,” wrote Bjorn Lomborg in a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal. He is best known as the author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” and his skepticism is welcome, but insufficient.

 First of all, climate change is a very long-term process and always has been. The climate takes decades and centuries to change, largely based on well-known warming and cooling cycles. During the course of these cycles, both related to comparable cycles on the Sun, all manner of climate-related events occur, from hurricanes to blizzards. Nothing new here.

 The problem with Lomborg’s commentary is that he confuses climate change with global warming, the hoax concocted in the late 1980s by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in order to have an international tax imposed on “greenhouse gas emissions”, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), that the IPCC guaranteed was going to heat up the Earth in a few decades unless greatly reduced. Lomborg even cites the IPCC which has grown notorious for its lies.

 The predictions about when the heat would become lethal ranged from ten to fifty years as the amount of CO2 increased. The problem for Lomborg and others is that CO2 has been increasing in the Earth’s atmosphere without any evidence of the predicted heating. That explains why Lomborg and other “Warmists” don’t refer to global warming anymore.  As for the increase, the latest, best science points to the fact that CO2 has no affect whatever on the climate.

 Lomborg wrote, “A well-meaning environmentalist might argue that, because climate change is a reality, why not ramp up the rhetoric and focus on the bad news to make sure the public understands its importance.” Even Lomborg acknowledged that is exactly what the environmentalists have been doing for the past twenty years.

 “The public has been bombarded with dramatic headlines and apocalyptic photos of climate change and its consequences. Yet despite endless successions of climate summits, carbon emissions continue to rise, especially in rapidly developing countries like India, China, and many African nations.”  That’s called development and that requires electricity and other means of powering manufacturing and transportation.

 One thing Lomborg got right is that “Alarmism has encouraged the pursuit of a one-sided climate policy of trying to cut carbon emissions by subsidizing wind farms and solar panels.” These are two of the most costly and worthless forms of energy generation and Lomborg notes that even the International Energy Agency doesn’t expect them to provide any more than “a minuscule 2.2% of the world’s energy by 2040.”

 Lomborg continues to do his best to be on both sides of the issue of “climate change” when, in fact, it is not an issue because there is nothing humans anywhere on planet Earth can do to have any impact on it. What we can do, however, is encourage the development which he points to. “This is important because if we want to help the poor people who are most threatened by natural disasters, we have to recognize that it is less about cutting carbon emissions than it is about pulling them out of poverty.”

 It has nothing about cutting carbon emissions because that is not a threat. Indeed, without CO2 all life on Earth would cease to be. It is the gas on which all vegetation depends, just as mammals and other creatures depend on oxygen.

 “In short, climate change is not worse than we thought. Some indicators are worse, but some are better. That doesn’t mean global warming is not a reality or a problem. It definitely is,” says Lomborg.

 No, despite his science credentials and the two books he has written, Lomborg is just dead wrong. Global warming is neither a reality nor a problem because the Earth has been in A COOLING CYCLE for nineteen years at this point and one might think Lomborg would know this; particularly since his views are being published in an eminent U.S. newspaper that should also know this.

 H. Sterling Burnett, the Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News, took note of the current weather, saying “Despite the cold, temperatures in the U.S. at present are closer to the normal winter range than they were in 2014 during the depth of the polar vortex,” adding a tweak to the Warmists, saying “Seems like a good time to protest global warming.”

 The real issue for Americans is an Obama administration that is imposing regulations based on the utterly false assertion that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced because of global warming.

 In June 2014, James Delinpole, wrote: “Here is the Obama administration’s green strategy reduced to one damning equation: 19 million jobs lost plus $4.335 trillion spent = a reduction in global mean temperature of 0.018 degrees C (0.032 degrees F). These are the costs to the U.S. economy by 2100 of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory war on carbon dioxide, whereby all states must reduce emissions from coal-fired generating plants by 30% below 2005 levels.”

 If you still wonder why the U.S. economy has just barely begun to pull itself out of the Great Recession triggered by the 2008 financial crisis, the answer is the Obama administration’s spectacular failures typified by massive wasteful spending, ObamaCare’s impact on the healthcare sector, and its continuing attack on the energy sector. 

 Only Congress and the courts stand between us and Obama as he pursues the destruction of the nation while claiming he is acting to “combat climate change.”


Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Ben Domenech: The Vaccine Debate

February 06, 2015, 1:21 PM

On February 3rd, Senior Fellow for The Heartland Institute, Ben Domenech, was a guest on Late Nights with Jim Bohannon to discuss the politicization of vaccinating children.

Domenech and host Bohannon talk about a range of issues relating to the subject of vaccinations. They cover the recent comments made by politicians and the most common objections to vaccinations. Listen in as Domenech and Bohannon take calls and discuss potential incentives designed to spur more to choose to vaccinate their children.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]
Categories: On the Blog

Minnesota Researchers’ #EpicFail – Trying for a Smokeless Tobacco/Cancer Link

February 06, 2015, 11:08 AM

Publishing a study of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in American smokeless tobacco products (abstracthere), Dorothy Hatsukami and colleagues at the University of Minnesota called for the FDA to issue “regulations…to reduce levels of…NNK and NNN in smokeless tobacco products to the lowest levels possible.”  The authors make illogical and unscientific claims in their article and media interviews (here).

