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The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
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The Developing World Wants Natural Gas and Electricity, Hillary Clinton Sends Cookstoves

March 30, 2016, 7:58 AM

Hillary Clinton’s “trustworthiness” problem is fed by a long history of “varying credibility,” as a recent Politico story delineated, including cattle-futures trading, law firm billing records, muddled sniper fire recollections and e-mail use.

While providing pertinent points, the Politico list is just a sampling.

One missing item on the “mistrust” litany is a project she reportedly cooked up as Secretary of State, but that was shaped by her family foundation. State Department staff sent official emails to solicit funds from foreign governments.

The project sounds innocent enough: “to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change.” What miracle product can do all that? A cookstove. Yes, that is correct—a cookstove. This is not the product of “as seen on TV” wizardry, nor is it the latest in high-efficiency appliances.

There’s something fishy when governments throughout the world (including the U.S), corporations (including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Johnson & Johnson), and Ted Turner’s UN Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative are involved as they are with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Alliance).

No one would begrudge corporations giving to a philanthropic effort, but we would probably feel differently about our own tax dollars going to the project Clinton is hawking—especially when the project is, by most accounts, an epic fail.

The Alliance claims to provide a solution to the “fourth worst overall health risk factor in developing countries.” Its website’s “Frequently Asked Questions” download states: “Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires—the primary means of cooking and heating for nearly three billion people in the developing world—causes 1.9 million premature deaths annually with women and young children most affected.” Not only that, but “Reliance on biomass for cooking and heating increases pressure on local resources” as women and children “forage for fuel.” Additionally, “inefficient cookstoves contribute to climate change through emissions of greenhouse gases.”

To remedy this problem, it would make sense for the well-funded public-private partnership to use its money and influence to help build natural-gas-fueled power plants and infrastructure to bring electricity to the developing world. But that was not Clinton’s idea.

On September 21, 2010, the world first became aware of Clinton’s brainchild—though she may have stolen the idea from India’s National Biomass Cookstoves Initiative that made headlines around the world in the summer of 2010. The Secretary of State announced the Alliance at the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative (GCI)—with the Clinton Foundation being one of the “Strategic Partnerships and Alliances.” By November 2014, at the “Inaugural Cookstoves Futures Summit” it was announced that more than $400 million had been raised for the project. As co-host of the meeting, Clinton exclaimed: “We have to redouble our efforts to get more clean and efficient products in the hands and homes of families everywhere. … We can rededicate ourselves to doing everything we can to help more people in more places to breathe more easily, work more safely and live healthier lives.” In her memoir, Hard Choices, she brags about her role in the Alliance: “I was delighted by the scope and speed of the progress [the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves] made around the world.”

“Progress” in the Alliance can be attributed to her influence as Secretary of State. Before the announcement of the Alliance, Kris Balderston, who served as her special representative for global partnerships, on his state.gov account pressured Norway to join. They obliged with a commitment for a $600,000 “down payment.” Apparently, as emails revealed, the country wanted to be part of the launch: “They wanted to move quickly for the CGI announcement.” (Note: Norway is a major donor to the Clinton Foundation.) Once Norway signed on, France and Finland were expected to follow suit. While traveling the globe, on the taxpayers’ dime, Clinton recruited more partners.

All big charity programs have celebrity spokespersons—the Alliance has actress Julia Roberts and chef Jose Andres—but Clinton was much more. She is credited with the program’s birth. While Secretary of State, it was “on the top of her agenda.” Once retiring from her official duties, Clinton became the Chair of the Alliance’s Leadership Council—where she still serves.

If you don’t know the rules, this may seem like petty politics. However, as Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis and an expert on ethics in government, in the Washington Times cites the Code of Federal Regulations on the use of public office for private gain: “an employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity, including nonprofit organizations of which the employee is an officer or member.”

While at best, Clinton’s clean cookstove campaign seems slimy, and may be illegal, one might cast a blind eye if the program achieved its aggrandizing goals.

These so-called “clean cookstoves,” even by the Alliance’s own literature, “may last for several years”—yet only 20 percent, according to a survey cited in the Washington Post (WP), are still in use after two years. While the Alliance has reportedly “helped drive more that 28 million stoves into the field,” most do not meet the World Health Organization’s guidelines for indoor emissions. The WP states: “The vast majority of the stoves burn wood, charcoal, animal dung or agricultural waste—and aren’t, therefore, nearly as healthy as promised.” While “some perform well in the lab,” others “crack or break under constant heat.”

In her book, A River Runs Again, journalist Meera Subramanian chronicled cookstove use in India. The WP reports: “She found that women had stopped using the stoves because they didn’t like the design or because the stoves broke, burned more wood (not less, as intended) or didn’t get foods hot enough.”

Defending the Alliance’s effort, Radha Muthiah, CEO of the Alliance, says: “There may not be the greatest health benefit, but there’s certainly a good environmental benefit, and it will save them more time” and create “livelihood and empowerment opportunities.”

Distributing stoves that “we know will kill people” has been called “unethical.” Rema Hanna, the Harvard economist who led “Up in Smoke”—which WP calls “the most extensive field study to date on this subject”—says: “it makes no sense to ‘push more stoves into the world that people are not going to use.’” According to a recent publication in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, David Kreutzer, Senior Research Fellow, Energy Economics and Climate Change at The Heritage Foundation, reports: “there were no long-term (after four years) health benefits from clean cook stoves. After two years, smoke inhalation was not at all different, and by the fourth year, nearly one-third of the households had so little use for the new stoves that they actually destroyed them.”

Rather than burning biomass, experts believe that gas, electricity, or both would be better at protecting health. Kreutzer agrees: “These cookstoves seem to be substitutes for efforts to provide affordable modern power to those in need”—which he says condemn so many of the poor to continuing energy poverty. Sadly, Alliance members oppose projects that would provide low-cost power to these poor households.

You have to wonder, if these cookstoves—which are more like a hibachi grill than a stove and cost about $25—don’t achieve the stated goals, why is Clinton such a proponent? As Christine Lakatos, whom I have worked with on dozens of green-energy, crony-corruption reports, and who alerted me to this dirty story, found in her Green Corruption File report, Alliance work was a high priority during Clinton’s time as Secretary of State. The project spanned eleven federal agencies and, so far, totals more than $114 million.

Her involvement complicates her “trustworthiness” concerns and risks, as the Washington Times points out: “Raising questions about where she drew the line between official business and aiding the family charity run by her husband and daughter.”

The answer to Clinton’s involvement, and the conflict of interest with her role at the State Department and “aiding the family charity,” deserves further investigation by someone with better access, and a bigger budget, than Lakatos or I have. But a hint can be found on the Alliances’ own website: carbon credits. It states: “In addition to being one of the fastest growing offset types in the voluntary market, cookstoves credits are selling for some of the highest prices observed in the voluntary carbon market.”

If Clinton becomes president, her energy policies will likely enact a cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax—which would suddenly make her cookstove project profitable.  Rather than helping bring modern power to the world’s poor, she’s, as Kreutzer calls it, “prolonging energy poverty for millions upon millions in the developing world.” And that is the dirty story behind Clinton’s clean cookstove campaign.

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

“Lip Service but Little Else”, Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access holds hearing on the “Failure of the Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit”

March 30, 2016, 6:34 AM

The U.S. House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access held a hearing, appropriately titled, “Lip Service but Little Else: Failure of the Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit, to discuss the failures of the tax credit that Obamacare offered to small businesses.

Chairman Tim Heulskamp remarked that “the credit scheme is so cumbersome and poorly designed that it is largely ineffective.”

Testimony included remarks from persons representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Harold Jackson, Executive Chairman of Buffalo Supply, Inc., a small business in Colorado with 20 employees who provided “a concrete real life example as to the shortfalls of this premium tax credit which is unfortunately illusive to most small businesses.”

