Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

28 February 2010

Gore The Bore Resurfaces on Climate Change

Al Gore, the pontificater, the bore, the Yale elitist with the gentleman C grades in easy courses, has risen from the dead with an Op-Ed to the New York Times on 28 February 2010. It had seemed he was keeping a low profile due to the many revelations of bad science and outright fraud being the real source of the claims for the catastrophic man-made global warming due to CO2 emissions alarm. While he is about to make many assertions that man needs to take action to prevent global warming, there are some very interesting evasions of offering any evidence that global warming is occurring or that it is in fact caused by man's use of fossil fuels. He also hedges his bets on the reality of man-made catastrophic global warming in effect by saying that we must
deal with the national security risks of our growing dependence on a global oil market dominated by dwindling reserves in the most unstable region of the world, and the economic risks of sending hundreds of billions of dollars a year overseas in return for that oil. And we would still trail China in the race to develop smart grids, fast trains, solar power, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy — the most important sources of new jobs in the 21st century.
Let us examine this energy and alternative energy job claim for a moment and then I will move on the global warming issues.  He complains that we have a growing dependence on oil from the most unstable region of the world.  Well, Iraq is embarking on an ambitious program to expand its oil production to exceed that of Saudi Arabia [The Economist, 20-26 Feb 2010].  It may not accomplish this quickly, but if it even comes close to matching the output of Saudi Arabia, the cost of oil will remain very reasonable for many years to come and the alternative energy companies Al Gore has invested heavily in will not be able to compete, even with much larger government subsidies than our government drowning in debt can provide.  OK, yes, Iraq is still in this volatile region, but every additional supply of oil adds to our energy security.  Of course, one can also ask Gore why he and his Progressive friends who care so much about energy security and who do not want to pay for oil abroad will not allow us to explore, drill, and develop oil fields in our own off-shore waters and in the ridiculously innumerable acres of government-held land in the U.S.  Neither does he explain why taxing the oil companies more heavily will help them to find more oil in the U.S. and abroad.  Neither does he explain why sending money abroad to buy oil is somehow worse than sending money abroad to buy any other goods, services, or resources.  We live in a global economy, which he seems to disparage with his fear of depending upon a global oil market, which in fact is a great advantage to us in stabilizing the price of oil and assuring its availability.

Next he makes the outrageous claim that we trail China in the race to develop smart grids, fast trains, solar power, wind, geothermal and other renewable sources of energy.  I really do not know what he is basing these claims on.  It is true that China is rapidly increasing its output of cheap, inefficient solar panels largely for sales to countries with mandates requiring that they generate power with expensive solar power plants.  The technology is more advanced in the U.S., but our costs of production are rather high.  Perhaps Al Gore should call for a steep reduction in our absurdly high corporate income tax which makes it very difficult for American companies to compete in the global markets Al so fears.  After all, the U.S. and Japan, whose economy has not been able to get out of the starting blocks for the last 15 years, have the highest corporate taxes in the world today and Obama wants to make them higher!  Of course, Al would probably want a tax reduction only for his solar power companies, being a crony capitalist.  Then he also claims that he has enumerated the most important sources of jobs for the 21st Century.  What do you suppose the track record Teddy Roosevelt would have had for predicting the main sources of jobs in the 20th Century in 1910?  Or, you may substitute the name of any politician of that time you might prefer.

Al Gore goes on to say:
I, for one, genuinely wish that the climate crisis were an illusion. But unfortunately, the reality of the danger we are courting has not been changed by the discovery of at least two mistakes in the thousands of pages of careful scientific work over the last 22 years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In fact, the crisis is still growing because we are continuing to dump 90 million tons of global-warming pollution every 24 hours into the atmosphere — as if it were an open sewer.
It is true that the climate panel published a flawed overestimate of the melting rate of debris-covered glaciers in the Himalayas, and used information about the Netherlands provided to it by the government, which was later found to be partly inaccurate. In addition, e-mail messages stolen from the University of East Anglia in Britain showed that scientists besieged by an onslaught of hostile, make-work demands from climate skeptics may not have adequately followed the requirements of the British freedom of information law.
 I have dealt enough with the scientific scandal of the claims made by the catastrophic man-made global warming alarmists that I will not lay out the magnitude of the problems here again, though I will continue to discuss those problems in other posts.  I am just going to say that this attempt to minimize the scientific problems of the global warming alarmists has not held up in Australia or now in the United Kingdom and is beginning to collapse on the heads of such alarmists in the U.S. also.  Many comedians are now picking up on this fraud and that is usually the end of any theory being taken seriously!  So, Al Gore shows himself here as an ostrich with his head in the sand.  Perhaps this is a delaying tactic, so he will have time to unload his alternative energy stocks on other Progressive suckers.

By the way, when I tried to warn other alumni of Brown University and Case Western Reserve University of how the scientific argument for man-made global warming had fallen apart and that the alternative energy companies were going to have a very hard time of it as a result a couple of months ago, I was called rude, trailer trash, a flat-earther, and many other names by a great many alumni.  Some of them had invested in alternative energy, one planned to work for such a company when he finished his graduate studies, one was an associate professor whose research grants depended upon the scare, and many others were just being good religious Progressives.

Al goes on to say:
the panel’s scientists — acting in good faith on the best information then available to them — probably underestimated the range of sea-level rise in this century, the speed with which the Arctic ice cap is disappearing and the speed with which some of the large glacial flows in Antarctica and Greenland are melting and racing to the sea.
The record of the UN IPCC reports has been to consistently overestimate the sea level rise and there is no reason known to me to think that more recently they have underestimated sea level rise to come.  The Arctic ice cap expands and contracts mostly due to winds and not due to melting, so it is rather insensitive to any modest warming, such as that since the end of the Little Ice Age.  In any case, if sea ice melts, it does not change the sea level!  The ice on Baffin Island and on Greenland can cause the sea level to rise, but there is no reason to think all that ice is going to melt either.  This is just more groundless alarmism perhaps issued to help his stocks hold value until he can unload them.  As for Antarctica, most of the continent has been experiencing ice expansion, not contraction, in recent times and again there is no reason for alarm.  Furthermore, there is no link to man's CO2 emissions here.

Then he makes the claim that
January was seen as unusually cold in much of the United States. Yet from a global perspective, it was the second-hottest January since surface temperatures were first measured 130 years ago.
And this is almost certainly nonsense also.  The official NOAA land surface temperature data has been so badly manipulated to make it seem as though the world has been warming that we now know that data is useless for establishing whether a given month or year is one of the warmer months or years in the last 130 years.  Absolutely a meaningless claim.  This is the word of an inveterate liar, so that everything such a liar has to say must be taken as meaningless.  How naive does Gore think the American People are?

Now let us examine a perfectly illogical statement Al made:
Similarly, even though climate deniers have speciously argued for several years that there has been no warming in the last decade, scientists confirmed last month that the last 10 years were the hottest decade since modern records have been kept.
Prof. Phil Jones, the former head of the CRU at the University of East Anglia and a stalwart alarmist, recently stated that there has been no significant global warming since 1995Since 2001, there has been a slight cooling, if anything, though this may also be regarded as insignificant.  Now, if there was warming from 1990 to 1995 and then the warming stopped, the decade from 2000 to 2010 would be the warmest decade in recent history, even though no warming had occurred since 1995.  But, Al wants us to believe that the claim that the last decade was the warmest means that warming has not stopped.  This does not logically follow Al.  You should have taken a philosophy course in remedial logic at Yale, Al.  The claim that the last decade has been the hottest since modern records have been kept is also based on the warming manipulated surface temperature records, which disagree with the satellite temperature records which are more accurate and have not been tampered with to try to create an exaggerated warming.

Al goes on to make the argument that the recent heavy snowfalls are the result of global warming causing an increase in winter humidity.  I have already debunked this argument in an earlier post.

Al's specious claims continue:
Here is what scientists have found is happening to our climate: man-made global-warming pollution traps heat from the sun and increases atmospheric temperatures. These pollutants — especially carbon dioxide — have been increasing rapidly with the growth in the burning of coal, oil, natural gas and forests, and temperatures have increased over the same period. Almost all of the ice-covered regions of the Earth are melting — and seas are rising. Hurricanes are predicted to grow stronger and more destructive, though their number is expected to decrease. Droughts are getting longer and deeper in many mid-continent regions, even as the severity of flooding increases. The seasonal predictability of rainfall and temperatures is being disrupted, posing serious threats to agriculture. The rate of species extinction is accelerating to dangerous levels.
The global warming pollutant is primarily CO2 and it is not a pollutant any more than water vapor is.  By far the most ice is in the Antarctic and it is not melting as claimed.  Other ice-covered areas are growing and contracting from year to year as they usually do, but perhaps with a very slight tendency to melt due to the recent end of the Little Ice Age.  But, the seas are actually rising at a very slow rate compared to the average rise since the end of the last major Ice Age.  While some have rashly predicted that hurricanes will become stronger, there is no evidence in history to support this and the likelihood is disputed by the best experts on violent storms.  Last I knew, there was also no reason to believe that flooding and drought were significantly worse than at other times in history.  I have no idea where Gore got that claim.  As for the seasonal predictability of rainfall and temperatures, these go through cycles historically and there is no link to the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Where does Al get all of this nonsense?  Probably from his day dreams, which he spent so much time doing when he got a D in the course of the global warming advocating professor he now claims was so important to him when he was at Yale.