Claim 1: “The majority of smokeless tobacco users in the United States are not aware of …the tremendous variability in the levels of these chemicals across brands sold in this country.” Tremendous variability?  Dr. Hatsukami reported that, with the exception of two products, the level of NNK+NNN varied from 0.64 microgram per gram of moist snuff to 3.89 micrograms (or, if you prefer, parts per million).

Claim 2: “The higher the level of exposure the greater the risk for cancer.”  This statement is meaningless, as exposure to these agents has not been linked directly to human cancer.  The studies cited in the article involve SMOKERS, who are exposed to thousands of other toxins.  This is like claiming that golfers have a high risk for concussion, based on data from the National Football League.

The authors fail in their effort to make a cancer connection with a rat study from 1986, conducted by Dr. Hatukami’s colleague and coauthor, Dr. Stephen Hecht (here).  He exposed the mouths of 10-week-old rats to enormous doses of NNN and NNK daily for over 131 weeks.  The experiment was so aggressive that 86% of the rats died by trial’s end.  Not surprisingly, Dr. Hecht produced more tumors in the rats getting high doses.  Another result was entirely unexpected: In rats given the same massive NNN and NNK doses in snuff extracts, tumor production virtually disappeared.

It appears that smokeless tobacco contains beneficial agents that virtually cancel out the negative effects of even massive doses of NNN and NNK.  That is probably happening with dippers and chewers, even though they are only exposed to minuscule levels of nitrosamines.

I recognized this important smokeless attribute a decade ago, when I published a research study showing that commercial tobacco products have moderate-to-high antioxidant properties, much like fruits and vegetables (discussedhere).

There is one bright spot in the Minnesota study. The authors acknowledge “The lack of association between snus use in Scandinavian countries to [sic] oral cancer.”  If only they and the broader scientific community would acknowledge that this profile also applies to modern American smokeless tobacco products.

[Originally published at Tobacco Truth]

Categories: On the Blog

The Founders Wanted a Laser-Targeted Article V Convention (Part 8 of 8)

February 06, 2015, 10:31 AM

This is part 8 of the 8 part series establishing that the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach to organizing an Article V convention with the specific job advancing and ratifying a pre-drafted, specific federal Balanced Budget Amendment is clearly, unequivocally, and overwhelmingly what the Founders expected from the state-originated amendment process.

The Meaning and Public Understanding of the Article V Convention Process During the Founding Era

States Can Lead

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the APPLICATION of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, SHALL CALL a CONVENTION for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as PART of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress

“Application” means a petition to Congress for specific relief, as evidenced by Founding-era usage, and such specific relief includes the designation of desired amendments, as evidenced by the Founders’ expressed understanding as shown in Exhibits A through G.

“Shall Call” imposed a “peremptory” or mandatory, ministerial duty on Congress to call the convention in response to the states’ application, which would imply granting the specific relief requested in the application triggering the call, i.e. calling a convention for the purposes set out in the application, including a convention limited to proposing a single specified amendment.

“Convention” means nothing more than an assembly, as evidenced by Founding-era usage, and it was publicly understood during such time as referring to an assembly of states, each represented equally, according to the custom and practice of the more than a dozen interstate conventions that preceded the ratification of the Constitution.

“Part” Underscores that Article V convention only generates amendments that are “part” of the Constitution, precluding any claim the convention possesses original sovereign authority.

The preceding Exhibits A through G (Parts 1 through 7 of this series) overwhelmingly establish the laser-focus of the Compact for America approach on advancing and ratifying a specific amendment is four-square what the Founders expected from Article V. Simply put, the Founders clearly meant for the Article V convention’s agenda to be set in fine detail by the state legislative application that triggers the convention call, including the amendment to be proposed. With its multiple safeguards, the Compact approach ensures this happens in the real world, not merely as a matter of legal theory.

Does that imply that other less-focused Article V approaches are not what the Founders wanted?

Yes and no. On one hand, there is no doubt that James Madison opposed a broad agenda for an Article V convention. Madison’s opposition was clearly expressed in response to the State of New York’s efforts to qualify its ratification of the Constitution and later advance an Article V application that sought a convention with an agenda that would include roughly two dozen amendment topics. On the other hand, there is little evidence that other Founders were similarly concerned about a broad agenda. Moreover, there is no evidence that the Founders believed the states could not apply for a convention with a broad agenda if they wanted to. Further, Madison’s opposition to a broad agenda Article V convention during the Founding Era, when he was trying to shore up support for the Constitution, is not necessarily evidence of where the Founders would stand today.

