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Discrimination in Indiana – Private or Political?

March 31, 2015, 11:05 AM

Discrimination has become a “dirty word.” It has come to carry the “politically incorrect” connotation of prejudice, hatefulness, racism, and cruel intolerance towards others in society. There is only one problem: which one of us does not discriminate? Indeed, everything we do reflects discriminating choices and decisions.

The issue of discrimination has captured the headlines, once again, because of a recent law passed by the Indiana legislature and signed by the state’s governor, which allows people to not associate with those who are “gay” under certain circumstances, if such association were to conflict with their religious beliefs concerning sexual relationships between those of the same gender.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Indiana Law and the Response

The law, as I understand it, does not allow the state government of Indiana to discriminate among the citizens on the basis of sexual orientation or any other standard. All Indianans still continue to have equality before the law. None of their civil liberties are abridged or violated by the legislation.

What the law does, as the press has described it, is permit individuals and businesses to choose not to associate with those whose sexual or other orientation crucially comes into conflict with some of their firmly held religious beliefs.

In response, according to the Associated Press, large demonstrations of hundreds of people were held in Indianapolis against the law. The BBC reported that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, condemned the law, while the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that the law threatened to open “the floodgates to discrimination against LGBT people.”  The Indiana Chamber of Commerce said the law “was entirely unnecessary.” Plus, a number of national businesses have suggested that they may limit or stop some of their business activities in Indiana if the law is not overturned or radically modified.

The Fundamental Principle of Freedom of Association

I would like to suggest that a wider principle is at stake here than simply this piece of legislation. It raises, again, the issue of the individual’s right of freedom of association.

First of all, we all discriminate because our time and resources are limited, and our interests, values and tastes are not all the same. If I am a vegetarian and I purchase broccoli instead of beef, I am discriminating against (refusing to commercially associate with) all those connected with the cattle raising industry. I diminish their ability to earn a living due to the forgone revenue they do not earn because I buy a vegetable product, instead.

If I buy economics books instead of romance novels, I discriminate against all those who author such widely read volumes of romantic fantasy and sexual suggestion. I like Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington. So I have discriminated against Lady Gaga by never purchasing a ticket to go to one of her concerts.

Intentional and Unintentional Discrimination

It is possible that over the years there have been some people whom I have met who had wished that I had taken the time and interest to become their friend, and thus spent time with them over light discussion and serious conversation.

But I did not, because of other interests, other commitments and other people whom I found more interesting or important to me; in addition, time just did not enable me to include those others who I unintentionally discriminated against by not including them in my circle of friends and activities.

Sometimes the discrimination is intentional. Let’s be frank. Very rarely do we like to spend our “free time” with those whose views, values or attitudes differ so much from our own that interaction soon becomes nothing but irritating disagreement, argument, or even heated words of anger.

We enjoy interacting with those who share our same beliefs, values and attitudes about life, art, economics, politics and many other things. We join clubs or associations with those who have similar interests as our self.

I am not interested in joining a Nazi political organization or a “We Love Stalin” fan club. Neither am I interested in becoming a member of either the Republican or Democratic Party. By refusing to do so, I discriminate against all of these people, by intentionally not associating with them.

If you are heterosexual, you have discriminated against all those of the same sex as you who might have wanted to be romantically involved with you. At the same time, if you are homosexual, you have discriminated against all those of the opposite sex who found you attractive and a potential “partner.” And if you are bi-sexual, you have discriminated against all those of either sex who might have been interested in an intimate relationship with you.

There is no getting around human discrimination in every facet of life. Indeed, I would consider you, right now, to be the “discriminating reader” by choosing to take the time to read my article rather than someone else’s, or to do something different than read with your available time!

Anger at Seemingly Unfair Treatment

So why is there the opposition to this Indiana law or any similar piece of legislation? At one level, it can be taken to be an objection to judging a person by their beliefs, or values, or way of living their private life that may have nothing to do with the character or quality of that person.

Merely finding people of the same sex attractive does not mean you’re a “bad person,” or not someone of worth in terms of your skills, creativity, or knowledge and knowhow. And why should who you may or may not find romantically attractive have anything to do with someone refusing to rent you a house, or sell you a car, or take pictures at your wedding, for instance?

In “this day and age” it seems atavistic, crude and simply narrow-minded and mean. And so it may very well be. The world is full of people – sometimes right next door – who hold views, express beliefs, and act in ways that we consider wrong, misguided, and insensitive to others.

 

Compulsory “Anti-Discrimination”

But what is the proposed solution? Clearly it is to compel people with these “out-of-step” ideas to conform to “right acting” and “right thinking” through forced association imposed by the government.

In other words, disapproval of private non-coercive discrimination in matters concerning views about sexual orientation are to be remedied through compulsory “anti-discrimination” legislation by forcing some to associate with others who they do not want to associate with.

Furthermore, those who have said they may end all or some of their business activities in the state of Indiana as long as this law remains on the books are, themselves, practicing discriminatory collective guilt. They are marking all in the State of Indiana for “punishment,” even those who may not agree with this law or who are indifferent about the legislation and who never think about sexual orientation issues.

So the “innocent” are to be punished along with the “guilty” through a form of “guilt by association.” What is being said is, “We will refuse to have any business dealings with any of you until you get all of those in your state to accept our views on the social acceptability of sexual orientations.”

Now, in the free society anyone should be able to refuse to do business with anyone with whom they choose not to associate. So, these enterprises are in their right to choose not to do some or all of their business in the State of Indiana for whatever reason.

But what those threatening such a boycott want is for the State of Indiana to force citizens in that state to be coerced into associative relationships into which they do not want to enter. In other words, this is a threatened economic boycott for purposes of gaining legal privileges for some at the expense of others – the compelling of commercial interactions that not all possible participants want to be a part of.

The Broader Issue of Freedom of Association

This broader issue has nothing to do, per se, with whether or not those with strong anti-homosexual religious views and values are right or wrong. One can strongly believe that such views and values are misplaced or out-of-date in these “modern times.”

The more fundamental issue is one of whether or not an individual may or may not be compelled into associations and relationships with those who they do not want to do business, or indeed to have any interaction?

Should a black photographer be required to take photos at a neo-Nazi wedding with banners saying “Death to All N_ _ _ _ _s”? Should a devote Muslim running a catering business be required to prepare and serve pork, if insisted upon at a Christian family gathering? Should an atheist running a printing business be compelling to publish religious works calling for the silencing of all non-believers as agents of the Devil?

And if not, then on what reasonable or objective basis is it to be determined whose beliefs and values are to be protected as “freedom of association” and whose are not – other than social and ideological fads and fashions of the particular time and place, and those who can succeed in gaining the ear of and influence over those who can pass the relevant legislation?

A free society does not come without a price. Part of that price is the realization and acceptance that there are and always will be people in society who hold views very different from one’s own, and live their lives accordingly.

 

Government Coercion Should Not be the Answer

Bringing government into these matters merely brings coercion to the table, and therefore makes politics even more than it already is a war for power and control to impose one set of beliefs and values over another on the members of society.

The benefit from leaving discrimination issues out of the political arena is that it remains part of the private sphere. And in the private sphere everyone must weigh the costs and benefits from their own actions and interactions with other private individuals.

A racist or a homophobe is free to discriminate on that basis in the society, and if he runs a business he can refuse to hire those he considers racially inferior or sexually unacceptable. But there is a cost. He misses the opportunity to employ those of useful and profitable skills, abilities and talents, who end up finding jobs with his competitors who place more importance on a financial “bottom line” than personal prejudice.

He equally forgoes the business that could have been his from turning down customers that he chooses not to sell to and deal with, and his rivals gain those sales and larger revenues, instead.

Such an individual may still decide that given his beliefs and values the cost is worth bearing for the benefit of not participating in such commercial associations.

However, the advantage of leaving such matters to the marketplace and out of the legislative halls of power is that his prejudices do not control the decisions of other businessmen or anyone else in society. He can be as anti-homosexual as he wants in his hiring practices and customer dealings. But he cannot prevent any existing or potential competitors from having a different “orientation” – will hiring this individual or accepting this person’s business make me more money and give me an enlarged market share compared to my racist or homophobic rival?

In the eyes of the friend of freedom this is the ethically superior and socially more sustainable manner of breaking down and finally eliminating many misplaced and even irrational prejudices, superstitions, and atavistic attitudes and actions.

The path of using political power to try to bring about changes in social attitudes and actions is both morally wrong and often far too counter-productive.

The road to liberty, equality, and tolerance runs through a respect for and defense of individual rights of freedom of association, not by way of collective punishment and group privilege.

 

[Originally published at Epic Times]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Texas’ Welfare Rolls Shrink, Rick Perry Deserves Praise

March 31, 2015, 10:07 AM
 Editor’s Note: This Op-Ed was written and submitted to Breitbart Texas by Logan Pike and Justin Haskins with The Heartland Institute.

They say “everything is bigger in Texas,” but Texas’ welfare rolls are shrinking, and presidential hopeful and former Gov. Rick Perry (R) deserves a lot of the credit.

When Perry first became governor of Texas in 2000, the number of people enrolled in the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program was well over 300,000. Since then, the number has declined to below 80,000, and a new study says key policy changes help explain why.

On March 19, The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank in Chicago, released its updated welfare reform report card, an analysis of every state’s welfare policies since the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996.

Passed by the Republican-led Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, PRWORA presented states with a significant opportunity to reform welfare systems. Since it became law, welfare rolls in the United States have been reduced by more than 9 million, a decrease of 73 percent.

This incredible turnaround occurred to some extent in every state, but data clearly show some state governments took advantage of the changes offered by the federal government better than other states.

In Texas, greater flexibility offered by PRWORA allowed Republican Governors George W. Bush and Perry to implement sweeping reforms to stagnant programs that were providing little, if any, success at moving people out of poverty.

Authors of the Heartland study, titled “2015 Welfare Reform Report Card,” say although academic research conducted to determine which policies are more successful than others have produced varying results, some agreement exists on which strategies lead to overall positive outcomes.