Gore now ramps up the scale of human misery to be caused by global warming:
the displacement of hundreds of millions of climate refugees, civil unrest, chaos and the collapse of governance in many developing countries, large-scale crop failures and the spread of deadly diseases.
If the world were to become slightly warmer, life in most of the world would become easier, not harder.  There might be some civil unrest in Florida and Arizona, since fewer people from New England, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota would choose to move there upon retirement!  Any slight extension to the growing season would be welcomed, not feared, in those cooler places which the greatest warming has been occurring, if you could actually believe the claims that it has, which you cannot.  The increase in deadly diseases idea does not hold water either.  For instance, it is claimed malaria will spread north.  Nonsense, malaria was widely in the north in the 1800s when it was colder than now.  It moved south mostly because swamps and marshes in the north were drained and because DDT was widely used there in earlier decades.

Next Al Gore informs us about his political, ethical, and human race assessments.  This is interesting.  He bemoans the fact that the economy is now largely global, that the industrial countries do not want to lose their jobs, and that the emerging economies have rising expectations.  He goes on:
The decisive victory of democratic capitalism over communism in the 1990s led to a period of philosophical dominance for market economics worldwide and the illusion of a unipolar world. It also led, in the United States, to a hubristic “bubble” of market fundamentalism that encouraged opponents of regulatory constraints to mount an aggressive effort to shift the internal boundary between the democracy sphere and the market sphere. Over time, markets would most efficiently solve most problems, they argued. Laws and regulations interfering with the operations of the market carried a faint odor of the discredited statist adversary we had just defeated.
Apparently, he thinks the world should be bipolar and that communism somehow made it more properly bipolar.  He thinks a strong belief in market economics is hubris.  He claims that government is the democracy sphere and that it is in opposition to the market sphere.  This is really weird.  Government, even when largely democratic, does not allow everyone the freedom to buy whatever goods and services they choose individually or allow them to start their own business or allow them to work freely for anyone who wishes to hire them.  Government, even so-called democratic government, always tends to interfere with these personal decisions.  There is no more democratic way for a free People to live than in a free market economy.  Yet, Gore tries to make us think that the one-size-fits-all-decrees of government make for a more democratic society than does a free market society.  Hogwash.

Next, Gore sets out on a tirade against television:
Simultaneously, changes in America’s political system — including the replacement of newspapers and magazines by television as the dominant medium of communication — conferred powerful advantages on wealthy advocates of unrestrained markets and weakened advocates of legal and regulatory reforms. Some news media organizations now present showmen masquerading as political thinkers who package hatred and divisiveness as entertainment. And as in times past, that has proved to be a potent drug in the veins of the body politic. Their most consistent theme is to label as “socialist” any proposal to reform exploitive behavior in the marketplace.
This is a bit strange too.  The heyday of television for the news was prior to the recent period when Gore wanted carbon cap and trade and restrictions on energy use.  Pretty much all but one news network (Fox) have been touting the Progressive line on global warming and the nefarious role of the industrialized humans, anyway.  One would think he might be railing against the Internet, which he invented, for its role in helping to expand opposition to the Democrats cap and trade schemes, disseminating the evidence that the catastrophic global warming claims were false, enlarging the Tea Party revolt, and getting out the information in the Democrat bills they did not want the People to know about until after they became law.  Oh, but of course, he cannot rail against the Internet, because he invented it!  Then, it is curious that he talks about exploitation of the ignorant and easily victimized People in the same sentence in which he tells us that calling the Progressive program "socialist" is unfair.  I still find the very words exploitation and solidarity sickening after decades of hearing them pour out of the mouths of socialists, Marxists, and communists!

Now the elitist Progressive comes forth strongly again:
From the standpoint of governance, what is at stake is our ability to use the rule of law as an instrument of human redemption.
Yes, of course, we cannot allow the People to make their own choices in the free market, because we must use the force of government to redeem these sorry sinners.  We, the elitist Progressives, must use the force of government to enforce myriad laws to make the People do what they will not choose to do individually in their own lives.  Of course, many of them are not college educated and many who are did not go to Ivy League quality universities, so we brilliant and well-studied elite will so manipulate the government that these unwashed peasants will do as we tell them to, while we all pretend this was democratically decided.  The People will not make the right personal choices, so we will deceive them into thinking they made the very laws which they would not obey except for the fact that the government will force them to do so.  Government must constrain the private sector to redeem the sinning People.  Government is the Messiah or the elitists who manipulate its levers are the Messiahs.

This sort of manipulation has been going on for a long time.  For most of this time, this caused many people simply to feel disenfranchised.  But, finally, the people became angry about it and they decided they had to do something about being taken advantage of by those who manipulated the levers of government in order to redeem them from the things and actions they loved.  The People have responded with the Tea Party movement.  It is now clear that very many of the People have seen through the Al Gores, John Kerrys, Obamas, Pelosis, Reids, Waxmans, and their ilk.

Perhaps the day of big government redeeming the People will finally come to an end and the People will finally redeem their government.  To do that, they must force it to obey the Constitution, which will take some doing.  But once you see through the obscurantism of the Gores, this becomes a lot easier.  The man behind the curtain has finally been seen and he is not impressive at all.

27 February 2010

Representative Paul Ryan's Comments on ObamaCare Costs

Representative Paul Ryan is a Libertarian-oriented Republican Congressman of the 1st Congressional District of Wisconsin, which is bordered by Illinois, Lake Michigan, the southern suburbs of Milwaukee, and reaches out to Janesville in the west.  Racine and Kenosha are in his district.  Paul Ryan has read Ayn Rand's works and thinks highly of them.  I have heard him speak a number of times at events which the Atlas Society or the Competitive Enterprise Institute were participating in or sponsoring and he has always been a rational voice.  On 25 February, he spoke up at the Health Care Summit called for by Obama to discuss budgetary issues.  While I believe the primary, and completely sufficient, reason to oppose ObamaCare is the personal mandate and the idea that government has the power to decide what is and what is not acceptable health insurance and health care, the budgetary issues are also important.

Congressman Ryan said:
  • Medicare has a $38 trillion unfunded liability already, but half a trillion dollars is to be taken from it, so 20% of present Medicare providers will either go out of business or stop serving people on Medicare.
  • The cost of Medicaid is growing at a 21% annual rate and is about to bankrupt a number of states.
  • The Majority Leader of the Senate claims the Senate bill will reduce the deficit by $131 billion over the next 10 years, which is nonsense.
  • The bill collects half a trillion dollars of new taxes for 10 years and cuts Medicare for 10 years, in order to provide revenues for 6 years of ObamaCare spending.
  • The first 10 years of ObamaCare will cost $2.3 trillion.
  • The Senate bill takes $52 billion from Social Security, which has huge unfunded liabilities already.
  • It takes $72 billion from the long-term care insurance program called the CLASS Act.
  • The real 10-year cost of ObamaCare will cause a $460 billion deficit, despite the four-year delay in the program and counting taxes in that 4-year period.
  • The second 10-year cost of the program is $1.4 trillion.
  • For the last 7 years, Congress has not made the kind of 21% doctors payment cuts that are supposed to be part of the savings from Medicare according to the Senate bill.  The savings which will not occur from this cut is $371 billion.
  • Far from reducing Medicare's costs as claimed by Obama, the chief actuary at Medicare says medical costs are going up $222 billion.
The Obama camp response to being in deep, deep debt and running deep, deep deficits, is to close your eyes and plow ahead with huge new spending plans.  After all, tomorrow we will all be dead.

25 February 2010

Is Libertarianism Based on a Principle -- According to Merriam-Webster?

Having noted yesterday that the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary would not even attempt a definition of Progressivism, I thought I had best be sure that it offered reasonable definitions of Libertarianism and Libertarian.

The definition offered for Libertarian is (Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. (25 Feb. 2010).:

1 : an advocate of the doctrine of free will -- contrasted with necessitarian
2 : one who upholds the principles of liberty ;
specifically : one who upholds the principles of individual liberty of thought and action

The second definition is a reasonable brief statement of the basic principle for which a Libertarian stands in politics.  The kind of problem that stood in the way of the Progressives in defining themselves on the basis of principles does not exist for Libertarians!

It turns out that the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Libertarianism as

the theories or practices of a libertarian,

which is fine since it defined libertarian.  So, libertarianism is based on principles and a Libertarian is a man of principle, unlike a Progressive who has no definable principles according to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary!

Oh, it can be fun hoisting a Progressive (liberal, fascist, socialist) upon his own petard!

