On the Blog

The Real Defense of Right to Try

Somewhat Reasonable - April 27, 2016, 2:50 PM

Advocates of the right to try argue that terminally ill patients should have access to treatments that have met the FDA’s safety requirements “but are not yet fully approved for market” (see Kurt Altman and Christina Sandefur’s “Right-To-Try Laws Fulfill The Constitution’s Promise Of Individual Liberty”). The FDA’s approval process takes years, and for thousands of terminally ill patients, those years may be the difference between life and death. Aware of the risks, many patients are nonetheless willing to try medicines and treatments that are still under investigation in clinical trials. For a significant number of these patients, the alternative is certain death.

But the right to try has no shortage of detractors, among them, Lisa Kearns, a bioethicist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center (for a representative sample of her work, see her article, “In Defense of the Nanny State”). In an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Kearns argued, “The whole ‘Right to Try’ movement is premised on the fact that these are life-saving, miracle drugs that are going to bring people back from the brink.” Kearns’s characterization of the rationale supporting the right to try is, of course, quite inaccurate. The critics of right to try bills deeply misunderstand them if they believe that the bills are necessarily either a statement about the quality of the pharmaceutical products at issue or an argument that pharmaceutical companies should be compelled to turn over an unfinished product against their wills.

These bills are decidedly not Panglossian endorsements of untested “miracle drugs,” premised on an unrealistic optimism. Rather the underlying argument of right to try bills takes individual sovereignty as its central premise, the whole point being that it doesn’t matter whether or not the desired treatment ultimately helps the patient — that a patient’s life and body are his own; and, therefore, no one may arbitrarily usurp the power to make important healthcare decisions for him, notwithstanding the condescending and self-assured claims that right to try advocates are dangling a false hope before patients.

A more accurate examination of the reasoning underpinning the right to try is offered by the dissenting opinion in the D.C. Circuit case of Abigail All. for Better Access to Developmental Drugs v. Eschenbach, decided in 2006. Recognizing “the historic importance of the underlying right of a person to save her own life,” Judge Rogers’s dissent in that case contended that traditional common law considerations should guide the court in its balancing the government’s interests against those of the patient. Among the common law doctrines cited were those of self-defense, necessity, and interference with rescue, all of which implicate the underlying notion that “persons in mortal peril” have a right to attempt to save their lives using means that would perhaps be off limits under ordinary circumstances. The majority had focused unduly on the exceptions to this long-established right to the detriment of the right itself and a proper constitutional analysis.

The dissent further argued that, in holding that the right to try is not a protected liberty interest under the Due Process Clause, the majority had mistakenly conflated two distinct steps in the constitutional analysis, “the inquiry as to whether a fundamental right exists at all” and that of whether the government has actually produced proof of a compelling interest sufficient to override that right. The dissent thus advanced only the very modest proposition that courts, confronted with right to try cases, ought to actually discharge their duty of judicial review, “rather than merely accepting, under the rubric of rational basis scrutiny, any assertions the FDA chooses to offer.” The Abigail Alliance case furnishes yet another opportunity to reflect on the fact that the “rational basis” test for constitutionality is a test in name only. On paper, rational basis review asks the government body whether its law or regulation is rationally related to an interest that is legitimate, which would seem to rule out arbitrary, unreasonable mandates. In reality, though, when it violates one of those sadly disfavored individual rights that rates only the rational basis tests, the government almost always wins in court.

Half-hearted champions of substantive due process might take note. For while they may believe that the right to try quite properly belongs in the constitutional no man’s land of rational basis review — the province of fanatical libertarians — they may well feel differently if rights that they favor (e.g., rights to privacy and sexual freedom) come into question. That a bioethicist can’t see the ethical problem with government paternalistically standing in the way of individual choice and potentially beneficial healthcare is a sad commentary on contemporary ideas about the proper role of government. Sick people should not have to supplicate to government bureaucrats to assume certain risks in the desperate attempt to save themselves; such intimately personal health decisions are of no concern to the meddlers in government agencies, to anyone but the patient, his doctors, and his family.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Teresa Mull: Heartland’s New Research Fellow for Education

Somewhat Reasonable - April 27, 2016, 1:04 PM

In this episode of the Heartland Institute’s weekly Budget & Tax News podcast, managing editor and research fellow Jesse Hathaway talks with the newest addition to the Heartland Institute family, Center for Education Transformation research fellow Teresa Mull, about how economic freedom and educational freedom are similar, sharing the goal of empowering consumers to make the choices that are right for them, instead of the choices government makes for people.

Hathaway and Mull also debate the constitutional issues raised by the upcoming movie Captain America 3: Civil War, and how government conscription violates the natural rights of individuals, both normal and super-powered alike. Fictional entrepreneur and superhero Tony Stark represents the power of free markets, Mull says, but Hathaway sides with Captain America, arguing that involuntary registration and conscription of super-humans infringes on their rights to self-determination, just as wartime military drafts rob citizens of their natural rights to decide to donate their service to the government.

With whom do you side: Hathaway or Mull? Regardless if you’re #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan, check out this special podcast and get to know the newest member of #TeamHeartland!

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

Categories: On the Blog

The Obama Administration is Vociferously Anti-Science

Somewhat Reasonable - April 27, 2016, 12:09 PM

We conservatives are incessantly assailed by the Left as “anti-science.” That we stand athwart scientific and technological advancement – yelling “Stop!” But time and again, it is Leftists that make decisions that fly in the face of actual, readily obvious science. And the Barack Obama Administration is rife with just these sorts of Luddites.

Mathematics is a science – so Leftists oppose it. Math dictates that when you make it more expensive for businesses to hire people – businesses will hire less people. Thus the minimum wage is anti-science. Uber-Left California Governor Jerry Brown admitted “Economically, minimum wages may not make sense” – before raising his state’s anyway. President Obama unilaterally raised the minimum wage for government contractors.

The science on global warming – oops, I mean climate change – is far from “settled.” Former high-ranking Obama Administration official Dr. Steven Koonin wrote “The idea that ‘Climate science is settled’ runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. It has not only distorted our public and policy debates on issues related to energy, greenhouse-gas emissions and the environment. But it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.”

The climate science evidence we do have is mounting – and it’s against the Leftist alarmists. Who have already woefully missed decades-worth of predictions. Who claim that carbon dioxide is a pollutant – when it is what everything plant on the planet inhales. Leftists claim that carbon dioxide raises global temperatures – all the while China and India’s CO2 outputs have exponentially exploded, while global temperatures have flatlined for now-going-on eighteen years.

Meanwhile, multiple alleged science institutions have been caught actively attacking science to protect the Left’s climate change myth. Amongst these anti-science scammers are United-Nations-touchstone East Anglia University and our own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The Left’s anti-science-ness is so deep – and yet so superficial – President Obama tried to dodge culpability for his ongoing, terrible jobs record by blaming ATM machines.

This Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is just another anti-science Leftist entity. Time and again the FCC’s three Democrat Commissioners (one of whom also serves as Chairman) have voted for ridiculously anti-science unilateral power grabs. Particularly in their sites – the World Wide Web.

The Internet has become a free speech-free market Xanadu – and it has done so virtually government-free. Arguably no endeavor in human history has grown so huge, so fast – in large part because it has been virtually government-free.

If ever there was an “If it ain’t broke – don’t fix it” entity – the Web is it. This FCC has made it their mission to ignore Reality, mathematics, economics, technology and many other wings of science – and pretend what ain’t broke needs a whole lot of government fixing.

Beginning with their “reclassification” power grab. Where the FCC’s Democrats decided to go back in time eighty years and bizarrely superimpose 1934 landline telephone law – on to the Internet.

Basic science says “The Internet network is dramatically different and exponentially more complex than a telephone network.” Basic science says “Law written sixty years before the advent of the Internet – doesn’t really work on the Internet.” But these things matter not to the Luddites. This power grab had to happen – to set the table for a whole host of subsequent anti-science attacks.

Also currently under consideration – the “set-top-box” grab. Where the FCC’s Democrats will force cable television providers to crack open their own complex digital networks – and completely reconfigure them each and every time an outside company wants to offer a new set-top-box.

Basic science says “Reconfiguring these networks is a huge, very expensive undertaking. Forcing providers to do so time and again will dramatically increase the prices consumers pay for these services.” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he’s received e-mails from customers urging him to help lower their cable bills – and this bill-exploding proposal is his response.

Basic science says “The use of set-top-boxes is declining – as the use of applications (apps) is rising.” Thanks to technology and its advancement, every day your TV is becoming more like your smart phone – with rafts of apps, one for each individualized service. Rendering the set-top-box the soon-to-be-dinosaur of content delivery. And the backwards-looking, anti-science FCC is myopically fixating on the fossils.

Meanwhile, since about 2000 local governments have wasted hundreds of millions (billions?) of dollars trying to be Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Wasted – because government has been abjectly awful at it. So awful – that twenty states passed laws prohibiting or limiting their down-ballot governments from wasting even more coin thereon.

The Obama Administration – undaunted by math and history – dumped $7.2 billion more into government broadband in the 2009 “Stimulus.” Which shockingly created even more of the exact same failures. Making those twenty states look a whole lot smarter than the Feds.

Who’s even more steadfastly impervious to facts than the Obama Administration? The Administration’s FCC. Which just last year ignored all of these failures at all levels of government – and overturned the sensible state laws prohibiting these failures.

We could go on, and on, and….

Of course these myriad Administration officials aren’t dim – they’re ideological zealots. For them – it’s government uber alles. And being pro-government means just about always being anti-science.

Because far too often science demands less government. And this Administration won’t stand for that.

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

University Researchers Put Fracking Politics Before Science

Somewhat Reasonable - April 27, 2016, 8:17 AM

Geologists at the University of Cincinnati just wrapped up a three-year investigation of hydraulic fracturing and its impact on local water supplies.

