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.

23 August 2016

Leaving High Taxes and Big Government Behind

This post is based on some very useful references provided in a comment to my prior post on the Cato Institute evaluation of the freedom in the 50 States 2016.

Between 1992 and 2014, the IRS tracked the migration of people and their AGI on their tax forms. The net results of these migrations are indicated in this map where red is a loss of income due to net migration and green is an income gain.



It is interesting to note that of the 8 least free states by the 2016 report of Cato Institute on Freedom in the 50 States of my last post, the following 7 states are either red or light red in this income migration map, indicating a loss of income:

New York
California
New Jersey
Maryland
Connecticut
Illinois
Rhode Island

Out migration from California tends to be strong to Arizona, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon.  All of these states are more free than California and the least free is Oregon, which perhaps explains why its income increased the least of these four states.

New Hampshire, the freest state, had a small increase in income due to migration. Oklahoma and Alaska were #3 and #2, respectively, and both have risen in recent years in freedom, so their newly deserved reputations were not yet established in many of the years 1992 - 2014.  Indiana at #4 has been more stable in its freedom and clearly has performed much better in minimizing losses than its neighboring states of Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio in this time period.  Indiana's weakest ranking of #26 was in fiscal policy which includes taxes and that is a particularly strong factor on the out-migration of income.  Tennessee, Idaho, Florida, and Arizona of the 10 most free states are also all green in this income migration map above.  #5 South Dakota is white, or income neutral, and #9 Iowa is pink.

Overall, the freer states were the Rocky Mountain states, the Great Plain states from Oklahoma north, and the Southeast with the exception of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas.  There are no red states in these areas.  Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas are pink, but three of these states are in the #16 - #25 grouping for freedom.  Missouri is further hurt by not being a Right to Work state.

Here is another interesting map from Peter J. Nelson of the Center of the American Experiment entitled Minnesotans on the Move to Lower Tax States 2016:


In the map, the bluer the color the greater the loss of taxpayers earning more than $200K a year.  We also find that most of the low freedom states have higher losses than do high freedom states.  All of the 9 states with gains equal or greater than 1.00% are in the top twenty most free states by the Cato Institute ranking.  Tax policy is under the Fiscal Policy ranking and in this area South Carolina is ranked #23, Nevada is #25, and Wyoming is #21, so there is a stronger correlation with the overall freedom ranking than there is with the Fiscal Policy ranking subset of freedoms for these high income in-migration states.  Some of these high in-flux states do have very high Fiscal Policy rankings, however, with New Hampshire, Tennessee, Florida, Montana, and Idaho having Fiscal Policy rankings from #1 to #8.  So general freedom may be more important for a subset of the wealthier migrators and tax policy alone may be the most important factor for another subset of these wealthier migrators.

Overall, I would judge it likely that income migration is affected strongly by tax policy, but it is also affected strongly by a desire for freedom in general.  Different people have different weightings on these aspects of freedom in their personal set of values.  Good government seeks to provide everyone with the freedoms their individual rights entitle them to.  When a state government offers a better service to freedom, rational and productive people will come to that state. Good things happen to states and the local communities when more rational and productive people choose to live there.

20 August 2016

Freedom in the 50 States Evaluated by Cato Institute

The 2016 report on Freedom in the 50 States by the Cato Institute evaluating the state of freedom through 2014 is now available.  The results of their evaluation of freedom based on fiscal policy, personal freedom, and regulatory policy are summarized in this map:


Cato provides the weightings they used for the evaluation of freedom and one can change those weightings to one's personal preferences to see how the rankings change.  But by Cato's weightings, the top ten freest states are ranked and graded as, with the party of the governor, the senate, and the house of the state added in order either as a D or an R in the year 2014:

1) New Hampshire, 0.3319, D, R, D
2) Alaska, 0.3265, R, R, R
3) Oklahoma, 0.2791, R, R, R
4) Indiana, 0.2778, R, R, R
5) South Dakota, 0.2754, R, R, R
6) Tennessee, 0.2646, R, R, R
7) Idaho, 0.2608, R, R, R
8) Florida, 0.2133, R, R, R
9) Iowa, 0.2048, R, D, R
10) Arizona, 0.1834, R, R, R

The 10 most authoritarian states with their negative scores are:

50) New York, -0.9763, D, D, D
49) California, -0.5026, D, D, D
48) Hawaii, -0.4904, D, D, D
47) New Jersey, -0.4285, R, D, D
46) Maryland, -0.4039, D, D, D
45) Connecticut, -0.2612, D, D, D
44) Illinois, -0.2554, D, D, D
43) Rhode Island, -0.1735, I (really D), D, D
42) Maine, -0.1500, R, D, D
41) Kentucky, -0.1489, D, R, D

It is interesting that the five most authoritarian states, New York, California, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Maryland are all more greatly deviant from the norm of freedom than is the freest of the states, New Hampshire.  If you value your freedom, it is particularly important to avoid these most negatively rated states.  New York is about three times more negative than New Hampshire is positive.  In fact, New York is almost twice as bad as either of the next two worst states, California and Hawaii.

If one were to move from New York to New Hampshire, the freedom score would increase by 1.3082.  Or if I were to move from authoritarian Maryland to where much of my family lives in Oklahoma, my score would improve by 0.6830, which is a substantial increase in freedom.  Or if you live in the Washington, DC area, living in Virginia offers a big improvement over living in Maryland by 0.5080.  If you have to live near New York City, Connecticut is substantially more free than is either New York or New Jersey.

Of the 10 most free states, all are controlled by Republicans, except two which had divided government in 2014.  Of the 10 most authoritarian governments, all were entirely controlled by Democrats in the governorship and the legislature, except the two least repressive of that set of the 10 worst, who had one of the three legs of the state government in the hands of Republicans.  It is not uncommon for libertarians to claim that the Republicans are every bit as anti-freedom as the Democrats, but these rankings make it clear that the Republicans are significantly better than the Democrats in most cases.  Indeed, one of the main reasons that the mean state freedom rankings are so much better than those of the most repressive states is because far more states are controlled by Republicans than are controlled by the more adamant deniers of individual rights found in the Democrat Party.