Today, there is a plausible argument that the federal government has gone so completely off the rails that no one amendment or set of amendments can fix the problem, and that you need to seek to organize an Article V convention both to draft a wide range of solutions for the magnitude of the problem and to build consensus around them simultaneously.

We at Compact for America respect this argument. But most of us are not persuaded.

Most of the Compact for America team sincerely doubt that a genuine and peaceful consensus can be reached on the full spectrum of constitutional reforms needed to fix every significant constitutional problem. Such doubt is based on the fact that our society is divided 51-49 on most of the biggest pressing issues of the day.

At the same time, most of us freely admit the possibility we could be wrong, which is reason-enough to support to some extent even Article V efforts that seek to organize a convention with a broad agenda that could tackle every major constitutional problem. After all, we have increasingly little to lose. A convention of the states with a broad agenda is unlikely to succeed in killing the Republic before Washington does. And the political class can only kill the Republic once. Most of the Compact for America team believes there is nothing wrong with keeping the push for a broader agenda convention alive so that we can reconsider the need for comprehensive reform when the culture is more receptive to completing the job.

Still, rather than tackling every major constitutional problem all at once, Compact for America believes the most prudent way for the Article V movement to proceed is to give top priority to the most impactful reforms that already command supermajority support.

We should tackle constitutional problems one-by-one, not all at once.

We should change the political culture incrementally, but significantly, by focusing on the biggest points of policy leverage.

That is the judgment and the strategy behind the laser focus of the Compact for a Balanced Budget and the future Article V compacts that will be advanced as part of the Compact for America Initiative.

We hope you would agree, but not to the total exclusion of other worthy efforts.

If you agree, please like and share. And don’t forget: CFAEF President Nick Dranias and Executive Vice President Jeff Utsch are presenting the case for the Compact with complementary cocktails on February 10 at 3:30 p.m. in Tucson, Arizona! Details here.

[Originally published at Compact for America]

Categories: On the Blog

VIDEO: Why Net Neutrality is a Terrible Idea

February 06, 2015, 10:00 AM

Network Neutrality is a metaphysically bad idea.

But it remains a Leftist wish list item. So Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Don Quixote – I mean Julius Genachowski – is set to ram it down our throats on December 21st, tilting at ideological windmills to the egregious detriment of the American people. And commandeering vast new unconstitutional authority over the Internet in a pathetically transparent attempt to justify Net Neutrality’s emplacement – a power grab to justify another power grab.

This is a last minute, behind closed doors, unreviewed, un-Public Commented upon, under cover of Christmas government takeover of 1/6 of our nation’s economy. The only portion of the economy that is actually still functioning in the midst of what is otherwise is a doldrum-laden Obama Recession.

Not coincidentally, the Internet remains perhaps the only major portion of the economy President Barack Obama has not yet assaulted with oppressive legislation and/or regulation. A fact that will remain true – for another eight days.

At which point three unelected Democrat FCC bureaucrats will vote themselves Internet Overlords – with no authority at all to do so. As so explained by 302 members of this (now-lame duck) Congressincluding 80+ Democrats – and a unanimous D.C. Circuit Court.

Chairman Genachowski and his fellow Leftists want Net Neutrality, and they will have it – the ends in their minds justifying any means necessary.

To best delineate why Net Neutrality is so terribly bad, behold the following video. In which is laid out the worst portions of Net Neutrality – and the Marxist reasons why the Left wants it done.

Please, enjoy – aside from the growing anger that will incept and ensue as you watch, I mean.

[Originally posted on]

Categories: On the Blog

Net Neutrality Bait And Switch To Title II

February 05, 2015, 9:44 AM

Net neutrality and Title II FCC Internet regulation are not the same.

Net neutrality is forward-looking, 21st century Internet freedom. Title II is backward-looking, 1934 government restrictions of a bygone telephone monopoly.

Net neutrality is all about protecting consumers’ Internet freedoms. Title II is all about politics, power and control.

Net neutrality freedoms ensure a decentralized consumer-driven Internet. Title II threatens a more centralized, politicized and government-controlled Internet.

Net neutrality is about keeping the Internet free speech we have long enjoyed. Title II is about enthroning the FCC to decide what “fair” speech is on the Internet.

Net neutrality is a universal principle. Title II is power exclusive to the FCC.

Net neutrality unites, FCC Title II divides.

They are not equivalent or interchangeable.

So what is really going on? Politics.

How do we know? We’re witnessing a classic bait and switch play out in public that anyone paying attention can see.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune have offered the FCC and congressional Democrats a draft legislative proposal that gives the FCC all the consumer protection authority it has publicly said it needs to enforce wired and wireless net neutrality, i.e., no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization and required transparency.

To prevent the kind of overreach that has led courts to overturn the FCC twice already, the Republican chairmen’s discussion draft would prohibit the FCC from reclassifying the Internet as a telephone regulated utility and limit the it’s Internet authority only to addressing the general problems that the agency has publicly identified over the last twenty years.