The result? There’s no evidence—zero, zilch, nada—that fracking contaminates drinking water. Researchers hoped to keep these findings secret.

Why would a public research university boasting a top-100 geology program deliberately hide its work? Because, as lead researcher Amy Townsend-Small explained, “our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping our data could point to a reason to ban it.”

That an environmentalist ideologue would see evidence of fracking’s safety as “disappointing” is to be expected. But that a university would so flagrantly put politics before science is deeply troubling.

Hydraulic fracturing has significantly bolstered America’s energy independence by unlocking an abundance of domestic oil and gas. In fact, our country has officially surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the global leader in natural gas and oil production, respectively.

Just as important, these newfound energy resources have delivered economic benefits to Americans. In 2012, the average U.S. household had an extra $1,200 thanks to the energy boom. The oil and gas industry, meanwhile, supports more than 2 million jobs—a number that is expected to grow to nearly 5 million by 2025.

This energy renaissance has also helped the environment since fracking provides a cheaper, cleaner alternative to coal. Last April, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions hit a 27-year low, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, thanks largely to a widespread transition from coal to natural gas.

None of these benefits would matter if fracking endangered drinking water. So the University of Cincinnati’s report comes as good news. Of course, the findings only confirm what experts and policymakers have been saying for years.

Back in 2011, for instance, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson admitted that there hasn’t been a “proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.” Two years later, current EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy affirmed Jackson’s remark, stating, “I am not aware of any definitive determinations that would contradict those statements.”

A review of the available research bears out both claims. Consider the Ground Water Protection Council’s recent study on gas exploration in Ohio, from 1983 until 2007, and in Texas, from 1993 until 2008.

According to that report, neither officials in Texas nor those in Ohio “identified a single groundwater contamination incident…at any of these horizontal shale gas wells” during those periods.

Similarly, a 2013 U.S. Geological Survey study on the Fayetteville Shale in north-central Arkansas found “that shale gas development, at least in this area, has been done without negatively impacting drinking water resources.” A 2015 EPA draft report confirmed these findings.

Fracking’s impressive safety record is partly due to the energy industry’s own vigilance; it has worked aggressively to improve the safety of oil and gas production.

The University of Cincinnati’s fracking research further establishes what myriad studies have already shown: Concerns about groundwater contamination are baseless. As Townsend-Small stated, “We haven’t seen anything to show that wells have been contaminated by fracking.”

This might be “disappointing” to certain environmentalists, as Townsend-Small suggests. And it may interfere with the university’s fundraising efforts. But for the rest of us, the study demonstrates that fracking is a safe source of jobs, prosperity and low-cost energy.

Jeff Stier is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and heads its Risk Analysis Division.

[Originally published at Pundicity]

Categories: On the Blog

The Mechanics of a Free Society

Somewhat Reasonable - April 26, 2016, 3:35 PM

The presidential primaries, in particular the Bernie Sanders campaign, have recharged the conversation about wealth and income inequality, replete with the usual emotive (if nebulous) talk of social justice and fairness. When the subject of wealth inequality arises, the paladins of the free market are forced to assume a defensive posture. The enemies of the free market system condemn it because it is an ideological defense of economic injustice, inequality, and exploitation, a system of ideas and institutions through which the rich get richer and the poor poorer.

The problem, though, is that free markets are not at all a defense of those things, neither in theory nor practice. Libertarians are called on to answer for results and realities that, in fact, have very little to do with the operations of a free economy, the result being abortive exchanges in which libertarians and our detractors talk past one another and fail to isolate points of actual disagreement.

Burdened with clichés and unchallenged conventional wisdom, the language we’ve grown accustomed to using in our discussions of these issues can be obfuscatory. We tend to forget that all of the factors and players we’re discussing are human institutions, comprising real individuals with their own interests, preferences, and motives. It is not enough to simply repeat the platitude that government must protect the common man from the wild oscillations of an untamed free market, a myth learned by rote in American educational institutions. That just begs the question, asserting the very proposition that wants proving. If capitalists are supposed to be driven by selfishness and avarice, ready to trample on working people, then why doesn’t that assumption hold for politicians and government bureaucrats? We would do well to think more about the mechanics of our institutions and less about the names we give to them.

Given that all of society’s institutions are made up acting human beings, we have many reasons to prefer decentralized forms of organization (like the free market) to centralized government ones; in the latter, power is concentrated and decision makers are insulated from the consequences of their actions. While progressives take it for granted that government regulators will act beneficently, aimed at the public good, government actors are neither omniscient nor unsusceptible to the temptation to use their authority in the service of private ends. Where free market competition disincentivizes waste, fraud, and abuse, our bureaucratic leviathan makes them the standard.

Political scientist and economist Michael C. Munger associates the progressive way of thinking with “Unicorn Governance”: the idea is that if we take the progressive’s assumptions about government and how it works to be true, then government becomes a unicorn, supernatural, superhuman, and thus impossible not to support. As Munger explains, “people who favor expansion of government imagine a State different from the one possible in the physical world,” ascribing to it “properties, motivations, knowledge, and abilities” that accord with their values. But it ought to matter that actual governments don’t act like the unicorn governments of progressive imaginings.

Of course, the only program that has ever actually helped the worst off is to treat them like people, which means allowing them their natural and rightful freedom — freedom to practice the occupation of their choosing, to associate with (and dissociate from) whomever they please, to defend themselves, their families and their property, to innovate and trade. History teaches us that even the slightest move in this direction, the direction of liberty, will have enormous positive consequences for productivity and wealth creation, lifting millions out of abject poverty.

And still another difference distinguishes the mechanics of the marketplace from those of government, that between voluntary exchange and coercive imposition. Market relationships are, by definition, consensual and mutually beneficial; we enter and exit them freely, based on our judgment and preferences. Government is different, commanding from on high, issuing mandates that everyone must follow, choice be damned. At bottom, government is force and, as such, should be limited to protecting individuals and their rights, not, as is so often the case, violating those rights. If we must have mandatory rules in society — and it is granted that we must — they should be few in number, unambiguous in their terms, and uniform in their application across society, taking no notice of race or ethnicity, sex or gender, or any other category. Such are the “right wing” economic notions proposed by libertarians, conservatives, and classical liberals.

Justice cannot mean an arbitrary d
istribution of wealth decided upon by a handful of elites in government; rather, it means respecting the inalienable rights of every individual, maximizing the freedom of each to act within his own “sphere of discretion” (borrowing a phrase from the philosopher William Godwin). Defenders of a free market economy shouldn’t cede the moral high ground to Bernie Sanders-style “democratic socialism.”

Given any quantifiable standard, freedom and private property have proven themselves superior to planning, bureaucracy, and the welfare state. As the great laissez-faire economist Jean-Baptiste Say wrote in 1803, “Nothing can be more idle than the opposition of theory to practice!” Say’s message is as clear now as it was then: the mechanics of liberty work precisely because they respect our individual rights.

Categories: On the Blog

Article V Convention Opponents Run into Stiff Headwinds Amid Increasing Support

Somewhat Reasonable - April 26, 2016, 2:37 PM

A national debt of $20 trillion, along with the national government’s annual budget deficit of $500 billion, has led to increasing support for an Article V convention across the country. Many opponents of an Article V convention are now running into stiff headwinds. Organizations in support of a convention are becoming better at responding to their falsehoods. Together, these developments have led to numerous legislative successes in statehouses across the nation in 2016 for the Article V movement.

Eagle Forum (EF) based in Alton, Illinois, has long been opposed to an Article V convention. Multiple news outlets, including The Daily Caller, reported on April 11th that long-time EF leader and founder Phyllis Schlafly was close to being fired by her own board of directors, in part due to her opposition to the Article V movement. Eagle Forum’s board eventually fired Schlafly’s hand-picked successor Ed Martin, although it chose to spare the 91-year-old Schlafly.

Arizona Senate President Andy Biggs (R-Phoenix) is a well-known and outspoken opponent of an Article V convention. Biggs took his opposition to another level in 2015 when he authored an anti-Article V convention book, Con of a Con-Con. Some campaigns in support of a convention have not been as successful in Arizona due to Biggs’ steadfast opposition. Biggs announced on February 25th that he would run for an open seat in Arizona’s 5th congressional district to replace the retiring Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Arizona). Members of the Arizona Senate run on two-year terms and face a limit of four consecutive terms in office. Biggs would have been term-limited after the 2018 election if he remained in the state’s Senate. Article V convention backers have found new hope for passing legislation in the Grand Canyon State in 2017 because of Biggs’ decision to run for Congress.

Twenty-nine states have fully enacted applications for a single-subject Article V convention for the purpose of a balanced budget amendment. Six states have passed a multiple-amendment proposal for a convention calling for a balanced budget amendment, congressional term limits, and reductions in federal regulations. The proposal is sponsored by the Convention of States project.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Dr. Mark Zoback: Fracking and Oklahoma Earthquakes

Somewhat Reasonable - April 26, 2016, 1:15 PM

Earthquakes in Oklahoma have increased dramatically in the last five years. News outlets from around the nation tend to associate these earthquakes with hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Although the process of fracking itself does not cause quakes, many people think disposing of fracking wastewater is causing the uptick in tremors, but according to Stanford University Geoscientist Mark Zoback, they’re wrong.

In this edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Dr. Zoback and research fellow Isaac Orr discuss why the earthquakes are happening in Oklahoma, and the best ways state regulators can reduce, or eliminate them. Make sure to tune into this very special edition!