The Ease of Doing Business by Country

The World Bank ranks countries for the ease of doing business.  The list below gives the top 60 countries with the 2010 and the 2009 ranks, followed by a final number after the country name indicating the number of reforms in the last year to make it easier to do business:

1 1 Singapore 3
2 2 New Zealand 0
3 3 Hong Kong, China 3
4 4 United States 0
5 6 United Kingdom 2
6 5 Denmark 0
7 7 Ireland 1
8 8 Canada 0
9 9 Australia 0
10 10 Norway 1
11 16 Georgia 2
12 12 Thailand 1
13 15 Saudi Arabia 2
14 11 Iceland 1
15 13 Japan 0
16 14 Finland 1
17 24 Mauritius 6
18 17 Sweden 0
19 23 Korea, Rep. 2
20 18 Bahrain 1
21 19 Switzerland 0
22 20 Belgium 2
23 21 Malaysia 2
24 22 Estonia 2
25 27 Germany 2
26 25 Lithuania 1
27 30 Latvia 2
28 26 Austria 0
29 29 Israel 1
30 28 Netherlands 1
31 31 France 2
32 69 Macedonia, FYR 7
33 47 United Arab Emirates 3
34 32 South Africa 1
35 33 Puerto Rico 0
36 34 St. Lucia 1
37 49 Colombia 8
38 38 Azerbaijan 2
39 37 Qatar 0
40 36 Cyprus 0
41 80 Kyrgyz Republic 7
42 35 Slovak Republic 1
43 50 Armenia 3
44 42 Bulgaria 2
45 39 Botswana 2
46 61 Taiwan, China 2
47 41 Hungary 1
48 48 Portugal 4
49 40 Chile 0
50 44 Antigua and Barbuda 0
51 55 Mexico 2
52 46 Tonga 1
53 58 Slovenia 2
54 43 Fiji 1
55 45 Romania 1
56 65 Peru 6
57 68 Samoa 2
58 82 Belarus 6
59 57 Vanuatu 1
60 56 Mongolia 0

Once again, the U.S., the country most known for Capitalism is only number 4 on the list.  For the 4th year, Singapore leads the list.  Apparently, Singapore and Hong Kong are both interested in being countries with a good business climate, since each made reforms to improve.  Note that the U.S. made no useful reforms.  In fact, under the planned economy approach of Obama, we have been on the verge of doing innumerable bad deeds to businesses.  Fortunately, ObamaCare, Cap and Trade, Union Card Check, Capital Gains and Corporate Tax Increases, and the EPA regulations on CO2 emissions he wants have not yet taken effect.  But, the huge deficits, the proposed new taxes and regulations, and the rhetoric against doing business have all taken quite a toll on the business climate all by themselves.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is moving up the list and on our heels.  Eight of the top 9 countries are or were once controlled by the United Kingdom.  The only exception is Denmark and the number 10 country is Norway.  Norway and Denmark both have longstanding trading relations with the UK.  Japan lost ground in the rankings, going from 13th to 15th.  Germany gained ground, going from 27th to 25th.  The Netherlands was once a very good country for doing business, but it fell from 28th to 30th.  France is 31st on the list.  Our neighbor Canada is number 8 and our neighbor Mexico is 51, having moved up from 55.  Korea moved up from 23 to 19.  Israel is 29.

We should all applaud those countries who have tried to make it easier to do business in the last year.  We should, however, replace the slacker American government which has tried so hard to make it harder to do business.

24 February 2010

What is Progressivism?

"progressivism." Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. (24 Feb. 2010).

1 : the principles or beliefs of progressives
3 usually capitalized : the political and economic doctrines advocated by the Progressives
4 : the theories of progressive education -- contrasted with essentialism

OK, that is not very helpful.  So far we know it is some set or sets of principles or beliefs and the progressives who hold these principles or beliefs would like to think they represent some form of progress.  But, the principles and beliefs are apparently defined by those who are progressives.  Who on earth are they?

5 often capitalized : of, relating to, or constituting a political party advocating or associated with the principles of political progressivism

Whoa!  Is this circular or what?  Apparently Progressives do not want to have any limits placed upon their beliefs by anything we could legitimately call principles, or they do not wish to name their principles.  If they had principles, those could be defined, but there may be reasons why they do not want them to be defined.  Arbitrary beliefs cannot be defined and they have an advantage in being very flexible.  Today Progressives believe in minimum wage laws, but if the labor unions were to decide tomorrow that they do not like minimum wage laws, then the principle of minimum wages is tossed aside with no problem.  Today they want to reward the trial lawyers with many extraordinary awards of punitive damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, but if the trial lawyers fail to deliver enough political contributions, why then the Progressive is free to believe in tort reform, at least if the insurance companies give them more political contributions for the purpose than the trial lawyers do.

How marvelous it is to be assured that you are for progress and you are free to believe in anything you wish to believe in.  How confining it is to actually be a man of principle.  How much more freedom one has by being a woman without principles.  It is so much more practical to have no principles.  It is great to be a pragmatist and an opportunist.  Today, it is good to advocate alternative energy development by government subsidies and mandates and high fossil fuel prices, but if the ground falls out from under the catastrophic man-made global warming alarm story and the People wake up to the foolish economics of alternative energy and balk at the high cost of fossil fuels under Progressive controls, well the Progressives can simply change their beliefs to some other vague and not-yet-understood to be unsound program, which sounds plausibly like progress.

When Obama campaigned to become President, he kept saying over and over that he was for change.  Indeed, he is.  He wants to diminish the role of Capitalism and increase the role of government.  He wants to increase the central planning of government and take away the individual decisions that characterize the free markets of the private sector.  He wants to diminish those few restrictions on government power still recognized as being required by our Constitution and replace them with a more powerful Presidency and Congress.  He wants the President and Congress to have more control over the People.  These are the only changes for which he and the Progressives consistently stand.

There is a remaining program for change, however.  That program has no principles to guide it and it has no defining characteristic, except that it is a constantly changing program of claims which vaguely sound to many people as though the Progressives are trying to improve our society in some collective sense.  In fact, the particular claims are not important.  They are just whatever seems to motivate some people to back the Progressives themselves for a period of time.  The Progressives figure out what increase in government power can be used to buy the votes of a block of voters and they find a rationale for that program.  The rationale can be very flimsy and can be understood to be wrong by those who have expertise in the given area.  For instance, the Progressive is for those minimum wage laws that increase unemployment among the young and the handicapped and in the more remote rural areas of the country, proclaiming that a man must support his wife and children, so minimum wage must allow for that.  Never mind that minimum wage jobs are usually held only by those in training and who are very poorly educated.  These people will simply not be hired at all as the minimum wage is raised.  Keeping them out of jobs is hardly a good change in keeping with progress, but it is a favored program of the Progressives.

Another favored change with the Progressives is union card check.  This program is such a blatant travesty that little rationale is even offered for it.  No one wants this except union leaders and those politicians who expect they will get larger donations from the unions as the unions increase the number of poor workers who have to give union leaders union dues.  The change is to deprive employees of a secret ballot allowing them to determine who will represent them in wage negotiations.  Who on earth would want that, except the party of Progressives who only want it because they want more money to use in elections to gain more government power to gain more control over the People.

It is clear that it is not quite the case that Progressives have no principles.  They do have one principle.  They stand for more government power so the government can have more control over the lives, bodies, property, income, character, and actions of the People.  Some of those Progressives simply want the power of being in control, while others delude themselves with thinking that once they, the college-educated elitists usually, are in control, they will somehow use their power to do good things for the rabble, the trailer trash, the NASCAR fans, those who cling to their guns, religion, and Constitution, and the uneducated.

There are problems with believing this rationale for seeking power to do good.  One problem is all the harm they do to gain the money to gain the power.  Another is the pretense that these elitists know the lives and experiences of the peasants well enough to be able to figure out what is good for them when the Progressive has finally gotten his hands wrapped firmly around the levers of power and no longer has to buy the votes of those who do not care so deeply as the Progressive good souls do.  Another problem is that after decades of fighting to attain the power of government by being an opportunist looking for more power at every turn and dealing with unsavory union leaders and trial lawyers, the well-intended Progressive is very likely to become damaged goods.

Some would claim that the Progressive wants a redistribution of income so that the differences in income and wealth among the People are minimized.  There is usually a claim among the Progressives that they stand for this.  But, when they have exercised power in the U.S., their actions have rarely been consistent with such an idea being taken as a principle.  They have instead been more about picking winners and losers in our society.  Sure, they want high income taxpayers to have high tax rates, but they also want farmers, ethanol refiners, union leaders, trial lawyers, accountants, alternative energy producers, bankers, recyclers, government contractors, and others who are politically connected to have high incomes through subsidies, mandates, and make-work programs.  Meanwhile, they pile on the taxes and while many of these are aimed at the rich or better off, most of those high taxes are passed on to those who need the products and services produced by the more productive people in our society.  These people tend to be those with high incomes and/or great wealth.

In practice, the one single principle of Progressivism is a desire for government to have more power so it will have greater control over the People, while the college educated elite control the government.  Now, our colleges have long been controlled by the Progressives and such jobs as those in publishing are similarly mostly controlled by Progressives.  It is not at all surprising that Merriam-Webster did not name the principle that gives meaning to the words Progressive or Progressivism.  Naming that principle is not helpful to the goals of the Progressives.  It must be kept a bit hidden.  The Progressive is against allowing the individual to choose his own values and to manage his own life in accordance with his freely chosen values.  He is against the Constitution, because that limits the powers of government.  He is against the free market and the freedom of choice that individuals find in the private sector.  But, he is loathe yet to tell us that he is against the individual and his rights.