Unfortunately, to date, the FCC and the administration have rejected any congressional negotiations or compromise involving Title II, and lobbied furiously behind the scenes to ensure that no congressional Democrats would negotiate over Title II.

If this was truly about net neutrality and protecting consumers, the FCC and the administration would be negotiating earnestly to achieve a lasting legislative compromise solution, not playing politics.

Apparently, this is now about deceptively using the “bait” of net neutrality consensus to disguise the FCC’s “switch” to unilaterally asserting sweeping regulatory authority over the Internet, with no transparency about how the FCC plans to use this new sweeping power for regulatory purposes beyond net neutrality.

We will soon learn what other political plans the FCC has for its asserted Title II authority beyond net neutrality, when we learn which Title II regulations the FCC intends to keep and use.

To the extent that Title II is about politics, and also about ensuring all Internet traffic is treated equally, Title II regulation of Internet communications could devolve politically into a de facto FCC “Internet Fairness Doctrine,” where like the FCC’s 1949-1987 “Fairness Doctrine” for broadcasters, the FCC could regulate Internet political content under Title II to ensure all Internet speakers were treated equally.

If we are supposed to believe the FCC that broadband competitors have “gatekeeper” power to discriminate commercially, why wouldn’t the FCC have national regulatory “gatekeeper” power to discriminate politically in favor of providers, content and candidates who support expansive FCC power and control over the networks and content that comprise the Internet?

If this FCC’s expected assertion of Title II authority is driven by politics, why is it hard to imagine that an FCC majority would exercise its new power in accordance to politics and not the law?

Political regulatory power grabs could easily beget political regulation of political speech.

 [Originally posted at The Daily Caller]

Categories: On the Blog

Minimum Wage Laws Claim Another Business

February 04, 2015, 2:23 PM

Be looking for more of this as minimum wage laws take effect in many cities.  In this iteration, the Daily Caller notes that a beloved San Francisco bookstore will have to close because minimum wage laws.

Back in November, residents of the city voted to increase the minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour over the course of three years. Though the wage hike was designed to help address income inequality, several businesses have already had to close. …

When it came time to break the news to his six employees, [Borderlands Books owner Alan] Beatts decided it was best to talk with each of them individually. He knew it would be tough because his employees love books, love the written word and to them, it was more than just a job.

“I spoke to each of my employees individually,” Beatts notes. “The typical reaction was shock and sadness.”

Michael Saltsman, the research director at the Employment Policies Institute, fears that more is to come as a result of the wage increase.

“We’re probably just seeing the beginning of this,” Saltsman told TheDCNF. “In a relatively short period of time it’s concerning we have a couple stories like these popup.”

“What we do know is San Francisco is an expensive place to do business,” Saltsman also noted. “It’s pretty clear that if this minimum wage didn’t go up, this business would still be open.”

Advocates of minimum wage laws argue that it is more humanitarian to force wage increases, but how humanitarian is it to cost someone their business or their job?  We should note that Borderlands closure is but one of several in San Francisco since the wage increase law passed.

Categories: On the Blog

Where’s “The Ticket” for School Choice in Illinois?

February 04, 2015, 12:35 PM

The Illinois Policy Institute, in partnership with National School Choice Week, held a reception on Wednesday, January 28 at the Icon Theater, 1011 S. Delano Court in Chicago. The reception was followed, at the same location, by a special screening of “The Ticket”, a film by Bob Bowdon that answers a fundamental question, “What is school choice?”

“The Ticket” takes viewers on a historic whistle stop train tour across the United States, showing different forms of school choice along the way and the children that they serve. In 2009, Bob Bowdon produced “The Cartel” which covers the failures of public education in the United States by focusing on New Jersey, his home state.

Movie maker Bob Bowdon is a longtime broadcast journalist who is executive director of ChoiceMedia.TV, an investigative video website devoted to education reform. Choicemedia.TV has become a national online hub for education news. Pertinent headlines are selected from coast-to-coast to provide real-time analysis of developing stories and to meet with those making waves in the educational field. Bowdon holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and an M.S. in industrial engineering from Stanford University.

What is school choice?

At a time when all across the nation parents are seeking solutions to the struggling education systems available to them, the question, “What is school choice?” is of great importance to parents who are dissatisfied with traditional brick and mortar schools.  It’s based on a simple premise:  No one educational model can possibly serve every kind of student, so parents and children deserve the freedom to choose the schools that work best for them.

“School choice,” as discussed by movie maker Bob Bowdon and Ted Dabrowski, Vice President of Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, is a label given to a wide array of programs offered to students and their families as alternatives to taxpayer-provided schools to which students are generally assigned by the location of their family residence. The list includes charter schools (including cyber charters), vouchers, educational savings accounts, magnet schools, education savings accounts, home schools, private and parochial schools as well as tax credits or deductions for educational expenses.