14 August 2016

Paul Driessen - Olympic-sized climate propaganda

I am posting this article at Paul Driessen's request.  I would add to the comments of the Egyptian commentators he quotes about Obama's belief that man-made global warming is our foremost crisis that Hillary Clinton claims she will have an even more radical program of fossil fuel use suppression than does Obama.  And yes, I do believe that Hillary is so divorced from reality, such a criminal, and so mad for power that it is very reasonable to evaluate her as insane. Here is Paul Driessen's article:

Olympic-sized climate propaganda

It was wrong to interrupt Rio’s delightful opening ceremonies with deceitful agitprop  

XXXI Olympiad competitors are joyfully showcasing their skills and sportsmanship, while delighted fans revel in their amazing efforts. But opening ceremonies featuring colorful history, dance, song and athletes were rudely interrupted by an unprecedented propaganda film.

As audiences around the world were getting pumped up in eager anticipation for the upcoming events, a slick but deceitful video soured the mood by inserting partisan climate change politics.
Fossil fuels are warming our planet, and the manmade heat is melting its ice caps, narrators intoned. Animated maps showed Greenland “disappearing very quickly” and Amsterdam, Dubai, Miami, Shanghai, Lagos and Rio being swallowed up by rising seas.

Well, yes, if average global temperatures really did soar 4 degrees Celsius (7.5 Fahrenheit), and if all of Greenland’s ice melts, oceans certainly could rise 20 feet and other terrible things certainly could happen.

But wild assumptions, computer models and animations are not reality. Few of us are really worried about being eaten by raptors and Tyrannosaurs cloned from DNA in fossilized amber, even though Jurassic Park sure made them look real. Ditto for Hollywood sharks, werewolves, cave monsters – and global warming.

In the Real World outside the animators’ windows, average planetary temperatures barely budged for 18 years. After climbing a headline-grabbing 0.55 degrees C (1 deg F) in 2015, a strong El Niño year, they plummeted a media-ignored 0.5 degrees C the first seven months of 2016, as La Niña approached. That’s a far cry from the 4/7.5 temperature spike that animated the animators’ fear-mongering. The sun has entered a low-sun-spot phase, possibly heralding a new colder period for Planet Earth.

As to temperatures increasing “since the industrial era began,” that primarily reflects Earth’s emergence from the 500-year Little Ice Age. Of course, climate alarmists happily claim this natural warming is due to mankind’s growing fossil fuel use during the same period of time, though scientists still cannot distinguish human and natural factors. With temperatures rising 1850-1940, cooling 1940-1975, warming 1975-1998, and mostly flat-lining since then, it’s hard to blame oil, gas and coal for any warming.

So the likelihood of Greenland’s ice all melting is about zero. In fact, its ice mass has been growing since the time period the Olympics propaganda squad selected to show the ice sheets “disappearing.”
News stories about the Rio video also featured claims that climate change has “already had real effects in Brazil,” where 60% of the Amazon rainforest is located. Some 240,000 acres were clear-cut just in June 2016, “as a result of deforestation” – related to global warming, it was slyly suggested.

If they’re talking about replacing rainforests with biofuel plantations, to replace fossil fuels that could be produced from a fraction of that acreage, then yes, there’s a climate (policy) connection. But there would be little need to chop down all those trees if climate chaos campaigners weren’t obsessively opposed to the fossil fuels that power 80% of the world’s economy and provide other vital human needs.

The indispensable benefits of hydrocarbons and petrochemicals for Olympic Games alone are impressive.

They are the raw materials for uniforms of every description; swim suits, goggles and caps; kayaks and kayaker helmets and paddles; bicycle helmets, shoes and carbon-fiber frames; basketballs, vaulting poles, tennis balls and racquets, soccer balls and shin guards; bows and arrows; volleyball and field hockey nets; basketballs [Paul really likes basketballs]; seats and clothing for fans; prosthetics and wheelchairs for Paralympians; and much more.

No one could watch the games without plastics for computers, cameras, monitors, cell phones, dish antennas, banners and other equipment that promote, record and transmit the events. Neither athletes nor fans could get to the games without airlines, vehicles and fossil fuels.

In short, virtually nothing we make, grow, eat, use or do is possible without fuels and materials that come out of holes in the ground somewhere on our planet. But radical greens want it all put off limits. They would rather see billions of acres of croplands, rainforests and wildlife habitats cleared and plowed – and trillions of gallons of water and fertilizer expended – to grow biofuel crops to replace fossil fuels. “Keep it in the ground,” they demand.

African, Asian and European countries cannot afford to stop using oil, natural gas or coal. Nor can the United States or any other modern or developing country.

Naturally, the video and news reports mentioned none of this. So why did the Rio organizers agree to present this manmade climate cataclysm video?

One possible reason is a desire to distract people from its real problems. Mosquitoes are spreading Zika. Shoddy athletic housing has bare wires and sinks falling off walls. The open-water swimming venue is a bacteria-infested open sewer. Swallowing just a few teaspoons of Rio’s tap water will make visiting athletes and fans horribly sick. Eleven construction workers died while preparing Rio for the games.

Brazil’s economy is on the rocks and #174 out of 189 nations for starting a new business. Its current and previous presidents are under investigation for corruption.

But once the games got underway, they were fantastic, fun, exciting and dramatic; their own distraction.

So the video could be simple “greenwashing” – making the 2016 games the “greenest ever.” Or it might be to reinforce Brazil’s claim to billions of dollars that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have promised for mitigation, adaptation and compensation for the climate chaos we supposedly caused.

Just as strange, even ExxonMobil played the politically correct climate game. Its Olympics TV ad says the company is doing all it can to reduce “carbon pollution.” Surely Exxon knows it’s not carbon (soot); it’s carbon dioxide. And it’s not pollution; the plant-fertilizing CO2 is enriching the atmosphere and making forests, grasslands and food crops grow faster and better. So why use Obama/EPA terminology?