23 February 2010

The Government Poisons Alcohol -- Lessons for Socialized Medicine

Prohibition began on 1 January 1920 and was intended as an act of the Nanny State to bring on an improvement of the human race.  But, Americans were not willing to give up their drinking.  Insurance companies believed that alcoholism increased three-fold during the Prohibition!  By 1930, there were about 30,000 speakeasies in New York City.  The federal government became desperate to force the People to stop drinking.  They had greatly decreased the smuggling trade from Canada and other countries, but by the mid-1920s, the U.S. Treasury estimated that about 60 million gallons of industrial alcohol was stolen each year to be converted into drinking alcohol.  This industrial alcohol became the primary source of drinking alcohol.

Beginning back in 1906, the government had required that industry must denature alcohol or pay the drinking alcohol taxes on it.  But, during Prohibition, the well-paid chemists of the bootleggers became very skilled in removing the poisons from denatured industrial alcohol so they could make it potable.  The federal response in 1926 was to force the addition of still worse poisons into industrial alcohol so that they would be much harder to remove.  They frankly knew that many people would die, but they expected that those deaths would finally force most drinkers to stop drinking.  The social engineering objective of these progressives justified the means.  It always starts with the use of force and to make that force credible, it must be brutally applied whenever anyone gets out of line.

The deaths started showing up at Christmas time in 1926.  Bellevue Hospital in New York City treated 60 people on Christmas day who were desperately ill from alcohol poisoning.  But this was not the usual alcohol poisoning that had become common in the earlier 1920s.  Eight of those people died.  Over the next two days, another 23 people died of alcohol poisoning in NYC.  The doctors came to learn that these deaths were caused by the U.S. government and its new and deadlier denaturing requirements for industrial alcohol.

Deborah Blum tells this story in The Poisoner's Handbook and here.  She describes the new poisons:
By mid-1927, the new denaturing formulas included some notable poisons—kerosene and brucine (a plant alkaloid closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. The Treasury Department also demanded more methyl alcohol be added—up to 10 percent of total product. It was the last that proved most deadly.
Charles Norris, the New York City medical examiner, blamed the federal government for the deaths and did everything he could to publicize them.  In 1926 in NYC, 1200 people were made sick by poisoned alcohol and 400 died.  In 1927, 700 people died in NYC of alcohol poisoning.  Many people were also blinded by the poisons.  The Prohibition Amendment was finally repealed in December 1933 and this evil experiment upon the American People ended.  The death toll due to government-required alcohol poisoning has been estimated to be greater than 10,000 Americans.

At this point, this is an interesting American history note.  But we are supposed to learn from history.  In this case, we ought to relate this Prohibition experience in social engineering and the Nanny State to the present day proposals of the socialist, progressive leaders of the Democrat Party who so badly want to take over all medical services.  There are clearly movements afoot among these elitist progressives to force the People to change their eating habits, exercise habits, and drinking habits.  If they take over medical services entirely, this will lead to promotion of even more social engineering in the name of reducing costs to the government due to the higher health care costs of obese and sedentary people.

If the government was once willing to add ever more deadly poisons to alcohol it knew people would drink as an inducement to get them to drink less, can we be sure that there really will be no panels of bureaucrats and doctors in their grip who will be forced to identify obese and sedentary people as being unworthy of medical effort when they have a medical crisis?  Might the government even resort to poisoning products they do not want people to eat or drink again?  During the Prohibition, the progressives were very cavalier about the deaths of those who bought spirits from those who broke the 18th Amendment.  This despite the fact that the 18th Amendment did not actually make drinking alcohol unconstitutional.  That amendment only prohibited its manufacture, sale, and transportation.

For instance, diabetes is a disease which mostly afflicts people who are overweight and sedentary.  Will a government-run medical services industry in time decide that anyone who has diabetes asked for it and is not worthy of the expenditure of federal tax monies?  Might this not lead to under-treatment of diabetes?  You may think your mother who has diabetes is worthy of treatment, but will the panel of government bureaucrats and their captive doctors who decide how much money will be spent on her treatment and how much limited doctor time and limited equipment time?  Will the government say of those who have stress-related illnesses, "You worked too hard and/or you tolerated a stressful family life, so you do not deserve much of our limited funds for treating your stress-induced illness."?   Of course, we already know that the progressives believe less money should be spent on saving the lives of babies and young children and also on the elderly, both of whom they believe to have less social value and to be of less human capital.

The very fact that the progressives will not let their very unpopular health services takeover plan go and they keep desperately trying to revive it, makes it clear they do not care what the People think of it.  They want badly to force the People to give up control over their own health care and cede that control to the government.  He who controls the money, dictates the terms of the transaction.  With the government controlling the flow of money to pay for all medical services, the government will soon dictate what those services will be and who will get them.  This is a certain fact.

The government will have no pressure to behave reasonably, once the private sector health care and insurance industries are prostrate at its feet and begging for every dollar of their income.  We the People will be nothing more significant than our Social Security number.  Mao wanted to change every Chinese person into a number.  The Democrat socialized health care system will turn every American into just a body with a number identifying it.  That body will be expected to toe the line, or the government just will not offer it any medical services and may even put it out of any resulting pain and misery with drugs.  This is what is already widely being done in the socialized medical system in Great Britain.

Our most fundamental individual right is that to the ownership of our own body.  If government will not respect that right, then it will not respect any individual right.  If we give up this one right, then we have given up all of our rights.  We must fight against the Democrat health care takeover as a life and death issue on which we will make no compromise.  The progressive (fascist) Democrats will not give up on their socialized medicine plan because they have a bloodthirsty hunger for this supreme power over each and every American.  I can see the future.  The amount of medical care provided will be dependent upon the same criteria now used to get into most graduate schools, namely, how much of your life was invested in activities the progressives approve of, such as what they consider to be social services.  How much of your life did you dedicate to sacrificing your interests to others?  The more you sacrificed, the more value they see in your life and the more worthy you are of rationed medical services.  Heaven forbid, you dedicated your time to your private sector profession for income and to your own family!

22 February 2010

The Agenda is Primary, Not the Science or the Facts

I have repeatedly pointed out that the government mandates and subsidies for ethanol production from corn and other plant sources were based on claims that net energy would be produced and air pollution would be reduced.  These were false claims and this is now well-known.  Nonetheless, Congress has not enacted new legislation to repeal the bad mistake and eliminate the mandates for ethanol use in gasoline mixtures and the subsidies for its production.  This has not happened even though this situation has driven up food prices, in addition to fuel prices, as another bad consequence.  The reason no needed reform has occurred is because the ethanol laws were actually passed to purchase the votes and to gain campaign money from many farmers and from ethanol producers.  It was a way for politicians to increase their control over parts of the private sector.

The total scientific collapse of the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis, has not caused Obama and the progressives (fascist socialists) to back off on promoting alternative energy sources with mandates and subsidies at all.  Obama called for a big push to increase government controls on energy in his State of the Union address.  The EPA still seems bent upon putting draconian controls on CO2 emissions and the use of fossil fuels under the Clean Air Act as well.  The progressive machine moves forward, despite the knowledge that man's CO2 emissions have no more than a trivial effect upon climate.  Why?

The very reason that NOAA dropped out hundreds of temperature reporting stations from the surface temperature records, which reported cooler temperatures than other retained stations did, to make it falsely appear that the earlier warming cycle of the late 1970s and 1980s was continuing, makes it very clear that an agenda was long dominant over any issues of science.  The agenda of the catastrophic man-made global warming scheme was a great desire to gain massive new control over the energy sector of our economy and over all users of energy.  Basically, all American businesses are highly dependent upon energy, which is why sudden price hikes in oil have set off 10 of the 11 recessions since WWII, including the present one.  Those Americans who do not own a company dependent upon energy costs, work for one or still have a residence they must heat and cool.  The power grab by the progressives to take over the control of energy is huge.  That goal remains, whether the science of catastrophic man-made global warming has become laughable or not.

So, the fascist socialist left is not giving up.  They are attempting to make another transition in their claim on power over the American people.  They used to base it entirely on fairness and economic equality, but the fall of the USSR made the claims of central economic planning look pitiful.  Their hollowness was too easily seen in the rapid movement of Eastern Europeans away from communism and socialism.  They had lived in socialism's depressing and deadening grasp.  They fled with elation to Capitalism.  Even the Chinese Communist government realized they had to drop much of their central economic planning.  The fascist socialists in the West adopted environmentalism and global warming as the agenda that would allow them to increase their power over the People.  Now that rationale has fallen apart on the global warming side and the environmental harm exaggerations on many other fronts are more and more being questioned also.  Where can they turn?