The school choice movement has become politically powerful and morally desirable throughout this nation.  Although charter schools are often accused of “cherry picking” their student population, this is not true.  Most charter schools have an anonymous lottery system, which is actually the reverse of cherry picking. Many parents want their children to attend charter schools because of bad experiences encountered in public schools.

Often heard is that alternative forms of education do not produce good results; however, there are many studies that prove otherwise. Right next to Illinois to the north is Wisconsin, where headquartered in Milwaukee is the home of the nation’s largest and oldest voucher program for low-income families.  School Choice Wisconsin also supports charter schools and innovative public-private partnerships.  Check School Choice Wisconsin to see the impact of school choice on Wisconsin’s families, communities and schools.

There are always alternative schools that fail, but then parents are free to remove their children from the failing schools to seek more suitable education venues. Just like cars, competition does work and is a positive for brick and mortar schools.  As an example, some years ago Japan was producing cars superior to American made cars.  It wasn’t long before American car manufacturers met foreign standards so American manufacturers could become competitive in their own market.

These schools, among others, were highlighted in Bob Bowdon’s, film, “The Ticket”, in its whistle stop train tour across America:

Cleveland, Ohio:  A Prospective Positive charter schools (Saint Martin).  Cleveland has had a voucher program since 1995 where the money follows the child.  At Saint Martin in Cleveland, although 86% of the high school aged students that attend are not Catholic, without a voucher program they would be stuck in failing schools.  They go to school four days a week, participating in real work experiences one day a week.

Erie, Pa.:  A 21st Century Cyber charter school, where online learning takes place. These schools are located in Pennsylvania. In these school settings, mastery of subject matter is important.  If students don’t do well in a subject, they can resubmit their work.  As such, individualized teaching can happen for each student. Not so in brick and mortar schools where one lesson plan fits all.

Rochester, N.Y.:  A private school where kids with special needs are enrolled (Susan B. Anthony Hope Hall).  Sister Diane Dolce was the founder.  Because the stress level of students is reduced, they look forward to coming to school, perhaps having been bullied when attending public schools.  Kids having minor problems are often mixed together with other students in the public schools. They could do much better, but with learning disabilities, in public schools, they were relegated to sit in a corner, so as not to bother the rest of the class.  This school accepts no government money, and operates only on tuition and donations.

This question was posed to Bob Bowdon and Ted Dabrowski:  How can the mold in Chicago be broken?  21,000 students in the Chicago Public Schools are attending schools that fail to prepare them for life.  Additionally, only 25% of students in Chicago’s lowest-performing elementary schools met state standards, while in Chicago’s lowest-performing high schools only 5% of students do.

Although charter schools do exist in Chicago, most have long waiting lists. The caps on charter schools must be lifted to create an environment where alternative forms of education can thrive.  Bowdon suggested writing letters to newspapers, blogging, ad campaigns and messaging through social media to get the message out.  When parents band together and show up at school board meetings to demand better educational choices for their children, changes happen.

Illinois Institute Project in Waukegan, IL

The Illinois Policy Institute has taken on a project in Waukegan, IL, which desperately needs school choice.  With a population of more than 90,000, Waukegan sits on the shores of Lake Michigan just minutes away from the prosperous communities of Lake Bluff and Lake Forest, yet Waukegan is as different as night and day.

The collapse of manufacturing led to a massive shift in the city’s demographics.  As such, minority families have moved in. Hispanics now make up more than half of Waukegan’s total population, representing nearly 75% of students in Waukegan schools.  Because of the low performance of Waukegan schools, the Illinois State Board of Education, or ISBE, has put Waukegan Community Unit School District #60 on its target list of takeover districts and is seeking power to oust elected school boards that failed to meet accreditation standards and replace them with ISBE-picked independent authority.

Ted Dabrowski and his team are knocking on doors in Waukegan to educate residents about the difference charter schools, etc., could make in the education of their children.  Their message is being well received.

Shouldn’t private schools, religious schools, charter schools and schools that leverage online learning all be on the table for Waukeganites and in other communities and areas in Illinois with low performing schools?

The Illinois Policy Institute thinks so, and so does Ted Dabrowski.

Watch Bob Bowdon’s 38 minute long “The Ticket” online here.

[This first appeared at Illinois Review]
Categories: On the Blog

I Come to Bury Renewable Fuel Standards

February 03, 2015, 12:33 PM

Not to praise ethanol mandates that kill jobs, raise food costs, and hurt poor families and wildlife

They say politics makes strange bedfellows. In a perfect example, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) are cosponsoring the “Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act,” to abolish the corn ethanol Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires that increasing volumes of this biofuel be blended into gasoline. Let’s hope it passes, as an amendment or stand-alone bill.

The RFS was a mistake when enacted ten years ago. Since then, despite attempts to curtail it, the program has expanded and had more lives than Freddy Krueger. Perhaps the senators are now paraphrasing William Shakespeare and Marc Antony, saying “I come to bury the ethanol RFS, not to praise it.”