Holly Wade, Director of Research and Policy Analysis, on behalf of NFIB, testified that “the tax credit was largely ineffective on both fronts as its design is exceedingly restrictive, complicated, and only offers limited and temporary relief to a larger small business cost problem.”

Michael Ricco, Quality Manager for AEEC, on behalf of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, attested that “it is the small businesses in middle – particularly those between 50-100 employees – that could benefit the most from this health care tax credit.”

Four main points were central to the testimonies the subcommittee heard. The first was that the eligibility requirements were not effective enough to impact all small businesses. Second, the complicated language deterred most small businesses from even determining if they were eligible for the credit. Third, the tax credit is temporary, and can only be claimed for two years, providing little relief for small business owners. The fourth concern was that, as of July 1, 2014, the tax credit is only available to small business owners through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP ) marketplaces, limiting the options for employers.

This subcommittee hearing only offers some insight into the future negative impact of Obamacare on small businesses, and is very telling. It is indicative that there is a major problem to be addressed, as Wade ended her testimony that the health insurance tax credit was a poor tool for cost effectiveness and that “more importantly, health insurance costs continue to increase, and small business owners continue to struggle with their ability to afford offering the benefit.”

You can find the more information on this hearing at http://smallbusiness.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=398925.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Dr. Hal Scherz: The Best Kept Secret in the Health Care Industry

March 29, 2016, 3:35 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Dr. Hal Scherz, founder of Docs 4 Patient Care, joins Managing Editor for Health Care News Michael Hamilton. If you make a habit of reading the articles found at news.heartland.org/health, you’ll find a number of stories about one of the best kept secrets in the health care industry, a secret Dr. Scherz helps expose in today’s podcast: direct primary care.

Docs 4 Patient Care is a think tank run exclusively by practicing physicians, all of whom are committed not only to providing excellent patient care, but to promoting free-market health care solutions for ordinary patients like you and me.

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

[Please subscribe to the Health Care News Podcast for free at this link.]

 

Categories: On the Blog

This Year’s Presidential Politics Equals Continuing Big Government

March 29, 2016, 2:55 PM

The daily and unending bombardment of political campaign reporting and news, with its “drama” about who will be the Republican and Democratic Party candidates for the U.S. presidency, hides from view the continuing and real choice facing the American public: freedom or statism, individual liberty or government control.

This real underlying question is hidden from view because the media coverage emphasizes in what ways the competing candidates differ from each other in personality and policy prescriptions for America’s future. What is missed, however, are all the common premises that bind these candidates together.

Listen to either Republicans or Democrats, “liberals” or “conservatives,” and what one discovers with a little bit of reflection is the degree to which most of them accept and believe in the same type of “activist” role for government in human affairs. They merely differ on the type and degree of such government intervention, regulation, control and redistribution.

With the Democratic Party candidates for president, this is fairly clear and obvious. Watching or reading the campaign stump speeches of Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, it is easy to wonder if they have ever met a government interventionist program they did not like.

On the Republican side, the intensity of the support for or dislike of Donald Trump has made this a little less clear. The debate and disagreement has primarily focused on Trump’s abrasive personality, his evasion of detail about either domestic or foreign policy, his use of colorful “off-color” language, and his less than subtle support for “roughing up” and “punching out” anti-Trump demonstrators, and his threats of possible “riots” by his followers if he does not win the Republican nomination for the presidency, even if he has not won a majority of the convention delegates in the primaries.

The “Sacred Cow” of Social Security vs. Personal Liberty

But over a significant number of public policy issues, the differences in views among the candidates are often more a matter of degree than of kind. For instance, on Social Security, and not surprisingly, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are insistent on the preservation and perpetuation of the government mandated retirement program. Sanders has blindly presumed that nothing is fundamentally wrong with the funding and coverage of the Social Security system, other than guaranteeing that it stays and is reinforced and increased, while Clinton has admitted that demographics may require some tweaking of the system while basically leaving it intact.

On the Republican side, it is not that much different. Trump assures the voters that he will change nothing in terms of Social Security eligibility, coverage or payments. He will make sure that America “wins,” is “strong” and has the wealth to maintain the system. End of story. Just trust him. He knows how to “make deals.”

John Kasich also wants the U.S. government to keep its promises to the American people, with few changes to the Social Security system. He reminds us – unendingly over and over again – that as governor of Ohio he has grown jobs, increased production, balanced the budget and taken care of the needy, and known how to bring people together. Put him in the White House and he’ll do the same in Washington to save Social Security for the current and future generations. You can trust him, he’s the “fix-it man.”

Ted Cruz has emphasized that Social Security is in financial trouble because of the demographics of an aging population. But, he too, has insisted that a government Social Security system is an essential part of American society. He wants to partly privatize the funding of the system, while continuing to presume a guiding hand of the government in the retirement planning of the American people.

The friend of freedom would ask, what is government doing in the retirement business in the first place? There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government the responsibility or authority to mandate compulsory participation or funding of such a Social Security scheme. And it is worth recalling that before eighty years ago, it was not Uncle Sam’s job to oversee the financing of people’s “golden” post-work years.

Before 1935, this was considered to be the responsibility of individuals, families and private charities, along with some local community funding. It was argued that part of the meaning of freedom was the right of the individual to plan the affairs of his own life and that of his family. Just as the individual was expected, under liberty, to make his own choices on the allocation of his income among alternative uses in the present, the same applied on deciding on spending his income in the present versus setting aside a portion of it as savings for his and his family’s needs and desires in the future.

The fact is, any candidate who fully believed in and advocated individual liberty and constitutionally limited government would be attempting to explain and persuade the voting public that a government-funded pension plan through intergenerational redistribution is not only unconstitutional and inconsistent with the type of personal freedom promulgated by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence, but is, pragmatically, rapidly reaching its financial end due to an aging population and a shrinking workforce to fund Social Security.

Such a candidate would be making the case for the end of Social Security and in some manner that would do justice to the older segment of the American population who have been compelled to pay into a system that made it, as a result, more difficult or impossible to plan for their own retirement years. But which closed the chapter on government and the pension business. (See my article, “There is No Social Security Santa Claus.”)

Freedom Means Ending Government-Funded Healthcare

The same applies to government involvement and responsibility for the health care and medical insurance of the American people. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sander merely argue over an immediate government single-payer system of socialized medicine versus an easing into it as budgetary revenues and costs permit an end to any predominantly privately provided health insurance and medical care.

Among the Republicans, there is a general insistence that ObamaCare should be repealed, but there is no call for the removal of government from the health care and insurance business, as a whole. Medicare and Medicaid are generally considered essential among Uncle Sam’s grab bag of duties and responsibilities.

The fact is virtually all the problems associated with people’s frustration with health care premiums and coverage has its origin with the extent to which government has intervened in and interfered with the health care industry in America. The problem has not been too little government in medical care, but far too much over the decades, which has stymied competition, fixed and manipulated prices for medical services, and narrowed the choices and options available to people compared to what a truly free market healthcare industry could have provided to the population.

A candidate interested in fostering a free market system in healthcare and insurance would be educating the voters on how and why eliminating government control and involvement is essential to moving America forward towards a vibrant, innovative and affordable totally private sector medical industry for the current generation and looking ahead for the rest of this century.  Alas, none of the candidates for the presidency in the current election cycle have even come close to doing so. (See my article, “For Healthcare the Best Government Plan is No Plan.”)

Besides the Social Security system and government-funded health care and insurance being taken for granted to one degree of anther by all presidential candidates this year, there is also the acceptance that some form of the welfare state is compatible with and complementary to a free society.

The Welfare State Undermines Incentives and Balanced Production

But, in fact, the welfare state is an arrow in the heart of a truly free society that is respectful of individual choice and is based on the rights of individuals to manage their own lives as they freely decide in peaceful and mutually beneficial association with others.

