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 intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

For "a human being, the question 'to be or not to be,' is the question 'to think or not to think.'" Ayn Rand

31 August 2009

The Real, Really High Unemployment Rate

The media has been happy to report to us that the unemployment rate in July 2009 was slightly improved to 9.4%, compared to a 9.5% rate in June. They also reported that the number of jobs lost was fewer than in most prior months. But this is an odd combination. For the real unemployment rate to drop, some number of net new jobs must be created, yet another 247,000 net jobs were lost in July. Some time ago, I remember that for the unemployment rate not to go up, 154,000 new net jobs had to be created in a month. So, the net number of new jobs appears to be about 401,000 jobs fewer than used to be needed to keep percent unemployed static.

Is this anything to crow about? Apparently it is not as bad as earlier in the year, but is it not awful nonetheless? Well apparently it is good if you are Obama and his Democrat Congress. It is improvement. Or maybe not. What if the recession long ago weeded out the worst employees and companies are simply reluctant to let their better employees go? And, what if the real unemployment rate is being very badly understated?

The unemployment rate does not count the underemployed or those who are involuntarily working fewer hours than they would like. It also does not count those "who have not searched for work in the last 4 weeks." In reality, no one really knows how many people want a job, but have not searched for it for 4 weeks. The government assumes that people who had been telling them they were searching for work while they were collecting unemployment benefits, but stopped doing so when their unemployment benefits ran out, are not searching for work. So they are not counted as unemployed. But, would you go down to an unemployment office looking for work for more than 26 weeks when they were not going to give you any money for doing so and when they had done nothing in 26 weeks to get you employed? Of course not. Thus, when things really get bad, the unemployment rate falls even when the number of really unemployed workers increases!

The number of people who were looking for work a while back, but have not done so recently, though they are still unemployed is estimated at 2.3 million. Adding them to the number in the official unemployment count at 9.4% unemployed, raises the real unemployment rate to 10.9%. So, Obama and the Democrat Congress now have a real unemployment rate of 10.9% and this rate is not going down!

Or, we could add in the 8.8 million workers who are on involuntary part time work. The total unemployed or underemployed would then be 16.6%. Nothing for the Democrats to crow about and hardly good evidence that the Stimulus Package is accomplishing much of anything.

In the 4th Quarter of 2008, the GDP shrank by 5.4%, in the 1st Quarter of 2009 by 6.4%, and in the 2nd Quarter of 2009 by 1.0%. Construction and manufacturing sectors have been hit very hard. They totaled 15% of jobs, but they account for 40% of the unemployment. 9.8% of adult men are unemployed, while 7.5% of adult women are unemployed. Asians are 8.3% unemployed, while whites are 8.6% unemployed, Hispanics are 12.3%, and blacks are 14.5% unemployed. All of these numbers are for the usual, under-reported statistics giving the 9.4% total unemployment rate.

Great job Obama. You really have been great at putting it to those terrible employers and wealthy investors. You scared the tar out of them even during the presidential campaign and with the known desire of the already Democrat Congress for increasing taxes and piling on regulations on businesses and investors, you made the recession worse long before you took office. Since then, your constant bad-mouthing and threats combined with those of the leadership of the House and Senate, has done a great job of keeping employers uncertain and scared. In such times, they are pulling themselves back into their shells. This is hardly surprising.

Guess what? It is all about being able to believe you will be allowed to make a reasonable profit, stupid! If you tell businessmen that they are going to taxed much more, but do not even tell them how they will be taxed, they cannot calculate whether a business operation can make money. If you tell them they will be more heavily regulated, but they do not know how they will be regulated, they cannot tell whether they can make money in those operations which may be restricted. If you tell them you will dictate management compensation, they do not know why they should bother to undertake new operations or even continue working hard on older operations. The value of the dollar is very uncertain, thanks to you. Increasing taxes and regulations are likely to make it harder for U.S. operations to make money relative to overseas operations. Besides, where will the energy come from for manufacturing and transportation and heating buildings in the U.S. with Waxman-Markey type carbon cap and trade? What on Earth are employee health insurance costs going to be when you have finished mandating many benefit additions?

It is unreasonable to expect employers and investors to hire workers under these circumstances. You must allow employers some reasonable level of certainty, but you, like FDR, love uncertainty, experimentation, and socialist redistribution and equalization. It is you who have given us 10.9% unemployment. Take credit for it and live up to it.

Obama's Misdirection on Illegal Immigrant Health Insurance

Obama has been making speeches in which he claims that the Democrat Congress's health insurance reform bills are being misrepresented. He has claimed over and over that if you like your present health insurance plan, you can keep it. This is true, but for many, it is only true for a very short time span and then it is blatantly false. Another of his common claims of misrepresentation is stated this way:
Let’s start with the false claim that illegal immigrants will get health insurance under reform. That’s not true. Illegal immigrants would not be covered.
Indeed, Section 246 of the House bill, HR 3200, says
Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States.
As pointed out by Ernest Istook, a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, on Human, this is a magician's misdirection feat. The bill will do the following for illegal immigrants:
  • They will receive expanded Medicaid benefits.
  • Current law allows illegal aliens emergency medical care through Medicaid, but few states require proof of legal residence, so illegals easily get non-emergency Medicaid. Democrats voted down Republican efforts to close this no-verification path by requiring verification of legal residence in the HR 3200 bill and in the Senate bill.
So, illegal aliens will be allowed to do what they do with respect to Food Stamps. Federal regulations require the notification of immigration authorities if an illegal alien is found in a household applying for Food Stamps. The Clinton administration put out an Interagency Notice "that unless a person has already had a hearing and been formally determined to be an illegal immigrant, no government agency really 'knows' that they are illegal -- so they need not be turned in."

So, Obama attempts to use the magician's trick of misdirection to make us think that illegal immigrants will not be provided additional health care by the Democrat health insurance bills under consideration and he is widely backed up in the media. In fact, given that the government commonly calls Medicaid and Medicare health "insurance", he has lied to us in the quoted statement above. What the media say is generally that the claims that illegal immigrants will get added insurance coverage are false claims. But, by the customary technique of the Democrat administrations, illegal immigrants surely will get additional health insurance coverage under the Democrat health reform bills. It is clear that Obama lied in the opening statement above.

This approach to allowing the unallowable is common for Democrats. In 1937, the FDR administration and the Supreme Court, under court packing threats, decided that union violence was just right for America. They did not say union violence was fine. No, they just said that any union violence would be ignored by law enforcement agencies. In this way, a favored group is not offended even though there are many laws requiring that the government protect its citizens from violent acts.

Another instance of this same method was seen recently when Obama's Justice Department refused to prosecute the two Black Panthers who were armed and making intimidating moves against voters during the last presidential election in Philadelphia.

Any increased government involvement in health care will result in more health care spending for illegal aliens, because government refuses to recognize that illegal aliens are illegal. The Democrats have already made it very clear that this is their intention by voting down the Republican proposals for legal residence verification.

Update on the Uninsured

Michael D. Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, has updated us on the uninsured Americans, who according to the Census Bureau number 45.6 million. I have dealt with this issue of the uninsured in previous posts on 25 November 2007, 23 July 2008, 27 August 2008, and 29 August 2008.