For instance, integrating welfare and other social services so that individual case managers have all the necessary tools at their disposal to assist recipients who walk through their doors is an essential part of improving welfare reform. Requiring work in order to receive benefits, mandated job training, and establishing firm limits for how long recipients can receive government aid are also important reforms that have proved to be successful for states who utilize these strategies.

Another reform, one that many pundits spend little time talking about but has produced many positive outcomes, is cash diversion. Cash diversion policies allow social services case managers to offer lump sums of money for recipients to use when there is an immediate financial need, such as when a recipient’s car breaks down. In return for the money, the recipient agrees not to receive TANF funding for an agreed-upon period. These policies help people get through tough economic trials without becoming dependent on government services.

Of the five major categories of welfare reform policies presented in Heartland’s study, Texas received exceptional scores in work requirements and cash diversion; a respectable grade of “B” in service integration; a “C” in sanctions, and a poor grade of “D” for failing to establish significant time limits for recipients. Overall, Texas’ policies were ranked 10th among all states and earned a grade of “B+.”

The study also revealed Texas’ outcomes were exceptional. Texas scored in the top 10 in unemployment, overall poverty rates, and TANF recipient decline, improving in each of those categories from Heartland’s previous report card released in 2008. Overall, Texas’ welfare reform outcomes ranked third in the United States.

Although Perry has yet to officially announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential primary, all indications are he’ll be one of the bigger names in the race once things heat up at the end of the summer. At the moment, it’s unclear what Perry’s chances are in the 2016 race, but expect the former governor to tout his record on welfare reform, and rightfully so.

[Published on Breitbart]

Categories: On the Blog

Aren’t We All Looking Forward to ‘Internet at the Speed of Government?’

March 31, 2015, 9:58 AM

We were on February 26 subjected to the hugest of Barack Obama Administration Internet power grabs.  Where the Administration unilaterally decided to start applying 1934 landline telephone law to the 21st-Century-Web.

This government grab was made under the guise of Network Neutrality – but this flashback-to-New-Deal phone law is oh-so-much-worse.  The Administration has appointed itself the overlord of just about every private sector decision, transaction and innovation.

This is Mother-May-I-Do-Anything-At-All uber-regulation.  It will eviscerate the free-speech-free-market-Xanadu Web we all know and dearly love.

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz has been an outspoken opponent of all of this.  And has been criticized by the Left and the Media (please pardon the redundancy) for the ways he has phrased his opposition.

Ted Cruz Says Net Neutrality Is ‘ObamaCare For The Internet’

Admittedly, we too have long disagreed with this assessment.  Sort of.  And not in the way the Democrat-Media-Complex has.

Net Neutrality Power Grab Is Worse than ObamaCare

And in fact…

What’s Even Worse than Net Neutrality? Government Internet Reclassification to Do It

It’s worse for several reasons.  Not the least of which is – at least ObamaCare passed the People’s elected Congress (well, sort of).

Net Neutrality was unilaterally imposed by three unelected Democrat bureaucrats at President Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  An overwhelming majority of the People’s elected Congress have long been opposed to the entire mess.

When Senator Cruz made the ObamaCare-Net Neutrality comparison – out quickly came the knives.

‘ObamaCare for the Internet’? Net Neutrality, Ted Cruz, and the Danger of Bad Analogies

They REALLY didn’t like the comparison.

The ‘Net Neutrality is ObamaCare for the Internet’ Guy is Running for President

Which is bizarre.  They like ObamaCare.  They like Net Neutrality.  Why the lurching defensiveness?

ObamaCare Is More Unpopular Than Ever

Senator Cruz also rightly described an inexorable result of Net Neutrality.

“Internet should not operate at the speed of government.”

And what does that look like?

Government violates the Wallet Rule:

If you go out on a Friday night with your wallet, and you go out the following Friday night with my wallet – on which Friday night will you have more fun?

 

Another ObamaCare Delay

Doctor Wait Times Rise As ObamaCare Rolls Out

A Fatal Wait: Veterans Languish and Die on a Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital’s Secret List

FEMA’s Wasteful, Slow Response to Sandy: ‘Disaster Socialism’?

Ebola Crisis: Government Response ‘Far Too Slow’

Why People in The Government Sector Work Slow

Slow Government: Why is Government So Darn Slow?

 

DMVs, anyone?  And how is the government at handling technology?

Healthcare.gov Technical Problems

ObamaCare Vendor Blames U.S. Agency for Website Delays

Another Delay: Open Enrollment ObamaCare Deadline to (Again) Be Moved

Why US Government IT Fails So Hard, So Often

Federal Managers Love Technology but Fear Government is Slow at Adopting It

Agencies Waited Nearly a Month and a Half to Fix High-Threat Vulnerabilities

Why Is the Government Slow to Adopt Cloud Computing?

Government Tech Problems: Blame The People Or The Process?

Why quibble?  It’s both.  Because government violates the Wallet Rule.

If you go out on a Friday night with your wallet, and you go out the following Friday night with my wallet – on which Friday night will you have more fun?

Government is ALWAYS on someone else’s wallet.  It will thus never spend money as wisely or well as we who earned it.

How does the FCC – that just commandeered control of the Internet – do with tech?

Government Agency That Wants To Commandeer The Internet Just Had Their Website Crash – Twice

Vice Claims FCC Website ‘Hacked,’ FCC Doesn’t Appear Sure

Vice was right – the FCC was clueless.

The FCC Was Hacked

And how’s this for additionally reassuring?

FCC Says It Wasn’t Hacked, Its Commenting System is Just Old

How quick is the FCC to expedite their decision-making process – now that they have oh-so-many-more decisions to make?  Remember – just every Internet provider now has to wait to do just about anything unless and until the FCC approves.  The private sector is frozen in amber until the Commission gives the thumbs-up.

FCC Delays Net Neutrality Decision

FCC Delays Decision On Wireless Broadband

(For Second Time) FCC Delays Decision On NBC-Comcast Merger

FCC Delays Review of Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV Mergers

FCC Asks Federal Court to Delay Decision on Challenge to Its New USF Plan

FCC Delays Decision on TV Nudity, Profanity

And perhaps the quintessential example of the delay-damage government will do?  Behold this story from March 23, 2015:

FCC Fines TV Station for Nudity

When did the offense occur?

A Roanoke, Virginia, station accidentally aired a brief pornographic video clip during its evening newscast on July 12, 2012….

Nearly three years it took the government – to make a decision the private sector would make in about three seconds.

Won’t Internet-at-the-speed-of-government be great?

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly: What Grade Did Your State Earn on Welfare Reform?

March 30, 2015, 2:59 PM

If you don’t visit Somewhat Reasonable and the Heartlander digital magazine every day, you’re missing out on some of the best news and commentary on liberty and free markets you can find. But worry not, freedom lovers! The Heartland Weekly Email is here for you everyFridaywith a highlight show.

Subscribe to the email today, and read this week’s edition below.

Greenpeace Co-founder: Why I Am a Climate Change Skeptic
Patrick Moore, the Heartlander
“The IPCC’s followers have given us a vision of a world dying because of carbon-dioxide emissions. I say the Earth would be a lot deader with no carbon dioxide, and more of it will be a very positive factor in feeding the world. Let’s celebrate carbon dioxide.” READ MORE

  Why Republicans Need to Repeal Obamacare One More Time
Ben Domenech, the Heartlander
Republicans need to take the important step of actually sending the Obamacare repeal to the president’s desk in their budget – simply to prove to the media and the populace that the law can be repealed via that method. It will clarify the matter for voters and turn 2016 into a clear-cut election that will decide whether the law stands or falls. READ MORE

Heartland’s 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card
Which states got straight As for their welfare reform policies? Which states are at the bottom of the class? Find out by using Heartland’s new interactive map for the 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card. The result of two years of research, this new report examines who is implementing the best policies for pulling people out of poverty and into a productive life of work and responsibility. READ MORE

  INTERVIEW: Patrick Moore Makes the Case for Climate Skepticism, Biotech Foods
Host Sterling Burnett talks to Patrick Moore, chairman of Allow Golden Rice, about why he helped found and ultimately left Greenpeace because it became “anti-human.” That tendency is exemplified by how the environmental left is against vitamin-enriched Golden Rice, which would save millions of children in the world’s poorest countries. READ MORE

 

Heartland Is Hiring!
Do you believe in smaller government and more individual liberty? Do you believe free markets solve social and economic problems better than government planning? The Heartland Institute might have just the job for you! We’re looking for eager self-starters to manage several important projects that will have a real impact on policy in this country. READ MORE

Seven States that Deserve an ‘F’ for their Welfare Programs
Gary MacDougal and Justin Haskins in The Hill
Despite the many improvements in the welfare system since the 1996 overhaul, many states’ welfare programs continue to lag behind the rest of the nation because they fail to implement simple, common-sense reforms. Heartland’s 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card identifies the worst of the worst. READ MORE

  Education Trend: Number of Homeschooling Black Families Skyrockets
Heather Kays, the Heartlander
“I think parents just got tired of asking for the educational system to understand their children, so they became the educational institution that they wanted to see. We have participated in a field trip to Biltmore Estates to learn about the farm-to-table movement, studied 1800s life in historic Roswell, walked the path of the Birmingham Civil Rights marches, visited a wildlife rescue, and toured the historic home of Laura Ingalls Wilder. These are all trips that we could have taken on a weekend, but it would have felt rushed. The fact that we were able to complete these trips as part of our homeschool curriculum made it more enjoyable.” READ MORE

  Climate Witch Hunt Is Bad for Science, Bad for Witch Hunters
H. Sterling Burnett in the Daily Caller
“Desperate times breed desperate measures, and for climate alarmists these are desperate times. … Perhaps this explains their desperate attempts to smear the reputations of climate researchers who scientifically reject any aspect of the ‘human-catastrophic-climate-change-connection.’” READ MORE

  Featured Podcast: Adam C. Smith: Lyft and Uber Ridesharing
Budget & Tax News Managing Editor Jesse Hathaway is joined by Heartland Institute policy advisor and Johnson & Wales University associate economics professor Adam C. Smith. They discuss Virginia’s recent legalization of sharing-economy transportation companies Lyft and Uber. LISTEN TO MORE

