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The Policy and Commentary Blog of The Heartland Institute
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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

Thanks To Fracking, OPEC’s Chickens Are Coming Home To Roost

March 22, 2016, 10:14 AM

Plummeting oil prices, which are largely the result of the U.S. hydraulic fracturing revolution that has nearly doubled oil production in the United States since 2008, have left many oil-exporting nations around the world reeling. The price drops have been particularly hard on nations in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Myriad OPEC governments are now stuck relying on dwindling oil revenues to fund large portions of their important social welfare programs, many of which are essential to maintaining national stability.

The fracking revolution virtually guarantees OPEC’s pain is unlikely to let up anytime soon, and they deserve every bit of it.

Most OPEC nations have historically opposed allowing their citizens to have the same freedoms people in Western nations take for granted. Some OPEC governments have even been accused of violating human rights. This has led to calls from many, both in OPEC nations and in nations in other regions of the world, for social or political change. To keep their populations content and disinterested in serious political reform, some of these regimes have used oil money to fund extensive social welfare programs.

Before the rise of fracking, these oil-exporting nations often conspired together to deliberately keep oil production low, thereby artificially raising oil prices. This allowed them to use higher revenues to benefit their populations at the expense of people living in oil-importing nations, such as the United States. Americans have for decades paid higher oil prices than a truly free market would dictate, but with the rise in domestic oil production, the power of OPEC has been reduced markedly.

Fracking has fundamentally altered the way oil and natural gas are produced. Rather than investing billions of dollars and five to 10 years in large offshore oil projects or drilling in the Arctic, oil companies are beginning to flock to shale oil fields, which can typically be drilled within 20 days and cost a few million dollars per well. Fracking costs substantially less time and money compared to the larger drilling projects oil companies have been investing in for decades, and as a result, the wheels on many of these larger projects have already started to fall off. Foreign producers are now failing to complete 80 percent of their megaprojects on time and without going over budget, which bodes poorly for nations that are highly dependent upon oil revenues.

In an effort to drive many U.S. oil producers out of business, OPEC has chosen not to decrease its production, thereby allowing the market price of oil to continue to decline. OPEC hopes it can destroy its competition and then reinstitute its low-production policies to drive prices back up, but according to Daniel Yergin, a leading scholar on energy and geopolitics, this strategy will ultimately be unsuccessful.

According to Yergin, “It is impossible for OPEC to knock out the U.S. shale industry though a war of attrition even if it wants to, and even if large numbers of frackers fall by the wayside over coming months. Mr. Yergin said groups with deep pockets such as Blackstone and Carlyle will take over the infrastructure when the distressed assets are cheap enough, and bide their time until the oil cycle turns. The management may change and the companies may change but the resources will still be there.”

As oil prices begin to modestly recover and technological advancements continue to make shale oil less expensive to produce, oil prices will likely be tempered by shale drillers, who can bring new supplies to the market faster and cheaper than conventional oil producers. This is bad news for the many oil-exporting counties who would likely face the prospect of economic, financial, or social unrest if low oil prices persist, such as Algeria, Brazil, Ecuador, Nigeria, Russia, and Venezuela. The problem with OPEC’s brand of socialism is that oil money inevitably runs out; eventually, innovation always defeats despotism.

Because of fracking, OPEC’s strategy to keep oil prices artificially high by limiting oil production is no longer effective, and the current “price war” is destined to fail as a result. The tables have turned—or are in the process of turning—and the governments of oil-exporting nations that once purchased domestic peace at the expense of countries such as the United States may soon find themselves out of power.

Don’t feel too bad for these regimes, though; OPEC’s chickens are simply coming home to roost.

[Originally published at Independent Journal Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – Kyle Maichle: The Article V Convention Movement

March 21, 2016, 2:33 PM

In today’s edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, we listen in to a presentation given by Kyle Maichle – Project Manager of Constitutional Reform. Maichle is speaking to a tea party group based out of Princeton, Illinois, about an Article V Convention approach to reining in the national debt and the federal government.

Maichle explains why we are seeing such a strong push for constitutional reform. As Maichle states, we are facing an increasingly troubling financial situation. Currently, the federal debt stands at $19 trillion and we are projected to continue budget deficits averaging $500 billion per year. Many of these pushes center around a desire for a federal balanced budget amendment.