The story now is similar. The uninsured are:
  • 12 million eligible for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program, including 64% of uninsured children and 29% of parents with children. If these people go to a hospital for treatment, they are automatically enrolled in the relevant program, so they are not really uninsured!
  • 10 million who are not citizens of the United States, where 5.6 million are illegal immigrants and 4.4 million are legal immigrants.
  • 43% of the uninsured have incomes greater than 250% of the poverty level or greater than $55,125 for a family of four. More than one-third have incomes over $66,000.
  • Nearly three-quarters of the uninsured can afford health insurance coverage.
  • 60% of the uninsured are under age 35 and 86% say they are in good or excellent health.
  • About half are uninsured for less than 6 months, 30% for less than one year, 16% for less than 2 years, and less than 2.5% for 3 years or longer.
Tanner then says that with this information in hand, we should be able to produce a more focused plan to address the issue of the uninsured. The young and healthy who choose not to have health insurance, would be more willing to buy it if their premiums were not jacked up by community rating [plans have to accept the already ill, those with unhealthy lifestyles, and the old] requirements often required by the states, by eliminating the many mandated benefits that many people do not need or want, and by allowing people to buy insurance across state lines [in the spirit of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution].

The generally short durations in which people do not have health insurance suggest that many lose it when they lose or change jobs. Some lose it because they have started a small business and current tax policies exclude many small business owners from tax deductions for health insurance. The best way to deal with this is to give everyone a large Health Savings Account (HSA) to purchase health insurance, but the Democrats hate this for no reason but that it removes health care decisions from politics and deprives them of political power. A great advantage of the HSAs is that they give health care users a reason to care about the cost and effectiveness of the health care they seek from providers. In the government-run system, no one has such reasons for personal interest so costs balloon.

Democrats claim that the massive health care overhaul is needed to address two issues:
  • The many uninsured.
  • The ever-increasing cost of health insurance.
Their answer is to create a new, government-run system which will force everyone to buy much more expensive health insurance than that bought by most people today. This will hit the young and the healthy the hardest. Then they will force the wealthier to pay for the insurance that the less wealthy are already buying or could buy at present prices. Of course, the unfunded Medicaid and Medicare programs will remain inadequately funded and will require either a huge future rationing of health care or huge additional taxes. This makes no sense at all, but never let it be said that Democrats are ever constrained by rationality. Demagoguery is so much more emotional fun. It is so easy to make people imagine that 47 million Americans are so poor that they cannot afford health insurance and they live for decades in terror of becoming ill without any way to pay for care.

30 August 2009

2007 Energy Bill Sends Light Bulb Jobs to China

The GE Winchester, Virginia Bulb Plant makes incandescent light bulbs which the 2007 Energy Act outlaws in 2012 in some wattages and eliminates entirely in 2014. The plant with its 200 employees, along with other plants in Ohio and Kentucky with an additional 200 people, is being closed. GE is having compact fluorescent bulbs made in China to replace the regular incandescent bulbs they will no longer make. See a report by Timothy Carney in The Examiner.

The compact fluorescent bulbs have mercury gas in them, which is being dumped into regular landfills, though the bulbs commonly break and then the volatile liquid mercury escapes. These bulbs cost much more than incandescent bulbs upon sale as well. But, because they involve mercury and given environmental laws in the U.S., it is easier to make them in China. In fact, according to The Times of London, large numbers of Chinese workers have been poisoned by mercury which goes into the compact fluorescent bulbs. Of course, these Chinese workers are also paid less and labor regulations are less of a problem for GE.

Given the promises of the Obama gang that they are going to produce many "Green Jobs", GE is under pressure to provide some "Green Jobs" in the U.S., rather than in China. So, they are moving a Hybrid Electric Heat Pump operation from China to Kentucky, where they will be adding 400 jobs. The 400 jobs lost in Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky will be replaced with 400 jobs in Kentucky. No net gain as promised by Obama, but also no embarrassing net loss of jobs.

GE lobbied for the 2007 Energy Act, soon after it developed a high-efficiency incandescent bulb which was supposed to eventually be as energy-efficient as the compact fluorescent bulb. It was also safer, turned on instantly, and produced a more white light. Apparently, contrary to Carney's article, GE has abandoned developments on the high-efficiency incandescent bulb in favor of developing light-emitting diode (LED) and organic LED or OLED lighting technologies. GE has been relatively quiet about this, but a number of environmentalist blogs have been discussing this, beginning with one called Clean Break. The LED technologies are still more energy efficient, longer lasting, and more durable. But, it is not known when manufacturing of products to replace large numbers of today's incandescent bulbs will begin and whether this manufacturing will be located in the United States.

Obama Eases Union Accounts Reporting

Obama's Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, says she will not require labor unions to submit the more detailed accounting forms used by the Bush Administration as reported by Kevin Mooney of The Washington Examiner. These forms required the disclosure of financial information that provided union members some information on how the union was spending their union dues. They also helped to reveal ghost employees of the unions who had "no show jobs."

The Office of Labor Management Standards (OLMS) is supposed to enforce the Labor Management and Reporting Disclosure Act (LMRDA), which requires annual financial reports by unions with receipts of $250,000 or more. A notice appeared this week on the Labor Department website saying:
Accordingly, OLMS will refrain from initiating enforcement actions against union officers and union employees based solely on the failure to file the report required by section 202 of the Labor-Management and Reporting Disclosure Act (LMRDA), 29 U.S.C. § 432, using the 2007 form, as long as individuals meet their statutorily-required filing obligation in some manner. OLMS will accept either the old Form LM-30 or the new one for purposes of this non-enforcement policy.
The Form LM-30 is the old form, which requires much less information than the Bush-Chao form does. But also notice that this statement announces this as a "non-enforcement policy."
This would seem to mean that the Department of Labor has no intention of actually requiring unions to comply with the LMRDA. It seems to in effect make it purely voluntary for a union to file either a Form LM-30 or the more detailed 2007 form, because after all the Department will not be enforcing the submission requirement of either!

There is no question that labor unions can do anything they want under the administration of Obama and under the Democrat Congress.

Cannon: Massachusetts' Obama-like reforms increase health costs, wait times

Michael F. Cannon, of the Cato Institute, wrote an interesting article on the effects on health care of the Massachusetts reform of health care in 2006. He notes that:
  • 29% of Massachusetts' voters believe the reform lowered the quality of care, while 10% believe it improved care.
  • 27% believe reform made health care less affordable, while 21% believe it made it more affordable.
  • 37% believe the reforms are a failure, while 26% believe they were a success.
But what on Earth do Massachusetts voters know anyway? They voted overwhelmingly for Dukakis, Gore, Kerry, and Obama. They also sent Teddy Kennedy to the Senate for 8 terms or 46 years, though he did not finish his last term in office. But, this health care reform was initially very popular in Massachusetts and it does have all the essential features of the Obama - Pelosi - Reid health care reform plans. The Massachusetts plan is already unpopular even in a state much committed to socialism and despite the fact that many of its faults are hidden as yet from many of the people.