The presumption is often made that a free society can successfully function with a market economy that “delivers the goods” while having the government siphon off large portions of the income and wealth generated through the production and productivity of that economy for purposes of redistributive largess guiding by some notion of “social justice.”

This reasoning presumes that the resulting production is independent of the incentives that make the members of society have a motive for work, saving and investment. All of us know that the higher (lower) the price of something the less (more) people are willing to buy of it, and the lower (higher) the price of something the less (more) people are willing to supply it. Why should we presume this is any different concerning goods and services that government supplies to people for “free” or below market price, or concerning people’s willingness to work to earn income the more they are taxed.

Make something relatively free or inexpensive compared to a market price that covers the actual costs of supplying it, and the demand will swell and overwhelm the available supply. Tax people more and more at higher and higher rates to pay for below market price “free” goods, and the incentive to keep producing and earning is increasingly undermined. Demand outruns supply and supply fails to grow to keep up with the demand.

But even beyond these important and crucial distortions and imbalances between supply and demand the more the government offers desired “goodies” for “free” and undermines the incentives and abilities for production to provide the required supplies, there is a wider moral dimension to a growing and encompassing welfare state.

The Paternalistic State Creates Childlike Citizens

The welfare state denies individuals the right to have the liberty to make such decisions for themselves. Every step further in this direction reduces people’s self-determination over their own lives, chips away at one more aspect and corner of the person’s life over which they have diminished responsibility and autonomy to be self-governing. They become, one step at a time, a bit more of the ward of the state.

This threatens another central element that is part of being a truly free person: the cultivation and exercise of moral choice. A child is one who is considered not sufficiently developed psychologically and morally to fully make its own choices and decisions. Parents serve as guardians to care for their young and educate them as they grow up in learning the meaning of responsible decision-making, to think before your leap, to consider tomorrow before you make a choice today, and to ask what is the ethical things to do concerning my own life and in my interactions with others?

The more government takes responsibility over these aspect of human life, and the more the political authority asserts the obligation to handle “social problems” that concern the mutual affairs of individuals in society, then the less people develop the experience, maturity or appreciation for what it means to think about and act upon such corners of life and human association. (See my article, “A World Without the Welfare State.”)

Political paternalism through the redistributive welfare state brings about a permanently infantilized population. Government protected or supported employments, government subsidized levels of income and revenues, and government guaranteed social “safety nets,” result in the creation of an increasingly childlike population.

More and more people want more and more things for “free,” and they want it “now.” They want to be sheltered from “hurtful” or “uncomfortable” situations or choices. They come to expect politically provided security and protection over all the everyday affairs of ordinary life. They lose the capacity to think and act as free men and women. They take for granted and long for the political shepherd who oversees and takes care of the human sheep.

“Fair Trade” is Politically Managed and Manipulated Trade

Also look at the policy positions taken by both Democrats and Republicans running for the presidency on America’s place and role in the world.  Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders rant about how international trade can be and has been detrimental to American jobs and industry, promising to redress the unfair trade practices of other nations.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump wails about how America is being robbed, beaten up and abused by the trade policies of other nations. And while the other Republicans who have been running in the primaries over the last half year have given lip service to free trade, they, too, to varying degrees have assured the voters that “free trade” must be tempered by “fair trade.”

The friend of freedom, since the time of Adam Smith, has emphasized that the benefits from trade do not come from what we export but from what the sale of our exports enable us to import. We trade with our immediate neighbors or with others half way around the world because it enables each of us to obtain from our exchange partners goods and services that we would not be able to produce for ourselves, or which we could not produce with as a high quality or at a similar low cost.

It is the division of labor and specialization of production that domestic and foreign trade facilitates and encourages that has given us and continues to provide the existing and continually rising standards and qualities of life that we take for granted.

Yet, listening to the rhetoric and policy proposals from both the Democratic and Republican competitors in the presidential primaries, we are being abused and misused by our trading partners. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even when other governments subsidize the exports of their own nations goods to the U.S., they, in fact, give the American consumer more goods at lower prices than would be otherwise the case.

It should be the citizens of those foreign governments who should be complaining because it is their higher taxes that are making it possible for American consumers to buy desired goods at below cost prices. And it frees up American producers to manufacture and supply others goods that Americans could not, otherwise, afford to demand and buy if not for the lower-cost foreign imports. (See my article, ”Global Free Trade Makes for Mutual Prosperity and World Peace.”)

In addition, to the extent that government takes on the role of arbiter over the buying and selling of goods between the citizens of its own country and the rest of the world, the promised “fair trade” becomes the politically corrupted trade. Rather than global competitive forces of supply and demand determining the types and direction of production to satisfy the world’s consumers, it becomes influential special interest groups close to those in political authority who have it in their power to raise import taxes or impose regulations that hamper the market-determined patterns of production and sales to improve the lives of people in their own lands and in other corners of the world.

An Interventionist Mindset in Foreign Affairs

The interventionist mindset applies across the party lines in foreign affairs, in general. The friend of freedom has always argued that if government has any rationale it is to protect the life, liberty and honestly acquired property of the citizenry. For that reason the essential task of constitutionally limited government is to secure a country’s citizens from domestic threats through the use of the constabulary and the courts; and to protect the population from foreign threats of invasion and destruction from abroad through national defense.

But Hillary Clinton has been ready to intervention in foreign countries involving little or no threat to the United States both when she was a Senator from New York or Secretary of State in the Obama Administration. And while Bernie Sanders has been highly critical of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he has demonstrated a love affair with Marxist and other socialist regimes around the world; a President Sanders most likely would be very willing to provide American diplomatic and economic support to radical regimes devoted to the demise of capitalism.

Among the Republicans, Donald Trump has criticized the invasion of Iraq, but has assured a rapid and devastating military attack on Islamic fundamentalists in Syria and Iraq, including thousands of American ground forces to do the job, as well as unleashing torture techniques on suspected terrorists and their families.

The other Republican hopefuls pursuing their party’s nomination for the presidency have also, to varying degrees, all called for a continuation and intensifying of such military intervention to set right parts of the Middle East.

Thus, across party lines, there is a common presumption that America must play an “active” and military hands-on presence in many parts of the world that can be very inconsistent with practicing a policy of liberty at home and abroad. (See my article, “Practicing the Principles of Non-Intervention – at Home and Abroad.”)

The task of the informed citizen and the friend of freedom is to cut through the political confusion and rhetorical combat in the current election cycle, and to realize that no matter what the outcome of this year’s election, there is little cause for confidence that liberty will be victorious or advancing, due to the all too common interventionist and statist premises that underlie the policy positions offered by all the candidates.

[Originally published at the Future of Freedom Foundation]

Categories: On the Blog

Smart Meter Dangers: What They Knew and When They Knew It

March 29, 2016, 1:56 PM

ComEd’s smart meter deployment is being propelled by a public relations campaign which minimizes and/or dismisses the health and safety impacts that the wireless meters are creating for their customers. What has been known for decades about the health effects of Radio Frequency/microwave radiation is now being passed off by ComEd as a small amount of Radio Frequency being emitted from a smart meter six times a day.

A call to customer service posing the question, “Are smart meters safe?” will elicit a response, “You don’t have anything to worry about, it is safer than a baby monitor”. And, with that simple explanation, the deployment of four million smart meters is underway in Illinois. Community leaders and residents deserve a real answer and hard facts.

Throughout this article Radio Frequency/microwave radiation will also be referred to as non-ionizing or non-thermal. For clarification: A definition of thermal or ionizing radiation means it can cause heat shock or burn body tissue. Non-ionizing or non-thermal radiation is a lower intensity that can cause other negative effects on living tissue (human, animal, or plant).

Let the truth be known:

What is being hidden from the consumer and decision-maker is what has been known by the military for decades: Radio Frequency/microwave radiation even at low levels is a health threat. U.S. military reports nearly 60 years ago confirmed the biological effects of exposure to low level Electromagnetic Radiation.