Maichle discusses the available options to put the brakes on this unsustainable spending and rein in the federal government. He gives a roadmap on how to bring about an Article V Convention and addresses the concerns that tend to prevent people from supporting this solution.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Climate News From Around the World

March 21, 2016, 11:14 AM

It seems nature and governments are conspiring to muck up the alarmist narrative that humans are causing climate disaster and governments have joined hands to work in unison to prevent disaster.

sky and mountains

Nature’s contribution to this set back to the climate apocalypse comes in from the Himalayas. A new study challenges predictions the Tibetan Plateau glaciers, which feed Asia’s biggest rivers, will disappear by 2035 due to climate change. The findings are further evidence the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report forecasting Himalayan glaciers would vanish by 2035, threatening the water supply of millions of Asians, was wrong. IPCC was forced to admit it lacked evidence for the claim in 2010.

A study in Global and Planetary Change found in the coming decades, water flows in the rivers will be stable or increase compared to the 1971–2000 period. Although the study’s authors predict temperatures will rise between 1° and 4°C in the region, they claim any glacial melt caused by increasing temperatures will be offset by an increase in precipitation, primarily snowfall. Specifically, they project precipitation will increase by 5 to 10 percent between 2011 and 2040, and by an additional 10 to 20 percent from 2040 to 2070.

Deliang Chen, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Gothenburg and lead author of the study, said, “Evaporation increases when the temperature is higher, and this evaporation feeds the increase in precipitation.

“Glacial melt is certainly going to increase …” continued Chen, noting, however, increased precipitation in the form of snow, which will be stored as ice in the glaciers, will partially offset glacier shrinkage. Overall, the study anticipates seasonal runoff will remain unchanged in the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, and Salween basins while water availability in the Indus irrigation basin will increase in the spring growing season.

And while climate disaster seems still not to be in the offing, governments are doing their best to undermine their energy cut commitments.

South Korea announced in late February myriad climate policy changes, including abandoning its greenhouse gas emission target for 2020 and lifting a cap on Early Action Credits that observers say could boost the market’s supply by more than 40 million tons.

Former President Lee Myung-bak won international praise at the United Nations’ climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009 when he pledged to keep South Korea’s 2020 emissions at 20 percent below business-as-usual levels. But the current administration, led by President Park Geun-hye, has approved construction of a number of new coal-fired power plants and has made it clear South Korea would be unable to meet its 2020 emission reduction targets. Carbon Pulse quotes Joo-jin Kim, a lawyer with the ELPS consulting firm, saying, “The introduction of (planned) new coal plants after 2016 will represent a more than 65% increase in coal capacity, compared to Korea’s current levels.” Under the new plan, Korea’s emissions can continue to grow as more coal enters the energy mix without breaking any domestic laws.

And the Obama administration, who has fought to take the lead on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to bring developing countries to the table to make firm commitments for greenhouse gas cuts has undermined India’s minimal climate commitments.

Solar power station

In a case brought by the United States against India, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled India’s “buy local” rules for solar panels illegally discriminate against foreign manufacturers of solar panels and must be withdrawn.

President Barack Obama views the WTO ruling as a victory for international trade law. Christian Science Monitor quotes Obama as saying, “One area where there should be no debate is that once we have set up trade rules, people have to abide by them.” A press statement issued by U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman notes the implications of WTO’s decision go beyond the United States’ particular complaint against India. “This is an important outcome,” Froman said, “not just as it applies to this case, but for the message it sends to other countries considering discriminatory ‘localization’ policies.”

Ironically, the Obama administration, which had pushed India to commit to deeper emission reductions than it ultimately agreed to at the Paris climate talks in December 2015, has now undercut what India claims is an essential policy to meet the carbon dioxide reduction goals it did agree to.

Environmentalists see the ruling as a setback for effective domestic and international climate action. “Something very wrong is going on when again and again we are seeing trade rules hamper governments’ ability to [tackle] climate change,” Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, told Christian Science Monitor. “Climate policies are subservient to trade rules, and not the other way around.”

Sam Cossar-Gilbert, an organizer at Friends of the Earth International Economic Justice, said in a statement after WTO’s ruling, “The ink is barely dry on the UN Paris Climate agreement, but clearly trade still trumps real action on climate change.”