Maybe the company just wants to buy some feel-good PR and “peace in our time.” Maybe it and its corporate and political colleagues are forgetting 1960s radical activist Jerry Rubin’s comment: “The more demands you satisfy, the more we’ve got.” And Winston Churchill’s blunt truth: “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

All of it reminds me of the way several Egyptian journalists responded to President Obama’s 2015 commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy. “Climate change is a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security,” he asserted. “It will impact how our military defends our country.” Anyone who fails to recognize this is guilty of “dereliction of duty.”

The journalists reacted in disbelief. “Is he insane? Is he on drugs?” asked one. “What did you expect from a president who never served in the military and never worked a day in his life?” said the second. “I’m sure he’s not deliberately trying to destroy his country,” the first suggested. “Of course he is,” the third said.

Now millions of Americans appear perfectly willing to sacrifice their livelihoods, living standards, liberties and country on the altar of manmade climate Armageddon. Are they insane? Are they on drugs?

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


04 August 2016

The Failed ObamaCare: Lost Issue of the Presidential Race

Unfortunately, the Republicans have once again chosen a presidential candidate who is unable to and uninterested in fighting a major suppression of individual rights, namely the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act known as ObamaCare.  This big government effort to claim the collective ownership of everyone's mind and body should still be a critical issue with those of us who value our liberties.

The American Enterprise Institute has produced a series of articles about the failures of parts of the ObamaCare Act.  The latest article (1 August 2016) says about the cooperatives set up by ObamaCare:
Twenty-three plans, funded with $2.4 billion in government loans, opened enrollment in 2013. By the end of 2015, 12 plans had failed, leaving $1.3 billion in delinquent loans, more than 700,000 people in 13 states scrambling for coverage, and hospitals and doctors with hundreds of millions of dollars in losses uncovered by the assets of the failed co-ops.
This result is hardly surprising. The people running the co-ops had no experience running an insurance company — co-ops were forbidden to have anyone affiliated with insurers on their boards. Their premiums were too low and their benefits too high. The failed co-ops went on to lose $376 million in 2014 and more than a billion in 2015. Only one co-op turned a profit in 2014, and all lost money in 2015. 
The complete article is here.

01 August 2016

The Obama Economic Growth Record

In the seven years 2009 - 2015 under Obama, the rate of real GDP growth has averaged 1.4% a year. It takes zero increase in productivity to increase the GDP at the rate of growth of the population. Over the six Obama years 2009 - 2014, the population of the USA has decreased from an initial high of 0.98% in 2009 to a 2015 rate of 0.77% as hope has died.  The average population rate over those six Obama years was 0.91%.  The real, per capita GDP growth rate is then about 1.4% - 0.9% = 0.5%. This real, per capita GDP rate is the rate that actually tells us how fast our standard of living is improving.  A 0.5% annual rate is pathetic and the result of a serious national malaise.

Hillary would continue down this sorry path.  That path is looking even worse so far this year.  The 1st quarter real GDP growth rate was just revised downward to 0.8%, while the second quarter rate was reported to be 1.2%.  Subtract the population growth rate to estimate the per capita real GDP growth rate and that rate so far this year is less than the 0.5% of the prior Obama years.  As is the case with Obama, Hillary knows nothing about economics or how to grow a business.  Nonetheless, many Americans will be voting for more of the same in a few months.

Obama is the only President between 1950 and the present to never achieve a 3% real GDP growth rate.  The suppression of high rates of growth following a deep recession is a very great feat, since such high rates are almost invariably the result of the corrections that occur in a recession.  Of course, the Obama administration frustrated many of those corrections in the Great Recession, wasted huge fortunes of money, and enacted extremely expensive and irrational laws and regulations to wreck havoc on the U.S. economy and its businesses.  See:


Let us examine a crucial consequence of adopting the Obama-Hillary new economic growth normal with a government taking huge chunks of the private sector economy under its dictates year after year.  Let us compare the resulting size estimates for real per capita GDP based on a 0.5% Democratic Party rate of growth and a number of rates of growth which could be achieved by more rational economic policies giving us lower tax rates, fewer regulations, no irrational laws, and no violations of the Rule of Law.  Most Americans can expect to live another 40 years.  So let us ask what the size of the economy in terms of the real per capita GDP will be 40 years from now should we forego big government controls for a free and robust private sector economy.

Growth rate of 0.5%, real, per capita GDP in 40 years is 1.22 times the present case on the Obama - Hillary course.

Growth rate of 2.0%, real, per capita GDP in 40 years is 2.21 times the present case, with economic policies marginally less irrational than those of Obama - Hillary.

Growth rate of 3.0%, real, per capita GDP in 40 years is 3.26 times the present case, with economic policies based on a modest level of rationality.

Growth rate of 4.0%, real, per capita GDP in 40 years is 4.80 times the present case with a free market economy.

If we measure the size of the real, per capita GDPs at higher growth rates as ratios to the Obama - Hillary new normal 40-year economy, the economy is much larger.

2.0% growth, the economy is 1.81 times larger.

3.0% growth, the economy is 2.67 times larger

4.0% growth, the economy is 3.93 times larger

Do we really love the big government directed economy of Obama - Hillary so much that we wish to forego an economy in 40 years which is 2, 3, or 4 times wealthier than it is now for one that is only 22% larger than it is now?  We are not just giving up several times more wealth, but we are also giving up all of the extra inventions, the extra funding for science, the extra funding for medical research and its clinical applications, the additional knowledge, the greater national security, improved housing and retirement, and the abundance of interesting and challenging jobs of such robust and diverse economies.  Does the big government model really offer anything to improve our standard of living that begins to compare to what we are giving up by adopting that model of human and economic controls?  It is absolutely inconceivable that the Obama - Hillary 0.5% real per capita GDP growth rate is the rational choice.

This is truly a case of checking out the claims of someone who is claiming to offer you something for nothing. There is clearly an alternative outcome one can choose and that outcome, consistent with liberty, is vastly superior for our personal security and our desire to flourish in life. The freebie is purchased most dearly.  One is reminded of Ayn Rand's frequent refrain that we should ask when offered a packaged deal, "Instead of what?"







31 July 2016

Progressivism Evolves from Soak the Rich to Soak the Poor

Progressivism used to pretend to soak the rich in order to provide welfare for the poor.  To some degree it did what it pretended to do, but it mostly hurt the middle class to provide welfare for the poor and a false and easy sense of morality to the rich.  Of course the rich looked down on the poor and claimed to make their supposedly miserable lives better even as they shut them off from joining the middle class.