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

Categories: On the Blog

On Climate, We’re Manipulated by Sleight of Hand

Somewhat Reasonable - April 26, 2016, 12:07 PM

Perhaps you watched the Earth Day news coverage of the “historic” ceremonial signing of the Paris Climate Agreement during which representatives from 175 countries walked up to the stage in the General Assembly hall at the United Nations headquarters in New York, sat down behind a desk on the podium, and added their signatures to the book. “In the name of the United States of America,” Secretary of State John Kerry signed his name with his young granddaughter on his lap.

The event, according to the Wall Street Journal, set “in motion a process to curb the impact of global warming.”  The International Business Times said it was “the latest in a series of steps to transform the global accord into an actual tool for combating greenhouse gas emissions and boosting the use of cleaner energy.” Newsweek reported: “the leaders accepted the science of climate change and agreed to work together to do something about it.”

Perhaps the “leaders,” in signing their names, have “accepted the science,” but read what individuals have to say in the comment portion of any of the aforementioned news stories and you’ll see that there is still a great deal of debate regarding global warming—or was it global cooling, or maybe we should just call it climate change. Whatever it is, the alarmists say is urgent.

At the Earth Day gathering, U.N. secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared: “We are in a race against time.”

However, as the new movie Climate Hustle makes perfectly clear, climate alarmists have been making such proclamations for decades.

The film, which is being shown in theaters nationwide on May 2, starts out with clips of many such claims made by the news media and, of course, former Vice President Al Gore.

Marc Morano, the documentary’s host, opens by stating: “We repeatedly hear that the time for debate is past” and then addresses the oft-quoted “97 out 100 scientists agree that climate change is real” narrative. Climate Hustle then crushes both claims—and many more (including whether or not CO2 is “the villain”).

Using a touch of humor and a three-card monte theme, Morano likens the crisis marketing to a sleight of hand; a Climate Hustle. He says: “when the people pushing you to get into the game, the ones predicting a calamitous future due to global warming, don’t show their cards, it is a hustle.” The film shows the cards so the viewers can decide if “they are playing it straight or if you are being hustled.”

Climate Hustle features a history of climate alarmism. Morano asks: “How has the alleged climate consensus changed over time?” While many of us may recall seeing some of the “wild claims,” Climate Hustle puts them all together—and seeing them back-to-back should cause all thinking people to question what we are being told today. For example, in 1978, Leonard Nimoy, known for his role as Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, announced: “the next ice age is on its way.” He predicted: “unprecedented” hunger and death.  In 1972, trusted newscaster Walter Cronkite warned: “A new ice age is creeping over the northern hemisphere.”

The film even quotes one of America’s founding fathers as being worried about climate change. In the late 1700s, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “A change in our climate is taking place.” Then, in 1817, The President of the UK Royal Society, Joseph Banks, addressed the melting polar ice. It’s doubtful that either Jefferson’s or Bank’s concerns were the result of fossil fuel use.

In 1988, the global cooling of the 70s flipped to global warming. Using “stagecraft,” a hearing was scheduled on Capitol Hill on the “hottest day of the year” where James Hanson, wiping his brow, testified about the urgency of global warming.

Repeatedly throughout the past couple of decades, we’ve been pummeled with dire predictions and told “time is short.” In 1989, the UN predicted “Global warming would destroy entire nations by 2000.” In 2007, we were told: “Scientists believe we have less than ten years to bring emissions under control to prevent a catastrophe.” In 2008, Britain’s Prince Charles said we only had 100 months left to solve the problem. Gore, in 2009, said: “We have to do it this year.”

Yet, as the film demonstrates, scientists don’t want to talk about their failed predictions.

Meanwhile, scientists who don’t agree with the “leaders” are accused, by the likes of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., of “treason.” He wants them “in jail.”

Yes, as Climate Hustle makes clear, there are dissenting scientists—but they are marginalized, even called “kooks.” If they speak out, they are insulted, ignored, ridiculed, ostracized, called heretics, hurt professionally, and even terminated for divergent views. This is not the scientific method.

Despite being treated like 17th century “witches,” many scientists are reexamining the evidence and reversing their positions—even calling their previous views: “quite a big mistake.”

Climate Hustle addresses many of the talking points we hear to defend the views held by the signers of the Paris Climate Agreement including polar bears and arctic ice, hurricanes and tornadoes. It explains the flawed models and “the pause.” The lowly armadillo has been heralded as evidence of both global cooling and global warming.

Jumping back and forth from dramatic claims to scientific fact, Climate Hustle helps thinking people see past the fear mongering of the current climate change narrative and examine the global warming evidence for themselves.

In Climate Hustle renowned Swedish sea level expert and climatologist Nils-Axel Mörner concludes: “Geological facts are on one side, lobbying and models are on the other.”

Check to see if Climate Hustle is being shown in your area and watch it on May 2 so you aren’t taken in by the sleight of hand.

The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc., and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). She hosts a weekly radio program: America’s Voice for Energy—which expands on the content of her weekly column. Follow her @EnergyRabbit.

Categories: On the Blog

Having Destroyed US Coal Industry, Democrats and Eco Allies are Now Attacking all Fossil Fuels

Somewhat Reasonable - April 26, 2016, 8:16 AM

The great white environmentalist sharks smell blood in the water. It’s gushing from mortally wounded US coal companies that the Obama EPA has gutted as sacrifices on the altar of “dangerous manmade climate change” prevention and other spurious health, ecological and planetary scares.

Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and other once vibrant coal producers have filed for Chapter 11 protection, shedding some $30 billion in shareholder value and tens of thousands of jobs in their companies and dependent industries. The bloodletting has left communities and states reeling, union pension funds and 401k plans empty, and the health, welfare, hopes and dreams of countless families dashed on the rocks.

President Obama promised to bankrupt coal companies with punitive regulations, and he kept his word.

Hydraulic fracturing did play a role. It made natural gas abundant and inexpensive, and gas-fueled power plants increasingly attractive for utilities that were forced to shutter modern coal-fired units that provided reliable, affordable power, emitted little harmful pollution, and had years of useful life remaining.

However, as economist Stephen Moore noted, coal’s demise wasn’t “a result of free market creative destruction. This was a policy strategy by the White House and green groups. They wanted this to happen.”

“This was what EPA’s Clean Power Plan rules were all about,” Moore adds. “The EPA set standards that by design were impossible to meet, and even flouted the law that says the regs should be ‘commercially achievable.’ This was a key component of the climate change fanaticism that pervades this White House.”

To this president, the EPA and the Left in general, he concludes, “the families whose lives are ruined are collateral damage to achieve their utopian dream of saving the planet.” It’s a Climate Hustle.

It is today’s equivalent of New York Times Moscow Bureau Chief and Stalin apologist Walter Duranty’s favorite line: “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” But after tens of millions of broken human “eggs,” where are the communist and green utopia omelets?

40,000 elderly Europeans died this past winter, because they could no longer afford adequate wintertime heat, after EU climate policies sent electricity rates “necessarily skyrocketing” more than 40% since 1997. Millions die every year in Africa from lung, intestinal and other readily preventable diseases, while President Obama tells Africans they should forego fossil fuels and rely on wind, solar and biofuel power, because “if every one of you has got a car and … a big house, well, the planet will boil over.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama joined Chinese, Indian and other world leaders in signing the Paris climate treaty on Earth Day, ignoring the requirement for Senate ratification. The hypocrisy and insanity are boundless.

The treaty will obligate the United States and other developed nations to slash their fossil fuel use, carbon dioxide emissions and economic growth. China, India and other developing economies are under no such requirement, unless and until it is in their interest to do so. For them, compliance is voluntary – and it should be. They simply cannot afford to eliminate fuels that supply 85% of all global energy and are their ticket out of poverty and into the world of modern health and prosperity that we enjoy, thus far.

In fact, while unaccountable EPA bureaucrats are shutting down US coal-fired generators, these countries have built over 1,000 coal-fired power plants and plan to build 2,300 more – 1,400 gigawatts of new electricity. China and India account for 1,077 GW of this total. They are also lining up for free energy technology and billions of dollars a year from developed nations for climate change “reparations.”

That is why poor countries signed the Paris treaty. It has nothing to do with preventing climate change.

But none of this has stopped the environmentalist sharks from starting a fossil fuels feeding frenzy. The bloodied American coal companies have them churning the water, chomping for more. They’ve launched a “keep it in the ground” movement, to make hydrocarbons off limits forever.

In fact, environmentalism is morphing into an anti-hydrocarbons climate movement that claims every weather event and climate blip is unprecedented, a harbinger of Armageddon – and caused by our using oil, gas and coal to power modern civilization and improve human health and living standards.

Drexel University sociologist Robert Brulle tallies 350.org and 20 other climate coalitions, comprised of 467 separate organizations, just in the USA. Funded and directed by Rockefeller and other wealthy liberal foundations, they increasingly rail against “dangerous manmade climate change” as an “existential threat” to humanity and planet.

President Obama is totally onboard. His policy and regulatory agenda confirms that. So are Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and most of an increasingly far-Left Democrat Party.

Sanders flatly opposes all “fracking” and has introduced legislation to keep America’s abundant fossil fuels locked up in perpetuity. Clinton opposes all fossil fuel energy extraction from federal lands, wants to block fracking by imposing countless regulatory obstacles, and intends to make the United States 50% dependent on renewable energy by 2030. As president, they would achieve this by executive decree.

The consequences would be disastrous: enormous acreage, water, fertilizer, pesticides and fuel devoted to producing biofuel, millions of birds and bats butchered by wind turbines to generate electricity, millions of jobs lost, millions of families sent into fuel poverty as energy costs rocket upward. For what benefits?

