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ICCC-10, First Day was Amazing, Informative

June 12, 2015, 1:46 AM

The first day of the Heartland Institute’s 10th International Climate Change Conference has come and gone, and, though as a member of The Heartland Institute I may be a bit biased, it was amazing.

The day opened with a rousing breakfast keynote address by the inspirational leader of the climate realists on Capitol Hill, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Inhofe was awarded Heartland’s 2015 Political Leadership on Climate Change Award, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and in exchange treated the assembled attendees a rousing discussion of the highs and lows of his experience fighting for a rational assessment of climate science and climate policy in his tenure as a Senator.

With that as a warm up, the true meat of the conference began with morning breakout sessions on topics including, Climate Science, Climate Science and Accurate Data (at which I was honored to serve as a moderator), Energy Realities and Energy Policy.

The panel on Climate Science and Accurate Data was my favorite, not because I moderated it, just to be clear, but because it was so timely. As anyone stays up to date on climate shenanigans is probably aware, just last week the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tweaked its data again to find — contrary to every other international data set, the IPCC’s own findings and the world’s weather balloon and satellite data sets, that there has been no pause in the earths warming, rather, contrary to it own previous records, and the records from every other source — the ongoing 18 year hiatus in global warming is to be written out of the temperature records and history books. That’s right NOAA now denies what is obvious to every other scientific body on earth, that despite an ongoing rise in carbon dioxide emissions, the earth has not warmed for nearly two decades. At the same, time, as has been uncovered country after country, has been adjusting or fiddling with their temperature data. Consistently, homogenizing (that’s the word they use) past data to make it appear cooler than was actually recorded, and adjusting more recent data to make it appear warmer than has actually been recorded, with the result that the warming trend appears steeper and the amount of warming experience greater than actual measured temperature show.

Anthony Watts northern California’s KPAY’s resident meteorologist originator of SurfaceStations.org, a Web site devoted to photographing and documenting the quality of weather stations across the U.S. led off the panel with a presentation is entitled, Government Gate keepers and the true temperature record. Watt’s explained much of temperature data that we collect, even before the government tampers with the raw data, is simply biased because it is recorded and gathered from inherently unreliable (because of where they are located) surface thermometers.
Then, Dr. Roy Spencer, a giant among climate realists, explained improvements to the weather satellite monitoring network he and colleague, Dr. John Christy, working at the University of Alabama – Huntsville, in conjunction with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, created and run.
J. Scott Armstrong, Ph.D. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, closed the panel. He discussed his work with his colleague Kesten Green, the two of whom founded the Journal of Forecasting, International Journal of Forecasting, and International Symposium on Forecasting. Armstrong, Green and others have determined what principles are necessary provide the most accurate forecasts possible, and it will surprise almost no one to know that climate alarmists violate almost every one of them. Armstrong’s presentation was entitled, Global Warming? It’s a forecasting problem.

At lunch, the assembled were treated to another powerful keynote address by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, where he discussed his efforts to ensure that the science used by executive agencies (primarily the EPA) to make regulatory policy is the best science possible, by requiring it be publicly available for testing, replication and, if it happens to be the case, falsification. He detailed promises made by the Obama administration to be transparent and forthcoming with scientific data and how it violated every one of those promises, hiding, attempting to destroy, and avoiding the release of the science used to make clean air and clean water rules.

Closing out lunch, University of Delaware Climatologist, David Legates discussed the trial and travails he has been through in defending sound climate science. For his efforts, Legates was awarded Heartland’s 2015  Courage in Defense of Science Award, sponsored by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The afternoon had panels on the international experience with climate policies, economic analyses of proposed climate policies, and the national security and human health implications of climate change and policies proposed to prevent or slow it.

The first day closed on an uplifting note with the awarding of the Fredrick Seitz Memorial Award, sponsored by the Science and Environmental Policy Project, to prominent physicist William Happer. Happer’s remarks chronicled the Alice in Wonderland fantasy-like ravings climate alarmists.

The conference has international representation, including speakers and attendees from Canada, China, Germany, India, Ireland, Switzerland, Malaysia, the Navajo Nation, New Zealand and  the UK. And among the dozens of representatives of the media attending were members of the press in Sweden and Germany.

Also attending were numerous state legislators from across the country including representatives and senators from Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Interviewed by a television crew, one of the questions I was asked was why I I thought the conference was a success. Part of my response was that it would be a success if just one person in the group learned one new thing to help them battle climate alarmists in their attempts transform the economic system of the world and extend government control over peoples lives. However, I pointed out, at ICCC-10, everyone, even veterans of the climate wars such as myself, learned dozens of things they did not know before attending, leaving us all better armed for the ongoing conflict to uphold sound science and economics in the discussion of climate policies.

Categories: On the Blog

Taxpayers Funding Al Gore-Affiliated Energy Boondoggle Through Ex-Im Bank

June 11, 2015, 4:28 PM

In a few short days, Congress will be considering whether to re-up authorization for the Export-Import Bank, an entity designed to facilitate trade and international cooperation by providing taxpayer-funded loans. After a series of exposes and watchdog reports, concerned primarily with the expansion of the Ex-Im loan program under the Obama Administration, the Ex-Im Bank’s re-authorization isn’t a done deal.

According to a recent report from American Transparency, which researched the Ex-Ims loans since 2007, most of the $172 billion in loans the Ex-Im has doled out has gone to large corporations, including Boeing, Halliburton, Exxon Mobil and General Electric, in something of a massive crony capitalism scheme. Where the numbers get really concerning, however, is how much the Ex-Im, which is funded by American taxpayers, has doled out to green energy boondoggles that, in some cases, were supposed to be kept at arms length from taxpayer funds.

One such case is that of Abengoa, a Spanish company that has routinely benefited from American taxpayers’ unintentional generosity. Marita Noon, a well-known author and researcher, has been tracking the tale of Abengoa, which includes more than $2.5 billion in Department of Energy grants from the same program that facilitated “green energy” boondoggle, Solyndra. Although Abengoa is a general alternative energy company, it has two American solar projects, Solana – a solar thermal plant – and Mojave – a solar assembly collection, both located in California and both billion-dollar grant recipients under the DOE loan program, as well as a biofuel project in Kansas. According to Noon, leadership for these projects justified obtaining the grants by rationalizing that a loan guarantee is not an “explicit subsidy” and that taxpayers would be protected if anything happened, as it did with similarly situated Solyndra.

Abengoa has had its share of problems, which Noon documents in a Daily Caller expose from last year. The criticisms range from poor management practices, to concerning bidding processes, to crony connections to local legislators, including Dianne Feinstein, to health insurance fraud, immigration abnormalities and deliberately delayed payments to contractors. But all along, it insisted that it was subsisting on its own quite well. But thanks to revelations in the AT’s report, we know that Abengoa was taking millions from the Ex-Im bank, meaning they were certainly not walled off from taxpayer funds.

The addendum highlights the $3 billion green energy companies received from Ex-Im. There are more than $140 million worth of failures within the financial transaction portfolio—though “additional time, resources and further research would turn up much more.”

Solyndra is on the list. Just six months before its infamous bankruptcy, Ex-Im, in February 2011, approved $10.3 million in long-term credit to Solyndra’s exports to Belgium.

Spanish solar company Abengoa, which is under investigation for a variety of violations, has an interesting connection to Ex-Im: Former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson is an advisory board member to Ex-Im and sits on Abengoa’s advisory board. The addendum states: “Abengoa has obligations of over $225 million in Ex-Im support.”