Massachusetts did reduce the number of uninsured by two-thirds, or 432,000 people. The cost is at least $2.1 billion in 2009, or an average cost per 4-person family of about $20,000, which is well above the average cost of $13,000 of an employer-sponsored family policy. But, the average Massachusetts voter does not know how bad costs are because many of the costs are well-hidden from him.

As with the Obama - Democrat plans:
  • Every person is required to pay for health insurance.
  • Approved health insurance plans must accept already ill individuals.
  • Approved plans must also cover prescription drugs, preventive care, diabetes self-management, drug-abuse treatment, early intervention for autism, hospice care, hormone replacement therapy, non-in-vitro fertility services, orthotics, prosthetics, telemedicine, testicular cancer, lay midwives, nurses, nurse practitioners, and pediatric specialists. The national plan will evolve in this direction due to lobbyist power also.
  • 70 addition requirements for plans are under consideration in the legislature.
  • Price controls to prevent insurers from basing premiums on the health of the individual.
So, what are the observed effects?
  • Premiums are growing 21 to 46% faster than the national average, whose rapid growth rate is supposed to be a great part of the reason for a Massachusetts or Obama health plan.
  • The young and healthy have to pay much more to cover the costs of those already sick and joining their plan.
  • Low cost plans are no longer available.
  • Plans with more extensive benefits than those required by Massachusetts are disappearing because the sick want to be in such very comprehensive plans. The costs for such plans are going up particularly quickly, so insurers will not offer them.
  • In 2004, Boston already had the nation's longest waiting times for medical care of all metropolitan areas. The waits in Boston have since increased to 7 weeks, while the average wait in other metropolitan areas has shortened to 3 weeks.
  • Taxes have been raised on hospitals, tobacco, insurers, employers, and coverage of legal immigrants has been reduced to eliminate the 20% of that cost charged to the state.
  • The high costs caused a legislative commission to recommend a single-payer system such as Canada's and evidence-based purchasing strategies to ration care not only for Medicare patients, but now for everyone.
Many of the costs are not borne by the state. The individual mandate to own insurance has put about 60% of the increased costs on the individual's back. The federal government, or the federal taxpayer, pays about 20% of the costs, and the taxpayers of Massachusetts pay about 20% of the costs. In other words, the struggle that Massachusetts is having to pay the costs is due to only about 20% of the costs. Non-Massachusetts taxpayers are paying about 20% of the costs minus that amount paid by Massachusetts taxpayers as federal taxes. So, one way or another, Massachusetts taxpayers are paying more than 80% of the costs.

The Boston Globe badly misrepresented the cost to Massachusetts taxpayers as only about $88 million per year or about 19 times less than the real cost, despite taxpayers outside Massachusetts paying a very large tip on the tab. The New York Times did a more accurate job of estimating the costs: it was only a factor of 3 too low!

In Massachusetts, it is very clear that if you liked your health insurance plan, you were not allowed to keep it. Obama's promise does not apply in Obama-mad Massachusetts and for the same reasons, it will not apply in the entire U.S. soon after the Obama plan becomes law. We had better see to it that it does not become law.

27 August 2009

NOAA's Sea Surface Temperature Data Set in Error Since 1998

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the Sea Surface Temperatures in July 2009 were the hottest temperatures ever recorded for the month of July. Dr. Roy Spencer thought that was a suspicious claim and compared several series of Sea Surface Temperature Data Sets based on satellite TRIMM TMI data and on the NASA-Japan joint satellite Aqua AMSR-E data showing them to be very much in agreement. He then compared the longer history TRIMM TMI data set to the NOAA ERSST v3b data. Before the latter part of 2001, the NOAA sea surface temperature data was consistently lower than the TRIMM TMI temperatures, but then after that time it was consistently higher. Dr. Spencer said he did not know why the NOAA data had a sudden jump at that time, but he had done various checks on the TRIMM TMI data that indicated its likely reliability, so he was suspicious of the NOAA data. Note that this NOAA jump in temperatures had the effect of hiding some of the inconvenient temperature decrease which has occurred since 1998.

A commenter at Watts Up With That going by the name Cold Lnyx noted that the NOAA data from 1971 to 2000 had been retabulated in August 2001 with a different baseline average monthly reference temperature than the data has been referenced to since. Obviously, temperatures cannot be referenced to different monthly average temperatures and then compared! This would be completely amateurish. If this is really what NOAA has done, then this is a ridiculous error.

Coming on the heals of NASA GISS using data from Russia from September 2008 and attributing it to October 2008 as well and other consistently high temperature anomalies which I discussed in my entry of 11 January 2009 and the loss of the raw data at the Climate Research Unit in East Anglia, which I discussed on 19 August 2009, this NOAA nonsense has to make one wonder if most of the government-funded surface temperature data is unreliable, except the satellite sea surface temperature data from NASA coming out of Huntsville.

Some of you may have noted that one Ian Forrester berated me for not having a higher opinion than I do of what he calls "real scientists" in a comment to my entry on the lost data at the CRU East Anglia, but perhaps you can see why I give no blank checks to scientists, especially when they are publishing work with strong implications for government activities and they are receiving their research and academic support from that same government. Governments do not do a good job of directing funding to the best and most honest scientists in such cases. Government employed scientists are a very mixed bag, which I know from first-hand experience in working for the Department of the Navy as a scientist for 10 years in the 1980s. Generally, Department of the Navy scientists are better than NOAA scientists, yet even the Navy Department is loaded with incompetent scientists. Why should this be a surprise to anyone? The DMVs, the Post Office, Amtrak, the EPA, the CBO, the GSA, the SEC, the FCC, the FAA, the Education Department, the Labor Department, the Congress, the Interior Department, the Dept. of Agriculture, Health and Human Services Dept., and nearly every other government agency is full of incompetent employees, whom no force on Earth can remove.

If this were not bad enough, there are the university scientists and other academics with their insane, otherworldly love of socialism, government Nanny State interventions, anti-man environmentalism, anti-business biases, anti-Capitalism biases, living Constitution (it means whatever we now want it to mean), and all too often, anti-American biases. These agendas have clearly asserted themselves over and over when these academics evaluate scientific issues with public policy implications. Nowadays, they commonly assert that objectivity is not possible in academia, so they might as well be influenced in their view of their field by all such Progressive biases. We might as well discount many of their opinions therefore. In fact, we should never accept them as authorities. We must believe only what we ourselves have checked out and found to be true.

Steve Hanke: The Misery Index Reality Check

Steve H. Hanke, professor of applied economics at The Johns Hopkins University and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute wrote a useful short article for the September 2009 issue of Globe Asia in which he uses data on the misery index to assess claims that Ronald Reagan's policies caused human misery. He says:
According to some left-wing elements in the chattering classes, the free-market, entrepreneurial capitalist system caused the economic crisis. In the United States, politicians have jumped on this bandwagon. Representative Barney Frank, the colorful chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, put it this way: "This is the end of the era of extreme laissez-faire, of 'Don't tax it, don't regulate it.' That has now been totally evaporated." Pundits have also swung into action. For example, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote: "For the more one looks into the origins of the current disaster, the clearer it becomes that the key wrong turn — the turn that made crisis inevitable — took place in the early 1980s, during the Reagan years."
Hanke then shows the chart [click on it to enlarge it] above based on the modification of the original Okun misery index by Robert Barro of Harvard. The Barro misery index takes into account the difference between the average inflation rate over time, the difference in unemployment rate, the change in the 30-year government bond yield, and the difference in the real GDP growth rate from the long-term trend. This index was used to measure the change of misery in a president's term in office. I will offer my usual comment that Presidents have less impact on the economy than does Congress, but even with that caveat, there are interesting lessons here.