The rest of the world will continue using hydrocarbons. That means, even assuming CO2 now drives Earth’s climate, ]implementing EPA’s draconian Clean Power Plan would keep average planetary temperatures from rising an undetectable 0.03 degrees Fahrenheit, and seas from rising an imperceptible 0.01 inches, by the end of the century. (Oceans have already risen 400 feet since the last nature-driven ice age ended and all those mile-high glaciers melted.)  See CFACT’s Climate Hustle movie on Monday!

The “keep it in the ground” crowd doesn’t care about this or the mounting death tolls resulting from their anti-fossil fuel policies. The typical voter or street protester probably hasn’t thought it through. But the leaders have. They’re just callously indifferent. It’s one more depressing example of “the well-intentioned but ill-informed being led around by the ill-intentioned but well-informed.”

Politicians, environmentalists, alarmist scientists and renewable energy industrialists have built a $1.5-trillion-per-year Climate Crisis industry that gives them research grants, campaign cash, mandates, huge subsidies – and vast regulatory power to eliminate conventional energy; make electricity rates skyrocket; fundamentally transform economic systems; control lives, livelihoods, living standards and liberties; and redistribute the world’s wealth. Poor, minority and working class families will suffer most.

The ruling elites don’t care. They will do well, travel often, keep their pensions and get still wealthier. Climate rules, deprivation and “sustainability” are for the Little People.

This entire system is based on the unproven bald assertion that fossil fuels are causing dangerous and unprecedented weather and climate disruption … carbon dioxide has replaced the complex natural forces that drove drive climate change in previous centuries … there is no longer any room for debate over these “facts” … and the only issue still open to discussion is what to do to avert “imminent catastrophe.”

We “skeptics” challenge these claims. We point out that Earth’s temperature, climate and weather have always changed in response to powerful natural forces, and differ little today from what they have been for the past 50-150 years. We say the problem is not climate change, but policies imposed in the name of preventing climate change. We threaten the Climate Crisis Establishment, and its money and power.

That’s why they want to shut us up and shut us down – by prosecuting us for “racketeering,” and denying us our constitutional rights to speak out about policies that affect our lives. It is a disgraceful, un-American return to Inquisition tactics and fascist book burnings.

We must all take a stand, fight back and assert our rights. Otherwise, our children face a grim future.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org and http://www.ClimateHustleMovie.com/) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

Categories: On the Blog

Tobacco Control Experts Tell FDA Study Suggest E-Cigarettes Offer More Benefit than Harm

Somewhat Reasonable - April 25, 2016, 2:45 PM

The journal Addiction published a study on April 25, with seven international tobacco control experts compelling the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have an open mind regulating vaporized nicotine products such as e-cigarettes and vaporizers.

Researchers include lead author David T. Levy, PhD, Georgetown University; K. Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH, Medical University of South Carolina; Andrea C. Villanti, PhD, MPH; Ray Niaura, PhD; David B. Abrams, PhD, Truth Initiative; Geoffrey T. Fond, PhD, University of Waterloo, Canada; and Ron Borland, PhD, Cancer Control Victoria, Australia.

Lead author Levy is “concerned the FDA, which has asserted its right to regulate e-cigarettes, will focus solely on the possibility that e-cigarettes and other vapor nicotine products might act as a gateway to cigarettes.”

“We believe that the discussion to date has been slanted against e-cigarettes, which is unfortunate, because the big picture tells us that these products appear to be used mostly by people who aready are or who are likely to become cigarette smokers,” adds Levy.

Regulating e-cigarettes and vaping products as traditional tobacco is incorrect as studies have shown that e-cigarette’s levels of intoxicants are 9-450 times lower than levels that are present in tobacco cigarette smoke. A study published by Public Health England, the U.K.’s version of the CDC, concluded that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. E-cigarettes and vaping products are increasingly being utilized as cessation devices. Studies have shown that this industry is very beneficial to helping tobacco cigarette smokers quit.

The authors of the study also caution that substantial regulation and taxation of e-cigarettes and vaping products will diminish the potential benefits that the industry can provide.

Levy stated that “increasing e-cigarette prices by taxing them the same way as cigarettes will discourage youth VNP use, but also discourage use by smokers, especially those of lower socioeconomic status, who are trying to quit.”

As of May 2015, seven states have included e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine dispensers in at least one definition of “tobacco product in state law”, meaning that seven states are regulating e-cigarettes, and taxing them, as tobacco products, when in fact, e-cigarettes do not contain any tobacco.

The FDA should take these studies into account when regulating e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products. Moving many away from tobacco cigarettes, this industry is necessary to lower health costs and outcomes associated with traditional cigarettes. As I have explained in a previous Research & Commentary, “States should take sound science into consideration when deliberating the creation of regulations or taxes on e-cigarette products. States imposing bans, excessive regulations, or high taxes on e-cigarettes could be creating an environment in which consumers choose to use more-harmful traditional cigarettes, rather than less-harmful alternatives.”

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Elizabeth Yore: Looking Back, Heartland Brings Climate Truth to the Vatican

Somewhat Reasonable - April 25, 2016, 1:42 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Elizabeth Yore, International Child Advocate Attorney joins Host Donald Kendal to talk about the impact The Heartland Institute made last year when they sent a delegation of climate experts to stir debate on the topic of global warming.

Yore, while not a climate expert, was part of the delegation sent to the Vatican. One of the justifications of the Pope issuing an encyclical about global warming was the claim that it related to child and human trafficking. Yore, an expert in this topic, explains how no connection of these two topics existed. She discusses the media coverage The Heartland Institute stirred and the impact the conference had on the overall narrative.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Study Finds Electronic Payments Boost Economy, Jobs

Somewhat Reasonable - April 25, 2016, 11:18 AM

The electronic payments industry has revolutionized worldwide markets, making services like Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, and touch and pay systems possible.  As the industry grows and innovates, consider the effects of this technology on the US economy.

According to a new study, the economic efficiencies produced from using payment cards create over 23 million permanent jobs and add 12 percent to the gross domestic product.

The history of market exchange has seen an evolution from barter, to primitive forms of currency, to minted coins, to bank notes, to nationally backed currencies, to personal checks, to what is now an international system of electronic exchange that moves money safely and accurately at the speed of light.

Two factors lead to electronic payments increasing the size of the economy. First, the easier and cheaper it becomes to complete transactions, the more willing people are to engage in those transactions. In more technical terms, when transaction costs go down, GDP goes up. Secondly, when economists calculate the size of the money supply, and then how rapid the turnover rate of that money (its velocity), the greater the amount of economic activity that money can support.

This is how the electronic payment system has increased the size of the U.S. economy – increasing personal-consumption expenditures by 17 percent, and increasing employment by 20 percent.

A new study by The Perryman Group, an economic and financial analysis firm headquartered in Waco, Texas, found that electronic payments systems generated business activity in the United States (compared to the results if no such system existed) of an estimated $1.7 trillion in annual gross domestic product and 23,166,000 permanent jobs in 2014. The cumulative impact from 1970 to 2014 indicates an increase in gross domestic product of $34 trillion and 387 million person-years of employment. It also found that increased electronic payments since 2004 resulted in an estimated gain of $432.927 billion in annual gross product and 5,652,464 permanent jobs as of 2014.

 

If you were to consider how inefficient it would be to mail a check to a retailer across the country, wait for the mail to deliver it, for the mailroom to process it, and for the bank to clear it before mailing you your purchase, you can begin to see just how remarkable our present system of instantaneous transactions really is.

What’s more, the ease of these electronic transactions give rise to even relatively small businesses marketing themselves worldwide, since they can be assured of rapid and accurate payment in their home currency.

And because consumers have so many options with payment cards, our decisions to purchase have been expanded considerably. We can use prepaid cards, which are electronic cash, debit cards, which are electronic checks, or credit cards which amount to instant electronic loans. The increased ease of transactions has increased consumer spending, an important factor in economic growth.

And with those choices, consumers’ use of electronic payments is exploding. In its latest analysis, Juniper Research predicts a 20 percent increase in the value of mobile, contactless and online payments this year, rising from $3 trillion in 2015 to $3.6 trillion in 2016.

For those of us who remember the introduction of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs), they were an alternative to standing in line at a bank for cash. The payment card networks are a giant leap past that technology, whereby we don’t have to travel or wait to make almost any payments anymore.

While we may have begun to take our worldwide electronic payment networks for granted, consider just how convenient and efficient they have made our lives, and how much our economy has come to depend on them.

Peter J. Ferrara is a member of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, a Senior Fellow for Entitlement Reform and Budget Policy at the Heartland Institute, and a Senior Policy Advisor to the National Tax Limitation Foundation.

[Originally published at the Daily Caller]

Categories: On the Blog

Cato Scholar Presents Insight About New Direction for Supreme Court

Somewhat Reasonable - April 25, 2016, 10:20 AM

America’s Future Foundation held an intimate briefing with a leading Supreme Court expert, Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute and Editor, Cato Supreme Court Review, on Monday, April 18, 2016, at the University Club of Chicago. 

The AFF chapter in Chicago, and those in more than 20 cities around the country, are a safe haven for free-market young professionals to network, discuss ideas, and learn the skills they need to become effective lifelong advocated for free markets, limited government, and personal responsibility. 

Roger Custer, executive director of America’s Future Foundation, spoke of the common purpose AFF has with the Illinois Policy Institute in its defense of those who made our nation great.  An on-going effort is being made to establish 50 chapters in cities across the nation by 2018 to promote personal responsibility, free market, and limited government, with a goal is to bring down to a personal level those principles embraced by AFT as a way to inspire millenniums. 

Mr. Ilya Shapiro, upon being introduced by Roger Custer, discussed the future of the court after the passing of Justice Scalia, in remarks based upon his topic of the night:  A New Direction for the Supreme Court?