Bill Richardson is incredibly important to Abengoa’s financial health. Richardson sits on Abengoa’s International board as well as the Ex-Im bank advisory board. He joined Ex-Im’s board at the end of 2012, at around the same time that the first two Ex-Im loans, totaling around $150 million were issued to Abengoa. In 2013, while Richardson sat on both boards, Ex-Im authorized a second round of loans totaling $33 million.

The bank itself insists that Richardson had little to do with any decision explicitly authorizing the transfer of money, but that doesn’t mean that Richardson hasn’t exacted his influence on key decision-makers other ways. In 2013, when the Free Beacon was doing their investigation, he headlined a fundraiser for Diane Farrell’s congressional campaign, Farrell being a former director of Ex-Im bank who had, conveniently, approved a large loan to Abengoa to open a solar plant in Mexico just two years earlier.

Richardson also has another very important connection that greatly benefited Abengoa: the godfather of the green energy movement himself, Al Gore.

Gore’s company, Generation Investment Management, has a stake in Abengoa. Gore himself has had a crush on Abengoa’s operations for years, visiting their solar platform in Seville, Spain- a visit that Abengoa still keeps a record of on its website. He returned to Abengoa’s headquarters two years later to deliver a major speech on alternative energy sources. Abengoa shares at least one advisory board member with GIM as well. This connection – along with reams of political spending – has helped Abengoa secure government loan after government grant after government loan.

As the Ex-Im bank nears re-authorization, it’s important to note exactly what it means for green energy companies and what it means for taxpayers – most importantly, how taxpayer funds are being used to create a seemingly endless stream of finance for well-connected companies that might not otherwise survive market forces. Green energy makes a lot of people very rich, often on the backs of Americans who don’t know where their money is going.

Categories: On the Blog

Green Groups’ Deceptive Con Game

June 11, 2015, 3:05 PM

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As several business owners in North Carolina recently found out, “green” nonprofits aren’t always forthcoming about their agendas. Despite receiving tens of millions of dollars from billionaires like Tom Steyer and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, many of these environmental groups have taken to desperate measures to attract support from the general public for their unpopular agendas.

Recently, investigative journalists at the Asheville Citizen-Times and National Review revealed that the Sierra Club had allegedly added signatories to a petition demanding that Duke Energy cease the operations of one of its coal-fired power plants in Asheville, North Carolina. Of the 80 businesses listed on the petition, at least six had never agreed to lend their support to the Sierra Club at all, several claimed to be victims of bait-and-switch, strong-arming tactics and one didn’t even exist.

These businesses reportedly signed up for information relating to the Sierra Club’s environmental agenda, which included helping the group address concerns about the Duke plant’s waste management. Calling for the plant’s outright closure, however, was not something they signed their names to.

These questionable and unethical practices have earned the Sierra Club a spot on Charity Navigator’s “watch list,” a major warning to potential donors and signatories that they may want to think twice before supporting groups that engage in dishonest behavior. Disturbingly, the Sierra Club is only the latest environmental nonprofit to exhibit bad behavior and be forced to address public relations nightmares over the last year.

Last December, Greenpeace “climate activists”damaged Nazca, a world-renowned United Nations World Heritage site, by traipsing across the drawings that are carved into the desert of this ancient Peruvian city.

Greenpeace claimed it was trying to spread the good word about climate change to a nearby conference, whose attendees would fly over the ancient artifact. It also claimed that it was saving the Incan monuments for future generations, all the while blatantly disregarding the fragility of this sacred site by using it as the latest backdrop for a publicity stunt.

Green groups, including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, lobbied last year for the government to brand grocery store steaks with warnings similar to those that appear on cigarette cartons. They have shown how disconnected they are from most Americans with their efforts to ban lead in ammunition and by pursuing other restrictions and even bans on plastic grocery bags, bottled water, fireworks, salt and common household products like pesticides and plastics. These groups once even tried to ban the capture and release of butterflies.

Equally troubling are the actions of these groups’ allies in the government who regularly work to advance their shared objectives through the use of the heavy-handed government regulatory process.

A hard hitting New York Times exposé last year revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency received extensive assistance from the Natural Resources Defense Council in drafting its highly-criticized proposal to regulate carbon emissions from power plants. It is troubling that the federal government would allow a biased environmental organization to offer input into a regulation that will affect much of the power sector.

Alarmingly it seems the EPA is taking things a step further, as outlined in a new New York Times investigative piece. The article reports on the EPA’s efforts to manufacture public support for its own rules and regulations. In the most contentious rulemaking efforts, the EPA has spent taxpayer funds to allegedly generate favorable comments to its official docket in an organized campaign that some have indicated could be a violation of the federal Anti-Lobbying Act.

The EPA’s efforts to confuse the general public on the true level of support for the very regulations the environmental community is alleged to have drafted should outrage every taxpayer.

While most Americans see themselves as compassionate stewards of the environment, they must be aware that the nonprofit green groups many of them support may actually be engaged in a deceptive con game to further their own agendas.

Given the new allegations of collusion between green groups and the EPA, perhaps there should be a Charity Navigator watch list for the federal government.

[Originally published at the Washington Examiner]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Government Regulations Impact on Small Businesses

June 11, 2015, 1:29 PM

What’s a more iconic American postcard than young kids operating their own lemonade stands? Children from all decades have been encouraged to open lemonade stands to understand the value of the dollar and the responsibilities held with owning and operating a business. Zoey and Andria Green, 8 and 7 years old respectively, decided to start up their own stand selling lemonade and popcorn to earn enough money to buy their dad a present for Father’s Day. The girls made 1/3 of their goal before they were shut down by local enforcement for not having a legal permit. The girls wanted to continue their business but the cost of the permit and inspections by the Texas Health Department did not outweigh the reward. Zoey and Andria have learned at a young age the impact of government regulations on an entrepreneur in hopes of opening their own business.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, small businesses in the United States account for over half of the employees in the working population. They are also responsible for creating 65% of the new net jobs since 1995 and 50% of the nation’s annual GDP. The federal government has not been supportive of these businesses and has increased regulations under the Obama Administration. The majority of small business owners believe businesses are over-regulated and it is affecting their “operation environment.” Less owners believe they will be able to hire anyone in the coming months and 55% of owners said they would not start a business today given what they know now about current regulatory environment (Source:  NAM/NFIB Survey, “Small Businesses and Manufacturers:  Government a Barrier”).

The United States has dropped out of the top 10 rankings in ease for starting a business and will continue to drop if more and more regulations continue to be imposed (Source: U.S. World Bank). According to the Heritage Foundation, regulatory burdens on Americans increased by $70 billion during Obama’s first term in office.

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and a symbol of the American Dream. Not only will young entrepreneurs like Zoey and Andria abandon their vision of opening their own business, but regulations will also halt the innovation and expansion of American businesses as a whole.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Isaac Orr: EPA Report Finds Fracking Poses No Threat

June 11, 2015, 12:42 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, H. Sterling Burnett, managing editor of Environment & Climate News speaks with Isaac Orr. Orr is a Heartland Research Fellow and energy expert. Orr and Burnett talk about the EPA’s new report on hydraulic fracturing.

The new EPA report concluded that fracking poses almost no threat to the nation’s water supplies. Orr also discusses his two recent policy studies on frac sand mining which show the tremendous economic benefit and almost non-existent environmental risks from frac sand mining.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Alabama State House Fails to take up the Compact for a Balanced Budget

June 11, 2015, 10:00 AM

Alabama State Capitol

Efforts to enact the Compact for a Balanced Budget in Alabama fell short on Friday, June 5.