John Stossel Tackles Chicago Corruption
Fox Business Channel’s John Stossel aired an hour-long special about political corruption in Chicago. Right. We had the same reaction: Only one hour? Heartland friend Adam Andrzejewski of OpenTheBooks.com was a guest of Stossel and described The Chicago Way – how a city came to pioneer corrupt practices. READ MORE

Millennials’ Dangerous Growing Addiction to Government
Justin Haskins in The Blaze
“When a friend and recent college graduate informed me he was receiving food stamps, I was floored. He is a healthy, educated, intelligent individual, but, like many of the millennials I know, entitled. Completely and utterly entitled. … Somewhere in Fairfax County, Virginia, George Washington is rolling over in his grave.” READ MORE

 

Overhaul Public Pensions Now
Jesse Hathaway in the Riverside (CA) Press-Enterprise
Unless local and state governments act now, a tsunami of underfunded public pension plan obligations will soon rush ashore and drown taxpayers with tax hikes and crippling debt.READ MORE

The FCC Delivers the Latest Dose of Obama Cronyism
Seton Motley, Somewhat Reasonable
“The Obama administration rewarding its friends and punishing its enemies – the Crony Socialist twofer. It’s way past time for Huge Government to stop trying to micro-manipulate the private sector. The ends never justify the means – and the intended ends are never met.” READ MORE

Invest in the Future of Freedom!
Are you considering 2015 gifts to your favorite charities? We hope The Heartland Institute is on your list. Preserving and expanding individual freedom is the surest way to advance many good and noble objectives, from feeding and clothing the poor to encouraging excellence and great achievement. Making charitable gifts to nonprofit organizations dedicated to individual freedom is the most highly leveraged investment a philanthropist can make.

Click here to make a contribution online, or mail your gift to The Heartland Institute, One South Wacker Drive, Suite 2740, Chicago, IL 60606. To request a FREE wills guide or to get more information to plan your future please visit My Gift Legacy http://legacy.heartland.org/ or contact Gwen Carver at 312/377-4000 or by email at gcarver@heartland.org.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast: Bette Grande – Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands

March 30, 2015, 2:37 PM

The federal government has issued its first rules designed to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands. These regulations will require the disclosure of the chemical additives used in the fracking process, specify construction standards for well casings and require drillers to test these casings prior to fracking, require drillers to submit geological information to the federal government, and regulate how wastewater from oil and natural gas production is stored.

Heartland Institute Research Fellows Isaac Orr and Bette Grande discuss the pro’s and con’s of the new regulations and discuss the projected costs of the new rules. One of the larger concerns of these new rules is an increase in the amount of time it takes to get the wells permitted, which can lead it increased costs to producers as they may have higher labor expenses if permits are not approved in a timely manner.

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Geopolitics of Oil Go Round and Round

March 30, 2015, 11:26 AM

Many complicated factors contribute to the global price of a barrel of oil, but two of the leading components are supply and risk—and both have the potential to escalate in the days ahead. The current region-wide sectarian war could easily bump oil prices up dramatically. And, the expected nuclear deal with Iran could drop them—dramatically.

Oil price predictions today play like a game of roulette, or a carnival barker of days gone by, round and round it goes, where she stops, nobody knows.

A few weeks ago, addressing the need to open up access to mid-Atlantic oil resources, I wrote:

“With the current oil abundance, it may seem like an odd time to be going after more. However, the legal wheels that could allow limited access to the vast, untapped oil resources move very slowly. Today’s market conditions will fluctuate between now and 2035 when the global demand for energy is expected to spike. Not to mention the increasingly volatile situation in the Middle East, where new coalitions are already being formed: Iran and Iraq, Saudi Arabia and South Korea—just to name two. If one more beheading takes place or a bomb hits the right (or wrong) target, the region could erupt, and the entire energy dynamic would change. Considering the variables, American energy security is always something worth pursuing.”

Well, now the “entire energy dynamic” has changed.

First, the obvious: war in the Middle East.

Middle East unrest has historically sent oil prices soaring. With the recent regional conflicts involving ISIS, however, prices have continued to drop due to OPEC’s increased supplies, led by Saudi Arabia, in response to the new American energy abundance that changed the entire energy dynamic.

That dynamic has just changed again.

Referencing ISIS and the growing terrorism throughout the region, Jordan’s King Abdullah said in December, “this is our world war three.” At the time, pundits reacted with something akin to “well, maybe.” But that was then. Now, Saudi Arabia, backed by King Abdullah—who has declared “Jordan is fully committed to the Arab military effort in Yemen”—and an Arab coalition including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, and Kuwait, plus Morocco and Pakistan, who’ve expressed interest in joining, with intelligence and logistics support from the U.S., is bombing Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have received training, weapons, and advisors from rival Iran.

As a result of the offensive, CNN Money reported: “Oil prices bounced higher on Thursday as Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes in Yemen, raising concerns that a regional conflict could disrupt supplies.” It added, “Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer, and investors fear its involvement in the unrest could have a negative impact on production.”

In one story, the Financial Times (FT), pointed to Yemen’s limited oil production and stated: “The attack is not expected to cause any major disruption to supplies.” And, in different coverage: “even as some observers raised concerns, others were more muted due to the size of Yemen’s oil output.”

Obviously, no one knows where “she’ll stop.” But the factor of “risk” which according to Richard Mallinson, geopolitical analyst at the London-based consultancy Energy Aspects, the markets had “since last year turned away from paying attention to,” is back. The FT quotes him as saying: “The reality is that geopolitical risk is as high as it has been in a long time.” Increased risk means higher prices.

It gets more complicated.

The Obama administration continues to negotiate with Iran with the intent of crafting a nuclear deal that will, ultimately, lift the sanctions against the oil-producing county—which would allow it to increase oil exports. Because of the sanctions, Iran’s oil exports have been cut in half—resulting in a “severely strained economy.” Iran has large amounts of oil already in storage and, according to the FT, “will fight for its market share.”

Iran wants the sanctions lifted immediately. If that happens, the FT reports there will be “an injection of hundreds of thousands of barrels a day into the oil market already struggling with a crude overhang”—which “could depress prices further.” Increased supply means lower prices.

Energy economist Tim Snyder explains it this way: “The Iranians will be free to put another 1 million barrels of crude oil production on the world market. The Iranian production will represent a doubling of the current oversupply vs. world demand and will put additional downward pressure on the world crude oil price.”

Frequently calling us “the great Satan,” Iran continues to hate the U.S. Falling oil prices could serve as a death knell to America’s oil abundance (not to mention countries, such as Venezuela, that depend on oil revenues). However the low prices would, overall, be good for western economies—but bad for Iran and its friend, Russia.

The way to better benefit the Iranian economy, once sanctions are lifted, is to raise oil prices—which Iran can do through the war in Yemen.

Perhaps Saudi Arabia jumped the gun in its attacks in Yemen. Perhaps, Iran thought it would have the deal with the P5 +1 group (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany) signed before the unrest pushed up the prices.

With Iran calling the shots in Yemen, it (not the friendly-to-the-west president) could control the Bab el-Mandeb strait and the million barrels of crude oil that pass through the strait each day, not to mention, the goods that transit the strait coming from the Far East. CNN Money notes: “Adding to the uncertainty is Yemen’s strategic location on a shipping route linking the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.” Each day, upwards of 3.8 million barrels of oil and refined petroleum products flow through the Bab el-Mandeb strait to the Red Sea—making it one of the world’s key oil chokepoints. Blocking the strait could cause a major disruption in global crude oil prices.

But there is more.

Iran can impede the flow of traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, which is the world’s most important oil chokepoint with 17 million barrels of oil a day (representing more than 30 percent of the world’s seaborne-traded oil) flowing through it.

With the ability to disrupt both straits, Iran would have the ability, if the sanctions are lifted due to the Obama administrations’ eagerness for a deal, to potentially escalate the price of oil to $200 a barrel—which would, not only change the geopolitics, but world economies as well. (Remember, Iran didn’t support OPEC’s November decision to keep production high and prices low.) Iran would be controlling a large part of the worldwide flow of oil and the high prices would boost, not only its economy, but Russia’s as well—while the limited access punishes Saudi Arabia and the high prices could badly damage Western economies. And, neither Iran nor Russia has to increase production to benefit—but if they do, their economic return becomes even greater.

Will Iran sign the deal and have its sanctions removed, allowing it to inject millions of barrels of oil into an already glutted global market? Whether or not it signs the deal, Iran can still penalize the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and as a result the rest of the world—making Yemen a spot on the map we should all care about.

Round and round she goes, where she stops nobody knows. “Considering the variables, American energy security is always something worth pursuing.”

Categories: On the Blog

Still Moving to Texas: The 2014 Metropolitan Population Estimates

March 30, 2015, 10:01 AM

Texas continues to dominate major metropolitan area growth. Among the 53 major metropolitan areas (with more than 1 million population), Texas cities occupied three of five top positions in population growth, and four of the top 10 (Figure 1).

Other parts of the nation are adding population in large numbers as well. The six top 10 cities not in Texas were split evenly between the South and the Mountain West. In the South, Raleigh ranked third, Orlando ranked fourth and Nashville was eighth. Out West, sixth-ranked Denver is maintaining its quick  growth rate as the middle of the decade approaches. Two cities that were especially hard hit by the housing bust now seem to be making progress. Las Vegas, has recovered to become the seventh fastest growing city, largely on the strength of substantially improved domestic migration numbers. In 2013-2014, the rate of net domestic migration quadrupled in Las Vegas. Phoenix (9th) is also recovering, and is now established as the nation’s 12th largest metropolitan area, having passed Riverside-San Bernardino.

Texas

But the biggest gains were in Texas.

Houston gained the most population between 2013 and 2014, adding 166,000 new residents. This is nearly as much as the gain in the entire Midwest states (177,000) which is home to 10 times as many people. Since 2000, Houston has risen from the nation’s eighth largest metropolitan area to its fifth, passing Washington, Miami, and earlier in this decade, Philadelphia.