Shapiro’s thoughts about Antonin Scalia

Scalia joined the Supreme Court in 1986 and proceeded to revolutionize what it meant to be a legal theorist, thus changing the way the justices approached their craft. As an originalist, Scalia based his decisions on what the words meant in the Constitution when ratified.  Before Scalia Constitutional texts were often used when the history wasn’t clear.

District of Columbia v. Heller was cited by Shapiro as an example of Scalia’s interpretation of the law according to the dictates of the Constitution.  Judge Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court in considering whether a District of Columbia prohibition on the possession of usable handguns in the home violates the Second Amendment to the Constitution.  

What does the passing of Scalia portend for the Supreme Court?

Now that the Court is split ideologically, so many important issues will be decided by the judge who replaces Scalia.  Mr. Shapiro is of the opinion that it wouldn’t matter if a so-called moderate like Garfield were confirmed, or a more liberal judge candidate. Shapiro applauds the Republican decision of “NO HEARING; NO VOTE”, and for keeping a stiff spine so far, not only because the seat to be filled is a pivotal one and the replacement would not be sitting to hear arguments until fall, but also because it is only fair for the public to have one more cycle to figure out the direction of this country in light of the partisan political atmosphere that prevails in the Supreme Court.

Regarding the recently argued immigration bill (4/18/2016), a 4 – 4 split decision would be seen as a victory for the challenger.  Stressed was that most law happens in the lower courts.  Only a fraction of cases advance to the Supreme Court. 

Shapiro reflected that if Hillary wins in November she’ll probably stick with Merritt Garland and that he will be confirmed in early January.  A word of caution:  These three judges are up in years and the next president might have the opportunity to appoint three new judges:  Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83); Stephen G. Breyer (78); and Anthony M. Kennedy (78).  

Mr Shapiro described Judicial Activism as used on both the right and the left, as an “empty term.”  It is used today, because so often in he 60’s and 70’s Constitutional restraint was practiced and thought acceptable.  Instead of striking down a law it was deemed preferable “to sit on ones hands.”

Thoughts about Chief Justice John Roberts

Ilya Shapiro denied that Justice Roberts was confused when voicing his opinions. Other than the two Obamacre cases, Shapiro stated that “Republicans don’t have much beef against him.”  Shaprio was then asked why he though Roberts ruled as he did? 

In the Obamacare ruling of 2012, Obamacare was upheld when Justice Roberts was able to label the individual Obamacare mandate as a tax, even though it wasn’t called a tax by President Obama. The law’s challengers had rejected the characterization of the law as a tax, noting the mandate as a penalty.

Scalia lashed out at Chief Justice John Roberts for his key vote to save a provision of the Affordable Care Act that allowed the federal government to provide healthcare subsidies to Americans in 34 states that did not set up their own healthcare exchanges. 

The law should have been considered unconstitutional since tax bills must originate in the House.  The House did file a brief, but nothing came of it, and the decision was left standing.  This article suggests it was Robert’s concern over his legacy as Chief Justice as reason why he literally created the tax issue out of thin air so he could side with the Obama administration.

Closing thought:  Those present agreed that the system of checks and balances has been shattered by the regulatory state; however, progressives aren’t concerned about government control; they relish it.

Some in the room did take exception to a few derogatory comments Ilya Shapiro made about Republican candidate Donald Trump. 

Before Shapiro’s comments, John Tillman, one of sponsors of the event and CEO of the Illinois Policy Institute, spoke positively about Illinois’ future. The Illinois Policy Institute, which he heads, is striving to turn a blue state into red; it is now purple. Two reasons why optimism should prevail: 1)  Speaker Mike Madigan doesn’t run the show, there is competition at the state level reflected by a .2 difference in the number of Democrats casting ballots as compared to Republican voters.  2)  The Democrat agenda reflects a dangerous game with their group identity pitch to black, single women, and millenniums.  In order to attract all groups catered to by Democrats, most importantly millenniums, the pro-freedom argument must be made.

Also present as a member of the Host Committee was Robert E. Russell, Jr, who was a member of the Senior Management of The Heritage Foundation, serving as Counselor when Edwin Feulner, Ph.D served as President of The Heritage Foundation.

A post-reception followed Shapiro’s presentation, as a continuation of the reception that preceded the event.

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Get Ready To Ditch The SAT And ACT

Somewhat Reasonable - April 25, 2016, 9:41 AM

Decades from now, education historians may observe Common Core (CC) provoked a wave of activism that resulted in decentralizing U.S. education.

That was not what the power elites intended when they concocted standards and assessments intended to apply to all students, teachers, and schools. Their objective was centralization. But their arrogance has activated a hornets’ nest of angry parents intent on reclaiming control over their children’s schooling.

The revolt is going beyond the widespread opt-outs from federally mandated Common Core-linked testing.  Behind the scenes, hard work is proceeding on long-dreamed-of alternatives to the College Board’s century-old dominance of college-entrance testing. Impetus for that came when a key member of the Common Core cabal, testing consultant David Coleman, went straightway from writing the CC English standards to heading up the College Board on an explicit vow to align its SAT with Common Core.

Testing a New Test

Now, with the start of 2016 SAT testing, that has happened. However, the Vector Assessment of Readiness for College (ARC)—a budding SAT alternative—is happening, too. For four years, remarked company spokesman Julie West, “We spent a great deal of time researching entrance exams dating back generations, speaking with professors, retired educators, and professionals. Questions were developed, submitted, and reviewed. Sample questions were also sent to outside evaluators.”

ARC beta testing is underway, most recently at the Great Homeschooling Convention in Cincinnati during the first weekend of April. Homeschool families are a natural constituency because linking the SAT and other standardized tests to a de facto national curriculum places homeschoolers’ hard-won freedom from statist overreach and offensive standards in grave peril, but the ARC alternative also may prove to be useful for private and parochial schools, as well as public schools in states not plugged in to Common Core.

“Because the homeschool community is the only sector that has not experienced dramatic shifts in standards or curriculum over the past several years, we have focused on them during beta,” said West. “However, any student with an SAT/ACT or PSAT score may participate in beta testing.

“Because our assessment evaluates math skills through calculus, contains science through chemistry and physics, and contains questions regarding grammar and classic literature, we believe high-achieving students from private and public schools will also benefit from ARC,” said West. “Because we will not permit super scoring, much of the socioeconomic bias has been addressed. Finally, because we are not a timed test, those with special-needs students have been excited to learn about ARC.”

A Drive to Feed Students Substance

Super scoring is a dubious practice whereby students can take their highest scores from multiple SAT tests and piece them into one inflated outcome. Eliminating that kind of gaming would be a solid initial accomplishment for Vector ARC.

The Vector team states its assessment will “assess both proficiency of subject matter as well as overall cognitive abilities,” thus maximizing students’ opportunities “to present their strengths.”

At least one other alternative to the entrance-exam monolith is already available, offered through the Annapolis-based Classic Learning Initiatives, which started in 2015. Administered online at testing centers, the two-hour Classic Learning Test (CLT) draws on the works of some of the greatest minds in Western tradition, thinkers of the caliber of C.S. Lewis, Flannery O’Connor, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Luther King Jr., Plato, and Socrates. Several renowned liberal arts colleges, including St. John’s and Thomas Aquinas, accept CLT scores as an alternative to the SAT or ACT.

Alternatives to the powerhouse College Board, founded in 1900, have been a long time coming. The ACT became one such alternative in November 1959, and in 2011, it actually edged out the SAT in total test-takers. Richard Innes, an education analyst at the Bluegrass Institute, says some officials at ACT still believe its “traditional mission is to provide a quality college readiness test that is useful to college admissions offices.” However, Innes also said ACT’s recent joint venture with Pearson Publishing to create a Common Core-type test called Aspire appears to have introduced “mission confusion” at the company.

Then there is the freshly revised federal education law that lets school boards use the SAT and ACT as their federally mandated annual tests, even for students who don’t plan to go to college, saving money for local school districts and ensuring these education-testing giants have continuous access to a $700-million-per-year market. With big education and big testing continuing to feed off each other, the yearning for individualized alternatives is likely to grow.

[Originally published at the Federalist]

Categories: On the Blog

Despite Gloomy News, Life is Actually Getting Better

Somewhat Reasonable - April 25, 2016, 9:33 AM

It seems the news these days is nothing but bad. Through the media, we are told crime and violence rates are rising, rich cronies are getting richer and low-income earners are getting poorer, and war or rumors of war between countries across the globe run rampant.

But are things on Earth really getting worse than they were in the past, or do technologies such as the Internet just make it easier to learn about goings-on in far-flung parts of the world that would have occurred in the past without the common man knowing anything about them?

The answer, according to data collected by international organizations such as the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) may surprise some (if they get their news from politicians and the media.)

Objectively speaking, the human condition is getting better over time, not worse, thanks to the spread of free-market ideas across the world.

For example, data collected by HumanProgress.org, a project of the Cato Institute, suggests people on Earth have, on average, become more financially secure in just the past 10 years. According to figures from the OECD, the average amount of money any person could be expected to have saved after taxation rose by 40 percent from 2005 to 2015, jumping from $21,950 to $30,745.

Not only do people have more disposable income to save and spend as they please, they have more years in which they can use that money to enjoy life. Data from the World Bank show a baby boy born in 2014 has an average life expectancy of 69.1 years, while a boy born in 1960 had a life expectancy of only 51.9 years. Human medicine and technology have advanced so much in just the past 50 years that babies born today are expected to live almost 33 percent longer than their grandfathers.

Happiness and enjoyment of life’s blessings can’t be fully measured by economic or medical statistics. For example, what use would a long and prosperous life be if we didn’t have music in our lives? It’s a good thing, then, that there is more music to enjoy today than there was just 30 years ago.

According to MusicBrainz, an open-data online music encyclopedia, there have been more new albums and singles released in just 2015 than there were during the 14-year period spanning from 1980 to 1994.

