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.

25 October 2016

A Government Fraud - Take a Bonus to Re-enlist for the CA National Guard

Government lawyers in the Pentagon are demanding that California National Guard members who took bonuses to sign up for re-enlistment and future possible deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan ten years ago, now have to pay back those bonuses.  The government was not authorized to make them.

Now, how likely is it that the service members knew that government officials were unauthorized to offer the bonuses that helped the government to solve its shortage of war-fighters?  Of course most people hearing about this wonder how hard it would be for them if the government asked them to pay back $15,000 the government may have given them 10 years ago for any reason.

But worse than that, the government is compounding its mere incompetence with a very dramatic fraud.  Men extended their enlistments knowing they would likely be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan and might lose their lives or their limbs or their minds fighting there. But now they learn that the bonuses were a case of fraud upon their trust in their government!  Effectively, it was just a trick to help the government steal their labor, their lives, their limbs, and their minds.

Well, what can you expect of a government that expects everyone except high politicians and high bureaucrats to obey the laws?  It is government by fraud for the fraudsters laid heavily upon the defrauded.  This is a fine substitute for the Rule of Law.  The People are now no more than fleeced sheep in the hands of these monstrously evil rulers.  There is a multitude of such frauds, but this is one of the more egregious of that multitude.

Update:  Today, 27 October 2016, the policy of recovering the bonus money was revoked due to complaints by some Congress members, at least some of whom recognized the offering of bonuses to be later taken back as fraud.

22 September 2016

Prof. Walter E. Williams on Cruelty to Black Students and Freedom of Speech in Colleges

My undergraduate college, Brown University, is tooting its horn that its new freshman class is nearly half "people of color."  I earned my Ph.D. in Physics from Case Western Reserve University, which is mentioned in the second Prof. Williams column below for the ignominy of having safe spaces to protect students from ideas that make them uncomfortable.  Brown University is no better than Case Western Reserve University in discouraging freedom of speech on campus.  Along with most universities and colleges, they have forgotten their true mission, which should be encouraging students to think rationally, creatively, and independently while learning substantial portions of the knowledge of mankind.

In his first column, Prof. Williams points out that "the average black student 12th-grader has the academic proficiency of a white eight- or ninth-grader."  He notes that this may cause many black college students to feel discriminated against just as a group of average white eighth- or ninth-graders would feel if they were shoved into a college with average white twelfth-graders.  They really are not prepared to compete.  The failure of education was long before college and that failure must be addressed much earlier in the education system.  Colleges that try to pretend the failure is redeemable with affirmative action are only doing further harm to the unprepared students they are admitting.  They are humiliating them so that the college administrators, faculty, and alumnae can all falsely claim they are remedying past discriminations.

As is so often the case, Prof. Williams wants his readers to deal with reality and he will rub their noses in it no matter how much they want feelings of  moral superiority purchased by denying reality. Please read his columns and do his bidding - think about them.

05 September 2016

The ObamaCare Disappearing Act

ObamaCare is not disappearing as a horse-collar around our necks, but it is disappearing as a provider of actual decent health care.  Many taxpayers are opting to pay the tax penalty rather than pay exorbitant health insurance premiums, only then to find out that the very high deductibles prevent them from using their health insurance at all.  Indeed, many with ObamaCare health insurance cannot afford to actually go to the doctor for health care after their impoverishment by the high premiums.  As a result, insurers operating in the ObamaCare exchange health insurance market are generally suffering huge losses.  Far too few healthy people are signing up for the ObamaCare abomination, while unhealthy people are signing up.

Consequently, Aetna, United Healthcare, Humana, and others have made huge reductions in the number of markets they plan to serve in 2017.  According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 31% of the counties in the U.S. will be served by only one insurer in 2017, while another 31% of the counties will have only two insurers under ObamaCare exchanges.  19% of enrollees will have but one insurer to choose from and another 19% will have only two to choose from.  Once again, an Obama promise to increase competition in the health insurance market turns out to be a lie. Yes, he might only have made a wrong prediction, but given the known history of his known lies, it is more likely that he knowingly lied about this as well.

As John Goodman has noted, the only plans that have avoided losses are those that offer services after the fashion of Medicaid and are operated by Medicaid contractors.  Medicaid level service is well known for its awfulness.  About 75% of the plans to be offered in 2017 are estimated to be for either Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) or Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs), according to a McKinsey & Co. analysis of regulatory filings for 18 states and the District of Columbia (reported in Wall St. Journal, 1 Sep 2016).  So only 25% of the plans will offer a wider choice of health care providers as are usually found in Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs).  About 15% of ObamaCare exchange users will have no choice of a PPO available to them at all.  This is another case of the falsity of the statement that "If you like your doctor (or hospital), you may keep him."

As recently as March 2015, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was claiming that in 2016 there would be 21 million ObamaCare exchange enrollees.  However, in January 2016 the CBO reduced its estimate of 2016 enrollees by 8 million people to 13 million, of whom 11 million would receive subsidies.  What is more, the CBO, despite increasing tax penalities, expects the ObamaCare exchange enrollment to maximize at 16 million in 2018 and remain at that level through 2023, despite a growing U.S. population.  The White House has now projected an even lower level of 2016 exchange enrollees at 10.4 million.