Categories: On the Blog

Trying to Make Winners Out of Losers

March 21, 2016, 10:12 AM

By now, most people probably know about one of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s biggest campaign gaffes to date: “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” As soon as I heard it, I tweeted: “Imagine a presidential candidate running for office based on putting people out of work?”

I wasn’t the only one shocked by the uncharacteristic clarity of her statement. Lacking the usual political-speak, her comments were all the more surprising in that they were not made at a fundraiser in billionaire environmental donor Tom Steyer’s posh San Francisco living room. They were made in Ohio—coal country, where coal production in 2015 was down 22 percent—at a nationally televised CNN town hall and just hours before the important state’s primary election.

In response, Christian Palich, President of the Ohio Coal Association sent this: “Hillary Clinton’s callous statements about coal miners, struggling under the weight of a hostile administration, are reprehensible and will not be forgotten. The way Secretary Clinton spoke so nonchalantly about destroying the way of life for America’s coal families was chilling. Come tomorrow, or next November, Ohioans in coal country will vote to keep their jobs and not for the unemployment line.”

US News reports that Democrats in the coal states of Wyoming, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio have tried to “distance themselves from Clinton’s comments.” Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, a Clinton ally who handily won his party’s primary election for Senator, called her slip, “unartful.” Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who, last April, endorsed Clinton, took issue with her comments and contacted her campaign.

Facing the backlash, and in damage-control mode, Clinton sent a letter to Manchin: “Simply put, I was mistaken.”

But was she? I don’t think so.

Though her comments may have been “unartful” and, arguably, poorly timed, I believe they reflect private conversations and campaign strategy. It may be no coincidence that rumors of President Obama’s tepid support for Clinton—though the White House denies endorsing her—surfaced after her killing coal comments.

First, it is clear that Clinton needs President Obama’s endorsement. She needs him to generate excitement for her lackluster campaign—something Democrat voters are not feeling for her as they did for him. She needs his campaign machine to get out the votes.

But, he needs her just as much—his legacy hangs on her election. Because so much of what he’s done has been by executive action, his legacy can just as easily be undone—as every remaining Republican candidate would likely do.  Obama is, reportedly, committed to “a hard campaign of legacy preservation.” He is ready to “raise money to fill Democratic coffers and target the key communities that would make up a winning coalition for the party, including blacks, Latinos, educated single women and young voters, to encourage them to go to the polls.”

Following the voluntary climate agreement in Paris, Politico stated: “Barack Obama wants to be remembered as the president who saved the world from climate change.” For this legacy to stick, all of his anti-fossil fuel policies must stay intact. To get his endorsement, a Democrat presidential candidate must embrace what he started and promise to “build upon President Obama’s legacy of environmental protections and climate action,” as Clinton has.

While Obama frequently claims to support an “all of the above” energy policy, actions speak louder than words. From his 2009 stimulus bill throwing billions at speculative green energy projects, his killing coal efforts, his stand that we can’t drill our way to low gas prices, his rejection of the Keystone pipeline, and his threat to veto a bill to lift the oil export ban—just to name a few—he obviously meant “none of the below.”

The White House denies a “war on coal.” In December, after the Paris climate agreement was signed, former Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, Heather Zichal, defended Obama’s green platform: “Nobody’s screaming that their energy bills are on fire; jobs have not been lost.”

Bill Bissett, President of the Kentucky Coal Association called Zichal’s comments: “insulting and inaccurate.” He told me: “The Obama Administration and its allies have an intentional blind spot to the economic and social damage that their anti-coal policies are causing in the United States and especially in coal country. The top coal producing states in our nation not only benefit from the extraction of coal, but all of us benefit greatly from having low kilowatt-per-hour rates. But that economic advantage is eroding as Obama does everything in his power, and against the will of Congress, to move the United States away from coal production and use.” He added: “More than 8,000 Kentucky coal miners have lost their jobs since Obama took office and countless other Kentuckians have lost their livelihoods through indirect and induced job loss due to his anti-coal agenda. And, yes, our electricity rates are increasing in Kentucky as our country moves away from coal.”

“Ms. Zichal and the administration can spin it anyway they like but no one outside of their fringe enviro friends is clamoring for their energy policies,” said Mike Duncan, President of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

While much of the electricity price increases associated with the Obama Administration will only be seen later, the fact is, according to an Energy Information Agency data set, the increase in retail electricity prices since 2008 is 12.8 percent.