Renewable fuels advocates are predictably fighting back. They say ethanol is vital to agricultural sector jobs and revenues, “homegrown fuels” diversify our energy mix and reduce foreign imports, and biofuels help prevent “dangerous manmade climate change.” The claims do not withstand scrutiny.

Ethanol has already “hit the blend wall,” the senators point out. Even current ethanol production mandates result in more ethanol than can be used safely in gasoline. That and fewer miles driven of late means refinery “blend targets” have already been met for E10 (10% ethanol) gasoline. More ethanol would impair automotive engine systems and void warranties. All this results in surplus ethanol, increasing corn grower demands for E15 mandates or permits (15% ethanol), and worse market and ecological effects.

And still federal law requires that the ethanol mandate must keep rising: from 9 billion gallons of ethanol in 2008 to 14 billion now and 36 billion gallons by 2022. That would exacerbate all these problems.

America is already plowing an area larger than Iowa to grow corn for ethanol, and turning nearly 40% of all its corn into ethanol. The guaranteed income incentivizes farmers to take land out of wheat and rye, conservation easements, pasture land and wildlife habitat – and grow corn instead. Converting these vast fields of corn into ethanol requires enormous amounts of irrigation water, fertilizers, pesticides, and gasoline or diesel fuel to grow, harvest and ship the corn … and more gasoline, diesel and natural gas to produce and transport the ethanol.

Corn growers make money, since they are protected by annual ethanol blend mandates that guarantee a demand, market and high price for their output. But there is no comparable “renewable protein standard” to guarantee a market for statutorily mandated quantities of poultry, pork, beef, eggs and fish.

Thus U.S. corn prices skyrocketed from $1.96 per average bushel in 2005 to as much as $7.50 in autumn 2012 and $6.68 in June 2013, before dropping in 2014 due to record yields and lower demand for corn and ethanol. Since the RFS was implemented, feed costs for chicken, turkey, egg and hog farmers have been nearly $100 billion higher than they would have been in the absence of the RFS, National Chicken Council president Mike Brown estimates.

These protein farmers have been compelled to subsidize corn farmers by almost $1.35 per gallon of ethanol; beef and dairy farmers have been forced to pay similar subsidies. All these costs have been passed on to American families. Since 2007, high and volatile feed costs forced many meat and poultry producers to cut back or cease production, file for bankruptcy or sell their operations to other companies. Biofuel mandates also mean international aid agencies must pay more for corn and wheat, so more starving people remain malnourished longer

Energy per acre of corn is minuscule compared to what we get from oil and gas drilling, conventional and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) alike. Moreover, corn-based ethanol requires 2,500 to 29,000 gallons of freshwater per million Btu of energy, the US Department of Energy calculates; biodiesel from soybeans consumes an unsustainable 14,000 to 75,000 gallons of water per million Btu. By comparison, fracking requires just 0.6 to 6.0 gallons of fresh or brackish water per million Btu of energy produced.

New seismic, deepwater drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other technologies have led to discoveries of enormous new reserves of oil and natural gas – and enabled companies to extract far more petroleum from reservoirs once thought to have been depleted. All these newly abundant oil and gas supplies could easily replace ethanol and other biofuels, and slash U.S. oil imports even further.

This resurgence of hydrocarbons has obliterated the Club of Rome “peak oil” notion that we are rapidly exhausting the world’s petroleum, made Big Green environmentalists apoplectic, and caused resource depletion alarmists to make a 180-degree policy turn on natural gas. Just four years ago the Sierra Club used $75 million from Aubrey McClendon and Michael Bloomberg to finance an anti-coal campaign which insisted that coal-fired power plants could be replaced with natural gas facilities.

Now the Sierrans despise natural gas and want to totally ban the technology that created our newfound abundance of gas: hydraulic fracturing. They disregard the benefits of lower gas prices for families and factories, ignore the need for coal and natural gas-based electricity as backup power generation for wind and solar facilities, and concoct all kinds of fanciful “dangers” from fracking operations.

Meanwhile, the prominent environmental think tank World Resources Institute just issued a new report that concluded: turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that it is unlikely to supply a substantial fraction of the world’s energy demand – ever. Perhaps worse, spending countless more billions on this misguided strategy will result in more millions of valuable, fertile acres being devoted to “growing energy” instead of helping to feed malnourished and starving people.

Adding to the reasons the RFS deserves an F on its report card, ethanol gets 30% less mileage than gasoline, so motorists pay the same or more per tank but can drive fewer miles. It collects water, gunks up fuel lines, corrodes engine parts, and wreaks havoc on lawn mowers and other small engines.

Ethanol production also kills marine life. Much of the nitrogen fertilizers needed to grow all that corn gets washed off the land into waterways that drain into the Gulf of Mexico, where they cause enormous summertime algae blooms. When the algae die, their decomposition consumes oxygen in the water – creating enormous low-oxygen and zero-oxygen regions that suffocate marine life that cannot swim away.