Rated as presidential terms, Reagan's first term was the most improved in the time covered, Clinton's second term was next, Reagan's second term was third most improved, the Kennedy/Johnson first term was next, then came Clinton's first term, followed by George W. Bush's second term. I would argue that Reagan's and Kennedy's tax cuts and control of government spending are the reasons for the improvement in the misery index for them. In Clinton's case, there were tax increases in 1993 and then some tax cuts in 1997. Throughout his terms there was real constraint on spending brought on by a balance of power between Clinton and the Congress. His second term with the tax cuts performed better than his first term with the tax increases.

Of course, it might be possible for the near-term economic improvements of Reagan's two terms to result in problems far down the road. But, if you wish to prove this, the burden of proof should be seen as much higher than that acknowledged by Barney Frank or by Paul Krugman. But, their claims require no proof among the Progressives of the Democrat Party. They are taken as simply unchallengeable dogma.

The current economic recession cannot be due to a sharp spike in oil prices in 2007, which was preceded by several years of steep price increases, because this cannot be blamed on the Republicans. What is more, it was the Democrats who were opposing drilling everywhere in the U.S. and preventing added U.S. supplies from moderating increasing oil costs. It was also primarily Democrats who were eager to limit growth in many communities and states, which led to very high land prices for those lots on which homes were allowed and created the need for many sub-prime home mortgages. It was the Democrats at the national level who responded to this need for sub-prime mortgages with the changes in the Community Reinvestment Act that put more pressure on banks to help provide them. Democrat trial law firms, ACORN, and other community organizers were eager for the business of suing banks and lenders if they did not bow to the will of the Democrat Congress with plentiful sub-prime mortgage loans. And, of course, it was the Democrats who encouraged Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac to facilitate the sale of these risky sub-prime mortgages. Meanwhile, the Democrat majority did not pass stricter business regulations until that seemed to become the only way to deny all of those real causes of the recession, aside from some business decision-making errors.

Those of us who are less gullible than the Progressive wing of the Democrat Party will continue to give very little credence to these silly claims that it was the Republicans and their failure to heavily regulate the financial industry which led to the recession.

26 August 2009

College Student Thinking Skills

I have often wondered how it is that so many college graduates are enamored of socialism and very ready to give up their sovereign rights as an individual to choose their own values and to live their own lives in accordance with their values. I have discovered a clue today while reading a short entry in a topical cluster of entries on Origins in the September 2009 issue of Scientific American. One of the entries is entitled Economic Thinking and is written by Davide Castelvecchi. He notes that:
In 1953 American mathematician Kenneth May conducted an experiment in which college students were asked to evaluate three hypothetical marriage candidates, each of whom excelled in a different quality. The students picked intelligence over looks, looks over wealth and wealth over intelligence.
Kenneth O. May was a mathematician at Carleton College, which is a pretty well-respected college. I am assuming his study was of Carleton students. In view of this outcome, I suppose it is not at all surprising that college graduates in general are about as likely, or even more so, to choose socialism over capitalism and free markets. They choose servitude over independence or is it that they choose that others should serve and they, the new elite, should dictate, never understanding that the vast majority of the college graduates themselves must wind up being those who serve the dictating elite. They choose falsely promised security and perpetual childhood over self-management and personal responsibility, with their open sky opportunities. Frankly, my dear, they are a confused and befuddled lot!

It was clear to me long before high school that I would pick intelligence over looks, looks over wealth, and that wealth was of no significant concern. It was also clear to me that I would pick capitalism over socialism, individual rights over servitude, self-management over servitude, and self-responsibility over promised security.

In the last few days an environmentalist commenter to one of my entries asked why I did not have more respect for the published advocates of catastrophic global warming due to man's emissions of CO2? I did not answer that particular question head on, because my original text had already answered it and the commenter had simply not bothered to read the text he was commenting on. Primarily, I am not impressed by their arguments and I am unfavorably impressed by their conflicts of interest. The most heavily published AGWs are those who are paid full time to publish on the subject, almost always by governments seeking to expand their powers. Those writing the articles are motivated strongly by a desire to become well-known and accepted by their peers in academia and the grant-giving agencies of governments by publishing dramatic results, which these days mean catastrophic predictions for the future of mankind. Almost all of these peers are dominated by socialists, man-loathing environmentalists, and in short those who would plan to pick a spouse with:
  • intelligence over looks
  • looks over wealth
  • wealth over intelligence
Of course, once you actually make a pick, this contradiction of qualities valued is not realized, but the consequences of the confusion and the cluelessness are realized in the many bad choices made.

23 August 2009

Senate Minority Report on Global Warming: Signed by More than 700 Scientists & Economists

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Minority Report on Global Warming has been signed by more than 700 scientists and economists. I am one of the signers of this report. This Minority Report proves that there is no scientific consensus in favor of the idea that man's emissions of CO2 are causing or will cause highly destructive global warming. This Minority Report was the work of Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and a member of his staff named Marc Morano.

Many critics of this Minority Report complain that some of the signatories are not scientists. But the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis is:
  • Global warming is occurring and will become worse.
  • It is caused by increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.
  • Man's use of fossil fuels is causing much of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
  • The consequences for man, animal-life, and crop production will be catastrophic.
Economists have important inputs for the third and fourth bulleted items. Their assessments are very important in judging the catastrophic man-made global warming issue. They have a place at the table with scientists because of the nature of the hypothesis being considered. Critics of the report also complain that many of the scientists are not primarily climatologists. Some are, many are not.

The climate is a complex issue, which very much benefits from a multi-disciplinary analysis. For my money, many climatologists do not have a sufficiently long-term perspective on the Earth's history to fully appreciate and understand the many natural factors controlling climate. Despite this, most of them are not convinced by the AGW alarmists. Geologists are very good contributors to our understanding because they do have this perspective. The work of Ian Plimer in putting together the great book Heaven and Earth is an example of this. Then there is the important role of chemists, biologists, and materials scientists and engineers in understanding how CO2 is cycled between the atmosphere, oceans, and the Earth's crust. The role of physicists in understanding the cycles of the sun with its changing irradiance, the changing solar winds, and its changing electromagnetic fields and the interaction of that field with the cosmic ray flux from space is also critical. Their experience with cloud chambers and cosmic ray measurements is also critical. Biologists also play an important role in assessing the effects upon humans, plant, and animal life. They are all needed in the assessment of catastrophic AGW.