Senate Bill 414 failed to receive a final vote in the Alabama House of Representatives before its 2014–15 session ended. Legislators will have to be called back into a special session this summer to deal with a state budget shortfall of $200 million. Chances are very slim that the compact will be brought up during special session.

Alabama would have been the fifth state in the nation to enact a compact-driven approach for a  balanced budget amendment. The state’s Senate approved the compact by a vote of 22 to 8 on May 28th.

Lawmakers in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, and Wyoming failed to enact the compact this session according to the “Article V Convention Legislative Progress Report.” Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, and North Dakota have already enacted the legislation.

An Article V convention for a balanced budget amendment can be called if two-thirds of the state legislatures submit joint resolutions to Congress calling for such action.

Categories: On the Blog

Ten Years after Katrina the Results Point a Path Forward Improving Education

June 10, 2015, 2:31 PM

It’s been 10 years since hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans destroying nearly everything in its path, including the schools. The destruction gave the state an opportunity to reconstruct failing schools and the corrupt school district within New Orleans. “All but seventeen of them into its new Recovery School District (RSD), created just two years before to take over failing schools. Gradually, the RSD converted them all into charters. Today it oversees fifty-seven charters in the city, while the old Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) oversees fourteen charters and operates five traditional schools.”

Results for the first decade appear below. They are clearly not perfect and there have been failures along the way, but overall, there has been some remarkable progress. The chart below gives a quick comparison of before and after Katrina results.

 

Before Katrina (2005)

 

After Katrina (2015)

State District Ranking

67 out of 68

41 out of 69

Percent Attending Failing Schools

62

7

Percent Students Performing at or above grade level

35

62

Percent Graduating 4 Years

54.4

73

Percent Attended College

< 20

59

RSD Percent at or above grade level

23*

57

Students receiving free or reduced lunch

77

84**

Percent African American

93

85**

Percent White

3

7**

Percent African American students performing at or above grade level

8 points below state average – lowest in state

5 points above state average

Sources:

* Data from 2007, first full year of the RSD operations
** Data from 2012/13 school year (last available)

A couple of examples of the very poor education in New Orleans before Katrina are summed up in the following two incidents:

  1. Leslie Jacobs discussing judging essays of high school students:

    “I was president of an insurance brokerage firm, and I could not hire any of these kids for an entry-level position as a receptionist,” she remembers. “Their essays had a failure of noun-verb agreement, of sentence structure, paragraphing, punctuation, much less the ability to convey something persuasively. I looked at their transcripts, and they all had straight As. It was the most depressing night.”

  2. In 2003, the Alcee Fortier High School valedictorian could not graduate due to failing the Graduate Exit Exam (GEE). The valedictorian failed the exam five times.

Louisiana put accountability rules in place for its traditional public schools and charters two years prior to hurricane Katrina. These rules led to disciplinary action against some charters and the closing of 15 over the years in New Orleans.

The results are clear from the chart below. There has been a rapid rate of improvement, especially in the RSD.

Figure 1. Percent of Students at Basic (Grade Level) or Above on Standardized Tests, 2007–14*

* The 2014 exams were more difficult because they were more closely aligned with the Common Core standards, which explains why progress leveled off in the RSD and the state and OPSB scores fell. The 2013 and 2014 data exclude end-of-course high school tests, which replaced the old Graduate Exit Exams. But on the “end-of-course” tests that replaced it, the percentage of RSD high school students in New Orleans who scored “excellent” or “good” rose from 31 in 2011-12 to 47 in 2013–14—more than twice as fast as the state average.

The move to charters empowered administrators to implement their vision.

Sabrina Pence, who ran the charter that pioneered the use of educational software in New Orleans, says that would have been impossible in a traditional district. “I was a principal in a district school, and I only controlled a small amount of my budget. I got $14,000, for paper and supplies. If there is one reason I love being in a charter school, that’s it—prioritizing your resources around your strategy.”

The move to charters brought much innovation to meet specific niches and needs.

There are “no excuses” schools, with strict discipline, long school days and years, and a laser-like focus on getting poor, black children into college. But there is also a Montessori school, where children are free to pursue their own interests and each class contains a three-year age span. There are schools with a special focus on science and mathematics, technology, creative arts, and language immersion. There are schools that offer the demanding International Baccalaureate program, a military and maritime high school, and three alternative high schools for students who are overage, far behind, or have been expelled.

Every year, more alternatives appear. Bricolage Academy, an elementary school that aims for racial and income diversity and uses project-based learning to stimulate critical thinking, opened in 2013. A charter high school has created a career and technical education program, in which students earn industry certification from a local community college. Many CMOs now use educational software to help children learn at their own pace and teachers spend more time with those who need help. Several have created programs for students with emotional and behavioral problems.

In addition to innovation, moving to an almost all-charter model puts parents in charge of their children’s education. Parents are empowered to choose instead of the old method of being told what school they would attend based on street address. They can now choose the school that best fit their child’s learning needs and interests. It gave them the power to change schools if the school they started with did not meet their needs.

The “New Orleans miracle,” as some call it, is one of the many implementation paths improving education, especially in urban areas. Competition, innovation, parental empowerment, and accountability should be embraced by state legislators, and even school districts themselves. Every child deserves access to a quality education and school choice provides the path.

Categories: On the Blog

Report: Anti-Nuclear Regulations Based on False Science, Lies

June 10, 2015, 12:52 PM

WASHINGTON — A new report by the conservative Capital Research Center (CRC) indicates that the U.S. government’s policy on radiation exposure is premised upon “irrational fear” and “discredited science,” and denies Americans easy access to technology that could reduce the cost of electricity. The Green Watch report from CRS, entitled, Fear Itself, was distributed to conservative activists at a background briefing near Capitol Hill this morning.  Called the “Linear No Threshold” theory by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational, Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and allies on the environmental Left, the theory posits that “any tiny amount” of radiation will kill “some number” of people per every million or billion exposed. “The idea, in essence, is this,” the June 2015 report indicates, “If 100 aspirins would kill the average person, then the same person would be killed by taking 100 aspirin at the rate of one a day for 100 days, or, if one day, 100 people each took one aspirin, then one of those hundred people would die.”

The theory was put forth in the 1930s by a geneticist, Hermann Muller, who was an ardent socialist, and was guilty about working on the Manhattan Project to create the atomic bomb. Muller argued that there is “no” safe level of radiation exposure, an argument later exposed by researchers as a “lie,” according to the report.

“The Linear-No-Threshold model and the radiation standards that are rooted in LNT don’t just hurt the country by inhibiting nuclear power and radiation-based medical technology,” the report concludes. “They make us much more vulnerable to terrorism by magnifying the destructive effects of potential attacks. That’s another reason to dump LNT on the ash heap of history.”

Nuclear power plant regulations are based on faulty science, a new report argues.

Categories: On the Blog

Republican Study Committee (RSC) Moves Forward To Repeal, Replace ‘Obamacare’

June 10, 2015, 12:32 PM

A Congressman from a Southern state says that one of his voters was told that she could get better health insurance under Obamacare, but only if she got divorced first.

WASHINGTON — A proposal by the Republican Study Committee (RSC) to “repeal and replace” the controversial Obamacare health reform law has been formally introduced in recent days in both the U.S. House and Senate. The RSC is a caucus of 170 conservative members of Congress. founded in 1973 by activist Paul Weyrich.

Calling the Affordable Care Act (ACA) a “massive and spectacular failure,” a GOP Congressman discussed the measure during a background briefing in Washington today, near Capitol Hill. The new legislation “honors federalism,” the Congressman said, during the briefing, as it enables states to “restrain spending on federally mandated health insurance programs.”