For the first time in US history, two of the five largest cities in the nation are in Texas. Just ahead of Houston is fourth-ranked Dallas-Fort Worth, which had the second largest population gain at 127,000. This is a larger increase than occurred in the Northeast, which stretches from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York through New England and has more than eight times as many people as Dallas-Fort Worth. While Dallas-Fort Worth’s population increase has been slower than Houston’s in recent years (10th in 2013-2014), it has risen from a position of ninth in 1992 fourth today (present metropolitan boundaries).

Other Texas cities are also performing well. Austin, as has often been the case since the moderation of growth in Las Vegas during the last decade, has by far the largest population growth rate, at 3.0%, compared to the Houston’s 2.5%.

San Antonio, so often overlooked in a state with Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Austin ranked fifth in population growth rate between 2013 and 2014.

Net Domestic Migration

The top cities in net domestic migration almost duplicate the top 10 in population growth. Charlotte and Tampa-St. Petersburg replace Phoenix and Dallas-Fort Worth among the top 10 in net domestic migration (Figure 2).

A number of cities suffered substantial net domestic migration losses (Figure 3). The largest loss was in New York, which lost nearly one percent of its residents to other parts of the country. New York’s net domestic migration loss increased more than a third from that of 2011 through 2013, rising to 163,000 in 2014. Almost a net 100,000 left New York City, up from 69,000 in 2012-2013. The suburbs experienced a smaller loss, 64,000, up from 44,000.

The other two largest cities, Los Angeles and Chicago also had larger domestic migration losses (61,000 66,000 respectively) than the other cities.  Washington had by far the largest reversal, experiencing a domestic migration loss of 25,000, down from a plus 43,000 between 2012 and 2013.

Additional Developments

There’s also a new member of the million person metropolitan club, Tucson, the 53rd major metropolitan area.

Chicago’s growth has virtually stalled. Over the last year, the metropolitan area added only 0.1% to its population. This is less than one quarter the longer-term rate that had previously been projected. At that rate, Chicago would have reached 10 million residents within a decade. At the most recent growth rate, it would take nearly a half century. In light of the expected slower growth rates in the future, Chicago may never reach megacity status, unless its commuting shed expands enough to add new counties along its metropolitan fringe.

However, even without Chicago, the United States could add two new megacities within the next two decades. Both Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth would exceed 10 million by 2040 population if their current growth rates were to be maintained.

Despite being passed by Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth in the last two decades, Washington appears sure to emerge larger than Philadelphia by next year’s population estimates. This year, Washington exceeded 6 million population for the first time.

Domestic Migration: Core and Suburban Counties

This is indicated by domestic migration trends, which are reported by the Census Bureau only at the county level. Suburban counties continue to increase their net domestic migration and over the last year attracted nearly 420,000 more new residents from other parts of the nation than the core counties. The suburban counties gained 230,000 net domestic migrants, while the core counties lost 190,000. The low point of suburban net domestic migration occurred in 2012 when the gap relative to core counties was approximately 155,000. In each of the years of this decade, core counties have lost domestic migration, while suburban counties have gained more new residents from elsewhere (Figure 4).

As the nation continues its tepid recovery from the Great Recession, the largest number of people are moving to the suburbs and away from the core counties. This suggests that, normalcy may be gradually returning, with strong growth both in the suburbs and throughout the Sunbelt.

Major Metropolitan Area Population Estimates Population 2013-2014 Rank Metropolitan Area 2010 2013 2014 % Change Net Domestic Migration Rank: Domestic Migration 1 New York, NY-NJ-PA  19,567  20,002  20,093 0.45% -0.81%          53 2 Los Angeles, CA  12,829  13,176  13,262 0.66% -0.47%          47 3 Chicago, IL-IN-WI    9,461    9,545    9,555 0.10% -0.69%          51 4 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX    6,426    6,823    6,954 1.92% 0.72%          13 5 Houston, TX    5,920    6,334    6,490 2.47% 1.04%            6 6 Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD    5,965    6,036    6,051 0.25% -0.34%          42 7 Washington, DC-VA-MD-WV    5,636    5,967    6,034 1.12% -0.41%          45 8 Miami, FL    5,565    5,863    5,930 1.13% -0.21%          35 9 Atlanta, GA    5,287    5,525    5,614 1.61% 0.58%          15 10 Boston, MA-NH    4,552    4,698    4,732 0.73% -0.22%          37 11 San Francisco-Oakland, CA    4,335    4,530    4,594 1.42% 0.32%          21 12 Phoenix, AZ    4,193    4,404    4,489 1.93% 0.93%          11 13 Riverside-San Bernardino, CA    4,225    4,390    4,442 1.18% 0.24%          23 14 Detroit,  MI    4,296    4,295    4,297 0.03% -0.47%          48 15 Seattle, WA    3,440    3,614    3,671 1.60% 0.48%          16 16 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI    3,349    3,461    3,495 0.97% -0.02%          31 17 San Diego, CA    3,095    3,223    3,263 1.27% 0.08%          28 18 Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL    2,783    2,874    2,916 1.44% 0.99%          10 19 St. Louis,, MO-IL    2,788    2,802    2,806 0.16% -0.28%          39 20 Baltimore, MD    2,710    2,774    2,786 0.43% -0.23%          38 21 Denver, CO    2,543    2,700    2,754 2.02% 1.09%            4 22 Charlotte, NC-SC    2,217    2,337    2,380 1.84% 1.03%            7 23 Pittsburgh, PA    2,356    2,361    2,356 -0.19% -0.12%          33 24 Portland, OR-WA    2,226    2,315    2,348 1.45% 0.71%          14 25 San Antonio, TX    2,143    2,282    2,329 2.04% 1.09%            5 26 Orlando, FL    2,134    2,271    2,321 2.22% 1.01%            8 27 Sacramento, CA    2,149    2,218    2,244 1.21% 0.37%          19 28 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN    2,115    2,139    2,149 0.51% -0.04%          32 29 Kansas City, MO-KS    2,009    2,055    2,071 0.77% 0.05%          29 30 Las Vegas, NV    1,951    2,029    2,070 1.99% 1.00%            9 31 Cleveland, OH    2,077    2,065    2,064 -0.08% -0.38%          44 32 Columbus, OH    1,902    1,969    1,995 1.30% 0.44%          17 33 Indianapolis. IN    1,888    1,953    1,971 0.93% 0.11%          26 34 San Jose, CA    1,837    1,929    1,953 1.25% -0.37%          43 35 Austin, TX    1,716    1,886    1,943 3.05% 1.75%            1 36 Nashville, TN    1,671    1,759    1,793 1.94% 1.13%            3 37 Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC    1,677    1,707    1,717 0.54% -0.30%          40 38 Providence, RI-MA    1,601    1,606    1,609 0.24% -0.16%          34 39 Milwaukee,WI    1,556    1,570    1,572 0.13% -0.45%          46 40 Jacksonville, FL    1,346    1,396    1,419 1.65% 0.92%          12 41 Memphis, TN-MS-AR    1,325    1,342    1,343 0.11% -0.55%          50 42 Oklahoma City, OK    1,253    1,321    1,337 1.23% 0.43%          18 43 Louisville, KY-IN    1,236    1,262    1,270 0.59% 0.12%          25 44 Richmond, VA    1,208    1,247    1,260 1.06% 0.36%          20 45 New Orleans. LA    1,190    1,242    1,252 0.80% 0.16%          24 46 Raleigh, NC    1,130    1,215    1,243 2.28% 1.18%            2 47 Hartford, CT    1,212    1,216    1,214 -0.14% -0.71%          52 48 Salt Lake City, UT    1,088    1,142    1,153 1.03% -0.32%          41 49 Birmingham, AL    1,128    1,140    1,144 0.37% 0.02%          30 50 Buffalo, NY    1,136    1,136    1,136 0.02% -0.22%          36 51 Rochester, NY    1,080    1,084    1,083 -0.06% -0.52%          49 52 Grand Rapids, MI       989    1,017    1,028 1.03% 0.25%          22 53 Tucson, AZ       980       998    1,005 0.65% 0.09%          27 In 000s Data from Census Bureau

——–

Note: Core counties are the counties with the largest historical core municipalities as well as the five counties that make up the core city of New York.

Photograph: Houston Suburbs by author

[Originally published at New Geography]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Book Review – The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money are Challenging the Global Economic Order

March 30, 2015, 12:24 AM

Bitcoin is digital money for a digital age and although often associated in the public mind with instability, wild fluctuations and illicit dealings it could yet be poised to launch an economic revolution.

Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey, two long time Wall Street Journal business reporters attempt to cut through the hype and demystify crytocurrency, detailing its origins, its functions, where it could go and what it could do in their book The Age of Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money are Challenging the Global Economic Order.

Much of the book is clearly brilliant, well written and wonderfully informative. Other portions can only make your eyes glaze over if you are not a a true computer geek.

The real goal of crypto currency is to cut out the banking middlemen whose role is to process and verify transactions. It is intended to allow a network of thousands of redundant computers, to do this job more accurately at far lower cost than that imposed on our economic system by centralized banks and related financial institutions. It could also enable a third of the world without access to banks, to be able to send and receive money thus increasing trade without the excessive existing costs in our current credit card and banking systems.

Crypto computer based currencies have been around for 20 years with no real success until a still unknown genius named Satushi Nakamoto figured out a system that worked and gave it to the world all but anonymously then disappeared from the internet without a trace. No one knows from what country he or she or they originated, and it is likely we will never know. The last transmission from Satushi Nakamoto was December 12, 2010.

In the previous years Nakamoto shared a system that had two major breakthroughs — an inviolable universal ledger, which he dubbed the blockchain, against which anyone could verify the validity of transactions as well as a unique set of monetary incentives to encourage the network’s computer owners to keep the ledger up to date. Although the authors try very hard to explain what a block chain is numerous times through the book, let me just summarize by saying it is a vast chain of computers working in a coordinated manner under the same computer code that quickly verifies the accuracy of any transaction making any fear of fraud, double dealing or cheating impossible.

That may sound simple but it took years and true genius to develop this full proof system. It draws from mathematical concepts that are unfamiliar to most of us. However few us fully understand the entire US banking system yet we trust our money to it.