Finally, if the catastrophic AGW hypothesis were true and if man could do anything to prevent the worst consequences, then the very importance of the problem should engage a wide range of scientists, engineers, and economists. The actions to be taken would be drastic and have severe consequences for the lives of the entire world population. So, the thesis of AGW ought to be so sound that all of these scientists and economists will be convinced that a unified and determined human response to AGW is justified. Their many talents will likely be called upon to implement that response. So, the catastrophic AGW believers should be very excited to enlist the interest and the support of all these scientists, engineers, and economists. To do this, however, means that their critical assessment of the hypothesis must be welcomed and their judgment should be respected. It is up to the catastrophic AGWs to make a sound and compelling case for their hypothesis so they can enlist the support of the broad scientific, engineering, and economic expert communities.

In comparison to the Senate Minority Report on AGW, the UN IPCC report Summary, which is where the mass of the alarmist claims are made, has only 52 authors, many of whom are also not scientists and many of whom are simply politicians promoting government interests in expanding their power. While hundreds of scientists contributed their scientific findings to the scientific parts of the report, these main parts of the report are also full of caveats that it is not clear that catastrophic AGW is implied by their findings. They are clearly loathe to make the long-term predictions which are made in the Summary of the ICPP reports. Indeed, many scientists have been refusing to participate in the UN ICPP reports over time because they believe the Summaries are such a poor representation of the science in the main parts of the reports.

The catastrophic AGW hypothesis has clearly failed to be convincing to those scientists who have taken the time to evaluate its claims and generally to study the issue of the Earth's climate and the factors controlling it. It is time for the politicians and the public to understand the failure of the catastrophic global warming hypothesis to convince such knowledgeable and rational evaluators as those who have signed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Minority Report.

22 August 2009

AP Lowers Obama's Tax Pledge Limit

An AP news item on the now projected increased federal deficit for the 2010 to 2019 time period of a $2 trillion increase to $9 trillion tries to open the door for Obama and the Democrats to increase taxes on those making between $200,000 and $250,000 per year now. This article says
Such deficits have always prompted Congress and the White House to take politically painful steps to curb them, such as former President Bill Clinton's tax-heavy 1993 deficit reduction plan. A companion effort by Obama could force him to break his promise to not raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year.
But..... didn't he actually pledge not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $250,000 a year? Well, yes he did.
This effort to find new revenues should be frustrated by what Obama said was his "firm pledge" not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000.00 a year. "Under my plan," Obama said September 12, 2008 in Dover, N.H., "no family making less than $250,000.00 a year will see any form of tax increase." To emphasize the point he continued, "Not your income taxes, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes."
This article also notes that Obama has already raised cigarette taxes, which mostly fall upon people with annual incomes very far below $250,000 a year.

This pledge has not kept Obama and the Democrats from trying to pass legislation which will greatly crank up our energy expenses in a manner which is clearly a subterfuge method of taxation. They are also trying very hard to rearrange health care payments so that for all intents and purposes the young and the healthy are going to be taxed to pay for the higher health care needs of the unhealthy and the older. None of these tax subterfuges respect the no new taxes for those making less than $250,000 a year in the least!

Obama has already made it clear that like Bill Clinton, he believes that lying is a great art form. He does it because he loves the beauty of a well-told lie. Many such lies brought him into the Presidency and gave him the opportunity to try to further his socialist goals in re-making America.

Davy Crockett Learned Constitutional Limits on Government

A friend, Paul Cohen, drew my attention to an interesting story about how Davy Crockett, while a Representative from Tennessee, came to learn that the federal government did not have among its enumerated powers the power to provide charity. He learned this from a very wise and thoughtful constituent named Horatio Bunce. More than that, the lesson is also about how we should hold the Constitution sacred.

21 August 2009

The Mass Destruction of Health Care

Obama and the Democrat Congress have two main purposes they are trying to accomplish with a health care bill. The very widespread public opposition to aspects of the many health bills which have been discussed, will keep the socialists from getting some of the things they want, but they may very well still accomplish their two principal purposes. These are:
  • To establish the principle that the federal government has the power to regulate all aspects of our health care because current costs seem high and some people do not have health insurance. This will not be spelled out in the legislation itself.
  • To set up the bureaucracy which will give the politicians cover from the severely hard choices of rationing health care which will have to be made as the costs of health care escalate beyond everyone's imagination. An extensive and convoluted bureaucracy will also take some of the responsibility for the high costs off the backs of the politicians.
Whether the public option, or co-ops, or only private companies provide the insurance are very secondary issues, which may affect the length of time it takes to complete the takeover of the entire health care industry, but they are of no fundamental comfort to anyone who believes they have the right to manage and control their own health care choices.

No matter what, the government will require everyone to be covered by a government approved health cost payments policy. Government requirements will be inconsistent with the nature of insurance and will be patterned after the underfunded Medicare and Social Security programs in that young and healthy people are expected to subsidize the older and less healthy people. No longer will it be acceptable for young people to buy insurance which recognizes their actual likely needs and allows those needs to be distinguished from those who are older or who practice lifestyles known to be unhealthy. The essence of the Obama/Democrat plan is to put in place the mechanisms to create a giant further transfer of wealth from the young and the healthy to the older and the less healthy. This is to be added to the already huge similar transfer from the young and the healthy to Social Security and Medicaid recipients.

Now whether these purposes are accomplished with a government option, co-ops, or private insurers matters little. If the government tells a health cost payment entity that it must offer cost payments to everyone requesting it, no matter what pre-existing health problem they may have, no matter that they smoke like fiends, no matter that they weigh 400 pounds, and no matter that they have not exercised since they were young children, the cost of health care for the young and for the healthy will certainly skyrocket. This is because it obviously would do those who argue that government must make health care reforms because people have no insurance because they cannot afford it no good unless they bring down the costs of health care for those people who cannot afford it. The only way to do this is to require a transfer of costs to others. In this case, those others are the young and the healthy, the general taxpayer, and those on Medicare in some combination. Probably in the end, it will be all, but mostly it will always be the young and the healthy.

Of course, there will be some pressure then to pressure those with unhealthy lifestyles to give them up in order to save money. This will be called preventive health care, which it is, but it is also very intrusive into the private lives of people. General rules, which will not recognize the individuality of each person, will be applied to everyone and no one will be allowed to believe that they own their own life. They will not be allowed to exercise freedom in any action which may affect their health. All dangerous activities will have to be suppressed. Skydiving, scuba diving, hang gliding, rock climbing, knee-destroying soccer, and football will be considered too dangerous. Of course smoking, drinking, drug use, and sugar and fat intake will also be prohibited on health care cost grounds. If you do any of these things, you will cost the collective money. No personal choice that results in the collective bearing more costs can be allowed. These programs will not start out being very rigorous about such things, but they will evolve strongly along these lines as the bureaucracy sets up the many tens of thousands of pages of regulations which will tell everyone their mandated duties to the collective health care of all.