If things are objectively getting better for people, then why do so many think things are getting worse?

Unfortunately, it’s not in the interests of our media to talk about all of the ways in which life is improving. To quote a fictional news reporter from popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, “Officials say there are still no reported casualties, which is truly unfortunate, as it makes for incredibly boring news.”

Lawmakers also have little use for reporting good news, because people may otherwise realize these improvements in human life occurred as a result of people freely conducting business with one another, without the help of government regulations and agencies. Instead, lawmakers and politicians focus on life’s negatives and propose more policies and politics as the solutions to the world’s problems, which are often caused by policies and politics.

Instead of believing the media and political spin that things are getting worse and government is the only answer, people need to research the facts and realize freedom has directly improved human happiness on Earth. It is quantifiable that wherever people are free, they have the means to be happy.

[Originally published at Washington Times]

Categories: On the Blog

7 Top Takeaways from EU’s Google-Android-Tying Charges

Somewhat Reasonable - April 25, 2016, 9:25 AM

The European Commission has charged Alphabet-Google with abusing its dominance in the market for “general Internet search services,” by implementing an Android “strategy of mobile devices to preserve and strengthen its dominance in general Internet search.” The EU objects to a variety of secret Google contract conditions to manufacturer licenses to leverage the dominant (>90% share) Android OS to secretly restrict and foreclose competition in ways that ultimately harm consumer choice and innovation. The EU effectively charged that Google has already anticompetitively extended its >90% dominance in search to dominance in the >90% share of the “licensable smart mobile operating system,” and to dominance in the >90% share of the “app stores for the Android” market.

Summary of 7 Top Takeaways from EU-Google-Android Antitrust Charges

  1. Google- Android’s “open” defense is not the whole truth and nothing, but the truth.
  2. EU is now world’s de facto antitrust top cop, not the DOJ-FTC.
  3. Begs a big question: Why did the FTC silently bury the 2012 FTC staff report on Android-tying?
  4. Android-tying is a relatively straightforward legal case.
  5. Android-tying is very different from the search case.
  6. Apple iOS is NOT an Android competitor for ANTITRUST purposes.
  7. Android competition is on life support.

The 7 Top Takeaways Explained

(1) Google-Android’s “open” defense is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There is a reason that when one has to swear to tell the truth in court, one has to promise to not only tell the truth, but also the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That’s because the truth is not a simple assertion, but what emerges from assertions being tested via investigation, cross examination and common sense. Google’s public defense against the EU’s Android-tying Statement of Objections, comes in simple blog post entitled: “Android’s Model of Open Innovation.” Google states very general and defensible honorific platitudes about its Android business model that are true as far as they go, because they focus superficially on what the public can see and what the Google branding touts.

The big problem with Google’s superficial defense is that the EU Statement of Objections does not challenge what Google says in its blog defense. The EU is charging that behind-the-scenes, out of public view, Google confidentially, secretly and anticompetitively behaves in ways that are not pro-openness, pro-competition, or pro-open-innovation like they claim in public.

The EU is charging that the facts that Google does not want the public to ever learn, actually dis-empower hundreds of manufacturers with secret contractual restrictions that effectively limit manufacturers choices, all to empower Google to profitably extend its dominance into other markets and foreclose potential competitive threats to Google. Simply, this case is about exposing and prosecuting heretofore secret anti-competitive Android-tying behavior that Google wants to keep out of public view.

If Google is truly innocent here and really wants the public to know that Google genuinely operates an “open” model and ecosystem, then why doesn’t Google effectively open-source the language in all of their OEM and network operator contracts on a Wiki so the public can see transparently, if Google is, or is not, using its Android gatekeeper power to discriminate in favor of Google at the expense of competition and competitive innovation? Isn’t the whole purpose and strength of a true open model the trust that true transparency and openness generate?

(2) EU is now the world’s de facto antitrust top cop, not the DOJ-FTC. Google is the obvious #1 global antitrust problem of interest to countries other than the U.S. Only the EU antitrust authority has charged Google with both search-bias and Android-tying abuses of dominance. In addition, the EU is now the only jurisdiction with: a holistic view of the Google-Android antitrust problem; the most facts and understanding of the markets; and the commitment and courage to lead the rest of world’s antitrust review of Google, sans DOJ-FTC.

(3) Begs a big question: Why did the FTC silently bury the 2012 FTC staff report on Android-tying? Now that we know that both the EU and Russian antitrust authorities separately concluded that Google’s tying of Android with Google Apps is an abuse of dominance, why did the FTC preemptively shut down its 2011-2012 Android investigation and then cover it upwithout any public communication or explanation?

We now know from the 2012 Google-FTC staff report that just before the FTC closed all its Google antitrust investigations, the FTC staff report stated: “Staff continues to investigate Google’s conduct in the mobile [Android] arena and will address these issues in a supplemental memorandum;” (fn. 51, p120) and noted that “Since Google’s release of the first commercially available mobile device running Android OS in October 2008, Android’s market share has grown exponentially.” (fn. 51, p120)

The inexplicable nature of the FTC’s closure of its Android-tying investigation in 2013, adds to the many other facts that suggest that the FTC abruptly closed all FTC antitrust probes into Google for political reasons after the 2012 election. The FTC Chairman’s statement at the time made it clear “all of its competition-related investigations of Google were settled,” which would obviously include the Android-tying probe that the FTC staff in October 2012 said they were continuing to investigate and would prepare an Android “supplemental memorandum” for the Commissioners.

However, in all the statements explaining the settlement of supposedly all of the Google antitrust issues the FTC staff were investigating, there inexplicably is zero mention of the existence of the FTC staff’s official Android-tying investigation; what the staff discovered/concluded; or how the FTC finally decided to officially resolve the probe for the public record.

Even worse, there was no official vote of the FTC commissioners on closing the Android tying matter when they voted on four other issues in four different ways, 4-1; 3-0-2; 4-0-1; and 5-0. Were the other commissioners even told in the frenzied political rush to shut down all FTC Google antitrust probes, that they did not have a say in closing the FTC’s separate Android-tying investigation? Tellingly FTC Commissioner Rosch warned in his concurring and dissenting statement that: “… our “settlement” with Google creates very bad precedent and may lead to the impression that well-heeled firms such as Google will receive special treatment at the Commission.”

The FTC’s closure of its Android probe, is even more inexplicable and deceptive because in the FTC press statement the FTC Chairman claimed the FTC conducted an “incredibly thorough and careful investigation” in publicly explaining the three parts of the investigation that were settled with Google (i.e. abuse of: SEP patents, advertising APIs, and website opt-outs) and the two matters that resulted in no action or settlement despite commissioner concerns (i.e. search bias and unauthorized content scraping).

Why was there no explicit mention of the FTC’s Android-tying investigation or why the FTC decided to close it like they did with search bias and content scraping? Did Google politically insist in its settlement negotiations that the FTC’s Android investigation be closed with no public disclosure of why? Did the premature, inexplicable, and un-voted-on, closure of the FTC’s Android-tying investigation result from the “special treatment” that Commissioner Rosch warned against at the time?

(4) Android-tying is a relatively straightforward legal case. This Android case is a classic “bread and butter” straightforward antitrust case. For the layman it can be considered a repeat of, or the 2016 sequel to, the EU’s successful case against Microsoft for de facto tying its media player and Internet browser to its monopoly operating system. The hardest legal elements of this antitrust case are largely settled law as a result of the EU v. Microsoft legal precedent, e.g. relevant market definition of the licensable operating system market, which excludes Apple iOS, and that tying apps to a dominant operating system is an abuse of dominance and harms consumers and innovation. Moreover, the copious definitive evidence in this case is literally eight years of executed contracts with manufacturers; so the main evidence in this case is highly discoverable, finite, tangible, and straightforward.

(5) Android-Tying is very different from the search case. This case is about abuse of dominance in the wholesale OEM/network-operator smartphone market, not the consumerretail smartphone market. The EU has charged Google with abusing its dominance by effectively requiring contracts with ~400 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to accept a de facto exclusive ecosystem arrangement of Android and a pre-loaded set of prominently placed Google apps like search, Play store, Chrome, etc., if the OEM wants to offer Google’s free and best-marketed mobile operating system in the marketplace to sell its phones.

(6) Apple iOS is NOT an Android competitor for ANTITRUST purposes. The EU asserts in the lone footnote in its Fact Sheet that it has concluded that Apple iOS is not a competitor to Android in stating: “[1]Android is a licensable operating system meaning that third party handset manufacturers can use it for their devices; as opposed to operating systems exclusively used by vertically integrated developers.” As the EU’s antitrust precedent, Microsoft v. Commission determines, Apple’s iOS is not a direct competitor to Android in the “licensable smart mobile operating system” market monopoly because Apple iOS is exclusive to Apple products and is not licensed to OEMs. Moreover, Google-Android and Apple-iOS have different customers, products, and business models. In addition their models differ in customization, monetization, economics, costs, intellectual property, and data protection. If Apple iOS is not a direct competitor in antitrust analysis, Google-Android commands >95% market share in the EU’s licensed mobile OS market.

It will be interesting to see if Google’s legendary PR operation can herd the media to not report the >90% Google Android’s market share that the EU investigation concluded, but continue to report the Google supplied ~80% Android smartphone shipment market share number, that is now not the relevant defined market for antitrust purposes.

(7) Android competition is on life support. The only other material “licensable smart mobile operating systems” right now are Microsoft, Nokia, and Blackberry, and together they have<2.5% global share of shipped smartphones in 2015 per Statista. That share is headed for further decline because Facebook-WhatsApp is signaling market reality in deciding to no longer support any OS other than Android and iOS, because only Google Play and Apple’s Appstore have the critical mass of apps and app developers to support a mobile innovation ecosystem.