Jerry Flynn is a retired Canadian Armed Forces captain with 22 years of experience in Electronic Warfare and Signals Intelligence. In that capacity, he worked with U.S. and NATO armies. Flynn writes

“In 1956 the U.S. Department of Defense directed the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force to investigate the biological effects of exposure to Radio Frequency/microwave radiation (RF/MW) and Electromagnetic Fields (EMF). In 1957 they reported many implications: evidence it can cause cancer, damage major organs, and disrupt important biological processes. It can harm the immune and nervous systems, cause behavioral effects, interfere with the ability to learn, and damage the chemical barrier that prevents blood toxins from entering the brain. It could possibly cause genetic defects, birth defects, and general effects on growth and the aging processes.”

Flynn emphasizes, “The military noted that pulsed radiation appeared to be more harmful than non-pulsed radiation.” (ComEd smart meters emit pulsedradiation.)

Air Force Report, 1994   

A June 1994 U.S. Air Force document, entitled, “Radio Frequency/microwave Radiation Biological Effects and Safety Standards”,acknowledged non-thermal health effects.  Stated in its abstract, “It is known that Electromagnetic Radiation has a biological effect on human tissue. Researchers have discovered a number of biological dysfunctions that can occur in living organisms. Exposure of the human body to Radio Frequency/microwave [RF/MW] radiation has many biological implications that range from innocuous sensation of warmth to serious physiological damage to the eye”, and added that “there is also evidence that RF/MW radiation can cause cancer.  

Other adverse health issues include: “mutagenic effects, cardiovascular effects, negative effects on chromosomes and notes that Soviet investigators claim thatexposure to low-level radiation can induce serious CNS [central nervous system] dysfunctions”.  

NASA Report, 1981

A NASA report published in April 1981, entitled “Electromagnetic Field Interactions with the Human Body: Observed Effects and Theories”,discussed what EMF and RF/microwave radiation inflicts on humans. Health effects of RF/microwave radiation that were reported are headaches, sleep problems, neurological symptoms, cardiac symptoms, memory problems, increased cholesterol, gastritis, ulcers, increased fasting blood glucose, irritability, inability to concentrate, apprehension, and cataracts (clouding of posterior part of lens in those caused by microwave radiation instead of anterior clouding as seen with regular types)Information for the NASA report was collected from over 1,000 written sources that included journals, conference proceedings, technical reports, books, abstracts, and news items.

Navy Report, 1971

In October 1971, the Naval Medical Research Institute published a research report, “Bibliography of Reported Biological Phenomena (‘Effects’) and Clinical Manifestations Attributed to Microwave and Radio-Frequency Radiation”,  which was a compilation of over 2000 references on the biological responses to RF/microwave radiation.  It lists well over 100 negative biological effects caused by RF/ microwave radiation. Here is a partial list from the report: corneal damage, brain heating, alteration of the diameter of blood vessels, liver enlargement, decreased fertility, sterility, altered fetal development, decreased lactation in nursing mothers, cranial nerve disorders, seizures, convulsions, depression, insomnia, hand tremors, chest pain, thrombosis, alteration in the rate of cellular division, anorexia, altered adrenal cortex activity, chromosome aberrations, tumors, loss of hair, and sparking between dental fillings.

Also mentioned in the Navy Report is, “altered orientation of animals, birds and fish”.

Barrie Trower, a British Secret Service Microwave Weapons Specialist, states:

“The paradox is how Radio Frequency/microwave radiation can be used as a weapon to cause impairment, illness and death; and at the same time be used as a communications instrument [such as in a smart meter]. By 1971 we knew everything that needed to be known. A 1976 document summarizing U.S. Defense Intelligence research is the saddest and most despicable document ever published in history. The document lists all of the health hazards caused by wireless devices and concludes: This should be kept secret to preserve industrial profit.

Since the health threats have been known for decades, where do we stand now?

At this time, the installation of smart meters is mandated by law on every home, school, and building in ComEd’s customer service territory. NO permanent opt-out option is available. Parents, who know the truth about the health risks, have nowhere to turn. There is no avenue available for parents, who are aware of the dangers, to protect their children. Does this sound like Flint, Michigan all over again?

Illinois is in the midst of an avoidable, man-made health crisis. What happens when the state faces Flint’s horrible position concerning water, but with electricity? ComEd’s smart meter deployment is creating just such a tragic situation. It is up to the residents to take action, push legislators and theIllinois Commerce Commission for a permanent opt-out, and protect the children in Illinois as well as all living beings in the state.

Part 2 –Follow this article to find out what other agencies, corporations, and organizations knew about the health effects related to Radio Frequency/microwave radiation and when they knew it. Also covered is who is sounding the alarm in an effort to protect public health and welfare.

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Rep. Dane Eagle (FL) – Challenging the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan

March 28, 2016, 3:43 PM

In Today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Florida State Rep. Dane Eagle, Chairman of the Energy & Utilities Subcommittee, joins Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News H. Sterling Burnett. Rep. Eagle joins Burnett to talk about why Florida was right to join the 27 states challenging the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan in court.

Rep. Eagle also discusses why the House passed a ban on local fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, bans and why the state constitution is not an appropriate place to deal with solar power issues.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Google, the Barack Obama Administration – and Even More Questionable Policy

March 28, 2016, 8:17 AM

Almost inarguably, no private entity is more enmeshed with the Barack Obama Administration – than is Google. This has been – in way too many ways for an allegedly free market economy – the Google Administration.

Google has met with the White House just about once a week – every week since President Obama took the oath. Think tanks usually staff administrations – Google and this administration have been swapping (often very high-level) employees throughout.

And as we know, personnel is policy. So time and again this administration has (often illegally) jammed through awful, anti-capitalism policy – because Google asked for it.

Sometimes the cronyism is so overt – it’s darkly comical. Like when the administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unilaterally imposed Google’s preferred (and really idiotic) Network Neutrality.

The Commission’s two Republicans weren’t given an advance draft of the order – but Google was. And then the Commission’s Obama-appointee chairman – altered the order at Google’s request.

And now we have Google’s foray into driverless cars. Cars that can drive themselves – and thus must detect all manner of things stationary and mobile around them. There are many components incorporated in making that a possibility. And each sliver of every component – requires a patent.

Now, a brief aside – to delve a little bit into the United States patent process. I myself have recently applied for a patent. My idea works for multiple products – but I have to apply for a separate patent for each. (Then I have to trademark the name, and…. It ain’t easy or cheap to have an idea.)

I tell this story as a parallel to what Google is doing. Trying to get a driverless car to market – takes a LOT of patents. One of which is what Google calls a “Bus Detection for an Autonomous Vehicle.”

More Obama Administration-delivered good news for Google: its U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) just approved said patent. Bad news for Google? The Obama Administration approved said patent “not a week after its self-driving car failed to detect a bus and ultimately collided with it….

“According to the patent, the car’s self-driving software should recognize a large vehicle, check it against known school bus sizes and look for other visual cues such as yellow paint or the word “School” painted on it. Upon confirmation, the car will take special care around the bus.”

Alanis Morissette would call that ironic – don’t you think?

Now to be fair “Google’s car didn’t hit a school bus — just a traditional one. Google’s software (and the human driver serving as backup) assumed the bus would yield for the self-driving car, but it didn’t, and so the two collided.” And Google has “tweaked its software significantly, implementing 3,500 new tests to avoid this happening again.”

But one has to wonder if anyone not-Google – under these same exact circumstances – would have received patent approval.

In an era of poorly crafted, badly aimed “patent troll” legislation – when the chief complaint is actually bad patents being approved – one absolutely has to ask.