One leading conservative activist said the bill, called The American Health Care Reform Act, was “extremely important.”

Health Care ‘Caste System’

A second GOP Congressman speaking at the background briefing indicated that Obamacare has created a “caste system” of health insurance coverage, which has interfered with the ability of his constituents in a large Southern state to obtain prompt medical care. A voter in his district e-mailed him to say that she was told by Obamacare administrators that she could obtain better health insurance, but only if she divorced her husband.

The bill is opposed by trial lawyers, analysts said at the meeting this morning. “This legislation fully repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and healthcare-related provisions in the Health Care Education and Reconciliation Act, effective Jan. 1, 2016,” the legislation indicates in Title I, called, Repeal of Obamacare. “This legislation will level the playing field between those who receive insurance from an employer and those purchasing it in the individual market.”

For more information on the pending bill, go to, http://rsc.flores.house.gov/

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Matt Mayer: The Cost of Prevailing-Wage Laws

June 10, 2015, 11:11 AM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Jesse Hathaway, managing editor of Budget & Tax News speaks with Matt Mayer. Mayer, a Heartland policy advisor, is president of Opportunity Ohio as well as Chief Operating Officer of the Liberty Foundation. Mayer joins Hathaway to help explain the world of prevailing wage and project labor agreements (PLAs).

Prevailing wage and project labor agreements tend to jack up the price of taxpayer-funded government projects. Mayer says PLAs and prevailing-wage laws increase the cost of government construction projects by 20 percent or so, and work to keep non-union contractors from being selected for projects.

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

Categories: On the Blog

“Skeptics” Gather in D.C.

June 10, 2015, 9:50 AM

On Thursday and Friday, June 11-12, there will be a gathering of some of the nation’s and the world’s leading climate change “skeptics” in Washington, D.C. and joining them will be members of Congress and their staffs. The Tenth International Conference on Climate Change will occur and the odds are that the mainstream media, as it has done for all the previous conferences, will do its best to ignore it.

In attendance as well will be scores of scientists, economists, and policy experts for a conference being held just two blocks from a White House in which the President of the United States resides while lying about “climate change” as the greatest threat to the planet.

In March, the Gallup Poll revealed that “Although climate scientists have been in the news describing this winter as a strong signal that global warming is producing more extreme weather, Americans are no more likely today (55%) than in the past two years to believe the effects of global warming are occurring.”

The Conference is sponsored by The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based free-market think tank and, while most of us have heard of the Rand Corporation or the Heritage Foundation, Heartland is one of the those power houses that labors without the “image” accorded others.

Founded in 1984, it has a full-time staff of 31 with approximately 235 academics and professional economists who participate in its peer-review process, plus more than 160 elected officials who serve on its Legislative Forum. In addition to the environment, its scholars also focus on education, health, budget and tax issues.

I have been a Heartland policy analyst for so long I can’t recall when I joined. Approximately 8,300 supporters contribute to its annual budget of $6 million. It does not accept government funding.

Without your knowing it, the nine conferences that preceded the current one have had a dramatic impact on your life and wallet. For one thing, you’re not being robbed by a “carbon tax” aimed at “reducing greenhouse gases.” On the other hand, you may be at risk of losing a coal-fired plant that provides your electricity if the Environmental Protection Agency is allowed to continue its vile attack on our energy resources.

It has been Heartland and a handful of other think tanks that labored to inform the public about the science that utterly debunked the lies about “global warming” and now works to do the same for those applied to “climate change.”  Heartland’s power is seen in its conferences.

The problem for Heartland and the rest of us is that we are up against the U.S. government whose Obama administration is completely committed to the lies; agency by agency within the government have budgets and programs to continue to telling the lies. Beyond them is the entire system of government schools and, beyond them, much of the higher education community.

In early June the Daily Caller reported that “National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists have found a solution to the 15-year ‘pause’ in global warming: They ‘adjusted’ the hiatus in warming out of the temperature record.”  This is what Heartland and others have been fighting against and exposing since the global warming hoax began in the late 1980s. And we are beginning to see the Congress respond.

As reported by CNS News, appropriators in the House of Representatives have let it be known that they are taking aim at one of the Obama administration’s most cherished priorities—international climate change funding. An appropriations bill for the State Department and foreign operations excluded the Green Climate Fund, the Clean Technology Fund, and the Strategic Climate Fund, while also removing funding for the U.SN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That’s millions in U.S. taxpayer funding that will not be wasted on the climate change hoax.

The Conference will honor some of the world’s leading “skeptics”—the alarmists call them “denier.” They include Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) as the winner of the Political Leadership on Climate Change Award, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation. My friend, Robert M. Carter, Ph.D. will receive Heartland’s Lifetime Achievement in Climate Science award. Others whom you may not have heard of include William Happer, Ph.D., David Legates, Ph.D., and Anthony Watts, all of whom have been on the front lines of the battle for the truth about the planet’s climate.

An entire generation has grown up and graduated from college since the first lies about global warming were unleashed. That’s how long Heartland and others have labored to present the truth. If the media fails to take notice of this week’s conference, you will know that the battle will continue for a long time to come.

[Originally published at Warning Signs]

Categories: On the Blog

Predicting Earthquakes. Not.

June 10, 2015, 9:49 AM

The president of the Space and Science Research Corporation, John Casey, is also the author of “Cold Sun: A Dangerous ‘Hibernation’ of the Sun Has Begun!” and has called attention to a meteorological cycle that until the global warming hoax occurred, was largely unknown to many people and, to a large degree still is.

Nature has not cooperated with the charlatans who made claims about a dramatic warming of the Earth. Since 1998 the planet along with the Sun has been in a solar cycle distinguished by very few, if any, sun spots—evidence of solar storms—and a cooling of the Earth that has some predicting a forthcoming new Little Ice Age.

As Wikipedia reports: “Solar Cycle 24 is the 24th solar cycle since 1755, when extensive recording of solar sunspot activity began. It is the current solar cycle, and began on January 4, 2008, but there was minimal activity until early 2010. It is on track to be the Solar Cycle with the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750.” These cycles occur every eleven years.

I was surprised to receive a news release from the Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) on Monday with the headline “Earthquake and Volcano Threat Increases” because, frankly, I could have put out the same release and, if such activity did increase, I could claim credit for predicting it and, if not, few if any would recall I had made such a claim. While earthquake activity has been studied for decades, even the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) makes no claim to being able to predicting when or where one will occur.

What the USGS can tell you is that their scientists (and others) “estimate earthquake probabilities in two ways: by studying the history of large earthquakes in a specific area and the rate at which strain accumulates in the rock.”  A translation of this is that they have only the most minimal clues when and where one will occur. A recentInternational Business Times article reported that this may change as the introduction of “big data analytics” kicks in to provide “a leap of accuracy of quake predictions.”

The SSRC news release was about a letter that Casey had sent Craig Fugate, the Administrator of the Federal Management Agency which “disclosed that we are about to enter a potentially catastrophic period of record earthquakes and volcanic eruptions throughout the United States.”

Casey’s letter outlined “how the ongoing dramatic reduction in the Sun’s energy output will not only plunge the world into a decades-long cold epoch, but at the same time bring record geographic devastation in monster earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.”

Other scientists have come to similar conclusions, but after years of sorting through all the claims about global warming and “climate change”, one might want to tread lightly before embracing them.

