Northern Virginia has experienced strong and consistent population growth over the past decade. Loudoun County grew more than any other county in the commonwealth over the past three years and recently became Virginia’s third most populous county. A booming population has led to growth in Northern Virginia’s economy, with competitive markets developing in all manner of industries, save one: health care. A single provider that has developed a near-monopoly, Inova, dominates health care in region.
Monopolies are rarely, if ever, good for consumers, and this is especially true in the health care industry. Inova’s domination of the Northern Virginia market has not generated more services or lower prices. In fact, the opposite has happened: There are now fewer beds than in many urban areas. According to Virginia Health Information, there are only .54 hospital beds per 1,000 residents in Loudoun County. In addition, costs have increased. In a 2013 study published by the University of Arizona, Gautam Gowrisankaran, Aviv Nevo, and Robert Town found breaking up the multi-hospital Inova System would lead to a 7 percent market-wide price cut.
One of the main reasons Inova has been able to develop its monopoly is the protection offered by the state’s set of certificate of public need laws. Virginia is one of 36 states with certificate of need (CON) laws, and while CON laws are intended to slow the growth of health care prices, promote consolidation of health care providers, and limit duplication of services, they often create costly market inefficiencies that harm consumers and slow growth.
Virginia requires a certificate of public need for a wide range of expenditures, including construction and modification of health care facilities and the offering of new services, medical procedures, and inpatient care beds.
CON laws give inappropriate influence to competitors during government vetting processes. When a company applies to enter a new market, current providers often use the CON process to block potential competition. As a result, CON laws raise the price of medical care by preventing new medical providers from competing with existing hospitals. Several states, including Virginia, have undertaken efforts to limit or even repeal their CON laws. Inova has opposed these reforms.
Inova has benefited handsomely from a system that makes it more difficult for competitors to enter the market: The Thomas Jefferson Institute found Inova Health Systems had a 2013 net income in Virginia of $160,435,032. As a nonprofit organization, Inova often points to its efforts to provide health care to patients without insurance, a policy which should be encouraged. However, given the organization’s near-monopoly, the many tax benefits it receives through nonprofit status, and its high revenues, it does bear asking whether the tradeoff is worth it.
CON laws limit health care competition across the state and leave fewer options for everyone, especially the most impoverished. Virginia requires CON approval for 19 different medical services, devices, and procedures, higher than the national average of 14. Thomas Stratmann and Christopher Koopman of the Mercatus Center ranked Virginia’s certificate of need program as the nation’s 11th most restrictive. They found Virginia has 131 fewer beds per 100,000 people than does the rest of the United States. Virginia also offers fewer advanced health care services, including 41 fewer hospitals offering MRI services and 58 fewer hospitals offering CT scans, all resulting from the state’s CON laws.
Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation show health care costs are 11 percent higher in CON states than in non-CON states. States requiring certificates of need on 10 or more services average annual per-capita health care costs 8 percent higher than the $6,837 average for states requiring certificates of need for fewer than 10 services.
Virginia lawmakers should consider reforming the state’s CON program again to end burdensome regulations that increase the cost of health care while limiting access and benefitting only those with political connections.
Being Leftist means never having to say you’re sorry. Being a huge Barack Obama-Democrat donor doesn’t hurt either. Being incredibly generous in support of Leftism also allows you to enact incredibly anti-free market, anti-Reality policies that are a huge boon to you – at the exorbitant expense of the private sector players who made your successes possible.
So it is with Google’s Network Neutrality assault on the nation’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Our ISPs have in the last two decades invested $1.2 trillion in broadband buildout. Thereby taking us from pathetic 28K dialup to rocket-ship wired and wireless speeds. Because of these ISPs, the Internet has become the omni-directional-cornucopia, free speech-free market Xanadu we all know and love. Never in the history of human endeavor has anything grown so huge, so fast. You would never, ever have heard of companies like Facebook, Netflix or Google had not the ISPs done what they did – and of course continue to do. Because these websites chew up lots and LOTS of bandwidth. And the ISPs made that monster bandwidth not only available – but nigh omnipresent.
Video is far and away the biggest bandwidth hog item – nothing else is close. The ISPs turned online streaming video from a pipe dream into a daily fixture – and thereby created a LOT of ancillary millionaires and billionaires. Netflix was a going-out-of-business snail mail DVD delivery company – until the ISPs rescued them from oblivion by allowing them to become the monster streaming video company they are today. These ISP speed increases then allowed for the promulgation of similar services – like Hulu, Roku and Amazon Prime. And lest we forget, godfather online video king YouTube – owned by Google.
Google was founded in 1998. It has ever since politically supported lots and LOTS of Democrats. None more thoroughly than now-President Barack Obama – who since his Google-aided elections has in many ways overseen the Google Administration.
Google also spent the 2000s funding the push for the ridiculous government Internet over-regulation known as Net Neutrality. A large part of the pro-Net Neutrality effort was the obnoxious demonization of ISPs as eeeeevil entities – who will (allegedly) block you from getting to websites you wish to visit. Which is on-its-face absurd. ISPs are in the customer service business – if they do not service their customers, they will very quickly be out of business. Duh. Because of this obviousness, no Net Neutrality proponent could point to any actual example of any ISP blocking anyone. It was a Trojan Horse to get the government into the Internet-regulating business.
Why would Google and their pro-government cohorts bite the ISP hands that have so lavishly fed them? Because Net Neutrality outlaws the ISPs charging these bandwidth hogs for being bandwidth hogs. It is government-mandated free-of-charge, unlimited Internet access – for the biggest users on the planet. (Google and Netflix alone use more than half of ALL U.S. bandwidth.) But of course bandwidth isn’t free. So we consumers will now pay MUCH more for our service – to augment the profits of these uber-using-uber-corporations.
Net Neutrality mandates all electronic bits be treated equally. No website can be treated differently than any other website. No Internet “fast lanes” – where a website can pay more for faster service. Which is about as anti-Reality as any policy ever devised. Your Mom-and-Pop embroidery website is a little different and uses a different amount of bandwidth than does Amazon.com. You shouldn’t have your bandwidth costs equalized with Amazon’s bandwidth costs. Gas stations don’t equalize fuel costs between eighteen-wheelers and Smart Cars. The Post Office doesn’t equalize postage between overnight and snail delivery. In Reality, Amazon should, would and could pay more for the massive bandwidth they use – and the faster speeds they want.
In actuality, Net Neutrality mandates that crony companies like Amazon, Netflix and Google get unequal, MUCH better treatment than do our Mom-and-Pop sites. They get the gold mine – we get the shaft.
In February, the Google – excuse me, I mean Obama – Administration unilaterally imposed Net Neutrality. (But not until after Google was allowed to make some last-minute edits.) Let the All-Bits-Are-Equal regime begin. No websites can get special treatment. Except….
Google wants to help publishers – and itself – by speeding things up.
Google is working with the social media service Twitter and major news publishers like The Guardian and The New York Times to create a new kind of web link and article storage system that would load online news articles and digital magazine pieces in a few milliseconds, according to several people involved in the project. That is a fraction of the five to 10 seconds it can take to load a typical website.