Oh – guess who heads up the Obama Administration’s Patent and Trademark Office? A woman named Michelle Lee. Guess what her immediately preceding gig was? “Deputy General Counsel and Head of Patents and Patent Strategy for Google from 2003 to 2012.”

Man it feels good to be a crony.

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

Neither Rising Sea Levels Nor Extreme Weather Getting Worse

March 28, 2016, 12:33 AM

Stormy weather

Contra the near constant stream of alarmist predictions that sea human caused global warming is/will cause sea levels to rise at increasing rates and weather extremes to get worse, neither claim is proving true, bringing to mind a certain vertically challenged chicken and his repeated false claims of disaster.

The Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL), the global data bank for long-term sea-level-change information, shows there has been little or no change in either the direction or rate of global sea level changes. The PSMSL is the best, longest-running consistent system for measuring sea level. It provides good coverage for Europe, Eurasia, North America, and the Pacific Islands; coverage is lacking in South America and Africa.

Albert Parker, a guest blogger at Watts Up With That, studied the data and found no substantial change in the rate or direction of sea level change from 1900 to 1975 when compared to rates of change from 1975 to 2016, the period of purported human-caused warming. In Scandinavia and much of coastal Eastern Europe sea levels have fallen or remained the same since 1900 with no change in direction or rate of decrease since 1975. In Australia, Central and Southern Europe, and North America, where sea levels were rising or neutral from 1900 to 1975, they have remained rising or stable post-1975.

Though Parker doesn’t address this, I would argue the lack of coverage for South America and Africa should not undermine the value of PSMSL’s measurements. Because purported human-caused warming is a “global” phenomena, if something substantially different is happening along the coasts of Africa or South America than is happening around the rest of the globe, it would have to be due to unique geologic events occurring on those continents, not attributable to a global change in the rate of sea level rise.

More good news for the world (though not climate alarmists pushing weather disaster fears in order to implement their twisted version of global government), a new paper in the Journal of Geography and Natural Disasters demonstrates reality proves wrong the oft-repeated claims global warming will result in an increase in the number and intensity of extreme weather events. Extreme weather during the most recent period of warming is on the decline. The author defines extreme weather events as storms, droughts, floods, etc. that are multiple standard deviations away from the average distribution by which such events are measured.

A survey of official weather sites and the scientific literature provides strong evidence the first half of the twentieth century had more extreme weather than the second half, when anthropogenic global warming is claimed to have been mainly responsible for observed climate change. For instance, the author found periods of maximum warming or cooling rates are all in the nineteenth century or at the start of the twentieth century, with the great majority occurring prior to 1950. The data show there has been no long-term trend in monthly rainfall since 1895. There has been a substantial decline in the number and intensity of hurricanes making landfall in the United States over the twentieth century. The number of tornadoes of strength 3 and higher is down 30 percent since 1975, the year many climate alarmist identify as global cooling turning to warming. Importantly, the number of annual deaths from climate-related severe weather events has declined steadily since 1900.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Weekly – Hot Testimony on NOAA’s Temperature Manipulation

March 25, 2016, 10:00 AM

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.

Wikipedia: What the Liberals Want You to Think
Joseph L. Bast, Somewhat Reasonable
In recent years, left-wing activists have rewritten hundreds of thousands of Wikipedia entries, adding their anti-technology, anti-corporation, and anti-free enterprise dogma and propaganda to the profiles of many individuals and organizations. The Heartland Institute’s profile has been the target of a major misinformation effort, with objective descriptions of our work removed and lies and unfounded leftist accusations put in their place. Can you help us fix Wikipedia? READ MORE

Yaron Brook Explains Why Equal Is Unfair
We’ve been told the American Dream in vanishing. We’re told the rich are getting richer, leaving the rest of us to struggle just to keep our heads above water. To save the American Dream, we’re told we need to fight income inequality through tax hikes and wealth redistribution. What we are being told is wrong. The Ayn Rand Institute’s Yaron Brook spoke to an attentive crowd at the Andrew Breitbart Freedom Center at The Heartland Institute this week to explain why we must fight to make America a freer, more prosperous nation. If you missed the presentation, the entire event is archived on Heartland’s YouTube page.  WATCH IT HERE

Testimony: John R. Christy Addresses NOAA’s Temperature Manipulation
This testimony by Dr. John R. Christy, delivered on February 2, 2016, before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, is a fascinating overview of the latest real science regarding climate change. Dr. Christy demolishes claims that scientists know enough about how the climate works to understand the human impact or predict future climate conditions. The testimony also includes an “extract” of his previous testimony showing man-made climate change is not causing a rise in extreme weather.  READ MORE

Featured Podcast: Kyle Maichle: The Article V Convention Movement
More states are passing resolutions demanding a solution to our country’s runaway debt, making it clear the movement for an Article V Convention is more robust than ever. Kyle Maichle, project manager in the Center for Constitutional Reform at The Heartland Institute, spoke to an Illinois-based tea party group about the Article V approach to reining in the national debt and the federal government. Maichle explains what this would mean for our country and how it can be achieved soon. LISTEN TO MORE

The Stars Come Out in Arlington Heights!
If you love discussions about liberty, you will not want to miss the great series of events Heartland has lined up through the spring. Upcoming events include a presentation by the Austrian Economics Center, Learning Lessons on the Road to Serfdom, as well as several book talks, including Drilling Through the Corewith the National Association of Scholars’ Peter Wood and The Way Back with George Mason University’s Frank Buckley. We hope to see you here in Arlington Heights – but if you are unable to attend in person, the events will be live-streamed and archived on Heartland’s YouTube page. SEE UPCOMING EVENTS HERE

Lynch May Ignore First Amendment to Prosecute Climate Skeptics
H. Sterling Burnett, Climate Change Weekly
As the global warming narrative continues to fall apart, alarmists are becoming more desperate in their attempts to stop the debate. The latest attack comes from the United States Department of Justice. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Loretta Lynch discussed pursuing civil action against companies, organizations, and individual scientists who continue to debate the question of whether humans are causing catastrophic climate change. READ MORE

Video: Oklahoma’s Earthquakes Are ‘Unrelated’ to Fracking
Isaac Orr, Somewhat Reasonable
Anti-fracking activists blame hydraulic fracturing for the rise in earthquakes in Oklahoma over the past several years. But a new video featuring Dr. Mark Zoback, a professor of geophysics at Stanford University, explains fracking is not to blame for the quakes. In fact, as you’ll see in the video, the earthquakes in Oklahoma have nothing to do with fracking at all.  READ MORE

A Not-So-Happy Obamacare Anniversary
Justin Haskins, Consumer Power Report
President Barack Obama’s landmark legislation, the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, has reached its sixth year anniversary. Not many Americans are celebrating, because Obamacare has caused far more problems than it attempted to solve. Skyrocketing premiums, failing insurance companies, and vanishing high-quality insurance plans are just a few of the problems. Even after six years, it appears our health care system is going to get worse before it gets better.  READ MORE

Replacing Common Core: Choices and Tradeoffs
Joseph Bast, Lennie Jarratt, and Joy Pullmann, Heartland Policy Brief
Supporters of school choice view Common Core as an unnecessary and unconstitutional federal intrusion into the educational system. The way states were coerced into adopting these national standards is particularly troubling. But if Common Core standards were ended, what should replace them? This Policy Brief discusses several options, examining the benefits and drawbacks of each.  READ MORE

Bonus Podcast: In The Tank (ep30): Cascade Policy Institute, Corporate Welfare, Union Leave, and Beer Taxes
In episode #30 of the In The Tank podcast, Donny and John speak with John Charles Jr., president and CEO of the Cascade Policy Institute, about his organization and Oregon’s move to increase its renewable energy mandate to 50 percent by 2040. In the second half, Donny and John talk about the failures of corporate welfare, the cost of union leave time, and the taxes each state charge for beer. This weekly podcast gives you a look into the work free-market think tanks are doing to promote freedom and individual liberty across the country.  LISTEN TO MORE