Of necessity, since all are bearing the responsibility for paying the health care costs of all, since there will have to be more demand for health care, since doctors and other health care workers are going to be taken advantage of and will leave their professions, and because our population is aging, health care costs will go up ever faster. The system which will be evolving couches all issues in terms of the collective's needs, not those of individuals. As a result, each individual will be judged, of necessity, only in terms of his or her perceived value to the collective. In other words, the government-controlled health care system will have to establish criteria for rationing care which consider that young children with disabilities and old people with expensive health problems should get less care, because they are of less value to the collective. Ezekiel Emanuel, the older brother of Rahm Emanuel, the "Never let a good crisis go unused." chief of staff for Obama, is also a top health care adviser to Obama and has considered such issues already in his publications. He claims to have changed his mind in the firestorm that erupted when his articles were read by those concerned with death panels.

While Obama and the Democrats are saying there are no death panels in the legislation, that is true only if the required end-of-life consultations do not put undue pressure on older people with expensive medical problems simply to give up treatments. It is also only true if the system is not so constrained for income that it has options to pay for expensive late life cures if people want them or it at least allows people to pay for their own health care if they want to. The long lived health care system in Great Britain has committees called NICE which make the decisions on when to cut-off medical care as too expensive given the age of the person in question and statistics on average quality of life after procedures are performed. A human life has a value put on it in Great Britain, it is $45,000 per year. Oregon, Tennessee, and Massachusetts already make decisions to cut off medical care based on such considerations. Consequently, it should not matter that Obama and various Democrats claim that no death panels are set up by the legislation they are considering, because such panels are implicit in the assumptions of any such collective health care scheme. They must come in time.

In the name of equality and so-called social justice, all government controlled health care systems deny individuals to pay for medical care which is not offered by the government system to all. This has also happened in Great Britain and in many provinces in Canada.

All economic goods and services are rationed. They are rationed by supply and demand. Advocates of the government option and generally of a government-controlled health care system use this as an argument. They just want to change the terms of the rationing. But it is exactly the terms that are of critical concern. In the Democrat scheme, rationing must be done by political means, while in a free market scheme, limits on medical care are established by the voluntary actions of individuals. Individuals can take care of their health, they can save money to pay for their increased needs for health care in their older age, and they can love and care for their family so well that their family wants to help them when it is needed. All of these options are always denied by the government controlled health care systems. In addition, if doctors are not treated as slaves in the health care system, as they are not in the free market, many of them are likely to give generously of their own time and services. My grandfather did this always, especially during the Great Depression. In government run health care, doctors are not allowed to donate their services, since they are supposed to give all their service to the government-run system. Finally, peoples who are allowed to be productive and to enjoy their lives, always share their good fortune with others both by making everyone more wealthy and through their charity.

Do not allow the Democrats to get away with the claim that their system will not produce death panels. It will and it must. Such panels are a necessary consequence of any government-run plan to provide health care to everyone while trying to hold down costs. Of course they will fail to hold down costs and they will fail to deliver quality health care to everyone. They will have death panels. They will also drain the People of their productivity and their charitableness.

19 August 2009

Global Surface Temperature Data Lost

NASA has a surface temperature data set maintained by James Hanson's GISS, but it tends to be loaded with readings which are thought by many critics to be too high and it has been caught in some serious mistakes. The most commonly cited surface temperature data set is maintained by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) in East Anglia, Great Britain. For years scientists have requested the raw data to check to see if such adjustments made to it for urban heat island effects and grid averages are valid. The CRU has refused to make the data available, despite its being public data collected with government monies. Now, in response to a determined Freedom of Information Act request, Prof. Phil Jones, an activist-scientist, who controls the data says that the raw data no longer exists.

So, most of the developed countries of the world are restricting the use of economical fossil fuels and paying huge subsidies for alternative, non-competitive energy sources, based on a cock-a-Mamie theory of catastrophic man-made global warming which is based mostly on the surface temperature data sets of CRU and NASA, neither of which can be relied upon. These data sets have long indicated more global warming in the late 20th Century than did satellite measurements or many buoys measuring the ocean water temperatures. Temperature data sets of the entire atmosphere and the oceans that cover 70% of the Earth's surface have been largely ignored in favor of the land surface measurements which are most likely to be affected by artifacts such as the urban heat island effects. This makes no scientific sense, but it does fulfill the agenda of socialist political goals.

Another reason to worry about the quality of the surface temperature data sets is that over the last 20 - 30 years, 5000 of the world's 6,000 weather stations have been abandoned or ignored. Despite the huge increases in climate research monies, these have not been replaced or upgraded with modern technology. Many of the abandoned stations are in more remote areas where it is important to have high quality surface temperature measurements. Of course, those remote area measurements are subject to less data manipulation, so if one has an agenda that causes one to want exaggerated global warming, it is easier to get that from surface temperature measurements made near cities or towns with heat island effects.

Unemployment Rises Among Criminals

The crime rates for all categories except burglary decreased in 2008 according to the FBI. Does this mean that the start of the recession raised the unemployment rate for criminals?

Revolts of Scientists Against Global Warming Dogma

Many members of the American Physical Society are revolting against a statement issued by that society of professional physicists in 2007 that claimed that man-made emissions of CO2 were a serious problem. You can read a brief article about the request by 80 prominent physicists to have the earlier statement replaced with one which states that natural forces such as solar and ocean forces are the primary cause of climate change, that the 20th Century and early 21st Century temperatures are not unusual, and that objective research on the effects of both natural and man-made effects are the proper business of science.

Comments in favor of man-made global warming by the editor of the monthly magazine published for all members of the American Chemical Society resulted in a firestorm of protesting letters only a few weeks ago. Thus it is clear that the so-called consensus of scientists that anthropogenic global warming is a major factor leading to catastrophic effects has broken down.

That consensus may have seemed plausible to many a short while back because most scientists had never really looked into the issues of global climate. But as the public policy issues related to preventing a global warming catastrophe caused many scientists to realize how important climate-affecting factors were, more and more of them have done their homework. More and more of them, as I was, were embarrassed to find that much of what has been called climate science has been very poor science indeed. More and more of the scientists in the "hard" sciences have been able to evaluate the so-called science of greenhouse global warming and have dismissed it as obviously inadequate science, with many very apparent biases based upon political, rather than scientific, values.

Bring on the revolt my fellow scientists. It is late, but we must still save as much respect for science as we can.

18 August 2009

The Coming Energy Takeover

Amidst all the furor over the government attempt to takeover the health care industries, their efforts to take over the control of energy use is receiving less attention. The Waxman-Markey carbon tax and trade bill has passed the House of Representatives, but the Senate has not been eager to take it up. When a medical services takeover bill has been passed, Democrat pressure will mount on the Senate to return to putting restrictions on energy. They may not agree with a plan as drastic as the House plan, but they will no doubt agree to doing considerable damage to the economy and to the interests of the People. Even if they do nothing, the EPA is declaring CO2 a pollutant and will itself cause massive damage to the economy through its open-ended regulatory powers.