Clinton’s anti-coal comments got all the press. But she didn’t stop there. Almost under her breath, a few sentences later, she added: “We’ve got to move away from coal and all of the other fossil fuels”—more pandering for Obama’s much needed (and, so far, withheld) endorsement.

But how realistic is the Democrat’s goal of moving away from coal and all the other fossil fuels?

“Unlikely,” according to new research from the University of Chicago. The authors wanted a different answer. Like Clinton, and Obama, they believe fossil fuel use is driving “disruptive climate change” that will lead to “dramatic threats to human well-being” and a “dystopian future.” Reading the 22 pages of the report on their findings, one can almost feel their dismay.

Yet, after discussing “supply theory”—which posits the world will run out of inexpensive fossil fuels—they state: “If the past 35 years is (sic) any guide, not only should we not expect to run out of fossil fuels anytime soon, we should not expect to have less fossil fuels in the future than we do now. In short, the world is likely to be awash in fossil fuels for decades and perhaps even centuries to come.” Complicating matters, the authors acknowledge: “a substantial penetration of electric vehicles would reduce demand for oil. Provided that the supply curve for oil is upward sloping (as it is in almost all markets), this drop in demand would translate to lower oil prices, making gasoline vehicles more attractive.”

Then, on “demand theory”—the economy will stop demanding fossil fuels as alternatives become more cost competitive—they lament: “In the medium-run of the next few decades, none of these alternatives seem to have the potential based on their production costs (that is without the government policies to raise the costs of carbon emissions) to reduce the use of fossil fuels below these projections.” Additionally, they conclude: “Alternative sources of clean energy like solar and wind power, which can be used to both generate electricity and to fuel electric vehicles, have seen substantial progress in reducing costs, but at least in the short- and middle-term, they are unlikely to play a major role in base-load electrical capacity or in replacing petroleum-fueled internal combustion engines.”

While the authors support “activist and aggressive policy choices…to drive reductions in the consumption of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions,” they reluctantly admit the proposed solutions are not apt to be the answer they seek. “Even if countries were to enact policies that raised the cost of fossil fuels, like a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, history suggests that technology will work in the opposite direction by reducing costs of extracting fossil fuels and shifting their supply curves out.”

Perhaps, before Clinton—who accuses anyone who doesn’t agree with her climate alarmist view as ignoring the science—makes mistakes, like declaring that she’ll put coal miners and coal companies out of business, she should check the science behind her claims to “move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels.”

Making her March 13 comments seem even more foolish, the following days cast a shadow over the specter of funding more speculative solar power, as she’s proposed to do. Three stimulus-funded solar failures made big headlines.

On Wednesday, March 16, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)  announced that the massive $2.2 billion ($1.5 billion in federal loans according to WSJ, but other research shows more) Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System may be forced to shut down because it has failed to produce the expected power. What it has produced: “fetched about $200 a mega-watt hour on average during summer months,” while “power from natural-gas plants went for $35 a mega-watt hour on average in California’s wholesale market.”

On the same day, SunEdison’s troubles worsened. After the company acquired stimulus-funded First Wind last year, it became “the leading renewable energy developer in the world.” Now, its “mounting financial woes” resulted in another delay to the filing of its annual reports. The company’s stock, according to WSJ, has “lost 67% over the past three months and 91% over the past year.” It “slid another 16% to $1.73 in premarket trading.”

The next day, March 17, the New York Times declared that Abengoa, the Spanish company hailed as “the world leader in a technology known as solar thermal, with operations from Algeria to Latin America” has gone from “industry darling to financial invalid.” I’ve written repeatedly on Abenoga—which is on the verge of becoming “the largest bankruptcy in Spanish corporate history.” Note: Abengoa was the second largest recipient of U.S. taxpayer dollars—more than $3 billion—from the green energy portion of Obama’s 2009 stimulus package.

It appears Clinton’s energy policies are aimed at trying to make winners out of losers. How can she help it? That is what the Democrat Party is trying to do with her.

Hopefully, voters know better. But then, as the University of Chicago’s study’s closing words remind us: “hope is too infrequently a successful strategy.”

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

Washington’s Despotic Lawlessness

March 21, 2016, 10:04 AM

We’ve had a “try and stop me” president. Now we need one who will invalidate those actions.

Washington is out of control. Legislators, judges and unelected bureaucrats want to control our lives, livelihoods and living standards, with no accountability even for major errors, calculated deception, or deliberate, often illegal assaults on our liberties and on citizens who resist the advancing Leviathan.