I asked my colleague at The Heartland Institute, Science Director Jay Lehr, for his reaction and he was quite candid. “I have read it and am extremely skeptical. It sounds like the agency is looking for some press and, of course, when they turn out to be wrong no one will be upset. No harm. No foul. Being ready for earthquakes in known quake zones makes sense; creating unwarranted fear does not.”

Dr. Lehr summed up my own reaction. I would recommend his skepticism to everyone.

Will there be earthquakes here in the U.S.? Yes. The New Madrid earthquakes were the biggest in the nation’s history, occurring in the central Mississippi Valley and so large they were felt as far away as New York and Boston, Montreal and Washington, D.C.  President James Madison and his wife Dolly felt them in the White House. They lasted from December 16, 1811 through March of 1812 and there were more than 2,000 quakes in the central Midwest, and between 6,000-10,000 in the boot-heel of Missouri where New Madrid is located near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

When will new earthquakes or volcanic eruptions occur? I doubt anyone knows the answer to that.

[Originally published at Warning Signs]

Categories: On the Blog

Crony Socialism: Governments All Over the World Are Messing Up a Free Trade Market

June 10, 2015, 9:23 AM

To quote the late, inordinately great Ronald Reagan, “Government is not the solution to our problem – government is the problem.”

To quote the White Stripes, “I said it once before but it bears repeating”:

Trade Wars” actually aren’t about trade — they are about government trade policy.

If peoples are trading freely, there isn’t a “War” – there’s commerce. The “Wars” only happen when governments get involved, placing tariffs, regulations and subsidies in the way of the flow.

It becomes a regulatory arms race. A government imposes another subsidy or tax. So several others in response impose new subsidies and taxes of their own. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The global government mess may be worst in food.

(O)ur Farm Bill — which warps our market — has warped the world’s as well. Franklin Delano Roosevelt helped beget an eight-decade-long international regulatory arms race.

Other produce-producing nations saw our lattice-work panoply of tariffs and subsidies – and felt compelled to match them. And then exceed them….

So what we now have is a global lattice-work panoply of tariffs and subsidies. A thicket that grows ever thicker – as each next government tries to outdo the last.

Some of the global government money is beyond parody.

Take tiny Thailand. A nation with a tiny 2013 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $387.25 billion – whose government plowed $1.3 billion into subsidizing its sugar. Just sugar.

Which leads to yet another battle in these incredibly stupid and unnecessary Trade Wars.

Brazil Sugar Producers Eye Trade Case Against India, Thailand

Brazil, the world’s largest sugar exporter, has brought questions about incentives for Thai and Indian sugarcane producers to the Agricultural Committee of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Brazil is also the world’s largest sugar subsidizer – at $2.5 billion per year. We shouldn’t misplace the irony.

Where is Thailand getting all of this sugar subsidy coin? Likely from the incredible excesses of the rice subsidies with which they screwed up that global market.

In 2011…the Thai government implemented the rice pledging scheme” to give Thai farmers the opportunity to pledge and then to provide an unlimited supply of their rice to the government at a higher price than they would obtain by selling at market rate….

The price that the government offered to farmers who pledged rice was higher than the market price by almost 50%.

The critics claimed that for the scheme to succeed, the government would need to provide subsidies amounting to approximately 300 billion Baht (about US $9.375 billion) for pledging rice within two years.

Get that? About $4.7 billion per year in government money. Just for rice. From tiny Thailand.

In mid‐June 2013, the Thai government admitted that its rice subsidy program had lost 136 billion Baht (about US$ 4.4 billion) in payments.… The Prime Minister announced the amount paid to farmers for pledging rice would be cut by 20%….

I would think 100% – but 20% is a start. Except:

(T)he PM reversed this decision when the announcement brought protesting farmers to the streets of Bangkok.

Losing free government money upsets the free government money recipients – we certainly see that here in the United States.

The government then announced that it would sell up to 1.5 million tons of rice a month through tenders and sales to other governments.

So the rolling disaster continued. Until:

The Thai coup d’état of the 22nd of May acted to suspend democratic politics within Thailand, and rice farmers lost much of the ground, which they had gained over recent years.

A coup with an upside – something to which post-Muslim Brotherhood Egyptians can attest.

The subsidies are gone – but the egregious damage to the rice market remains.

According to a USDA report (ERS Rice outlook), “despite a smaller 2014/15 crop, prices of rice in Thailand remain under pressure from large stocks of government-­held rice accumulated from late 2011, until early 2014, under its Paddy Pledging Scheme”.

It takes time to clear out the government rubble – and then the recovery can occur. Which is why the sooner we all end the government interference – the better.

Unfortunately, Thailand hasn’t learned. They are just shifting the entirety of the bad thinking and policy to sugar.

We need to translate Reagan’s axiom to Thai. And Portuguese. And Hindi. And….

[Originally published at Red State]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Rationally Ignorant or Rationally Informed?

June 10, 2015, 9:12 AM

A little more than a year ago, it was Jonathan Gruber of MIT disparaging the American voter. Now, it’s Paul Krugman formerly of Princeton. In a recent interview, trying to explain why Republicans won the elections of 2014, he said “people have impressions that are often not right and they can be gamed.” Presumably, all would be right in the world if Democrats just talked more slowly. “Vote … for … me … and … I … will … give …. you … more … free … stuff.”

There is a certain validity to Krugman’s argument. In fact, it’s not particularly partisan. Among academics, both pro-government types in economics and political science, and pro-freedom types endorse the basic idea. We say that one of the “imperfections” of democracy is that voters are less than fully informed. This is generally characterized as the “rational ignorance” of voters; however, I would prefer to say voters are rationally informed.

Before talking about voters, I’d like to talk about how consumers are rationally informed. In the marketplace, consumers face a wide and ever expanding array of products and services. The days of haggling at the marketplace over the price of a particular chicken are mostly gone. Today, you buy cuts of chicken already prepared for cooking wrapped in cellophane. The cuts have been turned into so many commodities and are, therefore, priced by the pound. Relying on social institutions (such as the reputation of the store), backstopped by government policing (to suppress fraud), we can buy chicken with no particular knowledge about chickens.

Most of the things we buy in the marketplace are not commodities, but are differentiated goods and services. This includes beautician services, restaurant meals, automobiles, digital computers, and tickets to live performances. It is simply impossible for anybody to be knowledgable about all these wonderful goods and services. Even the workers who make them only know a small part – their part – of the process of making them. As workers and as consumers, we are engaged in an enormously intricate worldwide web of cooperation. Like ants, we go about our business mostly without a master or overseer, rising in the morning to go to work and then buying from each other in the marketplace. It is beyond amazing, it is awesome. And, we do this mostly with knowledge only of our small part in the process of production and our expectations of how the things we buy will make us more happy relying on social institutions such as reputation backstopped by government policing and the rule of law.

Yet, were you to look in the economics textbooks, they describe markets in differentiated goods and services as “imperfect” because of limited knowledge. There is what is called the “lemons problems.” That is, the risk of fraud defined as the sale of goods of low quality as known to the seller, which knowledge is withheld from the market. Yet, for how long could a seller maintain a business when many customers are disappointed? Businessmen know they should strive for win-win relationships. For the most part but not completely, the marketplace solves the lemons problem.

So it is with politics. For the most part but not completely, reputation of individual politicians and of political parties, and government policing in the case of outright corruption, enables voters to make reasonable choices. Furthermore, voters don’t need to know how the things that government produces are produced. They only have to have some knowledge of the end result. Krugman said so much himself. Many voters, he said, say “things are not right with the world and, so, I’m going to vote against the President.”