A front page article in the Washington Times on 17 August 2009 proved very interesting to me. Its thrust was that a huge growth of Federal bureaucracies was going to be required by the Waxman-Markey bill if it is enacted. This itself is interesting, but the most interesting point in the article was a quote of Bart Chilton, the commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. His commission will regulate the trading of carbon allowances. He is looking forward to expanding the size of his commission for the task by 31%, though I expect the expansion will be much greater than that. But, his most interesting comment was:
"It [the carbon allowances trading market] could be a $2 trillion market within five years."
Well, the entire U.S. GDP was about $14.3 trillion in 2008 and is a bit smaller in 2009 due to the recession. Slow growth is expected in the next several years. In five years when Chilton expects the carbon allowances market he will regulate to be $2 trillion in size, perhaps the GDP will be $14 or 16 trillion, bearing in mind that the health care bill which will be passed, the refusal to allow drilling, the destruction of the coal industry, the continued pandering to labor unions at the expense of investors and civil liberties, the plundering of the wealthy and productive, and the renewal of class and racial warfare generally promoted by the Democrats will be unchecked given their control of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. In other words, they will be doing all the right things, if one wants stagnation, which they clearly do.

So, the critical assessment here is that a $2 trillion carbon allowance market affects business and the People just as a $2 trillion tax increase would. Sure, not all of that money is going to the government, but just as when we send our money to the government, that money will have been spent for nothing. OK, maybe 25% of the money we send to the government is spent for something of value, such as defense, some police powers, some interstate roads (the post roads of the Constitution?), etc. Now as I see it, every penny spent on carbon allowances is wasted money. Yes, that waste will prompt some companies to spend more money on energy conservation, but they could have done that anyway without the waste of the carbon allowances market. So, all of this money is wasted. The government is going to spend about $4 trillion this year, so the usual rule would say that $3 trillion of this is wasted money. Except given the bailouts, a larger fraction than usual is wasted. Projections say that federal spending over the next two years will be about $3.5 trillion. Applying the 25% rule to this, about $2.6 trillion of these expenditures will be wasted.

Adding the mandated additional waste of $2 trillion in the carbon allowances market to the $2.6 trillion in wasted money in the federal expenditures, one finds that we can expect a waste of $4.6 trillion out of a total economy of about $15 trillion. So, we are going to soon waste 30.7% of the U.S. economy, if a bill similar to Waxman-Markey is passed by Congress! Government is not going to be treading lightly on the American People. No, it is going to stomp us into the ground! Then to this we will have to add the mischief of the so-called health care reform.

Actually, this is still an underestimate of the weight of government on our economy. Freedom from government day this year was 12 August, which means that about 62% of the economy is already taken by government. This would then be (0.62) ($14.3 trillion) = $8.9 trillion! Now, if we add the $2 trillion carbon allowance market to this, we get $10.9 trillion going to government altogether or being wasted at government requirement. Of a $15 trillion economy a few years down the road, this means that government will control at least 73% of the economy!

This being the case, we will be working for government about 73% of the time in a few years if Waxman-Markey becomes law. One would think that almost anyone would have enough sense to see themselves as the slave they are under such circumstances. How could any such person even imagine they are an American? When American fundamental principles of government disappear, when our government's function is no longer to preserve and protect the sovereign rights of the individual, does America even exist anymore? Is American just a continental area and the people who happen to reside there? Or are America and the American People defined by their fundamental commitment to the rights of the individual? I think it is the latter. Everyone but Americans may find it adequate to be defined by the land on which they live and little else, but we Americans should be defined by our individualistic ideals!

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would oversee the day-to-day trading of carbon allowances and is estimating that it will need to expand its personnel by 20 - 30%. The EPA will need to expand greatly. It is supposed to regulate 6 billion tons of CO2 emissions from 7,400 facilities under the House bill. It is now regulating only 330 million of other emissions. The CBO thinks $8 billion is needed for the expansion of federal regulatory agencies to monitor Waxman-Markey over 10 years. This figure is absurdly low in my opinion. For the bill to be effective, the CBO thinks about 1,500 regulations will be needed and mandates will have to be approved by at least 21 federal agencies. No one will have a clue what is going on for years!

The huge uncertainties of how Waxman-Markey will be applied to industry, businesses, and individuals will add monstrously to the $2 trillion in new "taxes" this program will bring on. No business will be able to plan for the future. Heck, even home owners will have no idea if they will be able to heat or air condition their homes in the future.

As I have been saying: "The Democrats are the party of Mass-Destruction." How funny that this is all being done in the name of the man-made global warming farce the Democrats are so deeply embedded in. Could they ever find a way to mash their faces into more eggs? OK, it would be funny if they were not trying so hard to commit America to self-immolation and if the American People had not so completely handed the keys to the nation, the banks, industry, and our homes to them.

16 August 2009

Medieval Warming to Little Ice Age

If the warming of the late 20th Century had not come to an end, what kind of catastrophe were we headed for? Apparently one similar to the Medieval and Roman Warmings. Well, what does Ian Plimer in his wonderful book Heaven and Earth have to say about that?

The Medieval Warming period from 900 to 1300 was a period of great human advances in Europe, China, and Angkor Wat in southeast Asia. Humans generally prospered and were able to more easily feed and cloth themselves. As a result, they had enough time and resources to be able to undertake the building of cities, great cathedrals, and the start of universities throughout Europe. Europe started importing goods from China and the East Indies via the Orient. The Orient itself prospered with renewed agriculture, trade, and the establishment of institutions of learning. This period was warmer than the late 20th Century period.

The Medieval Warming was not nearly as warm as had been the longer Holocene Climate Optimum from 7000 BC to 3000 BC, but it was about the equivalent of the Roman Warming between 250 BC and 450 AD. Europe was warm, rainfall was plentiful, the climate was stable, and agricultural production became more bountiful and reliable. Farmers were able to farm to higher elevations in the mountains. Food production increased enough to allow the population to increase from 30 to 80 million in Europe. The population of China doubled in 100 years also.

There was a great expansion in trade. People could produce more than was needed for subsistence and were able to trade the excess. The warm period was accompanied by fewer storms and intense winds were less common than during the Dark Ages. Note that this is contrary to the claims of many Global Warming Alarmists today. Coastal trade and long distance ocean trade routes were widely established. Movement overland became easier. Though it rained more, there was also more sunshine to dry out the mud on roads. Mountain passes were open for longer periods.

The Vikings settled in Iceland, Greenland, and in North America. They farmed barley and raised cattle and sheep in Greenland. They had vineyards in Newfoundland. They fished for cod and hunted seals in ice-free waters. The Vikings traded extensively in Russia and Kievan Rus, down to Persia and Constantinople.

The Doomsday Book shows grapes were grown in England where they cannot be now. England was warmer and drier then than it is now. Its population grew from1.4 million to 5.5 million. the population of France tripled to become 18 million. Vineyards in Germany went to altitudes of 780 meters, though they only go to 560 meters now. This implies the average temperature was about 1.0 to 1.4 degrees C higher than now. In Norway, the land was cleared, settled, and farmed about 100 to 200 meters higher in elevation than now, suggesting a temperature average about 1 degree C higher than now. In 1000 AD, the treeline of the polar Urals was higher than it is now.

Mining in the higher Alps occurred both in the Roman and Medieval Warming periods. These mines were covered with ice in the Dark Ages and again in the Little Ice Age. Some of these mines were again exposed with the ice retreat of the late 20th Century warming. The sediments of Lake Neufchatel in Switzerland show it was warmer in the Medieval Warming than now, but that a 1.5 degree C temperature drop occurred quickly with the start of the Little Ice Age. The Baltic Sea supported tropical and sub-tropical plankton then, but cannot do so now.