These themes animate Republican and conservative politics because they are happening – regularly.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is renowned for its annual Ten Thousand Commandments reports on federal rules. A scary but mesmerizing new analysis now maps how the Washington bureaucracy lawlessly imposes agendas that all too frequently contravene or disregard what We the People support, what is best for the nation, and even what Congress has enacted or refused to encode in legislation.

The studies’ author, CEI policy vice president Clyde Wayne Crews, analogizes the situation to the “dark matter and dark energy” that astrophysicists say makes up some 95% of the universe: the portion that we cannot observe directly, as opposed to the sun, moon, planets, stars, galaxies and gas clouds we can see.

“Regulatory dark matter,” he concludes, forms an equal proportion of all the rules and edicts that govern our lives. But it is “hard to detect, much less measure.” Indeed, his “map” is akin to early explorers’ depictions of North America – incomplete, but the best cartography possible with information currently available.

No one even knows how many Executive Branch agencies there are – estimates range from 60 to 438 – much less how many new rules they implement and impose each year. Officially, Crews says, they issued a staggering 3,554 new rules in 2014, while President Obama signed “only” 226 new laws enacted by Congress. Worse, of the 53,838 (!) formal final regulations included in the Federal Register from 2001 through 2014, only 160 (0.3%) received a “cost-benefit” analysis; we have no idea how the rest affect us.

Infinitely worse, this tip of the iceberg does not include tens of thousands of decrees issued in the form of:

* notices, bulletins, proclamations, circulars, guidance memos, and new or revised interpretations, policy statements and procedures;

* investigations, inquiries, warning letters, negotiated settlements to legal actions (often involving collusion between agencies and activist groups), explicit or veiled threats of legal action, armed agents raiding homes and businesses, or adverse publicity, coordinated with activists and the media; as well as

* blog posts, news releases, and emails or telephone calls to citizens or company employees.

All these actions have the force and effect of law. But few or none are covered by Administrative Procedures Act “public notice and comment” requirements, so they often escape scrutiny by courts, watchdogs and Congress. Many are supported only by “homogenized,” manipulated data; elaborate, imaginative or imaginary regulatory benefits; cavalier dismissal of costs; and no mention of benefits from the activity, chemical, energy source, industry or jobs being regulated, sometimes into oblivion.

EPA’s Clean Power Plan assumes that shutting down America’s coal-fired power plants – a tiny fraction of such facilities worldwide – can somehow stop climate change that is actually governed by numerous powerful natural forces over which humans have absolutely no control. The plan also assumes any global warming will be dangerous and ignores the many thousands who will be rendered jobless.

A “social cost of carbon” scheme concocted by a multitude of federal agencies makes the same faulty assumptions. It then hypothesizes every imaginable and illusory “cost” of carbon dioxide emissions – to forests, agriculture, water resources, “forced migration” of people and wildlife, human health and disease, coastal cities, ecosystems and wetlands. But it completely ignores every one of the obvious and enormous benefits of using fossil fuels … and of CO2’s immense fertilizing effects on forest and crop growth.

President Obama imposed both of these programs because Congress refused to enact almost 700 different cap-tax-and-trade and other climate bills. Rather than working with Congress to achieve at least some of what he wanted, Mr. Obama simply had his agencies issue decrees, as another way to “skin a cat.”

Where Congress has enacted legislation that the president dislikes – on illegal immigration or the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, for example – he simply tells his agencies not to enforce the “offensive” provisions. Meanwhile, Endangered Species Act rules are enforced with an iron fist against ranching, oil and mining operations, but ignored in the case of wind turbines and solar installations.

Under collusive sue-and-settle lawsuits, parties impacted by decisions never have an opportunity to speak or present evidence, or even be notified that a suit has been filed or adjudicated, until it is too late.

The entire system allows unelected, unaccountable government officials to decide winners and losers, and reward cronies and allies with taxpayer-funded grants and subsidies, while punishing critics and enemies.  “Progressive” judges defer to “agency discretion” and give bureaucrats free rein to do as they please, even when the rules, decisions and decrees do not comply with legal, constitutional or scientific requirements.