Wait a second – that’s Google treating some (Leftist news) websites better than others. That’s those websites getting faster delivery than others. (And do you want to bet those special-treatment websites will end up paying Google for their special treatment? Three guesses – the first two don’t count.)
All of this – ALL of this – is one giant pile of Net Neutrality violations. If an ISP did it. Google does provide Internet service – but is not omnipresently (yet) or exclusively an ISP. Will Google, the Funding Father of Net Neutrality, be punished for violating Net Neutrality – by the Administration they also funded?
Three guesses – the first two don’t count.
Obamacare Provisions Allow Employers, Health Insurance Companies to Persecute Overweight, Obese Employees
Penalizing employees for packing on too many pounds is “perfectly legal” under the provisions of Obamacare, a new report indicates. Under the Affordable Care Act, 2014, employers can charge employees an extra 30 percent of the total cost (employer and employee portions) of individual or family health benefits coverage if they don’t meet “specific wellness goals, including body mass index (BMI),” according to a report in The Observer. “This is up from 20 percent, which was imposed in 2006 and permitted under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations (HIPPAA).”
Prior to the enactment of Obamacare, employees couldn’t be penalized for flubbing a wellness deadline. “You could offer them nominal incentives to engage in activities like participating in a class, but you never could penalize them for actually smoking or not losing weight, or having high blood pressure,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, in Washington, D.C., the paper reported.
Though the law mandates that employers give worker bees an “alternative way” to evade the penalty for not meeting the mandated health goal, the worker might still end up spending money. For example, the employer may set a weight loss goal that the employee still can’t reach, or tell the worker to attend a fitness class. Those who opt out are hit with a penalty, the Observer reported.
“Employers,” notes Timothy S. Jost, professor emeritus at Washington and Lee University’s School of Law, the paper reported, “like to control the lives of their employees.”
Gov. Jerry ‘Moonbeam’ Brown Exhorts GOP Presidential Candidates to Embrace Climate Change Hypothesis
California Governor Jerry Brown (D) apparently now fancies himself as a science policy advisor of sorts to the GOP Presidential campaign field for 2016. On Wednesday, Gov. Moonbeam, former consort of rock star Linda Rondstadt, failed Jesuit candidate for the priesthood, loser of multiple Democratic contests for President of the U.S. himself, and governor of a state whose water control policies have clearly contributed to the destruction caused by California wildfires north of San Francisco, says it would be better for the GOP to start thinking like Democrats and Socialists on the issue of climate change.
“I would challenge these Republican presidential candidates to speak to what is certainly one of the fundamental issues of our time,” Brown said in an interview, according to NewsMax.com. “They fancy themselves defenders of life but they actually are willing merchants of destruction. I would like to see them be honest about climate change.”
The bald, 77-year-old Democrat Brown, who is currently “grappling with a series of wildfires, one of which has destroyed more than 400 homes and burned an area more than twice the size of San Francisco,” said none of the 15 Republicans speaking tonight at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library has a “credible plan to deal with climate change.” The governor backed a watered-down bill that the state legislature passed Sept. 11 to mandate more renewable power sources and increase energy efficiency of buildings. Environmentalists were critical of the legislation, as reported earlier by Somewhat Reasonable.
Brown — whose radical left wing party supports clinics that sell baby parts — believes that the GOP candidates’ positions reflect an “ideologically rigid” Republican Party, and observes that Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act and that George H.W. Bush reauthorized it. “There ought to be some dissent on this topic,” the California governor said. “Otherwise they’re going to be increasingly irrelevant to tens of millions of people.” Thanks for the unsolicited advice, Jerry. Even the liberal mainstream media, when Brown first ran for President in 1976, called him the “far-out candidate who puzzles almost everybody.” See photo caption of People magazine cover story. below.
Why do so many laws passed with good intentions and seemingly desirable goals so often fail? And why do they so often worsen the problems they are supposed to solve—and hurt people they are supposed to help? In previous postings we noted: 1) government programs to reduce intake of fats in the name of lessening heart disease actually led to weight gains and increased danger of diabetes and heart disease, 2) government efforts to improve the federal school lunch program by increasing consumption of milk, fruit and vegetables led to fewer students drinking milk, many skipping meals entirely, more “junk” food snacks being eaten, and vast quantities of fruits and vegetables being thrown away, and 3) government policies to reduce salt consumption are more dangerous than the salt Americans devour. The government recommendation for daily sodium intake is 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams or fewer. But peopleconsuming fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium were found to have a 27% higher risk of heart problems, stroke or death than those consuming 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams.
Now the issue is banning plastic bags in grocery stores and other retail establishments. More than a hundred cities and counties have already done so, and others are considering it to reduce litter, disposal in landfills, and other environmental concerns. The bans are done with the implied or expressed intent that consumers will switch to reusable bags.
The effects of the bans, however, have not been what the advocates expected. A study from the Institute of Law and Economics of the University of Pennsylvania Law School found reusable grocery bags contained potentially harmful bacteria. Examining hospital emergency room admissions related to these bacteria, Professors Jonathan Klick and Joshua D. Wright found emergency room visits spiked when the ban went into effect. “Relative to other counties, ER admissions increased by at least one fourth, and deaths exhibit a similar increase.” Using standard statistical estimates, they found the associated health costs “swamp any budgetary savings from reduced litter. This assessment is unlikely to be reversed even if fairly liberal estimates of the other environmental benefits are included.”
In May 2013 the Los Angesles Times reported, “A reusable grocery bag left in a hotel bathroom caused an outbreak of norovirus-induced diarrhea and nausea that struck nine of 13 members of a girls’ soccer team in October.”
Researchers at the University of Arizona and the Loma Linda University School of Public Heath randomly tested reusable grocery bags carried by shoppers in Tucson, Los Angeles and San Francisco. They reported, “Bacteria levels found in reusable bags were significant enough to cause a wide range of serious health problems….Bacteria was found in 99 percent of the tested bags, nearly all of which were made of woven polypropylene. Half carried coliform bacteria; eight percent carried E. coli.”
Various studies state that nearly all dangerous bacteria in reusable bags can be removed by washing them, but 97 percent of the people using them don’t wash them. The San Francisco ordinance states that reusable bags must have a usable life greater than 125 uses and, furthermore, must be durable enough to be washed and disinfected at least 100 times. Because the usable life requirement exceeds the number of washes requirement, the ordinance assumes the bag will not be washed after every use. The Klick and Wright study notes that “washing such bags will itself have negative environmental consequences through excess water use. Further, the detergents necessary to clean the bags add to the environmental costs, as does the use of water hot enough to kill the bacteria.” Kofi Aidoo, Professor of Food Science at Glasgow Caledonian University, is a leading expert on bacterial toxins and food-borne diseases. He says, “If people are going to have to pay for bags and re-use them my concern is we’re creating a high risk of food poisoning. At the very least people have to be given advice to clean these bags every time they use them.”
Common plastic bags are environmentally superior to reusable ones in many ways. Manufacturing them requires less than half the energy needed for compostable plastic or cloth bags and less than a third of what’s required for paper bags. A higher percentage of energy can be recovered (through combustion) from the single-use plastic bags than from the other two types. Making plastic bags requires less than 6 percent of the water needed to make paper bags. And cloth bags are much more challenging to recycle since they contain a combination of materials including metal, cotton and other fabrics.