It’s not a coincidence that Presidents claim credit when things are going well, as Ronald Reagan did in 1984 when he was re-elected in a landslide. It’s not a coincidence that, when things are going badly, such as in 1980, 2004 and 2012, the President is either defeated or narrowly wins re-election. Of course, when things are going badly, Presidential apologists will say it’s not their guy’s fault. Abraham Lincoln put the rational ignorance of voters this way: You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

Categories: On the Blog

Obama Eyes Pacific Trade Pact To Regulate ‘Climate Change’

June 09, 2015, 5:47 PM

Obama wants to use a free trade pact with Asia set the rules of the road for climate change regulations.

WASHINGTON –In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), President Obama revealed that regulations requiring U.S. companies to reduce emissions for “climate change” are part of his proposed free trade pact with Asia, The Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Though Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on the Senate floor recently mocked Republicans who said regressive “climate change” regulation might be part of Obamatrade, the President is actively trying to make the draconian environmental rules a reality.

The so called “Obamatrade” pact that the President is presently negotiating with Malaysia and 10 other Pacific Rim countries, is the perfect opportunity, apparently, to foil free trade Republicans, who would generally support an open markets agreement, but who would definitely demur from any global warming rules.

“If we want to solve something like climate change, which is one of my highest priorities, then I’ve got to be able to get into places like Malaysia, and say to them, this is in your interest. What leverage do I have to get them to stop deforestation? Well part of the leverage is if I’m in a trade relationship with them that allows me to raise standards,” the President said in the NPR interview.

Obama is pledging to pare back U.S. carbon emissions of 26%-28% from 2005 levels; however, he will permit China, a much bigger carbon polluter, and an economic rival to the U.S., to continue to increase its carbon emissions until 15 years hence.

Obama believes he will not need to get Congress to approve the climate change treaty terms that he negotiates, some libertarians and conservatives opine. But under the constitution, the Senate has to approve all treaties.

For more information, go to : http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2015/06/obama_admits_that_climate_change_will_be_in_obamatrade.html#ixzz3cMjmlCbt

Categories: On the Blog

Teaching to the Test and Testing to the Teaching: Common Core and PARCC

June 09, 2015, 5:09 PM

This was the first school year for the Common Core aligned testing Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Both teachers and parents complained about the tests, some for it’s length (10 hours) and some for the content. There were even groups informing and calling for parents to opt out their students from the tests. While there are many groups, especially teachers unions, calling for the elimination of high stakes testing, The Washington Post is calling to keep the tests, saying,

“But the solution is not to do away with tests; they are far too valuable in providing information on student achievement. The answer lies in better, smarter tests; that’s why the move to streamline assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards should be applauded.”

The problem that The Washington Post fails to recognize is testing aligned with Common Core really aren’t testing knowledge, they are testing whether or not the teachers taught the Common Core standards well enough. Teaching to the test is what has been happening frequently since No Child Left Behind was passed by Republicans. Common Core and PARCC have now created an infinite loop: The teachers will now be teaching to the tests and testers will be testing to the teaching. The effect of this, when perfected, will be the ability to completely hide the failings of each part of the loop, which can easily be adjusted as needed to mask a broken, corrupt system.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Seton Motley: Oregon Health Insurance Exchange Meltdown

June 09, 2015, 3:57 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Kenneth Artz, managing editor of Health Care News speaks with Seton Motley. Motley is the president of Less Government, a DC-based non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the power of government and protecting the First Amendment from governmental assault. Motley and Artz discuss the ongoing meltdown of the Oregon state health insurance exchange.

A common theme seen in the news in the trouble state health care exchanges have been experiencing since the their set up under Obamacare. Oregon is consistent with the trend. Cover Oregon has spent $248 million but signed-up no one before finally closing its doors.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Celebrities Serve as Fracking Science “Experts” in New York

June 09, 2015, 11:42 AM

Last week, the EPA released a surprise study – to many anti-fracking groups at least. After four years of research and relying on real scientific expertise on the subject from across the country, the EPA determined that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” poses no significant threat to the safety and cleanliness of nearby drinking water. The concern over natural gas-laced drinking water, which was propagated most notably by the documentary, Gasland, was revealed to be vastly overstated.

The study should have a distinct impact on those states now considering bans on hydraulic fracturing, eliminating many of the concerns voiced by anti-fracking environmentalist groups. In places like New York, where fracking is the subject of an indefinite ban, thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the study should prompt, at least, a reconsideration, especially given that legislators claimed to have relied on “scientific evidence” in their opposition to fracking.

New York, of course, may be reticent to accept the new findings, especially given that they’re in direct contradiction to testimony on the subject from their “scientific experts.” But then again, as it was recently revealed, it doesn’t seem as though New York sought out the most qualified scientific experts in the field to tackle fracking in the first place.

As Energy in Depth points out, New York’s experts include musician and artist Yoko Ono, musician Sean Lennon, actor Mark Ruffalo, and a host of activists and foundations who exist only to stop fracking by any means necessary.

Now, obviously, not everyone who stood in opposition to fracking in New York is a celebrity, but as the video points out, many of these celebrities act as mouthpieces for more insidious groups and individuals: EPA administrators who compare their “educational efforts” to Roman crucifixions, and  the leadership of prominent anti-fracking groups inclduing New Yorkers Against Fracking (who, interestingly enough, states that fracking involves “explosives,” though it actually involves water pressure, as the name “hydraulic fracturing” suggests).

One major activist featured in the video, Anthony Ingraffea, a Cornell University professor and civil engineer, and head of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy even boasts that Mark Ruffalo is his “megaphone.” That’s especially dangerous, as Ingraffea’s research on the subject appears to have some demonstrable flaws, in sample size and methodology, specifically, not to mention biased motivation. So in this case, it seems that not only are the celebrities involved not scientists, their education in fracking, at least, may not be from the best sources.

Categories: On the Blog

‘Trust Us – We’re the Government’ Isn’t the Best Justification for These Huge New Power Grabs

June 09, 2015, 9:29 AM

We are deep into Year Seven of the Barack Obama Administration. It has not been a great time in the history of government transparency and accountability.

He at the outset sounded good.

We have to use technology to open up our democracy. Its no coincidence that one of the most secretive administrations in our history has favored special interests and pursued policies that could not stand up to the sunlight.

Then so quickly disintegrated.

Cronyism and ObamaCare: Another Challenge for Reformers

GREEN SCAM: 80% of Green Energy Loans Went to Obama Donors

Auto Bailout Czar: We Did It All for the Unions

The (Federal Communications Commission) FCC Delivers the Latest Dose of Obama Cronyism

He sounded SO good.

Ill let you participate in government forums, ask questions, in real time offer suggestions that will be reviewed before decisions are made. And let you comment on legislation before it is signed.…”

Then…not so much.

Where the Sun Don’t Shine

President Obama promised transparency and open government. He failed miserably.

ObamaCare Architect: Lack of Transparency Was Key Because ‘Stupidity Of The American Voter’ Would Have Killed ObamaCare

Influence Peddlers Seem to Know More About the Trans-Pacific Partnership Than Congress

FOIA Backlog Soars Despite Obama Pledge of Transparency

Speaking of fake transparency.

The FCC Wants to Hear Your Comments on Its New Net Neutrality Plans – May 15, 2014

The FCC Received 3.7 Million Net Neutrality Comments – September 16, 2014

This “record number of comments” was ceaselessly touted.

The Left wasn’t pleased with the Net Neutrality order as it was then written.

FCC Proposed Net Neutrality Change Sparks Internet Rage – August 8, 2014

Concerns for the new rules center around “fast lanes” and “slow lanes”….