Given that iOS is not licensable, and that the barriers to create another mobile OS/app development/monetization are de facto insurmountable, Google-Android has enormous incentives to preference its search, Play app-store, browser, products and services over everyone else’s.

If Microsoft — the third most valuable company in the world that was willing to absorb >$15b in cumulative financial losses over several years trying to offer a competitive alternative: search engine, mobile search offering, mobile operating system, and app store to Google — can’t compete with Google-Android and had to concede the mobile market to Google-Android in 2015 to cut its financial losses, the outlook for Android competition is effectively very bleak for the foreseeable future.

Android rules mobile.

[Originally published at Precursor Blog]

Scott Cleland served as Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communications & Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration. He is President of Precursor LLC, an emergent enterprise risk consultancy for Fortune 500 companies, some of which are Google competitors, and Chairman of NetCompetition, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests. He is also author of “Search & Destroy: Why You Can’t Trust Google Inc.” Cleland has testified before both the Senate and House antitrust subcommittees on Google and also before the relevant House oversight subcommittee on Google’s privacy problems.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly – Thank Your Local Fracker This Earth Day!

Somewhat Reasonable - April 22, 2016, 3:38 PM

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

If You Love the Earth or Your Pocketbook, Thank Your Local Fracker This Earth Day!
H. Sterling Burnett, Townhall
Unfairly left out of celebrations of Earth Day (today) is the success of hydraulic fracturing. It may come as a shock to environmentalists, many of whom oppose the process, but the rise of fracking has resulted in a healthier environment. The nation’s growing use of natural gas, which emits half the amount of carbon dioxide compared to burning coal, has resulted in a spectacular reduction of CO2 that renewable industries can only dream about.  READ MORE

Gore’s RICO-style Prosecution of Global Warming Skeptics
Russell Cook, American Thinker
A group of 18 attorneys general are shamelessly abusing their authority by invoking RICO statutes, which are typically used to prosecute gangsters, in an effort to silence “climate skeptics” for the “crime” of disagreeing with the hypothesis of man-caused global warming. The hook: Big oil paid these skeptics to foster false doubt about the scientific “consensus,” even though there is not one shred of evidence to prove skeptical scientists were paid to lie. In fact, it’s those who pushed climate alarmism for malice and profit, such as Al Gore, who deserve closer scrutiny.  READ MORE

Featured Podcast: H. Sterling Burnett: Global Warming Thoughtcrimes
H. Sterling Burnett, research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor ofEnvironment & Climate News, joins Research Fellow Isaac Orr in this edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast to talk about the legal efforts being made to prosecute companies, researchers, and think tanks under RICO statutes. As Burnett and Orr explain, climate skeptics aren’t breaking any laws, but they are breaking an unwritten rule of the modern left by disagreeing with established climate science and policy. Burnett says these attempts to prosecute Americans with legitimate scientific views undeniably violate free-speech rights. LISTEN TO MORE

The Vaping Wars: Brian Fojtik and Victoria Vasconcellos
As the U.S. population’s appetite for cigarettes decline, pressure has mounted on the market to supply an alternative. Taking the place of the traditional tobacco cigarette is the e-cigarette – an electronic product that vaporizes a liquid, giving users a familiar smoking experience without the same harms posed by tobacco. But, as we know all too well, when a new product or service becomes popular, the government gets involved. Speakers Brain Fojtik and Victoria Vasconcellos visited The Heartland Institute to discuss how regulators are trying to wage war on vaping. If you missed any or all of this informative event, you can watch the entire program on our YouTube page. WATCH IT NOW

Come to the Grand Opening of the Michael Parry Mazur Library!
Join us for the Grand Opening of the largest freedom library in Chicagoland. The Michael Parry Mazur Library at The Heartland Institute is a rapidly growing research library containing an excellent collection of works on economics, history, political science, public policy, and related topics. With nearly 10,000 books already donated and on shelves, the library serves as a unique resource for scholars, Heartland staff, and the interested public. The library will offer free wi-fi and computer time, and library patrons will have opportunities to schedule time with Heartland research staff and policy advisors.  SEE UPCOMING EVENTS HERE

More Than Half of ACA Health Insurance CO-OPs Fold, Senate Reports
Michael McGrady, The Heartlander
More bad news for supporters of Obamacare: Twelve of 23 nonprofit health insurers, which received a total of $1.2 billion in federal loans under the Consumer Oriented and Operated Plan program, are either out of business or slated to collapse at the end of 2016. Nathan Nascimento, senior policy advisor and director of state initiatives at Freedom Partners, says, “The only option for people is for Obamacare to be fully repealed.” READ MORE

Despite Rhetoric, Life on Earth Is Objectively Getting Better
Jesse Hathaway, Washington Times
Many in the media would have you believe life is getting worse. We often hear the income gap is growing and the number of Americans earning middle-income salaries is shrinking. Many politicians blame capitalism, claiming the wealthy are exploiting the working man for their own monetary gain. Data from HumanProgress.org, a project of the Cato Institute, show otherwise. On average, people on Earth have become more financially secure over the past decade. Wealth, lifespans, and happiness all appear to be trending upward.  READ MORE

Alternatives Soon May Blossom in College-Entrance Testing
Robert Holland, The Federalist
Decades from now, education historians may observe Common Core provoked a wave of activism that resulted in decentralizing U.S. education. That was not what the power elites intended when they concocted standards and assessments intended to apply to all students, teachers, and schools. Their objective was centralization. But their arrogance has activated a hornets’ nest of angry parents intent on reclaiming control over their children’s schooling. READ MORE

Bonus Podcast: Kyle Maichle: The Article V Convention Road Map
Everyone interested in the Article V convention movement knows the number of states needed to initiate this process is 34. But this threshold is only the beginning. Kyle Maichle, Heartland’s project manager for constitutional reform, joins the Heartland Daily Podcast to help lay out the road map we can expect to see moving forward. Maichle discusses what a convention would look like, how delegates are chosen, and how long it may take to fully enact a new constitutional amendment.  LISTEN TO MORE

Alabama’s Welfare Program is a Decade Behind Most of the Country
Logan Pike, AL.com
One of the major goals of welfare reform is to help people out of government dependency and into self-sufficiency. However, this goal is not without its opposition. There is no shortage of rumors and falsehoods surrounding the proposed welfare reform bill now being considered in Alabama – a state that was awarded an “F” grade in The Heartland Institute’s 2015 Welfare Reform Report Card. Logan Pike, co-author of the report card, dispels some of these myths. READ MORE

Help Us Stop Wikipedia’s Lies!
Joseph L. Bast, Somewhat Reasonable
Many people rely on The Heartland Institute’s profile on Wikipedia to provide an objective description of our mission, programs, and accomplishments. Alas, the profile they find there is a fake, filled with lies and libel about our funding, tactics, and the positions we take on controversial issues. Wikipedia refuses to make the changes we request. It even deletes and reverses all the changes made by others who know the profile is unreliable. We need your help! READ MORE
Invest in the Future of Freedom! Are you considering 2016 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 – Isaac Orr: This Earth Day, Thank A Fracker

Somewhat Reasonable - April 22, 2016, 1:20 PM

On today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Isaac Orr joins H. Sterling Burnett to talk about Earth Day and the environmental benefits hydraulic fracturing is producing.

Orr explains why the public should be thankful for the fracking revolution, the producers, and transporters of natural gas this Earth Day. He talks about how the increased use of natural gas in not only driving economic growth but also resulting in a cleaner environment with lower carbon emissions.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Chilling Scientific Inquiry

Somewhat Reasonable - April 22, 2016, 9:00 AM

In 2009, there was a massive email leak from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. Supporters of global warming claimed the disclosures were out of context while opponents claimed they showed efforts to manipulate data. One of the quoted emails, Professor Phil Jones, while discussing paleo-data used to reconstruct past temperatures, says, “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” (Emphasis added.) The House of Commons investigated and concluded, “insofar as we have been able to consider accusations of dishonesty—for example, Professor Jones’s alleged attempt to ‘hide the decline’—we consider that there is no case to answer.”

In the 1970s, scientists told us to fear global cooling and warned about the coming ice age. In 1970 alone, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the LA Times all published stories with headlines like “Scientists See Ice Age in the Future.” Time Magazine’s cover story on Jan. 31, 1973, (still posted on the Magazine’s website) was all about “The Big Freeze.” Two years later, Newsweek reported, “There are ominous signs that the earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production—with serious political implications.” The problem—warming? No, cooling! The story concluded, “Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend,” but “they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century.”

For whatever reasons, polls consistently indicate that many Americans are skeptical that global warming is a serious problem. If it is a problem, many question whether it is a man-made problem. Change is, after all, what the climate does. Americans share their skepticism with most of the rest of the world. One recent poll found only 9.2 percent of Americans rate global warming as their top concern.

What should the government do about this general disbelief about global warming? Normally, one should think that if the government should do anything, it would be to encourage further scientific research and publish the results of that research. If others embrace an incorrect view of the facts, the remedy is more speech (not less) so that all the speech can be tested in the market place of ideas.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. told us nearly a century ago that the “ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas—that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution.” [Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616,630 (1919) (Holmes, J., dissenting).] Even if the other fellow says something you think is impossible (he claims to have squared the circle), just allow more speech, and others will eventually understand that he is wrong if we protect the free marketplace of ideas.

Or, maybe this free marketplace will allow us to discover that the other fellow is right. It was not until 1985 that scientists discovered physical evidence of the Big Bang. Georges Lemaître, a physicist at the Catholic University of Leuven and a Belgian priest, first proposed the Big Bang in 1927. Einstein rejected Lemaître’s theory, saying, “Your calculations are correct, but your physics is atrocious.”