The platform of the Hillary-run Democratic Party has now been proclaimed the most Progressive in terms of its environmental policies ever.  Tom Steyer, the single largest campaign donor of the 2014 elections with donations of about $74 million, has already spent $31.5 million on the 2016 campaign with most of his effort aimed at ensuring the Democratic Party has radical and destructive environmental and energy policies.  Once again, he is the biggest campaign donor so far in this election.  The Democrat pledge to end freedom of speech for corporations and for-profit companies is not intended to apply to this businessman's gigantic donations.  "Free speech for me, but none for you" is the motto of the Democrat Party.

Under the bought influence of Tom Steyer, the Democrat Party platform is the "most progressive environmental platform in the history of the Democratic platform or in the history of American politics", according to the buyer himself.  Steyer boasts that efforts to thwart climate change appear everywhere in the platform document.  “So it really isn’t a question of any one single silver bullet. It’s an attitude where we basically put it into every discussion we have, so when we’re talking about jobs, we’re also talking about clean energy, we’re also talking about fighting climate change.” 


Of course, the number of coal mining, oil and gas fracking, railroad, pipeline, and power plant jobs killed is de-emphasized and the number of so-called green energy jobs is hugely exaggerated.  The health benefits of using less and less fossil fuel are multiplied many times in their imaginative telling of the story.  The dangers of fossil fuels to the environment are blown to heroic proportions, while those of covering state-sized sunny areas with photovoltaics, boiling birds with directed and amplified sunlight, and blenderizing birds with spinning dicing blades are lost in silence.  Where any other structure made by man is an abomination to the beauty of nature, tall and broad wind generators are a problem only when they are in the backyard of wealthy "Progressive" aristocrats eager for the absolute power of the nobility of ages once thought behind us. The fact that the few unemployed coal miners so deep in despair that they commit suicide greatly exceed the numbers of those killed by air-borne pollutants downwind of coal-fired power plants, is never noted.  The fact that unemployed workers due to the war on fossil fuels who commit suicide can actually be counted, while there is no epidemiological evidence for those imagined downwind deaths due to the use of coal or natural gas in electric power generation plants, gives the aristocrats of power no qualms at all.


Not only does the War on Fossil Fuels cause unemployment and the destruction of huge prior capital investments, but it causes the cost of energy to go up greatly.  It also causes energy to be less reliably available.  Both increased cost and decreased reliability hurt the poor and the lower middle class the most.   They pay a larger fraction of their incomes for energy.  They are the most likely ones to lose their jobs, whether they work in an energy related field or for a company whose energy prices are going up because of the Democratic Party efforts to make them go up, or to skyrocket, as Obama once said was his purpose. Some companies are so dependent on reliable energy that as energy becomes unreliable, their costs go up due to lost time and production.  My own materials analysis laboratory is such an example of a company that pays a terrible price when the electricity goes down.  And while the rich can afford a stand-by generator at their home, less than rich Americans commonly cannot afford that luxury.


So, the Democratic Party "Progressive Environmental Agenda" is absolutely committed to harming the poor and generally the less than wealthy.  It offers rich scammers wondrous opportunities to turn modest campaign contributions into huge government loans and grants for their fake green energy companies, which fail left and right, err ... left and left and left.  The companies go bankrupt after paying the principals great salaries and the taxpayers lose the money they loaned the fraudulent companies and receive little in innovations for their grants.  The green companies last longer than they should because of additional mandates that their energy output be used to meet unrealistically high quotas.  The economic fallacy of a government-directed economy once-again has proven the principle that government direction is vastly inferior to private sector direction. 


It takes but a little unproductive kick to the head of the private sector to significantly reduce the growth of the per capita real private sector income.  The new big government real per-capita private sector income growth rate is about 1%.  This is the growth rate which the new Progressive Democrat program will actually try to decrease in the name of the environment. Most Americans can expect to live another 40 years.  So under the "Progressive" embraced 1% real per-capita private sector income growth rate, that essential measure of the health of the economy will be 1.489 times larger than it is today.  An easily achievable growth rate, with a modest decrease in the size of government and in regulations, of 2%, gives us a private  sector economy which is 2.208 times larger than what our economy is now.  A little more effort to reduce the relative size and scope of government could achieve a real per-capita growth rate of 3% a year.  At the end of 40 years, the private sector economy would be 3.262 times larger than it is now.


So, the economy desired by the Democrat Party in 40 years will be a pip-squeak economy compared to that of an economy with a real per-capita growth rate of 3%, such as a smaller government economy can readily achieve.  The smaller government private sector economy is 3.262 / 1.489 = 2.19 times larger.  Does big government really offer sufficient value to trade it for an economy that can readily be more than twice as big in 40 years?  The many more jobs and much better paying jobs of 40 years from now also will come with many more improved products, more scientific advancement, much better medical care, much more national security, improved retirement security, and even more ability to treat the environment with care than will the Democratic Party dream private sector economy dominated by big government.


This choice really is a no-brainer choice.  It requires one to shun the truly retrogressive Democratic Party platform and to embrace with confidence the productivity advantages of the private sector.  One has only to understand that the fear and the alarmism spread by the Democrats on the environment and against the private sector comes with horrible consequences for our future, that of our children, and especially that of our grandchildren. It appears that Democrats simply do not care about the future.  In fact, the near zero economic growth of the Middle Ages appears to be their favored growth model.  For some of them, the ravages of the plague with huge population and economic decreases are even better.  So of course, not caring about the future of human beings, they represent themselves as Progressives!  That lie and their refusal to recognize the existence of individuality in their embrace of collectivism are the most fundamental errors of their political worldview.  These are grievous, unnecessary errors indeed.