President Barack Obama wasn’t pleased – and big-footed the whole process by saying so.

President Obama Wants the FCC to Abandon Plans for Tiered ‘Net Neutrality’ – October 10, 2014

Then after the landslide, Less Government 2014 election – the President made it official.

President Obama to FCC: Reclassify Broadband Service as Title II to Protect Net Neutrality – November 10, 2014

Then this happened.

FCC Chief Tom Wheeler Suggests That He Will Back Strict (Title II) Net Neutrality Rules

Then – it happened. The President’s FCC gave him exactly what he wanted.

FCC Votes for Net Neutrality, a Ban on Paid Fast Lanes, and Title II

So the whole transparency thing – with all the Comments, the roundtables, and the Twitter forums – was meaningless. Because we weren’t weighing in on anything close to what was actually imposed.

And when it came time to impose the new, immensely larger power grab?

Wheeler Won’t Release Net Neutrality Draft

No Comment periods, no roundtables, no Twitter forums. Transparency.

Title II is 1934 landline telephone law – now woefully mis-applied to the Internet. As anyone with an IQ above nine on a warm day can tell you – just about all of these laws and regs have absolutely no applicable bearing on the 21st Century Internet.

And now there are all sorts of new ways for the government to tax the Web.

But fret not, the FCC says.

They (claim they) will wield just some – and not all – of their massive new powers. They will practice forbearance.

(F)orbearance” refers to a special magic power that Congress gave the FCCwhich gives the FCC the power to say you know that specific provision of law that Congress passed? We decide it really doesnt make sense for us to enforce it in some particular case, so we will forbear(hence the term forbearance) from enforcing it.”…

How confident are wethat every single government (official) will – in perpetuity and for always – leave these new powers (and taxes) on the table? And not use themagain? And again? And?

When they have set themselves up to do so – by vastly overreaching their existing authority with their illegal imposition of Title II Reclassification? The huge sting that makes all the subsequent others possible?

When the very nature of Title II itself doesnt make sense for us to enforce” on the Internet?

The FCC that just unilaterally, (illegally), exponentially increased its authority over the Internet – is promising us it won’t go any further.

“Trust us – we’re the government” shouldn’t be enough for just about anyone anymore.

[Originally published at Red State]

 

Categories: On the Blog

The Tyranny of Trigger Words and College Safe Spaces

June 09, 2015, 8:58 AM

The media has been full of stories recently about the new sensitivity on college and university campuses concerning the avoidance in courses or assignments of the use of “trigger words” or phrases that may have a “hurtful” affect on students when thoughtlessly used in the teaching environment.

Student and other groups on campuses have insisted that professors provide advanced warning when a particular subject or words connected with it are likely to be discussed in the classroom so any student participants who might be offended or traumatized by the use of such words or subjects cannot attend.

In other instances it has been proposed – even demanded – that certain topics or word uses be avoided or banned because it might awaken sad, disturbing, or emotionally depressing memories or thoughts.

“Safe Spaces” to Protect from Hurtful “Trigger” Words and Ideas

One notable example happened last year at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. It had been announced that a debate would be hosted on the campus devoted to a discussion of “rape culture,” the claim that too many colleges and universities are insensitive and unresponsive to the extent to which acts of rape are condoned, ignored, or not sufficiently condemned and counteracted at institutions of higher learning.

The debaters were Jessica Valenti, founder of a feminist group that focuses on such allegations and attitudes, and Wendy McElroy, a well-known libertarian feminist who has questioned and challenged the presence and extent of such a rape culture on campuses around the country.

Both women, of course, consider all such physical acts of violence, assault and humiliation against women as intolerable in a decent, humane, and ethical society. But Wendy McElroy has argued that too many feminists use the reality of such unacceptable and immoral acts as tools to advance various ideological and political agendas that have little or nothing to do with rightly focused opposition and condemnation of such brutal and intimate acts of aggression.

Furthermore, McElroy has challenged both the existence of such a pervasive “rape culture” on college and university campuses, and how unsubstantiated accusations and charges have been used to advance those ideological agendas while in the process destroying the lives and reputations of innocent young men.

According to an article in The New York Times (March 21, 2015) a student on the Brown campus, with the support of a “Sexual Assault Task Force” of which she is a member, met with the university president and demanded an appropriate response to what – before even hearing McElroy’s presentation – was declared likely to be an argument “damaging” and traumatizing to others on campus.

The university responded with setting up a “safe space” that “was intended to give people who might find comments ‘troubling’ or ‘triggering,’ a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma.”

Needed “Safe Spaces” from Hurtful Racial Groups

The need for “safe spaces” to protect sensitive and traumatized students extends beyond “hurtful” words. It, apparently, includes ethnic and racial sensitivity, as well. The “Racialized Students’ Collective” at Ryerson University at Toronto, Canada, representing “students of color,” insist that there must be “safe spaces” in which their members are free to associate and share their discriminatory experiences without the intrusion of “white people.”

The purpose, as reported on the Huntington Post blog (May 18, 2015), is to allow “marginalized groups” who have experienced racial discrimination to have a place to share their histories with similar people outside of a world “controlled by individuals who have power, who have privilege,” which clearly means “white people.”

Oppressed groups of various types, it is explained, have “a right to claim parts of the campus, parts of the world . . . to collectively work through the challenges society had imposed on them . . . in hope of creating broader social change.”

I Need Protection from Anti-Freedom “Trigger Words”

I view myself as a member of more than one oppressed group, and I, too, need protection from “trigger words” and secure and exclusionary “safe spaces.”

You see, I am a libertarian, a classical liberal, who strongly believes in the sanctity of the individual and his inalienable right to his life, liberty and honestly acquired property (meaning property gained through peaceful production and trade, and not through private aggression or political plunder and privilege).

I have discovered that I am emotionally and psychologically very sensitive to a variety of what for me are “hurtful” words that generate fear, anxiety, and depression whenever I hear them or when the concepts and ideas behind them are discussed in any public forum or setting.

These are “trigger” words and ideas for me that I think must be banned from all public utterance, discussion and mention:

“Collectivism,” “socialism,” “interventionism,” “welfare statism,” “social justice,” “wealth redistribution,” “altruism,” “self-sacrifice” for the group, tribe, society, or nation, “public interest,” “common good,” “general welfare,” as well as the display or verbal or written support for any symbol or emblem of any government and its agencies, departments or bureaus.

Only when these negative “trigger words,” concepts and symbols are either banned or at least restricted in their use and appearance, only then will my emotional balance, self-esteem, and sense of not being oppressed, discriminated, or abused be assured.

As an Austrian Economist, I Need “Safe Space”

Furthermore, I am a member of a “marginalized” and “oppressed” school of economic thought known as Austrian Economics. The vast majority of professional economists in academia and in government all share the “positivist prejudice” of only viewing as “scientific” economic theories formulated in complex, higher mathematical models, which are claimed to be empirically “tested” by reducing all market activities to the purely measurable and quantitative.

Those who follow the “Austrian School of Economics” begin with common sense understanding that everything usually considered the central aspects of economic activity – producing and consuming, buying and selling, competition and rivalry, innovation and technologically improved ways of manufacturing – all begin with individuals and the ideas in their minds.

They consider the “subjective” or personal perspective essential for any real and meaningful economic analysis. How can we know what people consider to be various “consumers goods” versus “tools of production” unless we understand the uses and meanings people see in these physical objects, given their purposes and goals in mind?

How can we distinguish between acts of peaceful exchange versus acts of theft – a “taking” without mutual consent – unless we appreciate and interpret how the actors see these interactions with others from their own personal perspectives?