The new approach is rather desperate.  The claim is we will run out of fossil fuels, they are dirty, and alternative energy can produce more jobs.  Someday, we will run out of fossil fuels, but they are plentiful and cheap still.  This gives us plenty of time to develop alternative energy and there is no reason for pell-mell crash programs.  The free market will develop the new energy as it is needed.  Let companies drill in the American waters and in national forests and allow them to develop oil shale, as it makes sense.  Let them also use wind generation, solar, and geothermal power as they can find and develop markets for them.  There is no need for huge, wasteful government programs.  The evolution of technology will be much more efficient at its private sector pace.  As for cleanliness, we have already made huge strides in cleaning up our fossil fuel use.  A rationally paced program to continue such work will be wiser again than any crash program.  The real problems with pollution are in the poorer countries of the world and the solution is to bring the highly efficient Capitalist system to them, so they can afford to clean up their countries, as we have cleaned up the U.S.  Will alternative energy produce new jobs?  Yes, but we want it to produce net new jobs.  A government policy of killing coal miners, oil drillers, railroad, and energy-using industry jobs in massive numbers to create a pittance of new alternative energy jobs, is a fool's errand.

But, of course, I am treating the claims of the progressive fascist socialists as though they are motivated by a respect for reason.  They are not.  They are motivated by a desire to control the lives of others.  They want to tell every American what his values should be and then give him a strict set of rules to manage his life.  We are all to be the slaves of the college-educated elite of progressive fascist socialists who want to control us.  They are to be our rulers, our tyrants supreme.  Are we going to allow this?  I do not think so.  I think we are about to start throwing these rascals out of government in droves!  But, it is clear that they will never stop seeking to rule us and if we are to be free, we must never stop fighting this ravenous beast of fascist socialism.

21 February 2010

Our Government Propaganda Mill on Energy & Global Warming Still Churns

The many false claims of the catastrophic man-made global warming alarmists have been used over and over as justifications for new government controls, spending programs, the picking of winners and losers in U.S. industry, forced changes in our lifestyles, wiping out jobs not considered green, and huge increases in all of our energy costs.  I received this in an e-mail about another government attempt to use these false claims for such purposes from the Science and Environmental Policy Project earlier today:
As a whole, the US media has been dismissive of the importance of Climategate and subsequent revelations. The non-scientific claims of the IPCC are considered by many commentators as insignificant. A reading of Chapter 9, “Transforming the Energy Sector and Addressing Climate Change,” in the recently released Economic Report of the President illustrates the significance of the scientifically unsupported claims by IPCC.

The chapter begins by citing claims that CO2 emissions will likely cause large temperature increases – all from IPCC models that have never been validated thus have no predictive power. It continues with claims of “increased mortality rates, reduced agricultural yields in many parts of the world, and rising sea levels that could inundate low-lying coastal areas.” 

“The planet has not experienced such a rapid warming on a global scale in many thousands of years, and never as a result of emissions from human activity.”

Elsewhere the President’s report cites EPA’s Endangerment Finding, calculates massive increases in property damage from increased severity of storms, justifies cap-and-trade, and promotes spending $60 Billion in cash and $30 Billion in tax credits for alternative energy. Of course tax credits benefit only those with high tax liabilities (high incomes).
The claims of increased mortality rates and reduced agriculture yields (found in IPCC reports) are directly contradicted by late 20th Century history, the period claimed to be one of unprecedented warming. During this time mortality rates generally went down, human longevity up, and agricultural yields increased dramatically. Ironically, after declaring agricultural yields will decline the President’s report embraced an increase in mandatory bio-fuel use in gasoline from 9 billion gallons in 2008 to 36 billion gallons by 2022. It does not calculate the farm acreage required for this effort.

The claimed massive increases in property damage are, no doubt, based on IPCC’s claim in which the actual study found no statistically significant link between warming and catastrophic property damage. Sea levels have increased about 400 feet in the last 18,000 years or about 27 inches per century. The report cites a 7 inch rise since 1900 as if it is alarming. The statement that the “planet has not experienced such a rapid warming” has no merit.

Perhaps most journalists consider spending $90 Billion on various schemes to “fight climate change” insignificant. But one would hope for better scientific justification.
The mandate requiring more bio-fuel use will cause many of our food prices to go up greatly in addition to our fuel costs.  If the government were right about crop yields going down, then food prices will be going up badly even without the thoughtless requirement that more farmland be used to make fuel.  In fact, increased CO2 in the atmosphere and warmer weather will more likely lead to increased crop yields, not the lower ones foolishly claimed here.  As I have noted before, plant growth is benefited by higher CO2, which plants find essential for growth.  In many areas, greater warmth leads to longer growing seasons and will allow multiple plantings per year.  Those who worry about greater warmth in the tropics, need to remember that the tropics warm up little due to the cooling effect of increased water evaporation.

I fear that such nonsense as the widespread belief in catastrophic man-made global warming due to man's CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use, the widespread claims that minimum wage laws are good, the lack of a strong blow-back on the ethanol nonsense, the widespread acceptance of farm subsidies and supports, the lack of anger and response to the government's ever increasing meddling with big industries in co-operative efforts to control the market, the tendency for many college-educated people to want the government to takeover the health care industry, and the general belief by that same educated elite that they are qualified to make value and life management decisions for everyone else, have caused me to wonder seriously about the intelligence of many, many Americans.

Fortunately, the Tea Party movement has provided a counterweight to this assessment, in the nick of time, that my fellow Americans are not too bright.  It appears that the dumbness is mostly to be found in the college-educated elite who succumbed to brain lobotomies at the hands of their colleges, the progressive media, and the government.  Some people are simply easily programmed by constant repetitions of propaganda!!!!  But, it turns out that the greater part of the American People have not allowed this propaganda lobotomy process to remove their gray matter.  What a relief!

Petition for Reconsideration of Endangerment Decision of EPA of Greenhouse Gases

The EPA ruled on 7 December 2009 that the public health and welfare was threatened by greenhouse gases, including CO2.  Therefore, it would make up rules for regulating the emissions of such gases under the Clean Air Act.  The EPA ruling was based heavily upon UN IPCC documents and the testimony of a number of prominent advocates of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming due to CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases.  The recent revelations of systematic scientific shenanigans to manipulate temperature data, the failure to record the data manipulations, the failure to produce data under freedom of information act requests, the claims of lost data, the revelation of efforts to keep contrary scientific viewpoints from being published, while the alarmists papers were given stacked reviews, have caused a petition for the reconsideration of the EPA endangerment ruling of December 2009.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, and the Science and Environmental Policy Project petitioned the EPA on 12 February 2010 to reconsider this foolish ruling that CO2 and five other greenhouse gases should be regulated under the Clean Air Act.  They have now added a 16 February 2010 supplement to that petition based on more recent findings in contradiction to those cited by the EPA in its ruling in December.  In particular, these include the recent recantations by Prof. Phil Jones which I reviewed here and the false UN IPCC claims about hurricanes and severe storms which I reviewed here.

20 February 2010

End Government Discrimination in the Military Based on Sexuality

The federal government of the United States of America rests its legitimacy on its defense and preservation of the rights of the sovereign American individual to his life, his liberty, his property, and his pursuit of happiness.  Each such American individual has the right to the choice of his own values and the management and control of his own life and his own body.  The only restriction is that he not initiate the use of force against others in his pursuit of his values and as he acts to manage his own life.  Central to a man choosing his values, managing his own actions, and controlling his own body is his exploring and discovering, developing and understanding, and expressing his own individual sexuality.  With the sole limitation that he does this by himself or with other consenting adults, his sexual activities are not the business of government.  Other individuals are free to think what they will of his choices and actions, but they have no right to use force to interfere with him, provided he has not initiated the use of force or acted upon a child or a known mentally incompetent person.

When government uses its monopoly on the use of force to deny a citizen his exercise of control over his life by refusing to hire him on the basis of his sexuality, that government has acted to violate a fundamental right of every individual.  In doing so, it has undermined its very legitimacy.  When the federal government of the U.S. refused to allow black Americans to serve in the military or when it segregated black American units from other units, it severely undermined the legitimacy of the U.S.  It did this until Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower allowed black troops, who had been kept in a support role in WWII, to take up arms and reinforce white units then under severe strain in The Battle of the Bulge.  Gen. Eisenhower continued to press for integration of the military as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1945 - 1948 and in 1948, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981, ordering the integration of the armed forces of the United States.  The Army finally announced its plan to desegregate in July 1952.  President Eisenhower, using similar arguments, had the Justice Department file a brief favoring public school desegregation when Brown vs. Board of Education came up before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1952.

After a great deal of fuss, the military also underwent desegregation with respect to women.  Despite all claims that desegregating our military with respect to black Americans and women would greatly harm its fighting capability, the U.S. military in recent years has proven to be the best it has ever been and as about as good as any military has ever been in human history.  The American military is at its best when it best represents American ideals of personal and individual liberty and the value of individuals acting upon their independent judgment and in their rational self-interest.  While there are times when our military men give up their lives for their beliefs, they generally are the best military forces in the world because they carry out their mission to protect our freedoms while living to fight another day.  We value life in America.  We value the lives of Americans of all races, both sexes, and of the many complex and individual sexualities of our people.