Regarding jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines “green jobs” as any that make a company “more environmentally friendly.” The BLS even includes people who drive pilot natural gas, biofuel or hybrid buses. The Solar Energy Society includes accountants, lawyers and landscapers involved even part time with making or installing solar panels. One suspects that even burger flippers could qualify as having green jobs, anytime they sell a meal to a truck driver who happens to be hauling corn to an ethanol plant.

That brings us to “climate chaos” as a last-resort rationale for costly Renewable Fuel Standards. However, Climategate and other IPCC scandals clearly demonstrate that the “science” behind climate disaster claims is conjectural, manipulated and even fraudulent. And actual observations of temperatures, storms, droughts, sea levels and Arctic ice have refused to cooperate with computer models and Hansen-Gore-EPA-IPCC disaster hype and scenarios. The catechism of climate cataclysm – what blogger Jim Guirard calls the Branch Carbonian Cult – can no longer be allowed to justify misguided standards and subsidies.

About the only thing “green” about the ethanol RFS is the billions of dollars it takes from taxpayers and consumers – and funnels to politicians, who dole the cash out to crony corporatists, who then return some of it as campaign contributions, to get the politicians reelected, to perpetuate the gravy train.

It’s time to bury the RFS – and stop forcing motorists to buy gasoline that refiners are compelled to blend into motor fuels. Crony capitalist arrangements benefit too few at the expense of too many.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Michael LaFaive: Cigarette Excise Taxes

February 02, 2015, 11:00 AM

Michael LaFaive, director of the the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, joins Budget & Tax News managing editor Jesse Hathaway to talk about cigarette excise taxes and their effect on consumer behavior. With help from the Tax Foundation, LaFaive examined how states’ taxes drove consumers in all 50 states to purchase cigarettes on the black market.

According to LaFave, states seeking to reduce the size of black markets should not look to higher taxes or more police actions, but instead reduce the differential between their states’ excise taxes and the excise tax rates of neighboring states. Free markets, he says, are the key to reducing the economic impact of cigarette black markets, instead of more taxes or more government.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Shoveling Global Warming in Chicago

February 02, 2015, 2:49 AM

The elm tree that grows through a hole in my back deck is especially pretty during a big snow. Even the squirrels that run Oak Park, IL knew enough to climb up the “dry” side

The upper East Coast got sacked with a foot or so of snow last weekend, and are going to be hit with another foot or so this week. At least the folks in Boston won’t care as much, seeing the Patriots won the Super Bowl — which featured one of the biggest bone-headed play calls in history. That makes some three feet of snow in two weeks go down easier.

The second Blizzard of 2015 will have ended its pass through the Midwest by early in the morning on Groundhog Day. Chicago got hammered, proof below. I shoveled for nearly four hours Sunday, just to make progress on the seven inches that had fallen. I have another several hours of shoveling Monday to clear the other eight inches or so that awaits me.

Global warming strikes again!

What’s that you say, global warming alarmist readers? Weather is not climate? Yeah. I know that. But do you guys? To give but one example, alarmists such as the scientifically illiterate Robert F. Kennedy like to say every severe weather event is “proof” of a man-caused catastrophe that has irrevocably changed our climate. RFK Jr. wrote in a 2008 Los Angeles Times op-ed of his panic about a freak weather event at Cape Cod, and feared that his children and grandchildren would never again to sledding in Virginia. Not in the future, but right now.

Anyway, this post is about me complaining about shoveling. I will say this: Winter is beautiful … until you have to deal with it. Gotta get a snow blower one of these winters.

My front steps at about 10 a.m. February 1, when the blizzard was only getting going.


This is the “before” picture of my back-alley driveway. Figured at 1 p.m. on Sunday I’d shovel the seven inches that were there, so I wouldn’t have to shovel 16 whole inches on Monday.


This is the “after” picture of shoveling seven inches of wet snow on Sunday … and the snow and wind of the Chicago Blizzard really started to kick in when I was finishing up at about 2 p.m. Got another six inches at least to deal with soon.


Shovel planted in triumph! I cleared seven inches of snow away from the sidewalk and brick walkway to the house. By the time I was finished, nearly another inch had come down and covered what I started.

Categories: On the Blog

Weather Bulletin #6, February 2, 2015: Climate Cool-down Across America

February 02, 2015, 12:56 AM

MSN/Accuweather reports February will have a frigid start. Parts of New England still digging out from a blizzard last week are in the crosshairs again, as a new winter snowstorm slowly churning  through the Midwest heads East.

As blizzard conditions blanket Chicago, More than 2,000 flights were cancelled over the weekend, most of them departing from or scheduled to land in Chicago’s two airports. With wind gusts expected to top 40 mph in some places, the wind chills could be deadly.

In anticipation of the storm, Connecticut has delayed the opening of state offices, and York county Pennsylvania is bracing for possible record low temperatures of more than -6° below zero.