Direct Primary Care Saving States Millions
Nathan Makla and Matthew Glans, Heartland Research & Commentary
Increased government involvement in the health care industry continues to make it harder for doctors and facilities to provide inexpensive and timely services. For this reason, direct primary care, also known as retainer medicine, is becoming increasingly popular for doctors and patients alike and could serve to revitalize the U.S. primary care system. Union County, North Carolina was able to optimize this consumer-driven health care model, a move that may save the county $1 million in 2016 alone.  READ MORE

Reporters Insult Parents Who Choose Schools
Joy Pullmann, School Choice Weekly
In response to school choice advocates’ support for greater parental control over education, a reporter from The New York Times wrote “that parents are susceptible to being duped because they are poor and unsophisticated.” This is the crux of the issue. Who can choose a better education for a child, the parents or a bureaucracy? It may come as a shock to the reporter of a liberal newspaper, but it is not surprising to us that families secure a better education for their kids when they are free to choose.  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

In The Tank Podcast (ep31): R Street Institute, E-Cig Taxes, Tax Cuts, and Obamacare Turns Six

March 25, 2016, 9:00 AM

John Nothdurft and Donny Kendal bring you episode #31 of the In The Tank Podcast. This weekly podcast features (as always) interviews, debates, roundtable discussions, stories, and light-hearted segments on a variety of topics on the latest news. The show is available for download as part of the Heartland Daily Podcast every Friday. Today’s podcast features work from the R Street Institute, the Tax Foundation, ALEC, and The Heartland Institute.

Better Know a Think Tank

In this weeks segment, Donny and John welcome Andrew Moylan, Executive Director and Senior Fellow at the R Street Institute. Andrew joins the show to talk about his organization and what they are currently working on. Andrew also talks about a new study that examines how different cities regulate and tax sharing-economy companies like HomeAway and AirBnB.

Featured Work of the Week

This week’s featured work is a policy study from the Tax Foundation titled “Vapor Products and Tax Policy.” The report gives all-encompassing look into electronic cigarettes. While the main portion of the paper is to explore how e-cigs are taxed throughout the various states, it also discusses several other factors. One thing to consider is the fact that e-cigs are far more healthy when compared to traditional cigarettes. When this is taken into account, is it justified to impose excise taxes on these products?

In the World of Think Tankery

Today Donny and John talk about a report from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) titled “2016 State Tax Cut Roundup.” ALEC found that 17 states met the criteria to be listed in this year’s report. As John says, this number is a good sign and shows a trend of states successfully adopting reforms that allow their economies to be more consumer and business friendly.

They also discuss the latest edition of The Heartland Institute‘s Consumer Power Report newsletter which discusses the sixth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Author Justin Haskins explains all of the hiccups and shortcomings the law have had so far and why. As Donny and John discuss, because of Obamacare, our health care system is going to get far worse before it gets better.

Events

Here are a handful of upcoming events that you may be interested in attending.

The Philadelphia Society (Next Weekend, April 1-3) Restoring American Prosperity @ the Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina

Cato Institute (Thurday, Mar 31) 100 Years of Democracy and Education: A Critical Examination @ The Cato Institute in Washington D.C.

Claremont Insitute (Saturday, April 2) 2016 Annual Dinner in Honor of Sir Winston S. Churchill @ the Claremont Institute in Newport Beach, California.

The Austrian Economics Center (Thursday, Mar 31) Learning lessons on the Road to Serfdom: From Austria to America @ The Heartland Institute here in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

 

I hope you’ll listen in, subscribe, and leave a review for our podcast on iTunes. We welcome your feedback in our new show’s inbox at InTheTankPodcast@gmail.com or follow us on twitter @InTheTankPod.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Peter Gleick Resigns as President of Pacific Institute … Because of Fakegate?

March 24, 2016, 8:03 PM

Click on the image above for all the info.

Today, POLITICO announced disgraced climate scientist Peter Gleick has stepped down as president of the Pacific Institute, though he will remain there as a researcher and fundraiser. Interestingly, no successor has been named, so “the search for a new president is underway.” What was the hurry?

In 2012, Gleick stole the identity of a Heartland board member (committing identity theft, a federal crime) and used it to commit a second crime (stealing and revealing confidential documents from a competitor, industrial espionage). He confessed to both crimes, but not to a third crime, libel, which he very likely committed by forging a document and lying repeatedly to his allies — and then to the general public and to his own board of directors — about the true origins of that document. He has yet to confess to that crime. This whole hoary incident is called Fakegate and is documented on this site.

The Heartland Institute, Gleick’s victim, carefully documented Gleick’s crimes and tried to persuade the U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois to prosecute him, but failed. At the time, we couldn’t understand why: Gleick confessed to committing crimes, and the crimes he committed caused great damage to Heartland’s reputation and to the wider world of public policy debate. Letting him go unpunished would set a terrible precedent: Groups that support different perspectives on controversial issues are now apparently free to break the law to attack and discredit their opponents.

Why didn’t the Department of Justice prosecute Gleick? Events in recent weeks help explain it. 

The Obama administration’s heavy-handed abuse of constitutional authority has extended beyond the IRS, FCC, and EPA to include the Department of Justice. The DOJ apparently has consulted with the FBI to investigate global warming realists, and possibly plans to use RICO against groups like The Heartland Institute. Astonishing, and frightening. And it raises an obvious question: For how long has DOJ viewed global warming realists as possible criminals and not victims

Maybe The Heartland Institute never stood a chance against Peter Gleick, because DOJ already made up its mind that alarmists are the “good guys” and realists are the  “bad guys” in the global warming debate. Maybe Gleick had political protection from the White House. Maybe political bias trumped justice?

Which brings us back to Peter Gleick’s resignation as president of the Pacific Institute. Gleick is only 60 years old. It’s unusual for a CEO to resign without announcing a replacement … unless the resignation was involuntary and there wasn’t time to recruit a replacement. Was Peter Gleick fired?

Maybe members of the board of the Pacific Institute, who refused to respond to not one but two letters from The Heartland Institute warning them of Gleick’s misconduct and calling on them to fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities, finally realized they were being lied to by Gleick. That they had failed to behave in an honorable fashion. That their fake “internal investigation” was being misrepresented by the liberal mainstream media. That their failure to act had made the Pacific Institute a joke to many in the science community because its CEO was an unconvicted felon. 

Maybe some of this, or all of this?

The statute of limitations on Gleick’s crimes runs five years … to February 2017, a month after a new president is installed in office. Interesting timing.

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Stephen Miller: The Bad Idea of Postal Banking

March 24, 2016, 3:48 PM

In this episode of The Heartland Daily podcast, managing editor Jesse Hathaway talks with Mercatus Center senior research fellow Stephen Miller about the history of postal banking in the United States, and why supporters of the idea, like presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (D-VT), have failed to learn from the mistakes of history.

Like a zombie that keeps on coming back from the grave, the idea of postal banking—inserting the United States Postal Services, a quasi-governmental agency tasked with delivering mail, into the business of providing banking services to people—keeps on coming back, because supporters have not learned the lessons of economics and history.

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

 

Categories: On the Blog

The Creeping Cancer of Socialism Must Be Stopped

March 24, 2016, 3:34 PM

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil – 

The definition of the word “conundrum” is “something that is puzzling or confusing.”

The following are six conundrums attached to Socialism in America today:

  • America is capitalist and greedy – yet half of the population is subsidized
  • Half of the population is subsidized – yet they consider themselves victims.
  • They think they are victims – yet their representatives run the government.
  • Their representatives run the government – yet the poor keep getting poorer.
  • The poor keep getting poorer – yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.
  • They have things that people in other countries only dream about – yet they want America to be more like those other countries.