In exchange for participating in the blockchain you receive computer codes and computer puzzles to solve which if successful lead to obtaining some bitcoin currency as a form of payment for your effort. By no means enough to get rich as new bitcoins are only released in small quantities on a time release basis, but enough incentive for both the money and the satisfaction of success. Some folks have combined their computers in efforts to “mine” the bitcoins. One college student spent all his spare time working at it but only earned the meager sum of $200 a month.

The authors have actually traveled the world in their work allowing them to explain how crypto currency could have avoided a financial meltdown in Argentina and how it is working in Kenya.

Because the cryptocurrency sytem requires no bank, and no government control it is truly disruptive and multiple agencies described by the authors are already trying to block it or control it. An interesting outgrowth of this in the authors eyes is that bitcoin has attracted libertarian leaning techies and in some parts of the book it is clear that they themselves have a strong libertarian bent. Concurrently however it appears that bitcoin becomes like a religion to many of those that have helped foster its growth and acceptance.

In tracking down this community the reader will be overwhelmed to find that Vigna and Casey, over the course of their investigations either directly or indirectly gained information to describe 174 people (my count) who have contributed to the growth of crypto currency in the past decade.They back this up with 309 footnotes. Some in its initial development and even more developing applications to make the bitcoin system more useful and user friendly.

Most readers will ultimately agree that this is a bit of overkill but it seems they desired to leave out none of their research. In deference to their comprehensive approach they state Bitcoin “did not explode in a void. Like any brilliant invention, it is built on the backs of prior inventors. Writ large, cryptocurrencies can trace their roots through centuries of innovations that have enhanced human communication and exchange, from the printing press through the telegraph to the internet.”

At the end of the book the authors lay out two opposing scenarios for the future. One where bitcoin withers and dies and one where it leads to a future economic revolution that benefits the entire world. Either way it is exciting to understand what is at stake.

Categories: On the Blog

Feds to Ban Kids’ Soft Plastic Toys for No Good Reason

March 29, 2015, 2:20 PM

The Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) wants to hear from you.

The agency has extended its comments period until April 15 as it considers a rule that would regulate a range of chemicals within a group called phthalates. These chemicals, among other purposes, keep plastics from shattering when bent, and play a useful role in a range of consumer products.

Some phthalates, such as di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), have already been banned. Others have been under scrutiny for years and have been subject to temporary bans, or have been banned from products that children are likely to put their mouths on.

The CPSC’s proposed rule would extend the ban on diisononyl phthalate (DINP)—in effect since 2009–from a temporary restriction on mouthable children’s toys and childcare articles, to a permanent ban on even non-mouthable children’s products. The CPSC’s justification is that non-mouthable products are touched, which can also cause exposure, thus adding to the cumulative exposure from other phthalates, such as DEHP.

But as it turns out, DINP is among the least potent phthalates, and exposure from toys and childcare articles—even mouthable ones—is a very minor source of DINP exposure in the first place. It is an even more minor concern in terms of cumulative phthalate risk, given DINP’s low potency.

Cumulative exposure from DINP in children’s products may have been a conceivable concern when overall phthalate exposure was much higher, prior to the legislative bans on many phthalates more than five years ago. But now, with overall exposure much lower, DINP exposure from touching should barely even be considered of minimal importance.

The CPSC, in its proposed rule to extend the ban, relies heavily on a study it commissioned called the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) on Phthalates. Yet the CHAP report fails to take today’s lower exposure levels into account, instead relying on data that is not only old, but no longer relevant given the bans of more potent phthalates. A cumulative assessment based on exposure levels we know to no longer be accurate renders the CHAP report irrelevant when considering cumulative exposures.

The proposed CPSC rule comes close to acknowledging the scientific weakness of the case to extend the ban on DINP to non-mouthable products, by arguing that the effect of the ban would be minimal. “In practice, children’s toys and toys that can be placed in a child’s mouth all require testing for phthalates,” says the CPSC. “The testing costs are the same in either case. The only change caused by expanding the scope to all children’s toys is that toys too large to be mouthed could not be made with DINP.” (See pages 45 to 48 of the CPSC’s notice regarding the proposed rule.)

This, however, does not bother to consider several factors: The effect on consumers; the potential that in the future, smaller manufacturers would be burdened by this regulation; or the potential for eventual uses of DINP in non-mouthable children’s products. Overall, the rule offers no demonstrated public health benefits in exchange for keeping a safe and useful chemical out of the hands of consumers.

When Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008, it did not give the CPSC the power to remove safe products from the marketplace, simply because the effects of such a ban appear to be minimal. Nor did it empower the CPSC to remove products that can only be shown to present a risk based on old exposure data that is no longer accurate.

But with the extension of the comments period until mid-April, there is still time to let your voice be heard. The law is clear: The agency must read and consider your comments. Your unique insight and experience can help shape this policy. Submit your comments at the Federal eRulemaking Portal until April 15.

 

[Originally published at Pundicity]

Categories: On the Blog

Multiculturalism – A Cancer on College Campuses

March 29, 2015, 10:14 AM

By Nancy Thorner & Bonnie O’Neil – 

David L. Goetsch in his book, “Liberal Tyranny in Higher Education”, sees multiculturalism as the leftist code for a worldview that seeks the destruction of Christianity and traditional American values.  Although everyone and everything is supposed to be equal, universal equality is preached but not actually believed. Multicultural elitists not only reject the values of those who pay their salaries, they do everything in their power to subvert their values.  Elitists in academia go beyond just advocating multiculturalism, they worship at the altar of this misguided, socially cancerous worldview.

Professor Williams explained this multicultural hypocrisy in a recent column entitled “Multiculturalism, a cancer on Western society”:

“Western values are by no means secure. They are under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America. These people want to replace personal liberty with government control; they want to replace equality with entitlement; they want to halt progress in order to worship Mother Earth. Personal liberty and private property are anathemas to people who want to control our lives. This is part and parcel of the multicultural and diversity movements infecting the western world.”

Colleges and universities, hotbeds of multiculturalism

It is not surprising that colleges and universities across this nation have become hotbeds of multiculturalism.  In the social environment that currently prevails on most of these campuses, young students are targeted for being taught the philosophy that no one and nothing is supposed to stand out. Everyone and everything is to be equal.  Not so, however, if the action in question is for the purpose of liberal indoctrination, such as when a college mandated LGBTQ training for all campus groups.   When one group requested an opt-out from the indoctrination, it was labeled a hate group, thus exemplifying the expected intolerance of the Left.  It goes without saying that if we don’t agree with Liberals, we’re part of a hate group. If Liberals don’t agree with us they are the enlightened ones, and have no trouble spewing angry, insulting comments to silence us.

Unfortunately on college campuses we have an ever-growing group of young men and women who no longer understand what it means to be an American.   A story that received national news attention a few weeks ago took place at the University of California, Irvine (U.C.I.), located in Orange County, which is one of the few remaining conservative Republican counties in California.   A student government group decided to ban flags from being displayed in a prominent place on campus, particularly the American flag, because as they were quoted: “it is a symbol of oppression.”  In all likelihood the students who created the firestorm have no clue as to what oppression really feels like.  They would be well advised to examine real oppression that exists in many countries throughout the World, such as Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia.  The UCI students might feel differently about the United States if they witnessed real, not imagined, oppression.   Odd that they ignore the countries that forbid women to go to school, drive a car, show their hair or faces in public, or vote;  countries in which women are the property of their husbands, and where one can justifiably kill another who denounces a specific religious belief.

College students have the legal right to dishonor our American flag. Ironically they do so without considering that our flag is the symbol of the very freedom that gives them that right.  However, they are not immune to criticism for doing so, and their decision, once leaked to the media, caused American patriots everywhere to be outraged.  Thousands expressed their distaste and anger, wondering what caused this utter disrespect for “Old Glory”.  Some wondered if the students’ lack of patriotism originated from their home, their families?   Questions arose as to whether the 6 students were born and/or raised in America or whether they were foreign students whose loyalty lies elsewhere?   How could they be oblivious to the freedom and opportunities our flag represents?   Had they not been taught brave men and women died for the country that flag represents?  Citizens from all over wanted to know if the U.C.I. students in question were among those who have received federal (American) grants for their education, which have grown to around $30 million a year.  In this case, likely due to the resultant public outcry, the decision to remove the American flag was quickly overturned by school authorities.

Flag’s removal not an end all to U.C.I. controversy 

Despite the removal of the flag, the firestorm of controversy created by the “flag flap” continued.  But what happened next on the U.C.I. campus provided the most glaring explanation as to the thought process that produced the six student’s attitude towards “Old Glory”, and why it was targeted for removal. The first clue that caught the public’s attention was that students were not as shocked by the removal of the flag as they were the accompanying controversy.  The second major clue came several days later when it was reported that a letter of support for the six students had been circulated on campus, apparently by Rei Terada, a professor of Comparative Literature at U.C.I.  The petition included 1,200 signatures, sixty of which were from professors who, by signing, declared their approval of the decision and support for the six students.

The following is an excerpt from the letter:

“We admire the courage of the resolution’s supporters amid this environment of political immaturity and threat, and support them unequivocally.”  “We write to support the six members who offered the resolution to remove national flags from the ASUCI lobby,” the letter reads.  “The university ought to respect their political position and meet its obligation to protect and promote their safety.  The resolution recognized that nationalism, including U.S. nationalism, often contributes to racism and xenophobia”

As more information and facts unfolded, it became apparent to observers that the source of the student’s disrespect for our American flag originated not with their families, but with a philosophy born in classrooms by exceedingly liberal professors who had the audacity to spew their liberal agenda into classrooms of vulnerable, open-minded young students, eager to please the authority over them.  It is about a creeping liberalism that has been dominating, not just U.C.I., but colleges and campuses all over America for decades. Students, our children who are the future of America, have become victims of professors with an extreme agenda.  The unpatriotic action of six U.C.I. students uncovered a far more serious problem that requires the attention and action of every American parent and patriot. The realization that the U.C.I flag incident was only discovered due to a “leak” , believed to have been reported to the media by a student and then fortunately given to a conservative media source to bring to the attention of the public, there is every cause to wonder how many similar college incidents go unnoticed throughout the country?