No citizen, small business or even large corporation can possibly even know all these edicts exist, much less understand or comply with them. Moreover, at least 4,500 carry criminal penalties, many regardless of any intent to violate a rule or commit a crime – and “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

Astrophysics explains the consequences. A black hole in the cosmos has squeezed so much matter into a small space that the unfathomable pull of gravity prevents even light from getting out.

The Washington, DC regulatory black hole exerts such centralized gravitational force that federalism, states’ rights, state and local laws and customs, and personal liberties increasingly cease to matter.

The federal Goliath now costs US families, businesses, hospitals and organizations over $1.9 trillion a year! That is twice the entire federal budget in 1981. It’s equal to the entire budget in 1986, nearly half the incomprehensible Obama budget for FY-2017, more than the budgets of all other countries except China.

“The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they [resist] every kind of improvement,” economist and political analyst Ludwig von Mises observed 72 years ago. “They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent.”

America’s “soft despotism” is light years from the atrocities and gulags of its infamous predecessors. But it is highly effective nonetheless. The same agencies write, impose, enforce and adjudicate the rules, and impose punishment for infractions. They work tirelessly and imperiously to “fundamentally transform” our nation’s legal, energy, economic and social systems – and keep our fossil fuels “in the ground.”

They impose edicts that would never be supported by the People or enacted by Congress, and that they rarely if ever apply to themselves. They lavish billions on allies, while denying funding and legitimacy to critics, siccing IRS dogs on opposition groups, and threatening civil and criminal “racketeering” actions against anyone who “denies” the alleged “reality” of dangerous manmade climate change.

They seek to ban fossil fuels, biotech crops and insecticides – even from Third World families suffering from abject poverty, rampant malnutrition and disease, and a near total absence of electricity. They do all they can to silence and punish alternative views, and even the notion that there can be alternative views.

For seven years, our “Try and stop me” president and administration have used and abused their powers to impose their agenda. What we need now is a “Try and make me” president, who will refuse to enforce their edicts. Who will use his pen, phone and power to review them, root out any fraud and abuse behind them, and defund and bury them. Who will work with Congress to restore the rule of law and our Constitution, economic growth, and the role of personal liberties, opportunities and responsibilities.

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

Categories: On the Blog

Homeschooling Parents Finding Extra Help in Cooperatives

March 21, 2016, 9:57 AM

As home schooling grows rapidly, resourceful parents are forming co-ops to share their knowledge and lend each other moral support.

Judging from numerous reports in print and online, a home-school co-op consists of parents bringing kids together and sharing their strongest academic specialties once a week. Field trips, clubs or other social activities for the kids sometimes follow the classes.

“It is very much a trend,” said Michael Farris, founder of the Virginia-based Home School Legal Defense Association and home school-oriented Patrick Henry College. “An appreciable percentage of high school kids are acquiring a portion of their education in co-op programs.”

Farris, whose family began home schooling in 1983, said, “Our son, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in microbiology at Notre Dame, got his first serious science course in a home-school co-op. His teacher was a friend from our church who has a doctorate in physics.”

One way to appreciate the variety of opportunities is to surf the Internet for listings of home-school co-ops around the country. The site Homeschooling in Richmond, for instance, identifies in the Old Dominion’s capital city and in surrounding counties dozens of groups, both faith-based and secular.

Here are just a few examples: Richmond Secular (for folks home-schooling strictly for academics), Richmond Unschoolers (for those favoring child-led learning), Richmond WISH (Waldorf-inspired School at Home), and TEAACH (Training and Educating our African-American Children at Home). Growth in home schooling among minority families, including blacks, has been brisk over the past 10 years. Deeply religious parents continue to be a significant part of the home-schooling movement. From Chesterfield County in the Richmond metro area, Elizabeth Stanley Trail — mother of a third-grader, second-grader, and a preschooler — personifies the dynamism of faith-based co-ops.

A nurse by training, Trail said she and her husband, Brandon, are public school graduates who never envisioned home schooling. But when she began doing Premier Designs jewelry shows, she started meeting lots of home-schooling parents who were very happy with their experiences. “I started having mom after mom come into my life who home-schooled,” Trail said. “God put it in my heart that this is what I should do.”

When Trail found that her son’s birthday was just slightly beyond the government cutoff date and that he would be nearly 7 years old by the time he could start school, Trail decided to take her son’s education into her own hands.