In a comparison of quantities of municipal waste by weight, the production, use and disposal of single-use plastic bags produced a net 15.51 pounds of municipal solid waste; compostable plastic bags, 42.32 pounds; paper bags, nearly 75 pounds.
A report from the National Center for Policy Analysis states, “Studies show that plastic bags represent a tiny portion of litter and that banning them has not reduced the amount….According to the Keep America Beautiful campaign, plastic bags are not one of the top 10 sources of litter nationwide.” In Austin, Texas, plastic comprised 0.6 percent of the city’s total litter—but that is high because it included other types of plastic, not just plastic bags. A statewide study in California found plastic bags were only 0.3 percent of the waste. In San Francisco, plastic bags accounted for 0.6 percent of the city’s litter before the ban—and 0.64 percent after the ban.
The United Kingdom’s Environmental Agency found paper bags were more environmentally harmful than plastic bags in each of the nine categories studied: global warming potential, abiotic depletion, acidification, eutrophication, human toxicity, fresh water aquatic ecotoxicity, marine aquatic ecotoxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity and photochemical oxidation. It also found plastic bags were environmentally superior to reusable cloth bags. It said cloth bags would have to be used 104 times to surpass the environmental performance of plastic bags.
The campaign to outlaw plastic bags in the name of improving the environment is based on ignorance and misinformation. It will do the exact opposite. It will waste energy, water, and money. It will create inconvenience, waste people’s time, and impose health risks. It will deprive people of the liberty to exercise choice which has produced a more efficient, economical and safer product—and with less residual municipal waste—than alternatives resulting from the ban. Banning plastic bags is an attempt to achieve by political means what cannot be achieved by economic means, because it is unrealistic. It means government against the economy! Which means government against reality. There is nothing government can do to make an economic function more efficient than a free market; its only power is to make it less efficient and more costly—and, yes, environmentally inferior.
If government sacrifices even small measures of individual liberty in hope of some small economic gain deemed more important, the liberty disappears but the gain proves illusive. If government instead regards safeguarding liberty and individual rights as preeminent—not to be sacrificed to anything—the result is a free market that provides economic benefits—including environmental and health benefits— unattainable by political action.
“Whether you support this deal or not, we can all agree that America’s commitment to Israel remains unshakeable. And we will continue—Democrats and Republicans united—to stand with Israel,” says a statement from Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). Yet, despite widespread opposition from Israel and pro-Israel groups, Schatz, and almost all his fellow Jewish Senators and Representatives, supported the Iran nuclear deal that appears to be done.
Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), on September 10, announced: “There’s no doubt whatsoever that the Congress of the United States will allow this agreement to go forward.”
Despite “a nearly $30 million advertising and lobbying effort to kill the accord,” the New York Times (NYT) reports, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee—known as Aipac—suffered a “stinging defeat.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes the deal will fuel Iran’s efforts to destroy Israel, calling it: “A stunning historic mistake.” Addressing Israel’s “diplomatic failure,” the NYT states: “Polls show that large majorities of Israeli Jews agree with him [Netanyahu] on Iran and deeply distrust President Obama.”
Polling within the U.S. reflects similar attitudes here at home: “The American people overwhelmingly oppose this agreement.” Republican pollster John McLaughlin, and Pat Caddell, a Democratic pollster, have conducted four national surveys on the Iran deal and charted the rising opposition to it. Their most recent, conducted on September 2 and 3, reveals the public’s animosity toward the deal: 78 percent wanted Congress to oppose it. The Hill reports: “65 percent say that it is so important that Congress votes on the Iran deal that if their senators voted to stop a vote in the Senate that they would never vote for them again. Only 24 percent say that it is unnecessary to vote. A plurality of Democrats (45 percent) say that it is important that there be a vote.” Yet Democrats, like Schatz, prevented a vote—leaving them in need of atonement.
Now, it is time to, according to NYT, “repair a troubled relationship between the United States and Israel badly frayed over the nuclear agreement with Iran.” In a planned November meeting between Netanyahu and Obama, the White House will offer “more military aid designed to bolster Israel’s defenses.”
Schatz claims: “we must find new ways to enhance our joint efforts to counter threats that endanger Israel every day.”
Israel does face threats “every day.” We know that Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has boldly proclaimed: “There will be no such thing as Israel in 25 years”—which CNN says: makes “a contentious deal pricklier.” We also know that Russia has offered to sell arms to Iran and is partnering with Iran in support of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. Earlier this year, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah reportedly said: “A rich and strong Iran … will be able to stand by its allies and friends, and the peoples of the region, especially the resistance in Palestine, more than in any time in the past.”
A brief refresher in the region’s history makes clear why the above statements are important.
In October 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in what is known as the Yom Kippur war. With the help of a U.S. airlift of arms, and other military assistance from the Netherlands and Denmark, Israel began beating back the Arab gains. Because the three countries supported Israel, the “peoples of the region” stood together to use oil price increases as a weapon against Israel and its allies. The result? A total oil embargo was imposed on the United States, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The price of oil quadrupled, causing gas shortages and rationing.
Today, the U.S. has an abundance of oil and that oil could be used “to counter threats that endanger Israel every day”—if the oil export ban is lifted.
Hidden within the pages of a new study, released September 8, on the likely destinations of U.S. crude oil exports, is an explanation of how and why U.S. oil could “bolster Israel’s defenses.”
Engineers at Turner, Mason & Company, which focuses on petroleum refining, marketing, and transportation, did the study. It analyzed the match between U.S. crude and where it will likely flow if the export ban is lifted. Using “a variety of fundamental and commercial factors,” the study concludes: “the large majority of crude exported from the U.S. in an open market environment would stay in the Atlantic basin, flowing to refineries in Europe and other Western Hemisphere markets.” The rationale revolves around the type of crude oil needed for refineries. U.S. “light tight oil” is a good fit for refineries that depend on declining supplies from the North Sea and the increasingly volatile Russian source. Surprisingly, Israel is one of the Russian-oil-dependent countries.
On page 27, the study states:
“World oil markets do not always operate in a pure economic fashion, and there are many other factors that influence crude trade flows. Much of this owes to the fact that national oil companies and cartels (OPEC) are major players in crude markets, and often prioritize political, foreign relation or national security goals above economics. As evidenced by the current U.S. export restrictions, government policy can have major impacts on crude flows even in countries where the oil industry is not nationally controlled. As a result, geopolitical factors and events (i.e., conflicts, sanctions) have historically had a great impact on crude oil supply and demand and have greatly impacted crude flows for years, and this will continue to be the case in the future.”
Later, it adds: “Russia has not been hesitant in the past to use energy as a geopolitical weapon.”
Iran wants to end Israel. Russia is partnering with Iran and Syria. Syria attacked Israel in 1973. These are all widely known facts. But, you may not have known, Russia is a leading supplier of crude oil to Israel.
The study points out the geopolitics: “Most Middle East producers (with the exception of semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan) refuse to provide crude to Israel.” Israel currently satisfies its demand, approximately 250 million barrels per day, with Russian oil.