Influence of liberal professors in American classrooms

The obvious concern should be to what extent U.C.I. professors and others in prestigious universities use their position of authority daily to infuse a liberal philosophy into American classrooms, thus indoctrinating rather than teaching vulnerable students.   An article in the L.A. Times entitled “Leftism at UC Leaves Many with Unbalanced Education” quotes a study that concluded: “Cal is a hotbed of leftist faculty and politically correct thinking, where many students are receiving a weak education”.  Students who only learn one viewpoint on controversial issues are not prepared for a society in which they will be challenged with differing perspectives.  With a compromised outlook, students risk succeeding in specific fields, only to find themselves at a disadvantage because of their one-sided frame of reference.

There have been astute students who have complained that professors continually point out America’s perceived failures without balancing the negative with this nation’s many achievements, many of which have propelled this country into becoming the great nation we now enjoy.  Such students are not easily influenced with rhetoric, but look at facts for their conclusions.  They respect our country and its accomplishments and know our borders do not prohibit people from leaving, but instead are challenged to manage the huge number of foreigners who want to enter America.  Just observing that one fact alone indicates we must be doing something right!

Notwithstanding, it is difficult for vulnerable young minds to resist the power of persuasive professors who convey and encourage students to resist national pride and thus consider themselves as “citizens of the world”, not citizens of the United States.  No wonder those six U.C.I. students wanted to remove the flag; they have been indoctrinated with anti-patriotic philosophies in favor of a one-world concept that discourages loyalty to one’s country.

Perhaps the “flap” over the flag has opened a door for all to see that a one-sided, exceedingly liberal political and philosophical perspective in classrooms can prove detrimental. An obvious conclusion is that it is not only the professors, but also school administrations that perpetrates the liberal indoctrination.  That seems logical when we realize most universities hire liberals over conservatives at a ratio as high as seven to one. The solution may be for taxpayers, parents, students, and donors to demand fair and equal hiring practices; one that creates a balance of conservatives to liberals, and which would provide students the opportunity to hear and learn a more fair and diverse political perspective. All students benefit when equipped with a better understanding of all political thought, provided without prejudice.

Equality a byword only when benefiting liberal ideals

Although equality is a byword among university professors, it appears to apply only if that equality benefits liberal ideals.  Recent revelations indicate school administrations are reluctant to make any changes to correct the liberal bias permeating their schools.  In fact they tend to excuse or justify the inequality when exposed.  The bias is not only witnessed in the Universities’ unfair hiring practices, but also in their choice of commencement speakers.  Liberals are favored seven to one over conservatives, which may be largely due to the backlash liberal professors create on the campus when a conservative speaker is selected.

Consider Rutgers University.  Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was invited to give the school’s commencement speech, but soon after her acceptance a group of faculty members led by Rutgers Chemistry professor Robert Boikess and Rutger student Carmelo Cintrón Vivas began a campaign to force the school to disinvite the former United States official. Protestors gained national attention by an intensive effort to malign the former official, and liberal media sources slanted the story in favor of the protestors by citing quotes regarding Rice’s role in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and U.S. interrogation policies. To Rutgers credit it refused to disinvite Rice, but not wanting to create more controversy, Rice graciously rescinded her acceptance, stating: “Commencements should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families.  Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

In actuality, liberals were grateful for the opportunity Rutgers gave them to malign our former Secretary of state and in the process promote their own leftist agenda not only at the university but throughout the nation.

Can this nation tolerate centers of higher learning engaged in indoctrination?

America can withstand unfair protests.  Our country can overcome the rhetoric spewed from the Left.  We can tolerate an occasional professor who has the same liberal mindset as former terrorist Bill Ayers.  What we cannot tolerate is for our nation’s college and university system to become learning centers where our children are indoctrinated by a majority of self-professed liberal professors whose goals are not that of our forefathers, the student’s parent, or the community in general.  The condemning of American policies, practices, laws, leaders and traditions must stop.  Our children deserve a fair and balanced education void of intentional leftist indoctrination.

It is time for each of us to demand real equality in all our schools, from elementary to the University level, which would include everything from hiring practices to the curriculum taught in each classroom.  Students deserve a balanced education, citizens should demand it, and the health of our nation requires it.   We must join together and demand fair hiring practices, then request they drop the controversial Common Core, eliminate the federal Department of Education, and detach from all unions.  Now, that would be real progress; the type our brave and wise forefathers would have applauded!

 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Unnecessary Collateral Damage From FCC Title II Internet Regulation

March 28, 2015, 2:05 PM

The collateral damage is beginning to pile up from the FCC’s February decision to trigger Title II telephone utility regulation of the Internet.

Long called the “nuclear” option, the FCC preemptively triggered Title II Internet regulation ostensibly to prevent potential new net neutrality problems, which the FCC admits it can’t yet identify.

Why is Title II so destructive to the Internet ecosystem?

Few appreciate the awesome governmental power of Depression-era Title II regulation.

Title II is inherently comprehensive, capturing the whole telecommunications ecosystem. It presumes end to end, and top to bottom, FCC control of a vertically-integrated AT&T monopoly, including local and long distance communications, telecom equipment and devices manufacturing, Bell Labs R&D and content, publishing and advertising in Yellow Pages directories.

Most every functional part of the 1934 Title II monopoly AT&T ecosystem has a functional communications equivalent in the 21st century Internet ecosystem.

Title II also is inherently an adversarial, command and control regulatory ecosystem designed for one provider and one decider — the AT&T telephone monopoly network and the FCC monopoly regulator, respectively. Title II Section 201 has sweeping catchall authority empowering the FCC to “prescribe such rules and regulations as may be necessary in the public interest.”

Dropping Title II ecosystem regulation on top of the Internet ecosystem is like dropping an antiquated square-peg model on a modern round-hole model, meaning that literally everything in today’s 21st century Internet eventually may have to be force-fitted into analogous 1934 Title II regulations by the FCC and/or the courts over a period of many years.

Just as the FCC was not the final legal authority over Title II regulation of the monopoly telephone system, the FCC is not the final authority over what portions of the Internet ultimately will be captured by Title II regulations of “telecommunications.”

That’s because any trial lawyer can sue to require that the FCC’s new re-definitions, like “telecommunications” to capture ISPs’ broadband service, be equally applied under the law to functionally similar services.

The courts ultimately will decide much of this, creating potential litigation uncertainty for most every player in the Internet ecosystem.

If broadband is now telecommunications, IP addresses are now the legal equivalent of a phone number, and the Internet itself is now the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) per the FCC’s Internet Order, then are any apps that involve telecommunications of any kind, such as instant messaging, VoIP, or video communications etc., Title II telecommunications as well?

Are cloud service telecommunications analogous to broadband telecommunications?

Are over the top video streaming providers like Netflix, Google-YouTube, Amazon, etc. offering the functional equivalent of a Title II regulated telecommunications service?

Do online advertisers who use Title II Section 222 customer proprietary network information (user identifiers) in their cookies that telecommunicate back to their data centers, have to protect customer privacy like broadband providers do?

Under Title II Section 207 most everyone in the Internet ecosystem may be just one federal lawsuit and decision away from being sucked into the vortex of the Title II regulatory ecosystem.

Why was the Title II collateral damage unnecessary and avoidable?

All alleged net neutrality problems have been resolved without Title II. The relevant court indicated that the FCC’s 706 authority could support the FCC’s net neutrality rules without Title II.

And Congress has offered to codify FCC authority to implement the FCC’s 2010 court-overturned net neutrality rules.

What will be the likely collateral damage from Title II?

Consumers face the uncertainty of higher prices, fees and taxes over time, reduced competition and infrastructure improvements. Minority, poor, and underserved populations are especially at risk of losing service from higher prices, fees and taxes.

Innovators face the new and unnecessary uncertainty of FCC second-guessing and after the fact rejection of their innovations by opaque, arbitrary and unnecessary FCC innovation permission panels.

Investors face new unquantifiable litigation and business risks from an apparently arbitrary regulator picking winners and losers.

In a nutshell, lots of Americans, innovation and business will become collateral damage in an unnecessary, avoidable, and self-serving FCC war on potential future net neutrality problems, which the FCC admits it can’t yet identify.

It’s hard to imagine how another agency could inflict so much pain for so little gain.

Innocent bystanders beware, the FCC treats you as acceptable collateral damage.

 

[Originally published at the Daily Caller]

Categories: On the Blog

Seven States that Deserve an ‘F’ for their Welfare Programs

March 28, 2015, 9:15 AM

When President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act into law in 1996, some Democrats and virtually all Republicans in Congress, led by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), predicted the law would lead to dramatic reductions in welfare.

They were right.

Since 1996, welfare rolls have declined by 73 percent—from 12.4 million in 1996 to 3.4 million in October 2014. Few other reforms over the past 20 years have been as successful or as important.

But despite the many improvements caused by the 1996 changes to welfare, many states’ welfare programs continue to lag behind the rest of the nation because they fail to implement simple, commonsense reforms.

In an effort to identify the reasons why some welfare reform efforts have been far more successful than others, as well as what can be done to improve welfare reform, The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank headquartered in Chicago, conducted an extensive analysis of every state’s welfare program in 2008. The study also made reform recommendations that history has proven to be effective solutions to helping impoverished Americans move out of welfare and into productive and self-sufficient professional careers.

To determine its rankings, Heartland analyzed and scored each state’s program outcomes and welfare policies. A state’s program outcomes score was determined by looking at overall poverty rates, work participation rates, unemployment, teen birthrates, and the decline in the number of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program recipients.  Welfare reform policies were scored by analyzing state work requirements, cash diversion, service integration, time limits, and sanctions.

On March 19, Heartland released an updated version of the 2008 report card after conducting exhaustive research, and the following seven states have been identified as having the lowest-performing welfare programs and policies in the nation:

#44 Georgia, Grade: F (52/100 points)

Georgia came in as the nation’s seventh-worst state for welfare reform, ranking 49th in unemployment and receiving 0 out of 100 possible points for its poor “cash diversion” program. Cash diversion policies are those that allow case workers to give applicants lump-sum cash payments to meet short-term needs if recipients agree not to participate in TANF for some stated period.