As we witness thousands of Americans attending Bernie Sanders rallies, knowing Sanders identifies himself as a Socialist and promises to govern from that position, it is time for all of us to understand the significance of that and consider what is happening to our Country.  

It was after Sander’s Super Tuesday victories on March 1st in Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Vermont, that he declared the following: “The Revolution has begun.”  Sanders enthusiastically shouted.  “We are going to take our fight for economic justice, for social justice, for environmental sanity, for a world of peace to all 50 states.  It’s going all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and beyond.” 

Certainly, it is important to always look for ways to improve government, but a drastic reversal, such as that which Sanders promotes, is exceedingly dangerous. Why would anyone want to significantly change our form of government, which has proven to be highly successful, and instead embrace a system proven to have failed throughout history?  

This often quoted statement answers part of that question:

“Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”  

Might it be that many Americans neither know about nor remember the history of once successful countries that turned to socialism and ultimately failed, largely due to a financial collapse caused by an ineffective, often corrupt government?  Consider Greece, Argentina, Cuba, and Russia; just a few examples of countries that were once prosper but after changing to  Socialism/Communism became places people might want to visit but definitely not stay.  

Socialism is the “Big Lie” of the twentieth century.  While it promised prosperity, equality, and security, it delivered poverty, misery, and tyranny.  Those who have studied the issue believe Socialism fails because it kills our human spirit, as there is no passion to succeed.  It is a system most often favored by those with little self-confidence who prefer a safety net over personal freedom.  Equality in a Socialist/Communist country is appreciated only in the sense that everyone is equally miserable. In the same way that a Ponzi scheme or chain letter initially succeeds but eventually collapses, Socialism may show early signs of success. But any accomplishments quickly fade as the fundamental deficiencies of central planning emerge. It is the initial illusion of success that gives government intervention its pernicious, seductive appeal. In the long run, Socialism has always proven to be a formula for tyranny and ultimate misery.  

Perhaps that is best proven by the wall that separated East and West Germany after WWII.   The wall wasn’t just to separate Germany into two separate countries and two very different governments, it was built to keep those unlucky enough to end up in Communist East Germany from escaping to the West, where the government allowed freedoms and consequently the people prospered.   

In assessing the situation, Bernie Sanders is not the problem, he is just the symptom, a warning, the product of a movement that has been festering for some time in our country.  The Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) was a Moscow-controlled Marxist-Leninist party in the United States.  It nominated a candidate for president from 1924 through 1984, sometimes with funding from the communist Soviet Union.  With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Party lost any momentum they might have had and became a hollow shell.  Thus, the supporters began to urge voters to support the Democrat Party.  Bernie’s grass-roots supporters are fired up because they see the nature of his campaign as an occasion for launching another progressive movement under a different. more acceptable political banner.   Sanders is simply spewing some old socialist ideas from the past, which most Americans have wisely, repeatedly rejected.

George Soros, an avowed Communist, a billionaire, and a U.S. citizen continues to generously fund far-left organizations such as MoveOn.org and ACORN, as well as make huge donations to Democrat candidates. This video, in which Soros is interviewed, tells of the progressive organizations and politicians on the Left he calls friends.  A noted surprise and exception is that George Soros gave $588,375 to John Kasich’s presidential campaign.  

Certainly, a nation as large as America will always have dissidents.  However, rather than move to a country that aligns more with their specific beliefs, they seek to change America.  They don’t want to simply improve our government; these people want to completely change the principles upon which this nation was founded and which have proven successful.  Since Obama is now opening a friendship with Cuba, those who disagree with our Constitution, government, and way of life can emigrate there.   However, they do not, because they know Cuba has not prospered as once promised. The Cuban government may provide food, education, health care, and jobs, but the quality of each is not equal to ours.   It also keeps its people from owning guns, sets wages to prevent anyone from becoming wealthy, suppresses public religious expressions and forbids speech which does not align with Cuba’s dictator, Castro. 

Of great concern is the large number of Americans who have aligned with the socialist rhetoric that is evident in the campaigns of both Sanders and Clinton. Clinton is just more covert in her discussions on the subject.  Current polls indicate the majority of Americans still have a higher opinion of Capitalism than Socialism.  However, the Reason.com/poll indicated that while 55% favored capitalism, a surprising 36% had a favorable opinion of socialism.  Really?  What has led to 1/3 of American citizens having a positive view of socialism?  Do they understand what a socialist society would entail?  Are they aware of history?  Is there a growing number of Americans more willing to accept welfare than find work?  Whatever caused 36% of American citizens to think Socialism is superior to the one our forefathers gave us and which propelled the United States into being the greatest nation in the World?

Part 2 will focus on the causes of this creeping cancer that the progressive Left is promoting.  It will offer ways and means to stop what threatens to destroy America. 

[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Tom, Dick, and Harry: The Tale of the American Progressive Income Tax

March 24, 2016, 10:22 AM

Meet Tom, Dick, and Harry. They are three brothers, with three different income levels, as well as three different sets of financial priorities. They are going to help explain the American progressive income tax system, and how all Americans are subject to different tax rates, regardless of the time spent working, and services received.

From Prager University, adapted from an article by investor and economist, Kip Hagopian, and narrated by actress Carolyn Hennesy, learn how Americans pay different amounts for the equal services provided for by the government.

How would you feel if you were Harry in this situation?

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Rep. Allen Cook: Medicaid Expansion is a Bad Idea

March 23, 2016, 3:53 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, New Hampshire State Rep. Allen Cook joins Michael Hamilton, Managing Editor of Health Care News to talk about why medicaid expansion is a bad idea. Cook explains why he doesn’t support Medicaid expansion, stating that the price of this expansion is likely to far exceed the projected costs.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Nebraska Senate Committee Defeat Cigarette Tax Bill

March 23, 2016, 3:42 PM

Monday, March 21, Nebraska’s Senate Revenue Committee defeated a bill that would have increased cigarette tax from 64 cents to $2.14 per pack. The bill also included language to increase the tax rate on other tobacco products from 21 percent to 31 percent.

The proposed legislation would have taxed cigarette smokers for the personal properties of other Nebraskan residents as an estimated $45 million would have been annual placed into the Personal Property Tax Relief Act which provides a tax exemption on personal property, up to the first $10,000. Another $45 million was slated to go into another property relief program, the Property Tax Credit Cash Fund which provides tax relief to property owners in the form of a tax credit.

Before dying in committee, an amendment was added to increase the Property Tax Credit fund to $71.7 million, an additional $8.3 million into the Personal Property Tax Relief Act, $10 million for grants to high-poverty schools, and $2.2 million to be used for tax credits to volunteer firefighters.

Of the $139 million in revenue expected from the tax increases, only $30 million was to be allotted to the Health Care Cash Fund, with and without the amendment.

Sen. Mike Gloor (N-Grand Alliance), who introduced the bill, stated in February of 2016 that “[Nebraska] must have more property tax relief. Specifically, [Nebraska] must become less dependent on property taxes to fund education.” It seems as if he wants 25% of the Nebraskan population to fund that relief.

This tax hike is a perfect example of how governments discriminate against a small group of people to fund everything from property tax to schools. The problem with such overreaching is the fact that there are more low income smokers than those who earn higher incomes. So, in Nebraska, this would have made low income earners literally pay for the personal property of the rich.

Categories: On the Blog

Google, Like Facebook, Should Admit They Were Wrong About Net Neutrality

March 23, 2016, 10:43 AM

Network Neutrality is a really stupid, anti-capitalism policy – that outlaws on the Internet several basic, fundamental free market tenets that are in practice in every other sector of a functioning economy.

How anti-capitalism? College communications professor and avowed Marxist (please pardon the redundancy) Robert McChesney wrote: “(T)he ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.” Which means get rid of every private sector Internet Service Provider (ISP) – and leave us with government being the only ones connecting us to the Web. How very Bernie Sanders of him. How very Hugo Chavez of him.