It is not hard to imagine a world where, in cooperation with Iran and Syria, Russia, which has been pivoting toward Asia for its crude oil sales, would cut off crude oil supplies to Israel. The U.S. has emergency accommodations in place should that happen, but it would be so much better if the supply lines were already in place, removing the Iran/Russia/Syria partnership’s ability to use oil as a weapon. It is for this reason, the study, on page 29, states: “The opportunity to obtain crude oil supply from the U.S. would be a major benefit for Israel’s security of supply and provide further strengthening of the economic ties between the two countries.”
Rather than falling victim to geopolitics, with the confidence of U.S. oil, Israel can remain strong while surrounded by enemies.
If the White House—and Senators like Schatz—really wants to find new ways to help Israel, lifting the 40-year-old oil export ban should be a no-brainer. Yom Kippur—the “day of atonement” on the Jewish calendar—is September 23. It would be a perfect day for Democrats and Republicans to be united in standing with Israel by lifting the export ban and giving Israel the security of supply and strengthen the frayed ties between two long-time allies.
Action on this issue is expected this week. Call your legislators and tell them you stand with Israel: “lift the export ban.”
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.
In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Director of Communications Jim Lakely speaks with Heather Kays. Kays is a Heartland research fellow and managing editor of School Reform News. Kays joins Lakely to discuss three troubling education stories coming out of the state of Washington.
Multiple concerning education stories have recently come out of the State of Washington. The state Supreme Court ruled the Charter Schools law to be unconstitutional. Also, the Seattle teachers union have gone on strike. Kays explains why the teachers are striking and examines the demands. Lastly, Kays and Lakely discuss how the state is being fined for “chronic underfunding” of the education system.
Part 1 set the stage for The Heartland Institute’s Grand Opening celebration in their new building in Arlington Heights August 21 and 22. Supporters and donors were able to sit in for a day of presentations on that first day explaining what the people at Heartland do, how they do it, why, and how effective they’ve been in the organization’s 31 years.
Following are several highlights gleaned from each of the five one-half hour morning panel sessions:
9:30 a.m. “Climate Change: Science, Politics, and Economics”
Panel: Jay Lehr, science director and senior fellow, motivational speaker, scientist, and author; and H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor ofEnvironment and Climate News.
- Heartland Institute is credited with helping two states rescind their energy mandates for renewable energy. Renewable energy standards are being reconsidered as states question mandates, fret over costs.
- Lehr opened the session by explaining to the group that they should not buy into the bad news on climate change fed the public by the media, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Left. He explained that each year he gives presentations on climate change to regular audiences who do not buy at all into the idea that man has a significant impact on the earth’s climate. He explained that we are winning the war with the people.
- Lehr also discussed the Clean Power Plan launched by EPA which will have a severe impact on the poor – who spend 20 cents of every dollar on energy, while the middle class only spends 5 cents of each dollar on energy.
- Lehr went on to say that EPA’s pollution of the Animus River in Colorado was proof positive of why we must phase out EPA handing over all their responsibilities to a Committee of the Whole of the 50 state environmental protection agencies. Lehr’s plan to get rid of the EPA was distributed to the audience.
10:00 a.m. “Transforming Education: Choice, Technology, and Unions”
Panel: Heather Kays, managing editor of School Reform News; Lennie Jarrett, project manager for school reform projects; and Bruno Behrend, senior fellow.
- Common Core is sold under the guise of measurement and testing. The idea of a single curriculum is a horrible idea.
- Vouchers and charter schools are the way to go. Money should follow the children for parents to use as they wish.
- In the 21st century, there is no reason to save the 20th century education system. Kahn Academy, and others, are leading the world to an on-line learning future.
- Any gains are lost within two or three years in the Head Start program. It serves as a way for indoctrination to begin earlier.
10:30 a.m. “Health Care: Repealing and Replacing Obamacare”
Panel: Ken Artz, managing editor of “Health Care News”; and Justin Haskins, editor and managing director, Consumer Power Report. Herb Walberg was cited for his books on education. Those with Joe. Links must be added. Also will add about Walberg as heads of Heartland’s board.
- Ken Artz is the newest member of Heartland’s team of managing editors, heading up Health Care News.
- Heartland has distributed 125,000 copies of The Obamacare Disaster by Peter Ferrara.
- Obamacare is an overreach and death by a million regulations.
- The Cadillac tax beginning in 2018 is an excise tax on healthcare plans.
- Keep eye on the decoupling or defunding state-based agencies. Possible “uberization” (term devised from Uber Technologies, Inc.) of healthcare? Call up a doctor on a service and they come for $99.00.
- A litmus test is in order for Republican candidates to repeal Obamacare. Voters have a right to be angry.
- Obamacare as a way station on the way to a single payer system.
11:00 a.m. “Budget and Taxes”
Panel: Peter Ferrara, senior fellow for entitlement and budget policy; Logan Pike, state government relations manager, and Jesse Hathaway, managing editor of Budget & Tax News.
- Sin taxes or excise taxes on (sugar, e-cigarettes, soda, etc.) described as “a cash grab” The result: people just accept higher prices or buy goods where they are not taxed.
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) praised as a program that provides cash assistance and supportive services to assist families with children under age 18, helping them achieve economic self-sufficiency.
- Taxpayers today are paying the poorest people in America a trillion dollars a year not to work through welfare payments. And so that is what they are doing in response, which is the root cause of poverty. Elected legislators have reasons for not wanting to solve the problem.
- What about taking away the ability of the federal government to borrow money?
- What about tying public assistance with showing up to work?
11:30 a.m. “The Case for Constitutional Reform”
Panel: Gene Koprowski, director of marketing and Peter Ferrara, senior fellow for entitlement and budget policy.
- Heartland announced the August 26 launch of its Center on Constitutional Reform, with an event at the Marriott City Center in Dallas, Texas. The launch event featured former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), former U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-FL), and Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast.
- Heartland’s new Center for Constitutional Reform was created to highlight individuals and organizations working to find solutions to the nation’s constitutional problems. It will not endorse one particular path to constitutional reform, seeking instead to support and seek constructive debate on all efforts to restore constitutional order.
- Kyle Maichle is project manager for the new center. As state legislatures across the nation are considering constitutional reform measures as a solution to stop Washington, DC’s endless thirst for power, Article V conventions, nullification, and state compact agreements are solutions lawmakers can introduce “to rein in the federal government.”
- Constitutional Reform is needed because “America is facing a constitutional crisis. Limits on the size and power of the national government intended by the Founding Fathers and placed in the Constitution have been violated repeatedly and with devastating consequences. The national government has grown to the point that it is now a clear and present danger to American life, liberty, and happiness.”
- Talk show host and author Mark Levin has championed the idea of holding a modern-day Constitutional convention in his book, The Liberty Amendments, but few took the possibility of it actually happening seriously.
- Our Framers knew that we would need Article V to prevent extremists from taking over our country. The role of Heartland is to bring groups together to work for constitutional reform.
Keynote address – Congressman Randy Hultgren, 14th District of Illinois
After a lunch break, at which the Keynote address was given by Congressman Randy Hultgren representing the 14th District of Illinois (see here a separate account of Hultgren’s remarks), an amazing group of Heartland in-house staff members directly responsible for Research, Communications, Government Relations, Marketing, and Development spoke about their department’s role in the overall day-to-day operation of The Heartland Institute. Further information about each of the five day-to-day work groups within Heartland can be found by goggling Heartland’s home site, https://www.heartland.org/ .