For the past week, much of the country experienced relatively mild temperatures with winter high temperature records set on some dates in locations as scattered as Billings, Montana and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. However, this respite will be short-lived as normal or below normal temperatures are expected to descend again this week.

Overnight lows this week will fall below zero in Detroit, Erie, and Buffalo, New York, by mid-week, and much of northern New England will experience temperatures closer to 20 degrees below zero.

Despite the cold, temperatures in the U.S. at present are closer to the normal Winter range than they were in 2014 during the depth of the polar vortex.

Big snow this week! Seems like a good time to protest global warming.

Categories: On the Blog

Jeb Bush’s Common Core Hedging Undermines Reform Efforts

January 31, 2015, 5:37 PM

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and prospective GOP presidential contender, was wrong to support Common Core. Now, on the campaign trail, he appears to be backtracking a bit. He should go all the way and admit he was wrong in the first place.

In a speech this past November, Bush said, “In my view, the rigor of the Common Core State Standards must be the new minimum in classrooms. For those states choosing a path other than Common Core, I say this: Aim even higher, be bolder, raise standards, and ask more of our students and the system.”

Clearly, he was suggesting states can and should do better than Common Core; though he still laughably and inconsistently referred to the “rigor” of these low-quality standards. Bush is obviously trying to have it both ways: supporting Common Core while endorsing states’ choice to implement better standards.

Bush then went on to defend state autonomy over schools, noting state governments “are ultimately accountable” for their schools. “So if the federal government wants to play a role in reform, it should stop tying every education dollar to a rule written in Washington, DC.”

Unfortunately, billions of federal dollars were tied to Common Core through the Race to the Top program. All but a handful of states were essentially bribed into adopting subpar standards. Many states had not even seen the final version before agreeing to adopt the K–12 math and English standards.

There is a definite inconsistency between Bush’s push for vouchers and school choice in Florida and his support for Common Core. Federally backed standards blatantly attack flexibility, autonomy, and state and local control of education.

Common Core is widely criticized for focusing on students using a particular (and not necessarily sensible) method of achieving an answer rather than focusing on whether the answer is right. Teachers such as Marsha Griffin of Jonesboro Elementary in Illinois are expressing frustration over this narrow-mindedness.

“I think students will be bogged down in process and possibly not know how to do anything. We are teaching to a test,” Griffin said.

Common Core proponents throw around buzzwords such as “internationally benchmarked,” “rigorous,” and “college and career ready,” but curriculum experts, child psychologists, and educators across the country denigrate the quality and appropriateness of the standards. “These standards have not been internationally benchmarked. They have not been researched. They are not evidence-based,” Griffin said. “We have no idea what we are doing to an entire generation of children.”

Common Core proponents try to dismiss these concerns by saying establishing standards is not the same as mandating a curriculum. However, standards ultimately define curriculum because achievement tests are based on them.

Susan Bowles, a kindergarten teacher at the Lawton Chiles Elementary School in Gainesville, Florida made headlines after refusing to administer standardized tests she felt did students more harm than good. After Bowles took her stand, officials reconsidered and changed the testing policy for the year. Since then there has been mounting criticism of Common Core and its related tests, both in Florida and nationally, but teachers like Bowles know they are fighting an uphill battle.

“I think there is a huge amount of resistance to the stance that there is too much testing and that the Common Core — or some slightly tweaked variation — has lots of problems,” Bowles said. “Companies like Pearson are making huge amounts of money by changing both the format and the difficulty of tests frequently, and then providing new curricula to support the testing that goes on. I have no doubt there are lobbyists and funds that have tainted the moral integrity of many politicians.”

Bowles continued, “I find it interesting that so few politicians have children in public schools. If they think their mandates for reform are so great, why don’t they trust our schools to educate their children?”

The debate over Common Core has divided school choice advocates, just as it seems to have divided Bush against himself. Instead of fighting for creation and expansion of choice programs or promoting concepts like student-based budgeting and parent trigger laws, choice advocates are arguing over whether to retain the federally backed standards.

It’s an unfortunate waste of time, energy, and money because the honest answer couldn’t be clearer. Scientific studies find no evidence national standards improve student achievement. In addition, education and curriculum are supposed to be handled on the state and local levels because they are not enumerated as federal powers in the Constitution.

An unfortunate number of academics and bureaucrats belittle the importance of local control and state autonomy. Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, refers to local control of education as “quaint” but unrealistic. What is really unrealistic is to think what is taught and how it is taught in Philadelphia should be exactly the same as the standards applied in a small town in Montana. Different students in different states and districts have different needs, which requires teachers and administrators to use different tactics and methodologies to address those needs.

If a school is teaching students 1+1=5, the state government has the power and authority to hold it accountable. National standards actually undermine that authority.

Bush ought to listen to former constituents such as Susan Bowles. He has clearly begun to backtrack on Common Core, but it will be hard to accept his newly found advocacy of state autonomy unless he admits it was a bad idea in the first place.

[Originally published at the American Thinker]

Categories: On the Blog