For the 2014 tax year, 7.5 million taxpayers paid the ObamaCare penalty tax, which was far in excess of government estimates.  H&R Block said the average ObamaCare tax penalty was $172 in 2014. The average penalty paid in 2015, was up to $383.  While the IRS had released the information on the number of taxpayers paying the penalty for 2014 by early July 2015, that information does not seem to be available yet for the tax year 2015.  Perhaps it is too embarrassing to the Obama administration.

In the Fall of 2015, we knew that there were 10.5 million 2014 tax returns eligible for ObamaCare exchange insurance which did not claim having it.  12 million tax returns claimed exemptions from ObamaCare insurance, 5.1 million failed to check having qualifying insurance and paid no penalty tax, and 4.5 million taxpayer tax filings received ObamaCare subsidies.  Note that the number of taxpayers paying the ObamaCare fine or penalty tax exceeds the number of taxpayers receiving a subsidy by 3 million returns.  About 6% of taxpayers are covered by insurance under ObamaCare exchanges.

About 300,000 taxpayers in 2015 apparently paid the tax penalty despite being eligible for an exemption.  This is about all we know about 2015 tax returns on this subject.

According to the CBO, the 11 million receiving ObamaCare subsidies in 2016 represents 3.4% of the population of about 324.4 million people.  Many of these people had insurance without a subsidy prior to ObamaCare.

Much of the grief of the insurance companies is due to the fact that about 8 million fewer people have signed up for ObamaCare exchange health insurance in 2016 than had been projected in March of 2015 by the CBO and presumably by the health insurers.  These 8 million abstainers are generally much younger and much healthier than those who have signed up.  The premiums they were to pay were supposed to act like a transfer payment to those who had more health problems.  Even those who by age may be subject to more health problems, but are not now experiencing them, are often not signing up since they know they can do so whenever their health deteriorates.  Of course, such people used to actually pay for insurance because they could afford.  Thanks to ObamaCare many of them cannot afford it now, so they simply wait to sign up when they need it.

ObamaCare has lowered the quality of health care in the USA greatly.  It is now in large part limited to the low quality of Medicaid.  People on it have decreasing choices of doctors and hospitals, more limited care due to a greater need for cost-cutting, and they are excluded from many of the better hospitals and doctors, who rightly charge more for their services.  These terrible costs, as well as the terrible cost in our liberty, have been incurred in the name of a very small percentage of the population.  Meanwhile, 7.5 million taxpayers are paying ObamaCare penalty taxes for absolutely no value to their lives.  Another 2 million people are suffering under the higher premiums and deductibles of ObamaCare without getting any subsidy in return.

Prior to the passage of ObamaCare by an undemocratic Democrat dominated Congress and President, the justification in the socialist press was largely based on a claim that 47 million Americans had no health insurance.  Now we have ObamaCare and only some unknown fraction of the 13 million people on it in 2016 might have been without insurance if it did not exist.  We know from a McKensey & Co. survey in April 2014 that only 22% of the enrollees then signed up and who had paid their premiums had been previously uninsured.  If we suppose that the number of previously uninsured on ObamaCare is now 30%, that number is only 3.9 million people or 1.2% of the population.  The claim that a problem for 47 million people was to be addressed was almost certainly more than a ten-fold exaggeration.

It is a very sad commentary on Americans that they have not insisted on making this abysmal boondoggle a much greater factor in the 2016 elections than they have.  The self-ownership of our minds and bodies deserves much more diligent attention, as does the destruction of much of our health care system.

02 September 2016

Atlas Shrugged Day!

This is a reprint of a post I wrote on 2 Sep 2010, with some updates on evolved times:

On September 2, 1946, Ayn Rand began writing Atlas Shrugged and she finished her great novel in time for publication in 1957.  Throughout the novel, September 2 is the date of a number of events:
  • In the opening scene of the novel, a bum asking Eddie Willers for a handout, asks "Who is John Galt?"  This and the way it was asked bother Eddie.  As he walks through NYC he is also bothered by the gigantic calendar hanging from a public tower and announcing the date as September 2.    
  • On that date, Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart decide to take a vacation together.  On that vacation they discover an abandoned motor that should have revolutionized the use of energy in the world.
  • Francisco D'Anconia makes his speech on money on September 2.  He proclaims money to be the tool of free trade and the result of noble effort, not the root of evil.  Those who call money evil choose to replace its use with the force of the gun.
  • D'Anconia Copper is nationalized on 2 September, but the date on the calendar is replaced by "Brother, you asked for it!"
So, on this day of 2 September 2016, let us give thanks to Ayn Rand for her incredibly dedicated effort in writing this path-breaking novel we are finding so important in our lives 59 years after its publication date and 70 years after she started it on 2 September 1946.  This should be a day celebrated much as Thanksgiving Day is celebrated, but without any religious overtones, as a day to respect the creativity and productivity of all the heroic men and women that Ayn Rand's heroic novel commemorates.  At the top of our list of respected heroes and heroines, we should recognize Ayn Rand herself.

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
New Jersey
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 ( 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.