Unique to The Heartland Institute
It was interesting to hear from Development personnel that Heartland is getting lots of bang for the bucks it has at its disposal to spend. With a budget of $7 million, Heartland has more influence than do think tanks having budgets ten times its size.
In light of Heartland’s Rome success in May, which countered Pope Francis on Global Warming, Heartland’s Communication Department reported that another trip is being planned for the COP21 event scheduled to take place in Paris from Nov. 30 – December 11. The stakes are high, and they spell destruction and havoc for this nation’s economy and well-being should the aim of the COP21 event be reached. For the first time, “a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable us [the U.S.] to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.
The Marketing Department is a new full-time department at The Heartland Institute. Started just six months ago, it’s a unique addition at Heartland. Most think tanks don’t have in place an operating, full-time Marketing Department.
President Joseph Bast concluded the day with remarks explaining how effectively Heartland’s five departments work together to change policy. Special recognition was given to the new Marketing Department, which has enabled Heartland to reach many groups and individuals through the printed, informational material it sends out.
Bast cited Wealth of a Nations by Adam Smith, published in 1776, as a breakthrough in thinking that coincided with the birth of our nation by our Founding Fathers in 1776. Adam Smith called it the “Great Society” — when doing good in the world came to represent a moral act. As Bast explained, a moral code is consistent with doing well in the world. The more free individuals and nations are, the wealthier they become.
As with every organization, donations are important – especially so for The Heartland Institute. Bast noted there are still naming opportunities at Heartland’s new Freedom Center in Arlington Heights for those who wish to leave a lasting legacy.
Unfortunately I was unable to attend the August 22 Saturday picnic, an open house for Heartland’s new neighbors in Arlington Heights. One person who was able to attend was Arlington Heights Mayor Thomas Hayes, who cut the green ribbon officially opening the building to the public. From all reports, it was a smashing success.
Sixteen state attorneys general recently announced the filing of a multistate lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. The lawsuit is neither the first nor the last time we will see states pushing back against the nation’s environmental “authority” and other outrages emanating from Washington, DC.
The Clean Power Plan requires states to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from their power sector with a nationwide goal of reducing emissions by 32 percent below 2005 emission levels by 2030. Each state has individualized targets to meet, with some states (mostly blue states) having to reduce emissions little or not at all, and the power sectors in other states (mostly red states) having to reduce emissions by much more than 32 percent. The easiest way for most states to meet their emission reduction targets will be to prematurely shutter existing coal-fired power plants. Every state is required to submit its emission reduction plan to the EPA for approval by 2022.
The 16 states filing suit – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming – rely on coal power today, as they have for generations. Utility executives in those states will have two options if EPA’s plan goes forward: either close down power plants or adopt expensive technologies such as carbon capture.
During his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama promised he would bankrupt the coal business, and he is making good on that pledge. He also said “electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. … Whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money onto consumers.” By “pass that money,” he meant “pass those costs.”
Research conducted by the Beacon Hill Institute in multiple states demonstrates the impact of EPA’s costly CO2 mandates: Louisiana citizens would get socked with a 22 percent increase in their energy bills over 15 years, would experience a $181 million loss in capital investment, and would lose more than 20,995 jobs. These examples demonstrate the real cost of EPA’s agenda in the name of reducing carbon emissions.
The attorneys general were compelled to take action because Obama’s stricter standards on coal-fired power plants will harm their economies. For every coal-related job, an additional 3.5 jobs are created elsewhere in the economy, according to the National Mining Association. Once power plants cut jobs, the ripple effect will be felt across the nation’s economy. Retailers will suffer decreased consumer spending from the absence of these high-wage jobs, while manufacturers will have to rely on more expensive sources of energy to power their facilities. That will force cutbacks of manufacturing production and the loss of jobs.
Nullification, a doctrine first articulated during the days of the nation’s founders, is now the only option states have on the table to rein in EPA. The doctrine holds that states do not have to comply with federal laws they believe to be unconstitutional. In the Virginia Resolution of 1798, Thomas Jefferson said states “are duty bound to resist” when the federal government violates the Constitution. The 16 attorneys general are honoring Jefferson’s call to resist the feds because the Obama administration is usurping the proper authority of their states and the American people.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has shown she is intent on regulating every aspect of life affecting people and their businesses. The nation’s founders envisioned a system in which states would be the last line of defense against an out-of-control federal government. Those 16 states are right to press this effort to stop a looming increase in energy prices that will kill good-paying jobs and stomp all over the nation’s system of checks and balances. The latter is our only real defense against out-of-control government, which once was called by a very simple name: tyranny.
A recently released study claiming to have found a statistical association between hydraulic fracturing and hospitalization rates in Pennsylvania has been popular in the news. However, just about every aspect of this study is problematic, rendering it to the realm of speculation, not science.
The study claims chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process were “associated” with a number of ailments, such as heart, skin, and nervous system conditions, but the researchers never sampled the air or water in these areas to determine whether these chemicals were actually present. Similarly, the researchers could have measured levels of potential toxicants in people living at various distances from fracking sites and then tried to correlate those levels with health effects, but neither method was used.
If exposure to chemicals were to lead to any sort of negative health impact, it would more likely result in pulmonary (lung) disorders, but the study found no increases in pulmonary treatments. Additionally, drilling-site workers, not the general public, would be the most likely to experience any potential exposures and resultant effects.
Moreover, the authors limited the study to Pennsylvania residents. Why? Are local nonresidents somehow immune to the alleged effects the authors so aggressively cited or tried to establish?
Poverty is one of the greatest health risks people face, and up until 2008, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, suffered from one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, reaching 10 percent in 2009. According to the Food Research and Action Council, low-income people are especially vulnerable to obesity-related diseases, such as heart disorders and diabetes. They also suffer from limited access to health care resources. The study fails to consider these background factors affecting the health of residents in the three counties studied.
Whereas poverty often results in people not getting the health care they need, economic prosperity is strongly correlated with individual and community health. As a result of hydraulic fracturing and the resulting boom in natural gas production, Bradford County has enjoyed one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state since approximately 2010, falling to just 3.5 percent in 2013.
With new, high-paying jobs, many more people in the county had health insurance, some for the first time ever, resulting in more people using insurance and receiving health treatments, procedures, and investigations that had been on hold. The new prosperity suddenly and dramatically increased health care use rates.
The study admits the precise cause of the increase in inpatient prevalence rates within specific medical categories remains “unknown,” but it failed to account for this important factor. The researchers were, by their own admission, “unable to account for increases in population of the area.” They stated, “Given that our modeling approach cannot account for within zip code demographic changes over the study period, it is possible that some increases were due to an increased influx of subjects to a zip code.”
Translation: We don’t know how much of the increased use of health care was attributable to a rise in population. That’s clearly not all they don’t know.