#45 (tied) Alabama, Grade: F (51/100 points)

Alabama finished among the bottom six states, ranking 42nd in TANF recipient decline and earning grades of “F” for having poor cash diversion and sanctions policies. Sanctions are tools state officials can use to ensure recipients comply with work requirements and other mandates necessary for continued use of social services.

#45 (tied) Oregon, Grade: F (51/100 points)

Oregon finished in the bottom 10 of all states for overall poverty rates, work participation rates, and TANF recipient decline. It also received failing marks for its cash diversion and sanctions policies.

#45 (tied) Rhode Island, Grade: F (51/100 points)

The Ocean State finished 49th in the nation for its dismal work participation rate and 40th for its unemployment rate. It also received F grades for its poor service integration and cash diversion policies.

#48 Vermont, Grade: F (46/100 points)

Vermont ranked 48th overall due to its poor reform policies regarding work requirements and time limits, which is the amount of time a recipient is eligible to receive aid in a recipient’s life.

#49 Massachusetts, Grade: F (24.7/100 points)

Massachusetts earned “F” grades in four of five policy categories: work requirements, cash diversion, time limits, and sanctions. Massachusetts received an “A” grade for service integration, but that was only enough to keep it from finishing dead last.

#50 Missouri, Grade: F (24.3/100 points)

The Show Me State receives the dubious honor of being ranked the worst state in the nation for welfare reform, finishing 48th overall for its anti-poverty outcomes and earning “F” grades for its poor sanctions, work requirements, and cash diversion policies. Missouri earned “D” grades for lackluster service integration and poor time limits policies.

Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, and Wisconsin received “A” grades for enacting proven reform policies that help move recipients off of welfare and into self-sufficiency.

You can read Heartland’s complete welfare reform report card, titled “2015 Welfare Reform Report Card” by going to The Heartland Institute’s website, where the study is available for free at www.heartland.org/welfare-reform

[Published on The Hill]

Categories: On the Blog

Celebrate Progressive Human Achivement Hour, Reject Regressive Earth Hour

March 28, 2015, 12:38 AM

Light Up Night in Pittsburgh should be Light Up Night everywhere during the miserable ‘Earth Hour’ of the environmental extremists.

The technology liberated by fossil fuels allows us to live a longer and better life.  You can now have fresh vegetables from all over the planet and not having to live off canned vegetables that I had to eat back in the 1930s – 1950s.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute invites you to celebrate “Human Achievement Hour” by turning on your lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. TODAY, March 28. This celebration of human progress and advancement is an alternative to “Earth Hour,” the annual event calling on people and business to turn off their lights for an hour as a symbolic gesture against climate change.

Share in the celebration of modern society on Facebook! And Tweet it with the hashtag #HAH2015.

In contrast, Earth Hour wants you to live like the people in the 17th century — dying young, starving, working yourself to death with manual labor, etc.

Humans were not meant to live that way. Humans learned how to not live that way. Let’s not go back.

Categories: On the Blog

Is Global Warming a Moral Cause?

March 27, 2015, 1:22 PM

On March 1, the New York Times published a silly piece titled “Is the Environment a Moral Cause” by Robb Willer (writing from Palo Alto, CA, of course) saying conservatives don’t embrace global warming alarmism and other popular environmental causes because they are more concerned about “patriotism, respect for authority, sanctity or purity” than “protecting people and ecosystems from harm and destruction.”

With all due respect to Prof. Willer, this isn’t even close to the truth. Rupert Wynham’s wonderful March 26 letter to the BBC makes it abundantly clear that conservatives view global warming as an issue loaded with moral concerns of a different kind: truth-telling, respect for others, healthy skepticism toward authority and propaganda, and willingness to publicly debate those who disagree.

Conservatives – and, opinion polls show, a healthy majority of the American public – don’t “believe in global warming” because its advocates utterly lack credibility. They’ve been caught again and again exaggerating, lying, and even breaking the law to end any civil discussion of the causes and consequences of climate change. Ordinary people aren’t fooled by propaganda. They’ve figured it out.

Willer writes, “To win over more of the public, environmentalists must look beyond the arguments that they themselves have found convincing.” That’s only partly right. They need to start speaking the truth, stop believing government agencies and advocacy groups that have been shown to lie and deceive to achieve power or financial rewards, and start debating their critics. Nothing else will restore environmentalism to the status it properly held before it became an appendage of the left-liberal political movement.

Categories: On the Blog

Ted Cruz Gets Common Core Way Better Than ThinkProgress Does

March 27, 2015, 12:20 PM

ThinkProgress has not one but two articles bashing this tweet from Sen. (and now presidential candidate) Ted Cruz:

Federal Govt has no business sticking its nose in education. We need to repeal every word of Common Core! #nhpolitics #MakeDCListen

The headlines pretty much sum it up: “Ted Cruz Makes Impassioned Plea For Repeal Of Federal Legislation That Does Not Exist” and “Every Claim In This Ted Cruz Statement Is Completely False.” The second critiques this statement from Cruz’s spokeswoman: “Common Core is a federally created curriculum that the state’s ‘Race to the Top’ grants are tied to. So if the state does not adopt the standards, it gives up the grant money. But since the federal government created this mess, there should be a way to undo it.”

ThinkProgress Editor in Chief Judd Legum responds:

Literally every claim in that statement is false.

First, Common Core is not ‘federally created.’ It was created by the states, on a voluntary basis. As NPR reported, ‘the federal government played no role in creating the standards, nor did it require that states adopt them.’

Second, Common Core is not a ‘curriculum.’ Federal law actually prohibits the federal government to ‘to endorse, approve, or sanction any curriculum designed to be used in an elementary school or secondary school. Common Core is a set of math and English guidelines that outline a set of skills one should have at the end of each grade. The curriculum used to obtain those skills is left to school districts, schools and teachers.

Third, ‘Race To The Top’ grants were never tied to the adoption of Common Core.

Legum might want to spend some time googling up the pertinent federal and other publicly available source documents, because he’s flat-out wrong.

Fed Involvement in Common Core

Federal law does indeed prohibit any federal entity from having anything to do with curriculum. Legum may not have noticed, but the Obama administration doesn’t give a damn what any law says. So, in flat contradiction to the law, the Obama administration has indeed funded and coerced Common Core.

These two federal shadow agencies (PARCC and SBAC) explicitly told the Obama administration they would use tax dollars to create Common Core curriculum.

Common Core is not, as its apologists insist because there’s no other way to cover their butts on this, merely “curriculum benchmarks.” The document governors signed to signal their consent to the creation of Common Core defines the initiative in two “phases”: The first is standards, the second linked assessments. And the federal government provided $360 million in tax dollars explicitly to create the pair of linked national testing systems that share test questions and student data, both with each other and the federal government. Federal employees oversaw the creation of these tests right down to the test questions. Without federal money, there would be no second half of Common Core.

Furthermore, these two federal shadow agencies (PARCC and SBAC) explicitly told the Obama administration they would use tax dollars to create Common Core curriculum. SBAC’s grant agreement with the feds promised it would provide teachers “exemplary instructional materials linked to CCSS,”  “model curriculum and instructional modules that are aligned with the CCSS,” and teacher training.  It will send teachers “recommended readings, focused group discussions, use of online tools, and sharing of annotated examples of best practices and exercises.”  The organization budgeted $5.125 million in federal funds to contract with yet another organization to develop such “instructional and curriculum resources for educators.” PARCC’s says it is writing “model curriculum frameworks” and “exemplar lesson plans.”

It’s also utterly blind to pretend the Obama administration’s Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind waivers did not push states into Common Core. State board of education minutes from Race to the Top winners show that these boards believed “The verbatim adoption of these standards is required for Race to the Top approval” (that’s Tennessee’s).As the Washington Post reported, the term “Common Core” was written directly into Race to the Top mandates until substituted for a definition that matched only them so people wouldn’t get “suspicious.”

Lastly, the federal government provides at least half the operating funds of the two organizations that created Common Core, which are private nonprofits with no authority to create any binding national initiatives or laws. So either way, the feds were there at the beginning, at the request of Common Core’s creators, no less.

Ted Cruz Is Basically Right

There’s a lot more nitpicking to be done, but I think a fair reader sees my point. Almost everything about Legum’s posts is wrong, with the technical exception that Common Core itself is indeed not a full curriculum (“it depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is”). Cruz is more accurate than Legum.

Cruz also gets the core of the issue right. The federal government has been breaking its own laws to fund curriculum essentially ever since the feds started stickyfingering education. So while the Obama administration is particularly brazen in its lawbreaking, this history of federal involvement in education essentially demonstrates its refusal to keep itself within bounds. (It also has not helped children of any income level or nationality, but that’s a story for another day.) As Cruz says, “The federal government has no business sticking its nose in education.”

[Originally published at The Federalist]

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Marita Noon and James M. Taylor: Solar Power in the U.S.

March 27, 2015, 12:04 PM

In Today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in as Senior Fellow James M. Taylor speaks with Marita Noon, host of America’s Voice for Energy. Taylor and Noon discuss solar energy in the United States. Noon and Taylor have both recently focused some of their work on the topic of solar power.

Taylor wrote an article titled “Solar Power Lobbyists seek to subvert Florida Teaparty.” The article explores a solar power ballot initiative in Florida masquerading as a free-market policy. Noon recently published a new report titled “Solar Power in the U.S.” This comprehensive look at solar energy “provides citizens with a more thorough understanding of how energy policy decisions affect their day-to-day lives.” Listen in as Taylor and Noon discuss this very important topic.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Millennials’ Dangerous Growing Addiction to Government

March 27, 2015, 11:34 AM

When a friend and recent college graduate informed me he was receiving food stamps, I was floored. He is a healthy, educated, intelligent individual, but, like many of the millennials I know, entitled. Completely and utterly entitled.

“Is something wrong?” I asked my friend. “Are you going through a tough time or something? I know you’re working and everything seems to be going well with your job.”