Admiral Mike Mullen, our present Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated earlier this month that he believes it is important that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in effect in the military since 1993 with respect to same-sex relations and acts should be abandoned.  He believes the fighting capability of our military will not be harmed by doing so.  A past Secretary of Defense and Vice President, Dick Chaney, said last weekend that he believes that "When the chiefs [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] come forward and say 'We think we can do it,' then it strikes me that it's time to reconsider the policy."

For years now, it has been clear that attitudes on sex in general and on non-heterosexual sex in particular were changing, with the younger generation being much more open-minded about the differences in individual sexuality.  To a fair degree, this owes to a weakening of the explicit and dogmatic beliefs of many of the Judeo-Christian religions.  While most Americans still believe in God and hold to some Judeo-Christian beliefs, those beliefs have been becoming more and more vague on the one hand and more tolerant on the other.  With respect to human sexuality, this is more or less consistent with a greater realization that not everyone is the same and that sex is not only about procreation.  There is a greater willingness to see sex as being one of life's greatest pleasures and therefore worthy of one's efforts to personally explore and discover those joys and to develop one's own optimal and rich sexuality.  The American independence of mind is beginning to overcome the strictures of a peculiarly unfriendly religious dogma toward sex in general and non-heterosexuality in particular.

Many of man's other religions have been much more open-minded, tolerant, and interested in sex and non-heterosexuality.  Contrary to considerable Christian propaganda, many societies in which bisexuality and homosexuality was widespread achieved high levels of civilization in various times.  One can list China, Japan, Persia, Greece, Egypt, Phoenicia, and Rome.  This was also the case among the educated in the cities of Renaissance Italy and later France.  Then there was the phenomena of the British upper class in their public schools, which are actually private in the U.K.  Those who claim that homosexuality and bisexuality must undermine civilization, fail to take note of the fact that many of the great achievers around the world and throughout human history in the arts, sciences, and business have not been heterosexual.  Tying this back to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the military, many a great general and many elite soldiers have also not been heterosexual.

If our government is to be fully legitimate, it must stop discrimination against Americans who are not fully heterosexual in its hiring in general and specifically in its armed forces.  On this one issue, Obama agrees with me.  Can you believe that?  There is at least one thing he is not wrongheaded about.

17 February 2010

Some Companies are Becoming Less Green -- With Caution

The scientific unraveling of the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, is now allowing some companies to become less its proponents.  BP PLC and ConocoPhillips, both large oil firms, and Caterpillar Inc., the heavy equipment manufacturer, have pulled out of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) according to today's Wall Street Journal.  This alliance of companies and environmental groups was formed in 2007 when many businesses decided it was better to be at the table making greenhouse gas restrictive legislation than to be on the table to be eaten.  The widening disillusionment with the Democrat policies to drive up the costs of energy and to cripple the economy with CO2 emissions restrictions and the scientific failure of the catastrophic greenhouse gas global warming theory have given these companies some cover to cautiously reduce their support for any such controls.  Royal Dutch Shell PLC, GE, and Honeywell International Inc. remain in the evil coalition with the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

ConocoPhillips, BP, and Caterpillar had previously opposed the legislation before Congress on various grounds.  The oil companies wanted all energy producers to be treated equally.  Caterpillar did not want tariffs to be imposed on other countries which did not match U.S. efforts to cut back on the minor greenhouse gases, the major one being water vapor, which is uncontrollable for sure.  Caterpillar is a heavy exporter of equipment and does not want to see tariff wars develop.  Now that gas emissions restrictions to deal with the fabled global warming are unlikely to happen via legislation before the 2010 elections, companies no longer have a great need to pretend their differences of opinion are unimportant compared to that goal.  The cautious play for these departing companies lies in their stated support for some kind of restrictions on the minor greenhouse gases and for some green causes.

In other news on the political front relating to greenhouse gases, Texas is taking legal action against the EPA's attempt to restrict greenhouse gases under the decades old Clean Air Act.  It is arguing that the EPA based its decision on the UN IPCC AR4 report of 2007 and that report has now been shown to be seriously defective.  The Virginia Attorney General, Kenneth Cuccinelli asked the EPA to delay its finding that it could and should regulate CO2 and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act while new information is considered that the temperature increases have been exaggerated and that natural causes may have caused most of the temperature rise.

School Superintendent Fires All High School Teachers in Failed High School

Central Falls High School in Central Falls, Rhode Island has a 48% graduation rate and huge numbers of students failing courses.  The town of Central Falls grew up around the falls on the Blackstone River, which began powering manufacturing operations in the mid-1700s.  The area claims to have produced more of the arms used in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars than any other.  Central Falls was home to many manufacturing enterprises, but especially to the textile industry.  Now, it is a terribly depressed city with a median income of $22,000 and an unemployment rate well above the already high Rhode Island rate of 12.3% in December 2009.  But, the high school teachers earn $72,000 to $78,000 per year, teaching from 7:50 AM to 2:25 PM during the school year.

The State Education Commissioner, Deborah Gist, authorized the Central Falls School Superintendent, Francis Gallo, to turn the failed high school around.  Gallo asked the teachers union to agree to extending the school day by 25 minutes.  She also asked that teachers spend some time tutoring students before and after classes, eat lunch with them once a week, undergo more rigorous evaluations, attend a weekly after school planning meeting, and take two weeks of training each summer.  She offered them $30 per hour for 90 minutes of after school planning time a week and for the 2 weeks of summer training.

The teachers union wanted $90/hr. for the extra work.  They did not get that, so they refused the offer, knowing that the School Superintendent would have to fire the teachers, administrators, and assistants of the high school staff if they refused her offer.  Francis Gallo did just that.

Someone earning about $75,000 per year while working about three-quarters of the year is making money at about a $100,000 a year rate.  Surely one should expect such a person to be a professional.  Or viewed from another angle, surely one should expect a teacher to be a professional.  I cannot figure out why a professional needs a union, which will always require its members to behave in an unprofessional manner appropriate to at best semiskilled workers.  In any case, a professional teacher ought to be appalled at the degree of educational failure at Central Falls High School and should feel duty-bound out of professional pride to undertake the additional work needed to actually teach its students.  Possibly, the students are unreachable.  If a professional teacher were to conclude this, then that teacher would move to another school where the students are teachable.  But, to be happy drawing a high school teaching salary of $75,000 per year and not being able to graduate as many as 50% of the students, that is despicable.  The fired teachers surely deserved to be fired and apparently should have been fired long ago.

Unfortunately, Central Falls will fill the public school with more teachers and attempt to continue public education.  They may do better, but public education is always a failure.  Its internal contradictions are numerous:
  • One of the chief lessons of history is that government must be highly limited, but government will not properly teach this in a government-run school.  This is an inherent conflict-of-interest.
  • The central purpose of education is that children should learn to think rationally and independently.  Government does not want this to be the case:  it wants docile followers, so we have another conflict-of-interest.
  • The study of ethics is central to education, but ethical ideas are commonly a bone of contention among Americans to such an extent that government-run schools will not allow genuine ethical discussions because they may become "confrontational" and may bring in religious ideas.
  • Political issues must be discussed, but political viewpoints either rest on limited government or with extended government they must rest on imposing ethical ideas upon the citizens under threat of force.  Again, there is confrontation and the introduction of religious ideas, if powerful government is advocated, as the government always wishes it to be.
  • The government cannot resist using the government-run schools as propaganda mills designed to mold its future voters into the beliefs the government wants them to have.
  • The government cannot resist advocating ideas of class warfare and racial and sexual victimhood, since these ideas give the government many excuses to expand its powers.
The proper and wise way to provide the children of Central Falls with a decent education is to close down the government-run schools and start up more private schools.  The educational mandate of private schools is much less in conflict with the needs of American students and it has the property of being freely chosen, rather than imposed by force.

15 February 2010

The Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming Bandwagon Plunges Off Cliff

Most people have a strong desire to fit in with a group and to be accepted by that group.  We see this in high school aged children, where numerous cliques abound, with the criteria for membership in one or another being often quite superficial.  We see it in that most of the people of a given area are of the same general religion.  If you are American, you are much more likely to be Christian than anything else.  If you are Egyptian or Iranian, you are much more likely to Muslim.  If you are from southern India, you are most likely Hindu.  If you are from the Northeast or the Left Coast, you are more likely to be a Democrat.  If you are from the Rocky Mountain states,  the Great Plains, or the South, you are more likely a Republican.  If you are an Ivy League or other top college graduate, you are more likely to think well of socialism and want America to be more like socialist western Europe.  People want to belong and they cluster into groups of similar belief.  This process often defies all observation of the facts of reality and it often means believing in things with effects very different than those the believers claim is their intention.  Of course, there are also usually group members whose intention is to accomplish the aims which will be accomplished.  There usually are those who are happy to take advantage of the delusions of crowds.