During the period of concern, the local emergency room utilization grew by some 30 percent, ultimately driving a dramatic expansion of the physical structure at Robert Packer Hospital, increasing the capacity of the hospital to treat critically ill residents and nonresidents. As of 2013, the related demand for inpatient rooms drove the addition of some 16 new inpatient beds at RPH, a 6.7 percent increase. It is not at all surprising the authors of this highly refutable study, which bracketed the years 2007–11, saw these “trends carry through 2013.”
Additionally, RPH is a mecca for cardiac cases, repeatedly receiving high honors and being included among the 10-100 best cardiac centers in the state and/or the United States, according to accrediting and evaluating agencies. People from the entire region flock here for cardiac care. This, coupled with more people having greater financial access to healthcare resources, reasonably explains the increase in cardiac treatments in the county independent of any hydraulic fracturing operations.
The study estimated a 27 percent increase in hospitalizations for heart conditions compared with areas without any drilling, but heart conditions are influenced by a variety of factors, such as diet, weight, amount of exercise, and use of tobacco and alcohol. The study failed to take any of those factors into account, a huge oversight given that the area in question suffers from a smoking rate of about 33 percent, a significant obesity rate, and high alcohol- and illicit-drug-use rates. The health problems related to these factors increased in both incidence and prevalence during the period in question.
Finally, the authors buried an interesting fact in the study: “In our analysis, one particular zip code had extremely high inpatient prevalence rates compared to other zip codes. Thus, a sensitivity analysis was performed (data not shown). This zip code is located within Wayne County and had no active wells from 2007 to 2011” (emphasis added). The authors, inexplicably, removed “this zip code from the analysis.” The facts evidently did not suit the authors’ agenda here.
It is entirely understandable people would be curious or concerned about the potential health effects of hydraulic fracturing in their communities, but the data-dredging and obvious statistical manipulation deployed in this “study” should be recognized for what they are: advocacy, not epidemiology.
Dr. Theodore F. Them is a specialist in environmental medicine working at Guthrie, the 19th largest health care system in the United States. Isaac Orr (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a research fellow for energy and environmental policy at The Heartland Institute. Follow him on Twitter @thefrackingguy.
One of the most iconic movies of the last 30 years featured Matthew Broderick as “Ferris Bueller,” in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986). The young rapscallion from the upscale, north shore suburbs of Chicago skips school with his girlfriend and best friend, and borrows a neighbor’s Porsche without permission. Conservative commentator Ben Stein is also in the film, as a hapless homeroom teacher calling the roll, “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller” without response, as the camera pans to an empty seat in the classroom, and then cuts to a scene of Ferris driving the classic Porsche. Ferris enjoyed that classic Porsche — there is no substitute, he says, parroting the TV ad of the era for the car.
But what would Bueller think of the new, electric Porsche rolled out this week by Volkswagen AG?
He might be impressed, and interested, if it went from zero to 60 mph in fewer than 3.5 seconds, which it does not. According to a report in The Financial Times, the battery-powered Porsche is, however, capable of travelling 500 kilometers on a single charge and refueling to “almost full in 15 minutes.”
The FT report notes that the 100 per cent electric Mission E Porsche “boasts an 800-volt drive system, more than 600 horse power and is capable of more than 310 miles on a single charge. Though it loses out to the Model S in terms of acceleration — doing 0-60mph in 3.5 seconds, versus less than 3 seconds for Tesla — the charging time is impressive. Porsche says it can reach an 80 per cent charge of electrical energy in only 15 minutes.”
The FT reports that the car is “only at the concept phase,” but Porsche — which is owned by VW — will decide by the end of this year whether to bring the car into commercial production.
The car debuted this week at the prestigious Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. BMW is also developing an all-electric vehicle, as I reported earlier this year for The American Spectator. European automakers are especially concerned with reducing emissions for their luxury car brands, according to the FT, as they face “tough fines” if they don’t offer environmentally-friendly cars by 2020.
In today’s edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Rep. Tara Mack, a Republican member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, representing District 57A (Apple Valley and Burnsville), joins managing editor Kenneth Artz to discuss the future of MNsure, the state’s troubled online health insurance exchange created under Obamacare.
MNsure got off to a rocky start, with many glitches and cost overruns. Following the Supreme Court case, King v. Burwell, many are wondering if it is time to pull the plug? Mack also discusses her new project related to MNsure: A task force designed to take up MNsure’s biggest issues.
The EPA may be in Congressional cross-hairs following it’s role in a Colorado environmental disaster, but an Investigation by the House Science Committee wasn’t stopping them from continuing a host of “cleanup” efforts in mines across the American west.
The EPA was duplicating its efforts at Gold King in at least ten other mines, in four states. According to officials, responding to the Associated Press, work finally stopped a couple of weeks ago, but the EPA is just now disclosing that there efforts went far beyond their work in Colorado, putting residents of California, Missouri and Montana (as well as residents of other locations in Colorado), in danger of facing the same repercussions of EPA malfeasance as residents of the Animas river valley.
Site investigations and some cleanup work at 10 polluted mining complexes in four states were suspended because of conditions similar to those that led to a massive wastewater blowout from an inactive Colorado gold mine, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials said.
The sites include three in California, four in Colorado, two in Montana and one in Missouri, according to details obtained by The Associated Press following repeated requests for the information…”We want to take extra caution before we initiate any work,” Stanislaus said of the work suspensions. Some the mines were abandoned decades ago and have grown more unstable over time, raising the risk of an accident.
The stop-work order was issued last month but officials for weeks refused to disclose specifics.
The EPA has not disclosed their reason for addressing these particular mines, nor have they specified why they targeted the Gold King Mine, particularly as the EPA was part of a community task force, which included local companies with intimate knowledge of the mine, but decided to proceed independently.
According to a report released to Congress by the Inspector General, the EPA went so far as to identify thousands of “contaminated” mine sites, but does not appear to have adequately assessed the harm these potentially hazardous situations were causing to their surrounding areas (thus prioritizing cleanup needs according to potential environmental complications). The EPA also does not appear to have assessed the potential for harm being done in the “cleanup” process. Instead, they engaged in cleanup efforts, apart from established cleanup coalitions, potentially putting thousands of people at risk. The EPA will now assess the remaining 10 mines for their “potential hazard level” and will keep the work stoppage orders in place until the sites are deemed safe for cleanup.
Add Big Labor to the list of Exelon enthusiasts here in Illinois. The decision to defer closing the Quad Cities nuclear power plant will save jobs, there, temporarily, according to the AFL-CIO. State House Democrats are said to be big supporters too of Exelon/Commonwealth Edison. Taxpayers are not big fans of the energy giant, however. The company had to shelve its plan to shutter the Quad Cities facility when the state’s GOP governor refused to endorse its requested bailout plan from Illinois legislators. Ratepayers are still on the hook, though.
This summer, according to a report in The Chicago Tribune, Exelon stated that it would have to increase prices for its electricity customers in Chicago because of management problems with its generation plant downstate. Now that the problems seem to have been overcome, will Exelon/Commonwealth Edison reverse its planned price increases for Chicago? No word from the energy producers on that one, just yet.
“The Illinois AFL-CIO applauds Exelon’s decision to defer a decision about the retirement of the Quad Cities nuclear power station. The AFL-CIO urges the governor and the general assembly to work with all stakeholders to take actions that will help protect the thousands of families and businesses dependent on the continued operation of Illinois’ nuclear power plants,” said Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan, in a statement obtained by Somewhat Reasonable.