22 July 2016

Science or advocacy? by Prof. David R. Legates

Science or advocacy?
Students are learning energy and climate change advocacy, not climate science
David R. Legates
For almost thirty years, I have taught climate science at three different universities. What I have observed is that students are increasingly being fed climate change advocacy as a surrogate for becoming climate science literate. This makes them easy targets for the climate alarmism that pervades America today.
Earth’s climate probably is the most complicated non-living system one can study, because it naturally integrates astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, geology, hydrology, oceanography and cryology, and also includes human behavior by both responding to and affecting human activities. Current concerns over climate change have further pushed climate science to the forefront of scientific inquiry.
What should we be teaching college students? 
At the very least, a student should be able to identify and describe the basic processes that cause Earth’s climate to vary from poles to equator, from coasts to the center of continents, from the Dead Sea or Death Valley depression to the top of Mount Everest or Denali. A still more literate student would understand how the oceans, biosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere – driven by energy from the sun – all work in constantly changing combinations to produce our very complicated climate. 
Unfortunately, the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s definition of climate science literacy raises the question of whether climatology is even a science. It defines climate science literacy as “an understanding of your influence on climate and climate’s influence on you and society.” 
How can students understand and put into perspective their influence on the Earth’s climate if they don’t understand the myriad of processes that affect our climate? If they don’t understand the complexity of climate itself? If they are told only human aspects matter? And if they don’t understand these processes, how can they possibly comprehend how climate influences them and society in general?
Worse still, many of our colleges are working against scientific literacy for students.
At the University of Delaware, the Maryland and Delaware Climate Change Education Assessment and Research (MADE CLEAR) defines the distinction between weather and climate by stating that “climate is measured over hundreds or thousands of years,” and defining climate as “average weather.” That presupposes that climate is static, or should be, and that climate change is unordinary in our lifetime and, by implication, undesirable. 
Climate, however, is not static. It is highly variable, on timescales from years to millennia – for reasons that include, but certainly are not limited to, human activity.
This Delaware-Maryland program identifies rising concentrations of greenhouse gases – most notably carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – as the only reason why temperatures have risen about 0.6°C (1.1º F) over the last century and will supposedly continue to rise over the next century. Students are then instructed to save energy, calculate their carbon footprint, and reduce, reuse, recycle. Mastering these concepts, they are told, leads to “climate science literacy.” It does not.
In the past, I have been invited to speak at three different universities during their semester-long and college-wide focus on climate science literacy. At all three, two movies were required viewing by all students, to assist them in becoming climate science literate: Al Gore’s biased version of climate science, An Inconvenient Truth, and the 2004 climate science fiction disaster film, The Day After Tomorrow.
This past spring, the University of Delaware sponsored an Environmental Film Festival featuring six films. Among them only An Inconvenient Truth touched at all on the science behind climate change, albeit in such a highly flawed way that in Britain, students must be warned about its bias. The other films were activist-oriented and included movies that are admittedly science fiction or focus on “climate change solutions.”
For these films, university faculty members were selected to moderate discussions. We have a large College of Earth, Ocean and the Environment, from which agreeable, scientifically knowledgeable faculty could have been chosen. Instead, discussion of An Inconvenient Truth was led by a professor of philosophy, and one movie – a documentary on climate change “solutions” that argues solutions are pertinent irrespective of the science – was moderated by a civil engineer. 
Discussion of the remaining four films was led by faculty from history, English and journalism. Clearly, there was little interest in the substance of the science.
Many fundamentals of climate science are absent from university efforts to promote climate science literacy. For example, students seldom learn that the most important chemical compound with respect to the Earth’s climate is not carbon dioxide, but water. Water influences almost every aspect of the Earth’s energy balance, because it is so prevalent, because it appears in solid, liquid and gas form in substantial quantities, and because energy is transferred by the water’s mobility and when it changes its physical state. Since precipitation varies considerably from year to year, changes in water availability substantially affect our climate every year.
Hearing about water, however, doesn’t set off alarms like carbon dioxide does.
Contributing to the increased focus on climate change advocacy is the pressure placed on faculty members who do not sign on to the advocacy bandwagon. The University of Delaware has played the role of activist and used FOIA requests to attempt to intimidate me because I have spoken out about climate change alarmism. In my article published in Academic Questions, “The University vs. Academic Freedom,” I discuss the university’s willingness to go along with Greenpeace in its quest for my documents and emails pertaining to my research.
Much grant money and fame, power and influence, are to be had for those who follow the advocates’ game plan. By contrast, the penalties for not going along with alarmist positions are quite severe. 
For example, one of the films shown at the University of Delaware’s film festival presents those who disagree with climate change extremism as pundits for hire who misrepresent themselves as a scientific authority. Young faculty members are sent a very pointed message: adopt the advocacy position – or else.
Making matters worse, consider Senate Bill 3074. Introduced into the U.S. Senate on June 16 of this year, it authorizes the establishment of a national climate change education program. Once again, the emphasis is on teaching energy and climate advocacy, rather than teaching science and increasing scientific knowledge and comprehension.
The director of the National Center for Science Education commented that the bill was designed to “[equip] students with the knowledge and knowhow required for them to flourish in a warming world.” Unfortunately, it will do little to educate them regarding climate science.
I fear that our climate science curriculum has been co-opted, to satisfy the climate change fear-mongering agenda that pervades our society today. Instead of teaching the science behind Earth’s climate, advocates have taken the initiative to convert it to a social agenda of environmental activism.
Climatology, unfortunately, has been transformed into a social and political science. There is nothing wrong with either of those “sciences,” of course. But the flaws underpinning climate science advocacy are masked by “concern for the environment,” when climate is no longer treated as a physical science.
Climate science must return to being a real science and not simply a vehicle to promote advocacy talking points. When that happens, students will find that scientific facts are the real “inconvenient truths.”

David R. Legates, PhD, CCM, is a Professor of Climatology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. A version of this article appeared on the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy website. 
Posted at the request of Paul Driessen

Universities have largely lost sight of what it means to provide an education.  They have become idea suppression institutions in many cases who present arguments from authority rather than by reason to inculcate an agenda in the minds of students.  In other words, the activities of universities are to a great degree cult-forming activities.  This is contrary to the legitimate mission of a university to promote rational thinking skills and a body of true knowledge among independent-minded students.