In recent times, one of those bandwagon ideas one just had to accept in order to belong to the Democrat faction or to the well-educated college graduate clique, was that man is destroying the Earth in a number of ways, but mostly because man has developed an excessively industrialized and consumer-driven way of life.  The fact that we lived much more secure, longer, and richer lives than ever before, was in various ways ignored or denied.  In effect, all that we had done to raise ourselves from the status of the Noble Savage was a mistake.  In particular, our use of relatively inexpensive, convenient, and reliable fossil fuels was destroying the Earth by overheating it with emissions of carbon dioxide.  We were told that polar ice caps would melt and parts of New York City, much of Florida, much of the Netherlands, and much of Bangladesh, not to mention many sea islands, would go underwater.  We were told that polar bears, penguins, butterflies, and toads would suffer.  We were told there would be more droughts and wildfires and that hurricanes would be more frequent and more destructive.  We were told the oceans would become acidic and shells would be dissolved and coral reefs would die.  We were told that if we did not cut back on our fossil fuel use almost immediately by at least 80% the Earth was doomed and with that doom, so was mankind doomed.

Let me remind you all of what John Galt said in his speech to the nation in Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand:
"But to think is an act of choice." ..... "In any hour and issue of your life, you are free to think or to evade that effort. But you are not free to escape from your nature, from the fact that reason is your means of survival -- so that for you, who are a human being, the question 'to be or not to be" is the question 'to think or not to think.'
The fallacy of those who unthinkingly jump on a popular bandwagon has been familiar to mankind for a very long time. I read a post today by a friend who compared catastrophic anthropogenic global warming theory to the phlogiston theory of fire and combustion, before he noted that perhaps it was even more like the scientific hoax of Peltsdown Man.  He closed with an interesting quote from Buddha:
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

UN IPCC 2007 Report Hurricane Claims Wrong

Les Hatton has worked on weather models at the Meteorology Office of the United Kingdom, studied mathematics at Cambridge, and earned a Ph.D. in meteorology.  He is a fellow of the Royal Meteorology Society, teaches at the University of Kingston, and an expert in critical systems analysis.  He has examined the raw data on severe storms from NOAA in order to test several statements made in the IPCC AR4 report of 2007.  He performed a z-test statistical analysis of the 1999-2009 period for comparison to the entire 1946 - 2009 period.  He found no significant change in the number of storms or their severity.

The more detailed results were:
  • North Atlantic hurricane activity increased significantly, mostly due to an especially active year in 2005.
  • Hurricane-strength storms in the East Pacific diminished.  There are 50% more such storms there commonly than in the North Atlantic.
  • There was no difference in storms of the West Pacific.
  • There was no net difference in severe storms globally.
Interestingly enough, the IPCC report did say "there is no clear trend in the annual numbers of tropical cyclones."  Yet it goes on to say "There are also suggestions of increased intense tropical cyclone activity in some other regions where concerns over data quality are greater."  Hatton claims the data from those areas is of similar quality to all the other data.  The IPCC makes the claim that "It is more likely than not (> 50%) that there has been some human contribution to the increases in hurricane intensity."  Hatton says they concluded this from computer models, which were at variance with the observational data!

Hatton is not the first scientist with expertise in severe storms to refute the UN IPCC AR4 report claims of 2007.  Dr. Chris Landsea, the chief scientist of the National Hurricane Center in the U.S., resigned in 2005 from his activities as a contributor to the UN IPCC reports in protest to the poor science of Dr. Kevin Trenberth who was a Lead Author for the AR4 of 2007.  Landsea claimed publicly that the Dr. Kevin Trenberth's claims that severe storms were more intense and frequent due to man-made global warming were wrong, since they were not more intense and more frequent.  Dr. Kevin Trenberth is one of the inner circle of global warming alarmists whose unethical advocacy activities were made more public by the recent ClimateGate e-mail and document dump from the CRU of the University of East Anglia.

Some global warming alarmists note that there has been an increase in low-intensity storms in the record.  This, however, appears to be because radar and satellites are observing these storms now, which often went unobserved before.

Prof. Phil Jones Admits No Significant Warming since 1995

Following the ClimateGate e-mail and documents dump scandal, the then director of the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, was asked to step down while an investigation of such things as his refusal to provide data requested under a freedom of information act was underway.  Phil Jones was a principal author on the UN IPCC AR4 report of 2007.

In an interview on the BBC on 13 February 2010, Phil Jones admitted that (here and here):
  • There has been no "statistically significant" warming since 1995.
  • The warming periods of 1860 to 1880, 1910 to 1940, and 1975 to 1998 were very similar and could all be explained by natural forces.
  • The data and papers the hockey stick graph used prominently in the last two UN IPCC reports is based on has been lost.  The hockey stick temperature record was the basis for a claim of unprecedented warming recently, which was attributed to man's CO2 emissions due to using fossil fuels.
  • The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) may have been warmer than now and recently, but there is insufficient data from the tropics and the southern hemisphere to be sure of that.  He says the MWP is best expressed in North America, the North Atlantic and Europe, and parts of Asia.
Wow, is Phil Jones' fall from being a top global warming alarmist scientist amazing evidence of the collapse of this scientific foolishness, or what?

Strangely enough, though Phil Jones concedes that the warmings from 1910 to 1940 and from 1975 to 1998 are remarkably similar and may be entirely natural events and he says that no statistically significant warming has occurred since 1995, he also claims that only man-made warming effects can explain the warming since 1998!  Now this is a simple breakdown of logic and reveals how strongly the religion of man-made global warming has its claws sunk into him.

Note also that the warmth of the MWP can hardly be ignored for the North Atlantic,  Europe, and parts of Asia, because there are plentiful human records of the crops grown, the extent of glaciers, and the natural flora and fauna of the time from those areas.  North America and many of those areas have been particularly subject to scientific studies as well.  But, there is much less land in the Southern Hemisphere, especially if the unpopulated Antarctica is discounted, and none of it was settled by advanced civilizations that kept significant written records.  His claim that warming in the tropics should also be shown before the MWP is thought of as a global warming is actually showing ignorance of the science of the Earth's climate.  When the Earth warms from temperatures similar to those we have now, the temperature in the tropics is hardly changed at all.  The reason is that water evaporates so much more quickly there with any warming.  In evaporation, the absorption of heat from the environment to turn liquid water into vapor has a counteracting cooling effect.  This effect is large, since it takes a lot of heat to vaporize water.  As a result, the temperature of the tropics tends to be quite stable even when the warming at higher latitudes is significant.

Prof. Phil Jones wrote in a dumped e-mail that he would destroy the temperature data before he would turn it over in response to freedom of information act requests.  Is losing the data the same as destroying it?  Maybe he lost it in a trash dumpster in Northumberland.  He claimed in the interview that his office was so piled with papers that maybe it was lost there.  He admitted that he was not a good record-keeper.

Dr. Benny Pieser, director of the skeptical Global Warming Policy Foundation, noted that Prof. Phil Jones had shared his data with colleagues and 'mates', so the claim that he had lost the data did not ring true.  He went on to say that this was Phil Jones' first admission that the science of global warming was not settled.

Folks, it is much worse than that.  Phil Jones was one of the most cited scientists in the scientific literature as an authority on catastrophic man-made global warming.  Now, he clearly has no evidence for any warming since 1995 and he has said the earlier warming from 1975 to 1998 was no different than that from 1910 to 1940, so there is simply no longer any late 20th Century warming that can be claimed to be unprecedented and/or due to man's use of fossil fuels!  Whether he lost the hockey stick data or not is now irrelevant with respect to the catastrophic man-made global warming argument.  He has already logically admitted that the hockey stick temperature graph is wrong!  And prior to this, every effort was made by the scientists in his alarmist cabal to erase the Medieval Warm Period, but now we have his confession that he is not at all sure that it can be erased!

The catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (AGW) science house of cards has collapsed very rapidly.  Unfortunately, it is hanging in there in much of the media and in the Democrat Party.  The Economist and even Forbes Magazine have had recent articles assuming its truth.  The EPA has failed to reopen consideration of its foolish recent declaration that CO2 is a pollutant which it must regulate tightly under the Clean Air Act.  The Obama administration has announced the formation of a new department under NOAA to serve as a central government advocate for catastrophic man-made global warming, though they name it as simply a climate research and study department.  The momentum of the religious movement for catastrophic AGW rumbles on, even after its obvious scientific collapse.

But, fewer independents and fewer Republicans now believe in it.  Even among Democrats, some have now become atheists or agnostics.  It will take time for the media and the politicians to correct themselves, but most of them will either do so or simply stop advocating it.  I am sure the latter option will be the more popular.  We can expect to hear few apologies from those who so strongly advocated shutting off our inexpensive fuel supplies, making our electricity system much less reliable and much more expensive, causing coal miners and oil refinery and pipeline workers to lose their jobs, many a manufacturing industry to move abroad, and many homes and workplaces to be cold in the winter and hot in the summer.  The false claims of catastrophic AGW will simply fade away.  Eventually.

We should remember who took the wrong side on this very important issue.  People such as Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Reid, Markey, Waxman, McCain, Lieberman, Bayh, Boxer, Feingold, Gillibrand, Inouye, Leahy, Mikulski, Murray, Schumer, Specter, Wyden, Edwards, Hoyer, Kratovil, and Van Hollen should all be thrown out of office as soon as possible.  Meanwhile, Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma has been a long-time foe of the hypothesis of catastrophic AGW and this should be remembered to his advantage.