“I thought, ‘Why not home-school?’ And we loved it!” said Trail. “It worked for our family. We loved the flexibility and the chance to have more field trips, for example. And I can control how fast they learn by filtering with Scriptures,” rather than letting them be immersed in “worldly ways” so quickly.

For two years, Trail has served as coordinator of a 70-family home-schooling co-op that meets every Tuesday at her family’s church, Swift Creek Baptist. The kids are able to explore their interests in elective classes, such as art, music and creative writing, and the day concludes with lunch, chapel and play.

This fall comes a leap of faith for the group: the start of a full-day, K–12 co-op, complete with nursery and preschool. On Tuesdays, Swift Creek Connect Academy (SCCA) will offer no fewer than 39 different elective classes, and the plan is for all to be taught by teachers with degrees in their academic specialties.

The purpose will be to support and supplement home schooling, not replace it with a private school. Trail says opportunities will abound for parents to use SCCA to reinforce the core curriculum they use at home and to help provide a stimulating elective, such as a hands-on science class.

Fewer than 2,000 children were home-schooled in 1970, so why do U.S. parents now invest so much energy in home schooling more than 2 million children a year? The woes of public education — the faddish curricula imposed without parental or teacher input, the bullying, the drugs and even the wearisome process that leaves children sleep-deprived — all factor into their decision-making. But the most positive explanation is that parents want to customize their kids’ education — making it something special.

Home schooling is the purest form of school choice, and it is working.

[Originally published at the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Categories: On the Blog

‘Loss of Place’ is Legitimate, Fear of Frac Sand is Not

March 21, 2016, 9:50 AM

The mining of sand used for hydraulic fracking has become a controversial issue in communities throughout Western Wisconsin. While many discussions examine the environmental and economic impacts of industrial sand mining, a new paper by an anthropology professor from the University of Wisconsin-Stout attempts to take stock of the social impacts of mining. This paper investigates a phenomenon called “loss of place,” which refers to an emotion people have when they lose a sense of their own identity due to changing physical or societal landscapes.

Although the article does a commendable job detailing the feelings of some people living near sand mines, the only mention of an academic study investigating the potential impact of frac sand facilities on air quality is a flawed and widely discredited study that does not use equipment or sampling methods approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As a result, the paper represents a missed opportunity to examine the social impacts of industrial sand mining in light of the best-available science. This could have provided a holistic and objective view of the potential impacts of frac sand mining on communities in Western Wisconsin.

People losing their sense of place are an important and often under-examined issue when it comes to discussing industrial sand mining. A recent Health Impact Assessment from the Institute for Wisconsin’s Health Inc. found although industrial sand mines are unlikely to pollute air and water resources, which could theoretically result in potentially negative health impacts for residents living near industrial sand mines, the stress and anxiety caused by people feeling they have lost their sense of place is likely the only aspect of industrial sand mining to have negative health impacts.

Feelings of stress can be amplified when people feel powerless to control their surroundings, and according to the paper, this feeling can compromise the ability of some people to enjoy their homes. Stress can also be amplified by “ambiguity of harm,” a concept that attempts to describe situations in which information about the potential harm people may incur is not clear, leading to competing interpretations of risk. Sadly, this paper may actually promote feelings of anxiety about frac sand mining, because it only cites discredited air quality research while omitting more credible research.

Air monitoring data collected by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the University of Iowa, in addition to data collected by nationally respected experts in air monitoring, have used sampling equipment and methodologies approved by EPA, and the results show frac sand facilities pose no threat to public health. These are important results that should have been included in the author’s piece.

Stress and anxiety from feeling a “loss of place” are real. I grew up on a dairy farm my grandfather was born and raised on, so I have experienced this stress first-hand, as my aunts and uncles seem determined to auction off a lifetime’s worth of work to the highest bidder. It has resulted in anger, sleepless nights, and resentment toward family members. Loss of place can stem from any number of causes, but that doesn’t make these emotions any less real or less significant to those feeling them.

If read as a series of case studies, the University of Wisconsin-Stout article provides interesting insight into the lives of a select few individuals who oppose sand mining. The paper never claims to be a representative sample of the people living in frac sand communities, and it never claims to be scientific. Unfortunately, the fact the author only cited deeply flawed air-monitoring research, while omitting credible research, detracts from the article’s credibility, because it shows an unwillingness to objectively consider the costs and benefits of frac sand mining.

[Originally published at Real Clear Energy]

Categories: On the Blog