Review of Power to the People: The New Road to Freedom and Prosperity for the Poor, Seniors, and Those Most in Need of the World’s Best Health Care, by Peter Ferrara (The Heartland Institute), 2015, 149 pages; ISBN-13: 978-1934791530: $12.95 on Amazon.com.
Books about economic issues often contain many complex charts, graphs, and equations, but they also tend to lack common sense.
Peter Ferrara’s new book, Power to the People: The New Road to Freedom and Prosperity for the Poor, Seniors, and Those Most in Need of the World’s Best Health Care, is not one of those books.
Drawing on his 35 years of experience at Harvard Law School, in the Reagan administration, and at the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and The Heartland Institute, which publishes Budget & Tax News, Ferrara shows how elected officials have been primarily interested in retaining power and pandering to their special interests and uninterested in actually solving the problems the nation faces.
By ignoring simple solutions for providing a social safety net, lawmakers have bloated the nation’s entitlement programs, making them ineffective and indeed harmful to the people they’re supposed to serve. Like many answers to the questions facing lawmakers today, Ferrara’s simple solutions are based on commonsense, constitutional, and free-market principles.
For example, Ferrara explains one of the most complex entitlement programs in modern history, Obamacare, in an easily understandable manner. The only confusion left in the reader’s mind will be how it ever became a law.
“Throwing out the separation of powers, Obamacare grants the president unprecedented power, taking us back before the Magna Carta, with monarchial power for the president to bypass Congress completely,” Ferrara wrote.
Harming Instead of Helping
Ferrara explains how the U.S. welfare system operates in reverse, keeping people in poverty and continually adding to the welfare rolls.
By penalizing the nation’s impoverished when they attempt to work, poverty programs place the equivalent of a 70–100 percent effective tax rate on earned income. Backing up these anecdotes with data, the book details the harmful outcomes caused by the federal government’s 200 separate welfare programs, 186 of which are listed by name.
Central to Ferrara’s plan is the use of federal block grants to put the states in charge of how welfare funds are spent. That would empower states to make more sensible decisions and improve the quality of care, Ferrara explains.
“With the states back in charge, each would have the flexibility to structure its welfare system to suit the needs and circumstances of its citizens,” Ferrara said.
Ferrara says returning this power to state governments would allow experimentation. States would be able to implement policies meeting their own unique needs, and successful policy reforms would be copied by other states over time.
Power to the People is big on ideas, but it does not overwhelm the reader with complexity. Instead of leaving one with confusion, it leaves the reader with amazement that such obvious answers to the problems facing our nations were not enacted long ago.
Former Vice President Al Gore has been proven wrong by reality, once again, on the environmental front. Blogger Steven Goddard at Real Science is citing information from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, demonstrating that the Arctic ice mass, as of last week, is much larger than it was three years ago this month. “Nobel Prize winning climate experts and journalists tell us that the Arctic is ice-free, because they are propagandists pushing an agenda, not actual scientists or journalists,” he writes. The Arctic ice mass “has gained hundreds of miles … much of which is thick, multi-year ice.” The predictions of an ice-free Arctic by scientists — and former politicians — who believe mankind is causing global warming are false.
The conservative news site, WND/Worldnet Daily, recently reported that Cairo, Egypt, saw its first snow in 100 years. The U.S. state of Oregon reached its coldest temperature in 40 years. The city of Chicago saw the coldest days ever recorded, and even “Antarctica reached the coldest temperature ever recorded anywhere on earth.” If the Earth is warming, there is not much evidence of that, though, to be sure, there is a difference between climate and weather.Among Gore’s most fatuous claims, “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” said the former vice president. Gore also told an audience in a 2009 speech that “the entire north polar ice cap during some of the summer months could be completely ice-free within the next five to seven years.” And his 2006 documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” fraudulently predicted increasing temperatures would cause earth’s oceans to rise by 20 feet, a claim many scientists say is utterly “without rational basis,” according to WND.
While cybersecurity risk may be the familiar and recognizable type of cyber systemic risk, it is only recognizable like the tip of an iceberg is recognizable, because most cyber systemic risk lurks well out of view, deep beneath the surface in the ocean of virtual ones and zeros.
“Cyber systemic risk” generally is the Internet version of the financial crisis’ hard lesson of “systemic risk,” where the world learned that risks or disruptions to one or a few financial institutions could cascade to become risks or disruptions to the broader financial ecosystem. That’s because the inherent inter-linkages and inter-dependencies of financial institutions’ debt and liquidity exposed the then underappreciated fragility of the interwoven financial system.
The financial crisis exposed the need and the requirement for corporations to be more vigilant concerning enterprise risk management (ERM). Consequently the next crisis exposing enterprise risk is less likely to happen from a replay of known financial systemic risks, but from new unappreciated or ignored cyber systemic risks.
Cyber systemic risk is arguably more serious than financial systemic risk. That’s because the Internet inherently is: the most inter-linked, inter-dependent, intermediary system ever created; an insecure and un-private system; and more centralized and concentrated at the top than the financial ecosystem.
And cyber systemic risks are proliferating faster than ever because of the virtual and actual world’s increasingly diverging economics, politics, freedoms, capabilities, playing fields, standards, rules, and limits.
Conceptually, the notion of anticipating, analyzing and alleviating cyber systemic risk first has long been the practical focus of Precursor LLC, and will continue to be going forward.
I coined “cyber systemic risk” as a logical and necessary new term and risk subcategory, to identify and spotlight the real but unappreciated, emergent existential systemic risks to companies (beyond cybersecurity threats), from the virtual and actual world’s increasingly diverging realities.
Expect Precursor to flesh out cyber systemic risk more going forward.
Commonwealth Edison Parent Company Postpones Plan to Seek Corporate Welfare from Springfield for One Year
Energy provider Exelon continues to claim that it will lose money on its Quad Cities nuclear power plant, even though it has just reached a revenue deal for more than a quarter of a billion dollars for that facility, according to a report in the online edition of Crain’s Chicago Business.
“Exelon is reversing course and will keep its troubled Quad Cities nuclear plant open at least through mid-2018 after the company’s Illinois nuclear plants obtained yet another $270 million-plus revenue infusion courtesy of the grid operator for the region including northern Illinois,” CCB reports. “The plant still is projected to lose about $50 million that year, Exelon Executive Vice President Joseph Dominguez said in an interview. But the overall improvement in Exelon’s Illinois revenue picture prompted executives to change their mind and wait at least another year before deciding Quad Cities’ future.”
According to the business weekly, The Quad Cities “reprieve” will now push Exelon’s bailout bill – requesting subsidies from Illinois taxpayers — into next year’s legislative session.
“Asked whether Exelon would find it difficult to persuade lawmakers to force ratepayers statewide to subsidize the plants to the tune of $300 million a year . . .Mr. Dominguez said, “We’ve never taken the position that we just need $300 million. . .”