19 July 2016

UnitedHealth Losses Under ObamaCare Accelerate

Earlier, UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest health insurer, announced that it was leaving most of the 30 ObamaCare markets due to losses.  Its earlier loss estimate was $600 million, but it has just upped that estimate to $800 million.  It has insured 800,000 enrollees under ObamaCare, so it is losing $1000 per enrollee due to their rapidly rising health care costs.

It is quite understandable that one would not want enrollees one loses an average of $1000 apiece on. That is not a business to be in.  There is definitely a sustainability problem here.


Real Climate Denial by Megan Toombs

Potential Democratic VP nominee misrepresents Cornwall Alliance on Senate floor
Megan Toombs
Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) is a potential running-mate choice for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Yet he recently joined other Democratic Senators on the Senate floor to attack the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and other Virginia-based organizations, in an attempt to defend climate alarmism against its critics.
As has been the case with other attempts to vilify, intimidate and silence experts who disagree with alarmist views on global warming and climate change, Kaine presented an argument rife with logical fallacies – appeals to emotion, straw men, ridicule, oversimplification and misrepresentation.
The one thing the good Senator forgot to include in his speech was any sound science and ethics!
According to Kaine, the Cornwall Alliance is part of a “web of denial,” a “shadow organization,” “bizzaro,” and “greedy.”
Senator Kaine read just a tiny piece of our Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change, in which we quoted Psalm 19. He then said, “So somebody is really using Scripture to argue that making our energy production cleaner, safer, cheaper, violates the Christian tenet of caring for the poor?”
No, Senator Kaine, if you read the full Open Letter, you would discover that it addresses both science and economics. More important, it explains that pushing wind, solar, biofuel and other technologies that are not currently cheaper or better for the environment also hurts those in poverty. You would also have seen that it was signed by hundreds of scientists, including over 20 climate scientists. But you didn’t mention any of that.
Senators Kaine, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and others have banded together to attack the alleged “web of denial” that appears to be made up only of conservative organizations that they claim are funded by ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel corporations that they consider immoral – even though the energy they provide has been indispensable to lifting and keeping billions of people out of poverty, and even though ExxonMobil has not given any of these groups a dime for a decade or more.
Moreover, there is another “web of denial,” the one created by climate alarmist organizations that are funded by renewable energy corporations, wealthy liberal foundations and government agencies that stand to gain money, prestige and power from promoting scares about climate change. As Kathleen Hartnett White brilliantly demonstrates in her booklet Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case, they have been caught exaggerating, fabricating and falsifying data to support their views, suppressing contrary data, intimidating scientists who disagree, and corrupting the scientific peer-review process.
Senator Kaine claims that 70% of Virginians agree with the “scientific consensus” that catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is real and that “it is urgent that we do something about it.”
There is no evidence that 70% of Virginians (or Americans) agree with this. They may agree that global warming and climate change are “real” and that humans today are contributing somewhat to these cycles and fluctuations, which have been ongoing for millennia. But to convert that into saying a huge majority believe humans are causing catastrophic changes is disingenuous. To say they want to spend trillions of dollars to try controlling Earth’s climate has no basis in fact.
And what “scientific consensus” is he talking about? The “97% of scientists” that is the go-to statistic for alarmists has been debunked so thoroughly that it takes serious chutzpah to use it.
Then there is the fact (observable fact, mind you, not computer models) that shows there has been no statistically significant long-term global warming for nearly all of the last 19 years.
Yet they deny this too.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) has increased quite significantly during this time, as developing countries built coal-fired power plants, created jobs, lifted people out of abject poverty, dramatically improved the living standards for billions, built roads and highways, and put millions of cars and trucks on them. So where is the correlation between increased temperature and rising CO2 levels?
There is none.
No one argues that humans have absolutely no effect on the environment or on potential warming.
What is in question is whether human CO2 emissions will create temperature increases and other planetary changes so dramatic that they will cause catastrophes that justify spending trillions of dollars in vain efforts to stabilize climates and temperatures that have never been stable. What is also in question is whether we can ethically do so by restricting or eliminating the fuels that countries all over the world depend on for 80% of the energy that makes economic growth, jobs, poverty reduction, health and welfare possible.
Those trillions of dollars should instead be spent to lift billions more people out of poverty, and reduce the high rates of disease, malnutrition and premature death that invariably accompany that poverty.
Right now, the only “proof” alarmists have is computer model projections that are wildly inaccurate, and a “hockey stick” graph that is utterly worthless and has been derided by the scientific community for the ability of that computer model to create suddenly rising global temperatures when it is fed random numbers from a phone book.
That’s some serious denial – of the uselessness of climate models, of what is actually happening in the real world, and of the fundamental human right of people everywhere to use fossil fuels to improve their living standards, health and well-being.
__________

Megan Toombs is the Director of Communications for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. You can follow her on Twitter @MeganToombs. 
This article has been published here at the request of Paul Driessen.

05 July 2016

Independence Day Thoughts on Freedom

When Americans declared their independence from Great Britain 240 years ago, they were a people who were largely self-employed and proud to manage their own lives.  They believed they had no need for a government to choose their values for them and to micromanage their lives.  Their principal need for a government was to prevent individuals from initiating the use of force against one another and to protect them from outlaw gangs, warring Indians, and attacks by other nations. Most of those needs they were quite willing to fulfill in large part at the very local level, including a local militia. They certainly did not need a government dominated by special interests and aristocrats a long distance away from them dictating numerous laws and taxing them.

But what is the American condition today?  Relatively few people are self-employed.  The result is that relatively few people believe that they are capable of controlling their own lives.  For the ease of being an employee, most people have given up the ability to earn their own living under their own management.  Most people have consequently lost a key ingredient to their independence and their self-confidence.  This is a loss partly brought on by political decisions in which a people more and more frequently employed by others came to be in greater and greater numbers in the electorate. Frustrated with their lack of control and holding a great political power in their numbers, but lacking self-direction, these Americans became susceptible to special interests who wanted to gain power and wealth at the expense of the less numerous employers who had made their wealth in a largely free market.  More and more legislation came to regulate employers and to transfer their wealth to groups politically favored by government.  This further weakened the spirit of self-sufficiency, independent mindedness, and encouraged the creation of huge barriers to starting and operating businesses. Americans became more and more dependent upon their government and the whims of the special interests that came to control that ever more powerful government.