How really stupid? You’re familiar with free shipping on online purchases, right? Where the company pays the Post Office for delivery – so you don’t have to do so? You’re familiar with 800 phone numbers, right? Where a company pays the phone company for your call – so you don’t have to do so?

Net Neutrality outlaws on the Internet this mundane, commonplace practice. Which is why companies like Facebook and Google spent a decade-plus trying to have Washington, D.C. jam it into place. These companies use a LOT of Internet bandwidth – DC mandating that they can’t be charged for it would be a very good, inordinately crony thing for them.

Early last year, the uber-crony, Google-and-Facebook-friendly Barack Obama Administration – delivered them Net Neutrality. Ever since – and with increasing intensity – I’m betting Google and Facebook wish they hadn’t had their wish granted.

Net Neutrality is so terrible – it’s heinousness has gone global. Much to Facebook’s chagrin. Facebook was in India trying (via an offering called Free Basics) to deliver millions of destitute people free Internet access. But because it wasn’t free access to every single website on the planet – it violated Net Neutrality. So India killed it.

I’m sure the millions of Web-less Indians are thrilled they are still Web-less – but Net Neutrality remains intact. I’m sure Facebook is just as thrilled that the untold millions (billions?) of dollars they spent trying to connect these Indians – were instantaneously burnt to ash by the Indian government’s decision to enforce this ridiculous policy.

Net Neutrality is so absurd in large part because it is so anti-capitalism; it is nigh inapplicable to our free market Internet. And thus becomes an all-encompassing, full-on Internet shutdown (per Professor McChesney) – or a chaos-creating mess.

Returning stateside, we find T-Mobile Deal With (Google-Owned) YouTube Might Mean The End Of Net Neutrality: “(I)mplementing net neutrality and enforcing net neutrality seem to be two different things.”

T-Mobile (the cell phone company) is offering a program called Binge On. Which allows customers to view video and other offerings from participating websites – without that data counting against their caps. Which Google realizes is a very good thing – and thus wants its YouTube in on it. And it’s free stuff for consumers – so it would surely please our Leftist “consumer-interest-group” friends, right? Of course not.

Net Neutrality Expert: T-Mobile’s Binge On Will Lead Internet Down ‘A Slippery Slope’: “While T-Mobile says its unlimited streaming service Binge On offers value to consumers, a leading expert says it violates net neutrality—and threatens the very future of the Internet itself.”

Get that? The demise of a policy in place a little over a year threatens an Internet that’s exploded into an omni-directional, ever-expanding free speech-free market Xanadu over the course of a two decades – without that policy in place.

That is quite simply absurd. The kind of goofiness Facebook faced in India – and to which India’s government unfortunately, ultimately acquiesced.

As things currently stand here, Binge On is a government-approved private sector offering. (And how un-capitalism is it that a private sector offering has to be government-approved?) But under the new Net Neutrality regulatory nightmare mess, it can at any moment be declared a violation – and abolished, Facebook-Free-Basics-style.

Again, I’m quite sure Google and Facebook are still thrilled they received the Net Neutrality for which they asked.

Aren’t you?

[Originally published at Red State]

Categories: On the Blog

Embers Students Dancing for National School Choice Week

March 23, 2016, 8:58 AM

Embers Elementary School in Niles, IL held rallies every morning during National School Choice Week (NSCW). Each day finished with the modified NSCW dance, shown in the video below. I had the privilege of sharing with the students why school choice is so important.  

Since the students ranged from Pre-K through 5th grade, I used an ice cream analogy to help them understand: “Which is your favorite ice cream flavor: vanilla, chocolate, or pistachio?” I asked. Most liked chocolate; vanilla was second in popularity; and several chose pistachio.

I explained to the young students how choosing their favorite ice cream flavor is what parents do when choosing a school. Parents choose their favorite school to meet the needs of the students, and without school choice, parents are paying for the pistachio ice cream (public schools) and then paying again for the chocolate ice cream (Embers). Without school choice, everyone gets stuck with whatever ice cream flavor happens to be available nearby, even if it’s everyone’s least-favorite choice.

Before leaving, I made sure to ask the students to thank their parents for paying double for their “ice cream” (Embers), and I explained to them that the reason they do this is because their parents believe education is so important they are willing to pay for it twice.

 

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Brent Mead: Environmentalists and Regulations Stunt Economic Growth

March 22, 2016, 1:46 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Brent Mead, Executive Director of the Montana Policy Institute, joins Managing Editor of Environment & Climate News H. Sterling Burnett to talk about how Montana’s regulation-related economic woes.

Mead explains that Montana’s troubles are in large part due to environmentalists and environmental regulation making it nearly impossible for people in the state to access and develop their natural resources. In particular, Burnett and Mead discuss how difficult it is becoming for mine operators to obtain permission to operate in the state.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Hillary and Bernie Need a Fracking Lesson

March 22, 2016, 10:19 AM

Environmental issues were discussed in detail at a recent Democratic debate, held in in Flint Michigan on March 6. Sadly, when asked whether the candidates support hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” a technique that has greatly increased oil and natural gas production in the United States, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) showed they are both fracking clueless.

Fracking has nearly doubled the amount of oil produced in the United States since 2008, and it is largely responsible for the dramatic drop in gas prices the country is currently experiencing. It has also made the United States the largest producer of natural gas in the world, which has put thousands of people to work in high-paying jobs over the past decade.

Clinton delivered a measured response to the fracking question. She first voiced her modest support for fracking, but she also said she does not support fracking in areas where it is opposed by the local or state government; when methane or other water contamination occurs; and Clinton said she does not support fracking unless drillers are required to disclose the chemicals used in the process.

These conditions are not surprising. Even Clinton and Sanders pay lip service to protecting the rights of states and localities—so long as it agrees with their worldview—every once in a while.

Clinton’s next comments, however, were quite surprising: “By the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place.”

Contrary to Clinton’s claims, these conditions are already in place around the country, which is why Democrats such as Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper—who has a master’s degree in geology and experience in the oil and gas industry—have supported fracking when it’s accompanied by strict environmental regulations.

Clinton’s comments were likely carefully designed to protect Clinton against claims that have been made by the Sanders campaign suggesting Clinton would not be a good protector of the environment. Sanders has been an outspoken critic of hydraulic fracturing for many years, and Clinton wants to appear tough on fracking to appeal to the many voters in her party who see environmental issues as a key concern.

Sanders’ response was blunt and without nuance. “My answer is a lot shorter,” said Sanders. “No, I do not support fracking.”

Sanders continued by stating his opposition to the practice is based on the idea fracking contaminates water quality, a charge that is unsubstantiated by the best available scientific data.

Despite concerns about the potential environmental impacts of fracking, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s extensive, five-year scientific study on fracking found no evidence hydraulic fracturing has led to a widespread, systemic impact on groundwater quality, and although there have been incidences where fracking has contaminated water, the number of incidences is very low compared to the number of wells drilled.

Whether Democrats like it or not, fracking is now a necessary part of the modern U.S. economy. The United States generates only .04 percent of our total energy from solar energy and only 1.4 percent of our total energy from wind power, for a combined total of 2.1 percent. By comparison, the United States generates 2.2 percent of its total energy from burning wood.

Oil represents 35 percent of the total energy we use, and natural gas accounts for 28 percent of our total energy consumption. In order to access these resources and their benefits, which include thousands of high-paying jobs and energy security, we must take advantage of hydraulic fracturing.

This is a serious issue, so it’s unfortunate neither candidate has taken the time to develop a fact-based position on it. Sanders’ view proves his energy policies are completely divorced from reality, and Clinton’s assertion that her stipulations would greatly restrict fracking is blatantly untrue. Rather than pander to the environmental wing of the Democratic Party, Sanders and Clinton should take a trip to Denver to learn a thing or two about fracking.

[Originally published at the American Spectator

Categories: On the Blog