Everyone knows that there can be “unintended consequences,” outcomes from our and others’ actions different from what was intended or desired. But how do we even distinguish between an observed outcome in some social or market setting as been “intended” or “unintended” if we do not attempt to understand and appreciate what the actors had as their goals, purposes or ends in comparison to the actual result of their actions and interactions?

But under a prejudice that the only “real” scientific method is one that apes or copies the presumed characteristics of the natural sciences (mathematical modeling, purely quantitative and measurable data open to statistical classification and analysis), Austrian Economists are ridiculed, looked down upon, and even made fun of as practitioners of an out-of-date or phony economics that is not too be taken seriously.

They are treated as outcasts and discriminated against in the world of scholarly publications and in academic job hiring. They are made to feel “small,” and “wrong” and, well, not “real economists.”

Clearly, Austrian Economists need “safe spaces” where they can meet with like-minded people to share their “hurtful” and psychological traumatizing experiences without the presence or intrusion of mainstream academic and government-employed economists who can never understand the harm that has been done to them, or the sense of “marginalization” they constantly feel imposed on them by the “ruling” and “dominate” power structure of the mainstream economics profession.

I need my “space,” man! You can never understand how an Austrian Economist feels, since you deny the relevancy and place of the “subjective” and “personal” in economic analysis, and reduce me to a mathematical “utility” function controlled by the other variables in your ever-present and oppressive system of equations and statistical measurements.

I would hope that anyone who has just read my demand for a ban or restriction on anti-libertarian “hurt” words and concepts, or for exclusionary “spaces” in academia or public arenas for Austrian Economists have seen in them the satirical absurdities that they are.

Discussions and defenses of the principles of a free society, or improvements in our understanding of how markets work and the best ways of formulating our scientific tools for understanding the economic system all require and can only flourish in social settings of freedom of thought, expression and argument, and open debate with no restrictions on the logic of the arguments.

In my opinion, the only non-coercive rules that serious people should practice and advocate in such discussions and debates are a devotion to intellectual honesty, the desire to move closer to truth, and the common courtesies of human discourse.

Totalitarians Wish to Control Words and Ideas for Power Over Others

Only in authoritarian or totalitarian societies are words, conceptions and ideas banned, restricted or prohibited. It is done precisely to prevent people from expressing and conveying their thoughts on, especially, political, economic, social and philosophical ideas that those in power view as dangers to their own ideological and governmental control over society.

Those in academic and other circles in America who wish to impose “trigger word” prohibitions and restrictions on public discourse, in the classroom and in the wider social marketplace of ideas, wish to isolate and insolate their ideas and ideological agendas from the public arena of debate and discourse.

By banning or restricting the use or discussion of certain words, concepts and ideas they implicitly control the terms of any remaining debate, since they succeed in limiting public discourse to their concepts, words, and ideas, and to which, then, the rest of us must conform and accept.

It is an attempted monopolization of the mind and its ethically and socially permitted conceptual content. And it should not be tolerated or placated, as too many academic administrative authorities seem to be increasingly doing.

It is a closing of the mind in the name of a manipulated and false sense of sensitivity to individuals and groups who have their own anti-freedom ideologies and agendas.

When I was growing up, it was common to hear the phrase, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never harm me.” Now, of course, we all know that words can hurt, and people often use words to humiliate and embarrass others.

Decent people in a civilized society will not intentionally go out of their way to do so. And we know it to be wrong and cruel when we hear it or see it.

Trigger Words and Safe Spaces are Part of the Marxist Bag of Tricks

But this has little or nothing to do with advocates of “trigger words” and their push to ban or restrict their use. Instead, it is an attempt to play upon the normal human sympathies and empathies that virtually all of us feel to advance an ideological agenda that has virtually nothing to do with proper politeness towards and respect for others in everyday discourse and conversation.

The same applies to the call for “safe spaces” for the “marginalized,” “discriminated,” or “exploited.” They need to be seen as variations on the old Marxian semantic trick that since society is divided into irreconcilable “social classes” (the exploiting capitalists and the oppressed workers), there can be no common ground. Members of both groups are bound to and restricted within a “class consciousness” defined and dictated by their property status in the society.

Only a worker who was a “traitor to his class” would attempt to understand and accept the capitalist “superstructure” of false ideas through which the property-owning exploiters try to control and manipulate the vast majority of those in society who are taken advantage of in the capitalist system. And as the “ruling class,” the capitalists use their control over the media and educational institutions to impose a mind control for acceptance and obedience by those they exploit for their own benefit.

Gender and Racial Versions of the Marxist Mind Games

In the post-Soviet era, the Marxian framework and mind games have been transformed into issues concerning “gender” and “race” as well as “social class.” Men can never understand a woman’s circumstances, life-problems and world-view. Men are only aggressors and exploiters to misuse, abuse and take advantage of women, as they have been since the beginning of time. “Gender conflict” is inescapable and irreconcilable. Either men rape women (physically, economically and psychologically) or women emasculate men (through social, psychological and if needed physical neutering).

Women must, therefore, have their own “safe spaces” where they are free and secure from the ever-present danger of male domination and abuse.

The same applies to racial and ethnic relationships. Being “white” defines you as a privileged group possessing wealth, position and power by oppressing and exploiting “people of color.” Securing “safe spaces” for “marginalized” racial groups “oppressed” by the white societies, in which they find themselves, is a way for racial collectivists to isolate and insolate their tribal conceptions of human relationships from open debate, discourse, and disagreement.

This has nothing to do with freedom of association, that is, the right for any group of individuals who share certain values, beliefs, goals and purposes to form clubs and organizations, and within which the existing members are free to decide the basis and criteria of accepting new or additional members, regardless of what that basis may be.

This, again, is the use and manipulation of a concept of human association that is integral and essential to any free society. But it must be understood that some groups, such as that “Racialized Student Collective” at Ryerson University, for example, clearly see the world through the “race” version of the Marxian playbook.

It is a way to compartmentalize people by making them think of themselves not as individual human beings, but “tribes” defined by racial or ethnic characteristics that do not and cannot live in peaceful collaborative society with all others as long as certain capitalist “power” relationships are present and at work.

Individualism and Capitalism vs. Marxian Gender and Race Conflict

The ultimate and real “enemy” and opponent of all such gender, racial and social class variations on the Marxian theme of irreconcilable group conflict is the political philosophy of classical liberalism and free market capitalism.

It is the political philosophy that explains that society is ultimately an association of individuals, each one of whom is a distinct and unique person, and deserving of respect in their rights to life, liberty, and property. It is a philosophy of economic interaction that demonstrates that as long as trade and exchange is free and voluntary all real notions of “exploitation,” “abuse,” “violence” are banished from the human conditions.

It argues that freedom of association and the potential mutual benefits from exchange make everyone members of one civilization, one global community of human beings able to gain from what others can do, while leaving each at liberty to follow his own path to happiness, purpose and meaning for his life.

It undermines the collectivist and tribal myths that some wish to use to divide and control people in society.

In its place, classical liberalism and free market capitalism offer a vision and a reality of free human beings politically controlled and manipulated by none, a society in which “diversity” emerges out of the purposes, values and goals that individuals select and may peacefully and voluntarily share in common with some others, and in which toleration grows out of the belief that no one should claim the right to tell others how to live, what to believe, or with whom to interact as long as it is done without violence or fraud.

These are the actual ideas that the “trigger word” banishers and the “safe space” demanders are most afraid of in a real unrestricted marketplace of ideas and discourse.

 

[Originally published at Epic Times]

Categories: On the Blog