Today, government and the education system it dominates insist that we are not really individuals at all.  No, we are simply members in some identity group.  White males are only capable of thinking like a stereotypical white male does.  Black males are only capable of thinking as a stereotypical black male does.  Those exceptions, such as Justice Clarence Thomas, Dr. Thomas Sowell, and Professor Walter E. Williams are simply abominations abhorrent to nature and traitors to their group identity.  In an interesting twist, it is fine however for a white male to think outside his abhorred group, provided he thinks like one of the approved identity groups.  Well, that is true to a fair degree, though there are increasing numbers who now resent such a person's theft of their identity.  Overall, our special interest serving government found it very convenient to lump Americans into a few groups so that we might be divided and controlled more readily.  This also serves the critically important function of obscuring the fact that the government cannot know us as individuals and cannot do anything but suppress our individuality with its ever-increasing legislation and regulations. People will be less aware of the suppression of their individuality if they have been taught that they only have a group identity.  This is a fundamentally collectivist idea.

Americans are a self-contradictory group these days.  They want less government, but they rarely want to give up any program that currently exists, except for ObamaCare, maybe.  They want the government to spend less, except on a few new programs that they want.  They are not infrequently willing to break a law they think the government will not notice, but they are eager to create new laws to prevent others from doing anything that might aggravate them.  Indeed, Congress is held in super-low regard because it is so often in gridlock, though the last time it was not in gridlock it passed the hated ObamaCare act.  Generally, the people believe that a legislature is not doing its job unless it is passing loads of new laws.

Now, because I view the only legitimate function of government, as did the Declaration of Independence, as being the protection of the rights of each and every individual to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of personal happiness, I see little need for new laws doing what most new laws have done in recent decades.  Most new laws further restrict the freedom of action of at least some Americans, though most laws are aimed at a minority subset of Americans if great harm is to be done to them.  Those laws restricting most Americans are usually designed to cause them only a small and largely unnoticed loss, but which in the aggregate allows a substantial transfer of wealth or power to a small, politically favored special interest group.  After many decades of following such a "practical" and unprincipled political course, we now have a government that does most Americans far more harm than it does us good.

We do presently have a need for much new legislation.  We need to repeal decades of laws that have interfered with our natural individual rights.  We have far too many laws providing for the theft of the value of the hours many put into productive work.  We have far too many restrictions on our freedom of association.  We have far too many prohibitions against our exercise of freedom of conscience, which includes, but is not limited to, our freedom of religion.  We have ever more constraints on freedom of speech and of the press.  Our property rights are in frequent jeopardy, whether it be to use our property for production or to keep it from being confiscated because some law enforcement arm of government imagines that it might have been used in a crime or even only that some action involving it fits a pattern of some organized crime or terrorist action, however implausibly that may apply to this particular property owner.

It is an interesting phenomena, though only one among many contradictions, that those who favor ever-larger government are constantly making claims that human activities cannot be sustained by the environment, yet ever-increasing spending based on the confiscation of the fruits of productive work can be sustained without limit.  So let us review a few charts on government growth provided by the Cato Institute:


Since 1900, Federal spending went from 2.8% of GDP to 21.4% of GDP in 2016, which is a 7.6-fold increase.  Total state and local government spending increased by only 2.2 times in comparison.  The more local government is, it would appear, the more solid the constraints on its spending.  Now that government spending is such a large part of the economy, it is critical that we stop using GDP as the measure since that government spending is actually counted as GDP.  Yet that money has to be produced outside government, while only a fraction of government spending is returned to the government for spending from taxes on money earned by doing the governments' bidding.  Total government spending here is 32.4% of GDP.  The Non-Government GDP (NG GDP) is then 67.6%. If government taxed the functions it spends money on at the same rate it taxes the general private sector economic activities then one could estimate that 32.4% of the money spent by governments is returned to government in taxes of the money spent by governments.  So, 0.324 times 32.4% is 10.5%.  The reality is that government actually taxes these activities at much lower rates.  It is probably generous to assume that taxes return 5% of the government money spent.  So let us subtract 5% from total government spending to find the drag that government spending itself puts on the private sector economy.  Net total government spending of (32.4 - 5.0)% /  67.6% = 40.5%, which is substantially more than the 32.4% the presentation of the data against the GDP provides us.  Let us bear this in mind as we look at some more charts of our unsustainable government growth.


The national defense is certainly a legitimate function of the government and it has a constitutional validation in the enumerated powers of the government.  This represents 15% of federal spending and it certainly includes some waste and abuse and suffers from the greatly diverted attention of our hired managers in Congress.  Interest payments are justified by the Constitution, but there is no legitimate reason for those payments to have grown to be 6% of the budget.  That is a percentage which would rise rapidly if we did not have an economy suppressed by government requirements that have greatly reduced the velocity of money in the economy.  The All Other Activities covers a few constitutionally valid functions, such as some of the foreign affairs activities, the post offices and post roads, the minting of money, immigration controls, the maintenance of weight and measure standards, the operation of the Patent Office, and the operation of the federal courts at a level appropriate for a nation of many fewer laws and regulations.  Had a proper philosophy of government prevailed, as stated in the Declaration of Independence and mandated by the Constitution, the spending of our present federal government would be closer to 20% of its present spending than to 25% of present spending.


Since 1970, it sure is a good thing that defense spending as a percentage of the GDP has trended down substantially and that non-defense discretionary spending has come down a bit, because entitlement spending has climbed prodigiously.  Entitlement spending has no constitutional basis and no basis in the legitimate function of government as defined in the Declaration of Independence.  It is generally funded by the theft of the fruits of the productive work of Americans so that it can be rerouted to those favored politically by those who lust for the power to distribute the money.  This huge expansion of entitlement spending makes the so-called beneficiaries dependent upon the government, which suits the government just fine.


An appreciation of the degree to which our government has become one dominated by special interests would not be realistic if we did not acknowledge the huge increase in federal subsidy programs shown above.