“It’s nothing like that,” he assured me. “My job is with AmeriCorps though, and they just don’t pay enough. That’s why I’m eligible for food stamps. I figure, they aren’t paying me what I should get paid so it seems fair I should be eligible for government assistance.”

Somewhere in Fairfax County, Virginia, George Washington is rolling over in his grave.

AmeriCorps is a federal volunteer program—and by “volunteer,” I mean you earn money—that is considered to be quite prestigious by many employers and government agencies. Made up almost exclusively of young college students and graduates, AmeriCorps places individuals into community service organizations, providing a steady stream of cheap labor.

My friend, who was receiving a salary of just under $6,000 for his “service,” felt his decision to enroll in my state’s food stamps program was justified, not because he couldn’t find work and feed himself, but because he felt like he was being underpaid by the government for his “volunteer” job.

Fifty years ago—even 30 years ago—this sort of logic would not be tolerated by society. It used to be embarrassing to receive government assistance, a sign that something was going terribly wrong in one’s life. Not anymore. Government assistance isn’t exclusively for those who are down on their luck and need a helping hand; it’s for nearly everyone.

Millennials now pay for most of their tuition and college costs using federal student loans, a portion of which are guaranteed to be “subsidized.” Once students graduate from college, they are eligible to pay their loans back using income-based repayment plans. After 25 years, the loans are automatically forgiven, even if the student never paid a penny of it back. Loans are forgiven in only 10 years if students work for a non-profit organization.

While in school, non-dependent millennials are eligible for numerous government services. Because student loans do not count as “income” for the purpose of determining eligibility in many government programs, students can borrow as much as a school allows for living expenses and remain eligible for state and federal assistance.

For instance, a student attending New York University can borrow at least $24,000 for living expenses, work part-time earning $14,000, and still be eligible to receive a free cell phone from the federal government’s Lifeline Program, Medicaid health coverage, and could even be eligible for New York’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

To top it all off, because there is no lifetime aggregate limit on the amount of money a graduate student can borrow from the federal government and because students are not required to pay loans back while enrolled at least half-time, students can literally attend school forever and never actually have to pay off any of their student loans—all while remaining eligible for countless government assistance programs.

Could someone please explain why Americans should ever work another day again? What a country!

[Published by The Blaze]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Andrew Moylan: Marketplace (un)Fairness Act

March 26, 2015, 2:03 PM

In this episode of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Managing Editor of Budget & Tax News Jesse Hathaway is joined by Andrew Moylan. Moylan is a senior fellow and executive director at R Street. Hathaway and Moylan talk about the recent reintroduction of the Marketplace Fairness Act.

Moylan explains that the Act isn’t very fair at all, as it treats e-commerce customers differently, based on their physical location. Brick-and-mortar stores, he explains treat all customers the same, charging everyone the same sales tax rate. Also, the Act would effectively “deputize” online businesses as tax collectors for nearly 10,000 taxing jurisdictions, creating massive amounts of paperwork and compliance costs for small business owners.

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Death Throes of Common Core

March 26, 2015, 10:28 AM

Americans are learning the hard way that the federal government should not be permitted to impose one-size-fits-all standards to education. It was never intended to play a role in education and the absence of any mention in the Constitution is proof enough that education was intended to be supervised by the states where the school districts, schools, and parents are closest to the process.

Common Core is going to play a large role in the 2016 elections and that is likely to impact former Governor Jeb Bush the most. At the heart of the unhappiness with Common Core has been its emphasis on testing.

A March 20th Wall Street Journal article, “Bush Faces Test of Exam Policy”, reported that “A Rasmussen Reports nationwide survey in February found that 52% of respondents thought there was too much emphasis on testing in schools and 69% believed there was too much ‘teaching to the test.’”

The transformation of the nation’s educational system began when the Department of Education was signed into law by Jimmy Carter in 1979 and began operating in 1980. It continued with the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the name given to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It requires all public schools receiving Title 1 federal funding to annually administer a state-wide standardized test to all students. NCLB was coauthored by Representatives John Boehner (R-OH), George Miller (D-CA) and Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH).

President George W. Bush was a leading NCLB advocate and signed it into law on January 8, 2002. Each state was expected to develop its own standards because NCLB did not impose a national one. This year when its reauthorization came up for consideration, it was pulled from the House floor in February. The Heritage Foundation deems it “outdated, ineffective, and prioritizes government standards over the needs of individual students.”

According to Neal McCluskey, Associate Director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, “There is no compelling evidence that No Child Left Behind, and federal intervention overall, has produced much good, while it is very clear it has cost substantial money and is unconstitutional.”

In Missouri, circuit court Judge Daniel R. Green, ruled in February that the state’s payment of more than $4 million in membership fees as part of a standardized testing consortium was illegal. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium “is an unlawful interstate compact to which the U.S. Congress has never consented, whose existence and operation violate” Article 1 and 10 of the federal Constitution. It dealt a blow to Common Core.

It’s not just Missouri. In January the Mississippi Board of Education voted to withdraw from the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers consortium which is one of the two tests aligned to Common Core. A full repeal of Common Core standards is under discussion.

By June 2014, two months before its implementation date, 19 states had either withdrawn from the tests or had paused implementation of the standards. Four of the 19, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Louisiana had completely exited the national standards. Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia never adopted it.

Gov. Bush is beginning to put some distance between himself and Common Core. His spokeswoman, Kristi Campbell, said “There is such a thing as too much testing.” Reportedly “he says the federal government shouldn’t impose particular tests or curricula on states.” Meanwhile, in one state after another, Common Core is being rejected.

On the political front, the Heartland Institute’s monthly newsletter, School Reform News, reported in March that “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a front runner in the contest for the Republican nomination for president, made bold reforms of elementary, secondary, and college education a prominent part of his proposed 2015-17 budget.”

“The budget, presented on February 3, would remove the cap on the state’s school choice program, eliminate state funding for Smarter Balanced tests tied to Common Core State Standards, and cut $300 million from the University of Wisconsin over two years in exchange for greater autonomy for the system.”

On Capitol Hill, four Republican senators including Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Roberts of Kansas have introduced a bill that would prevent the federal government from strong-arming states into adopting education standards such as Common Core and, presumably, NCLB. The bill is called learning Opportunities Created at the Local Level Act. As reported in the Daily Caller.com, it “would limit the federal government’s ability to control state educational standards and curriculums through financial incentives, grants, mandates, and other forms of influence.”

There’s no way to know when Common Core will die or whether No Child Left Behind will suffer a similar fate but the trend nationwide is obvious. Parents, teachers, schools and districts want to determine the best curricula for the children in their systems. They want the federal government out and that is a very good thing.

Categories: On the Blog

Climate Witch Hunt Is Bad For Science, Bad For Witch Hunters

March 26, 2015, 10:16 AM

Desperate times breed desperate measures, and for climate alarmists these are desperate times.

There has been no measurable global warming for 18 years. The majority of polar bear populations are stable or growing; hurricane landfalls have been virtually nonexistent in the United States for a decade; cold temperature and snowfall records are being set daily (more than 2,600 cold temperature records were set or broken between February 19 and February 25 of this year alone); Antarctica is setting sea ice records in the middle of its summer; and in the Arctic, the much ballyhooed sea ice decline of the late 1990 and early 2000s has recovered over the past two years.

By almost every metric, the predictions made by climate change believers have failed or are failing, and reasons for climate alarm are fading from view as a result.

Perhaps this explains climate alarmists’ desperate attempts to smear the reputations of climate researchers who scientifically reject any aspect of the “human-catastrophic-climate-change-connection.”

The latest salvo in this desperate gambit comes from Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), ranking member of the House of Representatives Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. He sent a letter to seven university presidents demanding information on funding sources and all draft testimony and exchanges relating to the testimony of select researchers who have testified before Congress on climate change issues and did not express an alarmist view.

Grijalva’s original letter asked about the climate research and funding for seven scholars: geographer Robert C. Balling Jr., Arizona State University; atmospheric scientist John Christy, University of Alabama; climatologist Judith Curry, Georgia Institute of Technology; historian Steven Hayward, Pepperdine University; climatologist David Legates, University of Delaware; atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and political scientist Roger Pielke, Jr., University of Colorado.

As one of the targets of Grijalva’s probe, Legates points out, “Grijalva was asked why he targeted the seven of us. His response was we were the most well-published, most often-cited, and had the most impact on public policy in the United States. Not that our research was likely fraudulent, not that we had taken big sums of money from foreign governments, or that we simply had been publishing bad research. None of these were the reason. It was simply we are too effective with our research and too persuasive with our arguments. Pure and simple. And since we disagree with him and his views, we must be harassed. Maybe that will stop us.”

Pielke, a researcher who accepts that humans contribute to global warming but does not believe a modest warming signifies disaster, has repeatedly testified under oath before Congress he never received any funding from fossil-fuel companies. Pielke wrote, “I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically-motivated ‘witch hunt’ designed to intimidate me and to smear my name.”

Tired of years of abuse, Pielke is bowing out of further climate research.

The American Meteorological Society, the national scientific society for research in atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrologic sciences, added its voice to the growing chorus defending scientific freedom of enquiry and speech with its own letter to Grijalva. The letter, written by AMS Executive Director Dr. Keith L. Seitter, states, “Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers.”

Seitter continued, “Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom.”

Even some climate alarmists believe Grijalva has gone too far. Bob Ward, policy director for the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, a frequent critic of climate skeptics, tweeted, “Politicians should not persecute academics with whom they disagree. No ifs or buts.”

Climate alarmist organizations and scientists had better hope public scrutiny does not turn to their funding sources. Climatologist Judith Curry has asked, “Are we not to be concerned by funding from green advocacy groups and scientists serving on the Boards of green advocacy groups?”

 

Pielke tweeted, “Once you tug on the thread of undisclosed financial interests in climate science, you’ll find it more a norm than exception.”

In fact, according to Imablawg, Rep. Grijalva, the self-appointed climate witch finder general, has taken $78,854 from environmental lobbying groups.

I’d like to propose a solution: Let’s all stick to an honest debate concerning the scientific and economic issues of climate change and stop the mudslinging, yellow journalism, and political harassment.

 

[Originally published at the Daily Caller]

Categories: On the Blog