The Heartland Institute celebrated its Grand Opening on Friday, August 21 and Saturday, August 22 in his new building in the affluent suburb of Arlington Heights on Chicago’s Northwest side at 3939 North Wilke Road. This puts Heartland closer to O’Hare Airport – as well as to supporters and audiences who better align with “Heartland values.”
Heartland was founded in downtown Chicago by David Padden in 1984, hiring Joseph Bast as its first employee, who has made running the organization his life’s work. The organization had been downtown for most of its 31 years, but Bast said Heartland was seeking to relocate to a place where its free-market ideas would be welcomed – rather than subject to the kind of open hostility they often saw in Chicago.
Bast went on to explain about how while looking for a suburban place to rent, they found the perfect building for sale in Arlington Heights. Thanks to a donor, the building could be bought and renovated without incurring any debt, but it is hoped that enough further donations will be received so Heartland’s activities can be expanded.
And it is a unique building. The new, single-story home for Heartland is about 14,000 square feet – about 30 percent larger than their space at One South Wacker downtown — and features multiple gables, a shingled roof, and dormers for great “curb appeal.” Prudential Insurance built the structure in 1992, at a time when the company built many similar buildings in affluent neighborhoods. The company never moved in, however, and only one-third of the building was occupied, allowing Heartland to custom renovate most of their new headquarters. Added bonuses include its free, off-road parking for 68 cars, a public meeting space that can seat up to 85 people, a library that can hold 80 bookcases, and enough work stations for 45 staff and interns.
Future plans, Bast said, includes inviting academics to be resident scholars, putting them up to stay for a week or more to do research, and opening the event space to local grass-roots activists and Tea Party groups. The event space also includes state-of-the-art audio and visual equipment, which will allow live-streaming of speaking events for Heartland.
In measuring the impact and success of the Heartland Institute at its Grand Opening, Joe Bast cited as its “Marketing Bulls-eye” the 7,300 state legislators in the U.S. who receive something from Heartland every single week. This outreach to legislators helps changes minds on public policy, Bast said, even among Democratic legislative members.
As to keeping up with new technology, Bast further related how Heartland is in the forefront of developing innovative ways to reach new audiences, It is in the early stages of producing videos on fracking and global warming, as well as launching a broad marketing strategy to general audiences via radio advertisements.
Consider also the influence of Heartland given the many sites it hosts. In addition to its own main Heartland.org Web site, Heartland hosts 17 other websites. Heartland also hosts a blog, Somewhat Reasonable, where Heartland senior staff and senior fellows post frequent commentaries that may depart from the usual calm and disinterested tone of its other publications.
An important product of Heartland is PolicyBot, a search engine and database containing more than 32,000 reports, news articles, and commentaries from some 300 think tanks and advocacy groups, including The Heartland Institute’s own publications. PolicyBot can be searched by keyword, author, publisher, and date of publication, making it an ideal resource for researchers and legislative staffers. This is a great research tool that you must check out!
President Bast considers it a compliment what The Economist magazine had to say about The Heartland Institute on May 16, 2012, calling it “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change.”Bast also expressed pride in how in a span of four days, all the preparations were made to fly a Heartland delegation to Rome to contest the U.N.-driven climate change message by Pope Francis. The April event took place over two days and was a great public relations achievement.
Following Joe Bast’s welcoming remarks, the Friday morning session featured presentations by those who deal with the main issues and topics covered by The Heartland Institute as a leading think tank.
Part 2 will tell of the extraordinary work being done at The Heartland Institute by in-staff personnel and by those who are involved in promoting the five key issues tackled by Heartland: climate change, school reform, health care, budgets, taxes, and entitlement reform, and just added, a center on constitutional reform. In-depth research on these five issues qualifies The Heartland Institute as a major think thank that has more influence than thank tanks with budgets ten times as large.
What’s really going on?
His candidacy’s purported single purpose of “citizen equality” is really a Trojan horse attempt to prohibit corporate contributions to political campaigns, so government can produce a more egalitarian society.
The political agenda hidden inside Mr. Lessig’s Trojan horse candidacy is network neutrality.
Net neutrality is the tech egalitarian notion that “all bits are created equal” meaning government must ban commercial Internet traffic discrimination so that the Internet can become an egalitarian commons.
Mr. Lessig and his far left elite cohort envision the Internet and digital technology as a historical hinge, a massive political opportunity to create a more egalitarian world, via government mandates that the Internet and digital technology be programmed to automatically produce egalitarian, not commercial, outcomes.
Professor Lessig’s first books: Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, The Future of Ideas – The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, and Free Culture – How Big Media Use Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Creativity, are his collective manifesto that computer code is law and it must be neutral/egalitarian, not commercial.
Frustrated that commercial interests oppose his utopian vision of a non-commercial Internet commons, Mr. Lessig has become obsessed with campaign finance reform as a means to defund his political opponents.
Two big ironies come with Mr. Lessig’s quixotic candidacy.
First it is ironic that the FCC’s March decision to implement President Obama’s call for net neutrality via regulating ISPs as public telephone utilities, is a policy u-turn from President Clinton’s 1994 bipartisan Internet policy to commercialize the Internet, which enabled the Internet to grow into the hugely successful marketplace we know today.
At least part of the reason Mr. Lessig is running for president, is because he knows the partisan net neutrality gains enjoyed at the FCC are at serious risk of defunding from Congress, of overturning in court, and/or reversal by a potential Republican President in 2017.
Second it is ironic is that Presidential candidate Lessig, who is running against the alleged “corruption” of politics by non-transparent, big moneyed interests, actually used non-transparent, big moneyed interests to achieve his partisan net neutrality outcome at the FCC.
How did net neutrality, an idea spawned by Mr. Lessig’s 1999 book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, become the de facto law of the land sixteen years later, via a partisan FCC decision in March by three unelected commissioners, over the strong majority opposition of a publicly-elected Congress?
Could big moneyed interests be behind Mr. Lessig’s plan to dictate egalitarian laws of cyberspace?
As it turns out, a January 2015 study by the Media Research Center showed that just two entities were responsible for $196m in funding for pro-net neutrality groups between 2000 and 2013, the Ford Foundation and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations.
During that period, Mr. Lessig was on the boards of three pro-net neutrality organizations which enjoyed generous funding from big moneyed interests, Public Knowledge from 2002-2007, FreePress from 2007-2009, and the Sunlight Foundation from 2008 to present.
Since the Sunlight Foundation’s purported purpose is to make “politics more accountable and transparent to all” have Mr. Lessig or the Sunlight Foundation brought any sunlight to the big moneyed interests, like the Ford Foundation, Soro’s Open Society Foundation, Google and Netflix, who are responsible for helping get a partisan majority of unelected FCC commissioners to mandate net neutrality over the objections of a publicly-elected Congress?
Let me suggest a couple accountability questions for a candidate like Mr. Lessig running exclusively in opposition to the “corruption” of hidden big moneyed interests in American politics.
Since your website says: “a core corruption of our political system is the concentration of funders of political campaigns, [and] that concentration creates extraordinary inequality,” was the FCC’s partisan net neutrality decision in March corrupted by the extraordinary concentration of pro-net neutrality funding from just three entities: The Ford and Open Society Foundations and Google?
Do your definitions of “public corruption” and “inequality” depend on whether you agree or disagree with political funders’ policy positions?