This final graph is the number of pages in the Federal Register from Wayne Crews' Ten Thousand Commandments 2016 report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. In the 1940s and the 1950s the total number of pages of final regulations in the Federal Register for the decade were running at about 110,00 pages a decade.  In the decade from 2001 -2010 the number of pages had grown to 730,176.  Presumably, the government considers it our duty to have read all of these regulations so that we might abide by them.  Did you do your government mandated duty?  Remember, ignorance is no defense for violating the law or any regulation.  More and more of the binding regulations or the interpretation of the regulations can only be found in court proceedings or in website announcements of the thousands of government regulatory agencies, which the government itself cannot enumerate. Good luck you lost, ignorant soul if the government decides to come after you.  Do you trust the likes of Obama, Hillary, or The Donald not to do so?

Oh that we might be free!  It would be incredibly wonderful to celebrate the 4th of July as a free man.
It would be a joy to be among free men who had maintained the principles of freedom set forth in the Declaration of Independence and then largely implemented in the Constitution of 1787 and the Bill of Rights in 1791.  To live in a society based on the free trade of values in a rich and robust private sector rather than one dominated by the forceful taking of wealth and service by governments would be to live in a genuinely life-sustaining society.  It is not possible to imagine how much our standard of living would be improved with the flowering of productivity, creativity, justice, and benevolence one would find in such a society.


03 July 2016

ObamaCare Continues to Lose Altitude with Crash Inevitable

The biggest problem with ObamaCare is the loss of the fundamental ownership of your own mind and body. ObamaCare is primarily a declaration that no one has individual rights. According to the ObamaCare philosophy one is nothing but an infinitesimal part of the Collective. Some persons in the Collective did not have health insurance or had health insurance that was not approved by the Regressive Elitists who controlled the government with a claim as benevolent caretakers for the unwashed masses  such as you and me.  That claim bears a great similarity to that of the aristocracy of medieval times to the Divine Right of Kings and Aristocrats justified by their supposed service to the People.

ObamaCare caused millions of Americans to lose the insurance they were happy with.  They were forced to pay higher premiums, higher deductibles, travel greater distances, and accept lower quality health care than they previously had. A recent Mercatus Center study reveals that qualified individual health plans had claims to premium income ratios of 1.10 in 2014, while non-qualified individual health plans had claims to premium income ratios of 0.83.  The group qualified health insurance claims to income ratio was 0.82.  To cover the cost of claims, individual qualified health insurance plans would have to have had premiums about 30% higher than they were.  Many insurers have stopped offering ObamaCare qualifying individual health insurance plans in many states due to these unsustainable losses.  Those who have continued to offer plans have done so with some combination of increased premiums, increased deductibles, and narrower and narrower networks of providers.  In many areas of the country, patients have to travel much greater distances for the limited health care their health insurance provides.


The chart above is from a Kaiser Family Foundation report of November 2015.  The average percentage of uninsured less than the age of 65 in the pre-recession years 2000 to 2007 is 16.5%.  The 2014 uninsured rate for the non-elderly population, including illegal aliens, has been reported to be down based on interviews.  In January 2014, a Gallup poll found that 16.1% were uninsured.  In September 2014, the New York Times reported that the number of uninsured fell by 8% in the first quarter of 2014 compared to 2013, which would make the percentage of uninsured about 15.4% or only 1.1% less than the pre-recession average for 2000 through 2007. A CDC study based on interviews from January to September of 2014, claimed the nonelderly uninsured rate was 13.3%.  The government has a history of exaggerating the insured rate of coverage since ObamaCare was passed and people now have reason to fear telling a government agent that they do not have qualified health insurance, so the federal interview technique may be inclined to return a low value for the uninsured. In addition, having been forced to sign-up for health insurance many do not want and do not think they can afford, many do not actually pay their insurance premiums.  The only reliable way to determine how many people are insured is after the year is over and the insurance companies report on how many they had insured, but such data does not yet seem to be available.  ObamaCare supporters often like to attribute the decrease in the uninsured due to the glacially slow recovery from the Great Recession to ObamaCare, so this reference to the fairly stable uninsured rate prior to the recession is important if one is not to overstate the effect of ObamaCare on reducing the percentage of uninsured.

Many of the newly insured are actually those wealthy enough that they had very reasonably self-insured themselves and their loved ones, but are now forced by ObamaCare tax penalties to buy the insurance they did not need.  The very small reduction in the uninsured was also accomplished in large part because the rates being charged in 2014 were much too low and unsustainable.  Premium rates went up dramatically in 2015 and again in 2016, and will go up dramatically again in 2017, even as deductibles have continued to rise for many and health insurance choices have greatly diminished.  Some large insurers in Georgia are planning 65% premium increases in 2017, while some in Pennsylvania plan increases of 38%, some in New Mexico 32%, and some in Oregon 30%.

That small 2014 decrease in the uninsured rate will not be maintained. Young and healthy people cannot continue to subsidize less healthy people by taking on ever-rising insurance premiums they cannot afford even as they cannot benefit from the insurance for many of their health needs because they have insufficient money left to also pay the ever-increasing deductibles.   Even in 2014, the young and healthy were failing to provide the support to ObamaCare that it critically needed and their rapidly rising health insurance costs will inevitably result in more and more healthy people choosing the ObamaCare tax penalty over qualified health insurance.  Meanwhile, many insurance companies are trying to sue the government to make the government cover their losses.  The only way these insurers are likely to be reimbursed their losses is if the Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives.


ObamaCare was always insane and unsustainable, as programs tend to be that ignore the essential fact of the individuality of humans and their sovereign individual rights.  Just as the aristocracy of Medieval times failed most of the people most of the time, so are the Regressive Elitists of our time failing most of the people most of the time.  It is impossible for self-proclaimed elitists to competently manage the lives of those they do not even know.  Just as the aristocracy of Great Britain failed to manage the American colonies competently in the 1760s and 1770s, our hone-grown aristocratic elitists of the Obama era cannot manage the health needs or anything else essential to the American individual of today.  A real Declaration of Independence from a government dominated by a self-proclaimed aristocratic elite and their chosen special interests, such as the health insurance companies who in 2009 backed ObamaCare, is long overdue in the struggle for the interests of the individual and his much maligned sovereign rights.