13 February 2010

A Record Snowfall in Washington, DC and Baltimore


The second blizzard of February, in progress, after extensive snow removal, at my home between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Both Baltimore and Washington, D.C. set new winter snowfall records this winter as a result of the third blizzard of this season on 9 and 10 February 2010.  The previous winter record was the winter of 1898-1899.  Time magazine and the NY Times have claimed that this new record snowfall is probably due to global warming.  If that followed so simply, then should it not be likely that the previous winter record was also due to global warming?  In other words, that simple logic would imply that the winter of 1898-1899 was an equally warm period.  Hmmm......last I knew the catastrophic man-made global warming alarmists were saying that the warming which occurred in the late 20th Century was unprecedented.  I do not think they want us to think the Time and NY Times logic through to the conclusion that 1898-1899 were equally warm!

The claim they made is essentially that the warmer air due to global warming will hold more moisture and therefore can provide more snow in the winter.  They overlook the fact that the Washington and Baltimore areas are near the Atlantic and generally have plenty of precipitation in the winters.  Most of that precipitation is in the form of rain and sleet most winters.

Let us consider the case for Washington, D.C.:  The only month with an average temperature below freezing is January and its average temperature is barely below freezing, being 30.6 degrees F.  February at an average temperature of 33.6 degrees F and December at an average of 35.4 degrees F are the next coldest months.  It is hardly a wonder that most winters have more rain and sleet than snow.  But, the December relative humidity in the morning is 79%, January averages 77%, and February averages 78%.  There is hardly a lack of humidity to turn into snow or rain.  This humidity is lower than the summer humidity, which in June is 84%, 86% in July, and 89% in August.  The afternoon humidity in December is 58%, in January it is 59%, and in February it is 54%.  The December and January afternoon humidities are the highest of the year!  December and January have the highest number of cloudy days in the year, followed by February and March.  December averages 3.2 inches of precipitation, January 2.7 inches, and February 2.8 inches.

Commonly, 1 inch of rain is about 6.25 inches of snow.  If all December average precipitation were in the form of snow, D.C. would have 20.0 inches.  The average January snow would be 16.9 inches and the average February snow would be 17.5 inches.  In fact, from 1971 to 2000, Washington, DC averaged 15.2 inches of snow each year, which is less than the potential of any of our winter months.  The limit on snow in DC is not the humidity of the air.  It is the temperature of the air!  Global warming would not make the winter air temperatures colder!  In fact, the falsified land surface temperature records usually indicate the greatest amount of the claimed recent warming occurs in the winter.

The amount of annual snowfall is very highly variable.  Before this winter, the snowiest winter in Washington D.C. was that of 1898-1899.  But, the previous winter of 1897-1898 had only 0.1 inch of snow!  That winter tied the winter of 1997-1998 for the record for least snow.  Note that in 1997 and 1998 we were already being told that these were years of unprecedented warmth.  If global warming causes heavy snowfall, why was that winter tied for the least snow since 1870?

The blame-it-on-mankind global warming alarmists never miss a chance to blame uncommon weather on mankind.  But, if they had only examined their assumptions a little bit, they would have seen the foolishness of the argument they put forth as the explanation for the heavy snowfall of the winter of 2009-2010 in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore.

09 February 2010

The Gross National Debt and Our Gross National Politicians

The Gross National Debt is the sum of the Public Debt and the money the government owes to itself, such as to Medicare and Social Security.  The Public Debt is important in that the government has to find people willing to hold that debt in exchange for interest, but the real government debt is the Gross National Debt.  This is because when the Social Security Fund starts requiring the government to make good on its IOUs to Social Security so that retired people can be paid their benefits, the government will have to come up with that money or default on the Social Security program.  Coming up with the money may mean borrowing it from the public, finding additional tax revenues, or simply devaluing the money by printing it and paying the money back with less valuable dollars.  The devalued dollars will dilute the benefits.

Let us look at the public debt and the gross debt through the year 2008 graphed in terms of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP):

The y-axis is mislabeled. The plot is as a function of the percentage of the GDP, not the fraction. The reason for looking at it as a percentage of GDP is because as the economy grows, it is better able to support a given level of debt. In 2008, the gross debt (in black) was 1.72 times the public debt (in red). We already owed the Medicare and Social Security Funds a huge debt. As you can see, the ratio of gross debt to public debt has been increasing in recent decades.

In 2001, Bush's first year in office, the Congress was divided with the Democrats in control of the Senate.  The gross debt was 57.4% of GDP.  In 2003, the Republicans came to control both the House and the Senate.  The 2007 budget was the last one enacted by the Republican controlled House and Senate and the gross debt at the end of 2007 was 65.6% of GDP.  The increase in the gross debt from 2001 to 2007 was 8.2% ( an average yearly increase of 1.17%), which Democrats like to blame on the Bush tax cuts.  Actually, government revenues went up by $576.8 billion a year in this time, so, as is so often the case, the reason for our expanding debt was clearly huge spending increases.  In 2007, despite the increased revenue of $576.8 billion, the government increased its gross debt by $499.3 billion.  That debt was caused by an increase of government expenditures since 2001 of $1.076 trillion!  Many of us Republicans were furious with our party and became very unenthusiastic supporters and that only because we recognized the Democrats as even worse.  The gross debt was, however, not quite as bad as it had been for a couple of years in the 1990s.

So, in 2007 the Democrats took over the House and the Senate.  Their first real budget was in 2008 and it increased the gross national debt from 65.6% to 70.2% of GDP in one year for an increase of 4.6%!  In 2009, with no worry that Obama would veto anything the Congress passed, they really went to town.  The Gross national debt increased to 86.1% of GDP.  In two years of Democrat control, the total increase in gross debt was 20.5%!  According to the OMB, the 2010 gross national debt is estimated to be 98.1% of GDP, for a three year increase of 32.5%!!!!!  This is an average of 10.83% increase per year under the Democrats, compared to the 1.17% yearly increase I used to think was awful between 2001 and 2007.  Actually, I still do think that was awful, but now it is more than 9 times more awful.  How do you express an order of magnitude more than awful?  Does that make the present regime's growth of the gross national debt awesomely awful?  The deficit this year may well be an underestimate, since it is also based on growth in the economy and in government tax receipts which many think are rosy projections, indeed.

Now, this is where reality falls off a cliff.  Next, we enter a real fantasy world.  In 2011, the new Obama budget submission to Congress hopes (it springs eternal) that the gross national debt will only increase to 101.0% of GDP.  They have some very, very rosy projections on how well the economy will do, despite Obama's heavy new taxes.  His proposed new taxes are expected to bring in $2 trillion more over the next 10 years.  Yes, this madman actually thinks he can lower the boom on the economy with backbreaking taxes and it will thrive and throw increased tribute at the feet of the great leader.  The leader will then be free to choose his friends and party lavishly with them, while most Americans carry some lazy and wrongheaded bureaucrat on their back to the feast.

Well, I have news for you kleptocrats.  It is well proven that increasing the tax rate on capital gains results in so many fewer capital gains transactions that tax revenues will go down, not up.  The expected increase in tax revenues of $105.4 billion from that source will never happen.  If you really wanted more revenues in time, you would decrease the capital gains tax rate.  But, if you want the People to think you are a socialist, redistributionist hero and you are trampling the necks of wealthy Capitalists, this sounds good.  But, Capitalists will change their investment behavior to thwart your evil plans and you will get less.  Way to shoot yourselves in the foot!

Obama plans to make the unemployment insurance surtax permanent.  Great, so employers will hire fewer people since that will raise the cost of labor, as will the preferential treatment for labor union goons.  He will increase taxes on oil and gas.  Great, that will result in less oil and gas on the American market and higher prices.  The economy will slow down everywhere.  An increase in oil prices is what started the recession in the first place, even before the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market.

He will increase taxes on companies with operations abroad.  These companies already share the world's highest corporation taxes with Japan.  This is one of the reasons they have been increasing their operations aboard so much.  This is not rocket science.  If you want corporations to hire more people and produce more in the U.S., lower the corporation tax rate.  No, if you are wrongheaded socialist, you find a way to increase their taxes even more.  The proper response is for these companies to reduce their American operations even more and move their headquarters abroad to countries with lower tax rates.  This will happen in time, if these new taxes are not repealed and if the super-high corporation income tax is not lowered.  Then there is the brilliant idea of putting a special tax on banks.  Now how is that going to result in banks loaning more money to companies as they try to expand to grow us out of this recession?  How much of this tax is going to be passed on to every customer of a bank?  All, or almost all, of it!

Brilliant, Obama, just brilliant.  You claim you could not find a credible economist who would back any other policy when you spoke to the Republican Congressmen.  I will suggest two really good economists you might talk to:  Dr. Thomas Sowell and Prof. Walter E. Williams.  I could list numerous others as well, but I thought I would stick with two who would have been much better guardians of the Constitution and the economy than you are and who would have provided the American People a genuine pleasure in having a black American President.  It really is unfortunate that our first one had to be such an incompetent fool.