Although Einstein knew Lemaître was wrong, Einstein did not seek to silence him. In modern times, Lemaître’s theory might bring in some major grant money. Still, in the prior century, no government would sue Lemaître for fraud in propounding his theory—even though the government’s expert witness would be none other than Albert Einstein himself, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

For most of human history, scientists and philosophes going back to Aristotle believed the universe just is—it was always here. After Lemaître, scientists, and those who funded them, tried to find proof, and the answer they got surprised them: Lemaître was right. Now, most scientists believe that our universe had a beginning, and they debate whether it will have an end.

So, what should we do about those people who are trying to show that global warming is not man-made, that it is not coming as soon as others claim, or that the benefits of warming outweigh the burdens? We could emulate the open debate between Lemaître and Einstein.

Ah, that’s so twentieth century. If the people do not believe something, the government should sue. Litigation is the American way. The Attorney General of California, Kamala D. Harris, is using her power to investigate those who sell fossil fuels. Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are also calling for criminal investigations.

Attorney General Harris—who is supposed to use her office to protect constitutional rights—is investigating whether companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. lied to the public about global warming, whether that amounts to securities fraud and violations of environmental laws.

Not to be outdone, the New York Attorney General is also investigating. Eighteen other state attorneys general are also exploring alleged crimes. That will teach those who question global warming that the government is not fooling around. Investigations will cost the companies and the scientists a lot of money to answer subpoenas and interrogatories. That is the point of chilling scientific inquiry.

Things could go well beyond that. Search warrants executed at night may be the next step for Harris’s investigation. That’s what she did when whistleblowers released video evidence of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of body parts. The Attorney General’s investigators burst into the home of David Daleiden, the man behind the video release, as if he were a Mexican drug lord kingpin. They seized his laptop and other material and tried to seize his phone while he was using it to talk to his lawyers. However, they “ignored” evidence “in his homethat showed an illegal agreement between StemExpress, a tissue procurement company, and Planned Parenthood.”

Meanwhile, Exxon has “unequivocally” rejected the allegations that it “suppressed climate change research,” given “Exxon Mobil’s nearly 40-year history of climate research that was conducted publicly in conjunction with the Department of Energy, academics and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.“

Let us put to one side an inconvenient truth—Exxon could hardly “suppress” any research given the fact that research warning about global warming has been published continually for many decades.

Another inconvenient truth is that there are still many open questions about global warming that need answers—why has the rate of global warming not followed what most scientific models predicted; are the oceans absorbing substantially more carbon dioxide that anyone expects; should there have been more global warming during WWI and WWII, when the massive bombings unleashed a deluge of carbon dioxide?

We are allowed to dispute other scientific theories. Scientists argue whether man will ever be able to travel faster than light, although Einstein said that is the universal speed limit. Scientists argue whether our universe is the only one or merely one of an infinite number. Some scientists believe that the universe is in a steady state, with the spontaneous creation of matter and energy out of a vacuum.

We develop human knowledge by testing competing theories, not outlawing them. The thought that government authority would investigate those who advocate one position instead of the other is baffling. This is, after all, not the Middle Ages, when people were punished if they did not believe that the earth was the center of the solar system.

Kamala Harris does not use her prosecutorial powers to chill expression about global warming in any principled way. Consider marijuana. For many decades, the government told us that marijuana is a drug, with no legitimate use. During that time, it was not unusual for the federal government to fund research on why marijuana is detrimental. Should the State Attorney General investigate those who received these federal grants and prosecute them for lying about marijuana because they engaged in advocacy research?

The federal government will soon reschedule marijuana. That change will allow researchers to study whether marijuana can be beneficial. Once the federal government reschedules marijuana, will Harris now be investigating those who engage in advocacy research to show the beneficial effects of marijuana?

In 1970 and for years after that, the government urged us to avoid red meat, egg yolks, and whole milk (too much fat). We complied with the food pyramid. From 1970 to 2005, the Department of Agriculture reported, proudly, that consumption of eggs and red meat fell by 17 percent, and whole milk by 73 percent.

We should be glad that there was no ambitious Attorney General Kamala D. Harris around, because she would have tried to prosecute food industry companies if they funded research into the benefits of eggs, meat, and milk. You see, during the same period (1970-2005) where the public followed the Federal Food Pyramid, the incidence of diabetes doubled! Studies now show that people eating dairy products like whole milk have less of a problem with heart disease than those who do not.

In United States v. Alvarez (2012) (6 to 3), the Supreme Court told us that we have a constitutional right to lie about receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Court was not recommending lying, but it recognized that if the government can punish that, we go down a steep slippery slope. Justice Kennedy said that the government cannot “compile a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable.” Justice Breyer defended lying, “even in technical, philosophical, and scientific contexts, where (as Socrates’ methods suggest) examination of a false statement (even if made deliberately to mislead) can promote a form of thought that ultimately helps realize the truth.”

Even the three dissenters in Alvarez would protect lying in matters of science: “Laws restricting false statements about philosophy, religion, history, the social sciences, the arts, and other matters of public concern” would “present a grave and unacceptable danger of suppressing truthful speech.” Harris and the other Attorneys General should read Alvarez.

The marketplace of ideas, not the subpoena power of government, should decide what is true or false.

[Originally published at Verdict]

Categories: On the Blog

The Cold, Hard Truth About Global Warming Health Myths

Somewhat Reasonable - April 22, 2016, 8:13 AM

Multiple attorneys general in the United States celebrated the country’s 47th annual recognition of Earth Day on April 22 by issuing subpoenas to so-called global warming “deniers” in the preceding weeks.

The Obama administration supplied the pretext for investigating and potentially prosecuting scientists for such thoughtcrime when President Barack Obama told Congress in his 2015 State of the Union Address “no challenge”—not ISIS, North Korea, or the incorrigible Vladimir Putin—“poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

The alarmists’ health scare focuses on fears of increasing sickness and death from heat waves, air pollution, and disease. These health fears are not only baseless but in fact defy common sense. An abundance of scientific research shows global warming threatens no one’s health and in fact is probably salubrious. First, scientific studies contradict the notion a warming planet will cause heat waves and therefore more sickness and death. The temperature increases tend to be at night and in cooler climes, not a uniform warming.

Dangerously Cold

We typically suffer from more illness during cold winters than in warm summers. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control peg the U.S. influenza season as being between November and April, the winter months. The World Health Organization defines the Southern Hemisphere flu season as May to October, the winter months for that portion of the planet. Countless other diseases follow this pattern.

It has always been true more people get sick during periods of cold weather, and more people die as a result. The late Dr. William Keating, professor of physiology at Queen Mary and Westfield College, led a team in 2000 that studied temperature-related deaths for people between the ages of 65 and 74 in England, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, and the Netherlands. The team found deaths related to cold temperatures were more than nine times greater than those related to hot temperatures. Heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory illness were responsible for most of the cold weather deaths.

A similar study by Dr. Matthew Falagas at the Alfa Institute of Medical Science in Athens, Greece studied seasonal mortality for Australia, Canada, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Spain, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United States. Falagas’ team found the average number of deaths per month was lowest in summer and fall and peaked in the cold months for all nations.

Bjorn Lomborg, adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, points out any global warming that occurs in the foreseeable future will likely reduce human mortality. In Great Britain alone, 25,000 to 50,000 people die each year from excess cold, Lomborg calculates.

So, it seems strange on all counts the White House released a report in April 2016 predicting a heat wave in summer 2030—yes, you read that right—that is projected to cause 11,000 premature deaths.

The 2009 U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), led by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, predicted hotter summers due to global warming would take more lives than a warmer planet’s milder winters would save.

Were such a prediction accurate, one would expect Alaska, North Dakota, and Canada to share renown for weather conducive to better health, and one would assume older people would want to move there to improve their life expectancy. Obviously, that’s not the case. How could our older relatives retiring in droves to Arizona, Florida, and Texas be so daft? Don’t they know they’re suffering?

Hot (Clean) Air

The USGCRP report tried to make the case warmer temperatures will cause more air pollution, specifically an increase in ozone caused by “higher temperatures and associated stagnant air masses.” But in earlier chapters, the report warns warmer temperatures will cause more frequent, heavier rainfall and intense turbulent weather events, which surely does not sound like stagnant air masses. As for ozone increases, over recent decades—when Earth’s temperature did increase nearly a degree Fahrenheit—airborne ozone consistently declined. The notion warmer temperatures will increase air pollution is feeble.

Temperatures Tangential 

The same report makes a weak case for a global warming-induced increase of mosquito-borne illnesses, such as malaria, West Nile Virus, and other parasites, but most scientific studies show temperature is a minor factor in the spread of disease.

Dr. Paul Reiter, medical entomologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, pointed out malaria was endemic to England during the colder climate of the Little Ice Age in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Reiter also reported the Soviet Union experienced an estimated 16 million cases of malaria during the years 1923–25, with 30,000 cases in Archangel, a city located very close to the Arctic Circle.

Despite the rise in temperature experienced as the Little Ice Age came to a close in the twentieth century, infectious diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, tuberculosis, and malaria have all been eliminated in developed countries. The reasons were improved sanitation, water purification, vaccines, mosquito control, and other public health programs, whereas temperature was an insignificant factor and remains so.

Ignoring the evidence regarding the real health effects of warmer temperatures is central to global warming alarmists’ efforts to make the public fearful. Recent surveys list global warming at the bottom of topics that concern the public, but do not expect the fear-mongering to end any time soon.

Jay Lehr (jlehr@heartland.org) is science director at The Heartland Institute. Steve Goreham (gorehamsa@comcast.net) is executive director of the Climate Science Coalition of America.

Image via Thinkstock

Categories: On the Blog
Syndicate content