A study of 600 boreholes on all continents shows that the Medieval Warming period was warmer than today. They also show a drop of 0.2 to 0.7 degrees C due to the Little Ice Age. Turkey, Northern Africa, Pakistan, southern Africa, Japan, the Great Plains of North America, Alaska, northern Quebec, southern Ontario, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Mono Lake in California, the Anasazi Indian area, southern Alberta, Argentina, Peru and the Andes, and the South Pacific all experienced the Medieval Warming with benefits to the people of the regions. Similarly, when the Little Ice Age was experienced in all these areas, the people suffered.

Of course, these temperature changes were not caused by CO2 emissions by man. They were caused by changes in the irradiance of the Sun, changes in its magnetic fields, and in its emissions of solar wind and the resulting interactions with cosmic rays.

So, if the 20th Century warming had continued, mankind might have enjoyed the many benefits enjoyed by human civilizations in the Roman and the Medieval Warmings. Those benefits are the catastrophe the Democrats and the rabid environmentalists are trying to protect us from by bringing on catastrophic energy use restrictions and taxes. Had they simply done their homework and taken some reasonable regard for the great wealth that the Industrial Revolution has brought to mankind in increased security, longer lives, a richer intellectual life, and so much more, they would not be intent upon throwing wrenches and bolts into the gears of our economy. In the name of a phantom global warming catastrophe caused by human use of fossil fuels, they would throw many of us out of jobs, leave us in chilled homes and businesses in the winter, in swelteringly humid buildings in summers in which electronics cannot long function, deprive our businesses of profits, and restrict our travel.

As is so often the case, wrong-headed Democrats are coming close to destroying the miracle of America. Perhaps the coming Great Chill caused by our Sun will keep them from wrecking destruction via the route of energy use restrictions. Of course, the Great Chill will itself make life harder, as such chills always have. And, of course, the Democrats are always, without pause, looking for more ways to inhibit our pursuit of happiness as humans. They are especially fond of finding ways to reduce our production of the goods and services that people want.

15 August 2009

The Cooling Earth

The principal influence upon the global climate is always our Sun, though our galaxy can also have a major affect over the eons. Ocean currents respond to it. The oceans hold 99 times more heat than the atmosphere, so they in turn affect our climate. But it all comes back to the sun and the Milky Way galaxy. These are the big sources of energy and produce the big effects on cloud cover, at least aside from major volcanoes.

Astronomers Dr. William Livingston and Dr. Matthew Penn have long been measuring the Sun's magnetic fields. They have found that the magnetic intensity of sunspots has been decreasing for the last 15 years. If this continues, the Sun will have no sunspots in 5 years and its activity will be similar to the Maunder Minimum which is believed to have caused the Little Ice Age.

Other scientists measuring the solar wind, the plasma thrown off by the Sun, have found it to be weaker than at any previous time during the measurements which go back 40 years. This both indicates less solar radiation and less shielding of the Earth from cosmic rays. More cosmic rays create more cloud cover. More cloud cover cools all of the earth, except Antarctica. Antarctica actually warms with more cloud cover because its white snow and ice is more reflective even than clouds, which is not the case in Greenland.

Drs. Rachel Howe and Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory have been tracking the path of a subsurface jet stream called the torsional oscillation which began near the Sun's pole, as such jet streams do in the Sun every 11 years. These streams travel east to west and slowly approach the equator of the Sun over a 17 year period. When they reach a critical latitude of 22 degrees, they generate sunspots. The torsional oscillation of the last Sun cycle took 2 years to make a 10 degree change of latitude, but the torsional oscillation of the present cycle has taken 3 years to do so. This slow rate of travel has extended the solar minimum, which is a cooler period for the sun.

Many solar scientists now believe the chances that the Earth will be cooling significantly exceed the chances of global warming.

Meanwhile, those dumb Democrats are still proclaiming loudly that there is a scientific consensus that catastrophe awaits us if we do not cut back drastically on fossil fuel energy use, even if it costs us a fortune, kills entire industries, and plunges the nation into economic depression. It is fearfully irresponsible of these people to turn to the use of government force to so harm the lives of other Americans without even doing their homework. But then, these are the same people who vote for House and Senate bills they have not read and the same president who tells us the bills do not contain the provisions that they do contain.

In fact, it is more likely we will need all the fossil fuels we can get to keep us warm. Any very modest warming we can get from generating more CO2 through a greenhouse effect will be welcome, though it will be a very small effect compared to the likely cooling brought on by a cooler Sun. With shorter growing seasons, any increased atmospheric concentrations of CO2 that man can contribute will be very helpful in fertilizing our food plants. So drill and drill some more. Nonetheless, the cooling of the oceans will probably cause a decrease in atmospheric CO2, so again, the effect of man will be puny.

With more than 6 billion people, it appears that the environmentalists will get their fondest wish. There will be mass starvation if we slip into another little ice age. If they are right that people are the problem, then there will soon be fewer of them. As always, the Democrats have misidentified the real problem.

Krauthammer - Preventive Health Care Increases Costs

Obama is running about making many false claims of problems with the present health care system and in favor of a government-run health care system. One of his favorite false claims is that more preventive health care will reduce the costs of providing health care. Charles Krauthammer points out in a commentary called More Health Care Nonsense, published on 14 August 2009 on Real Clear Politics, that this claim is nonsense.

In order to catch the disease early in one patient to save money on the further treatment of that patient, you need to test many other people, whom you will find do not have a problem. Numerous studies have shown that this generally increases health care costs overall, rather than lowering them. Of course we choose often to do the testing in order to reduce human suffering, but we do not do it in order to lower costs overall. When we are making a personal decision on whether to test or not, we are willing to assume higher costs for our testing in many cases than society as a whole would be willing to do. In a government-run health system, one way to save money is to reduce the amount of testing. If it were politically feasible, which would come to be the case at some time in history after the government has found many ways to run up the costs of health care, then less testing will be done in the government-run system and more people will suffer more from problems which would have been discovered earlier in a private health care system.

As with so many things, Obama is wrongheaded. He is wrong to imply that
  • A government-run health care system will provide more preventive health care.
  • This preventive health care will reduce costs.
The error of the second bullet will become clear very quickly, while the error of the first bullet will evolve more slowly in time. Shortages in health care workers always result in government-run systems, so the necessary workers will not be available to increase preventive care. The rising inefficiencies (ala the U.S. Post Office) will increase costs and require reductions in incomes for health care workers, so many will leave the field and fewer will enter it. The costs of tests and other services will become too much for the over-burdened system to bear, so they will be severely rationed.

Damn, other than pointing out that the U.S. Post Office has bad problems, almost everything Obama says turns out to the opposite of the truth. He is like a compass that always points to the South Pole.

Hudgins - Postal Service Style Health Care

Ed Hudgins, Director of Advocacy at the Atlas Society, has written an excellent commentary on Obama's denial that his health care plan will create a government-only health care industry. Obama said that just as Fed Ex and UPS manage to compete with the U.S. Postal Service, so will private insurers compete with the government insurance "option." Obama ran on to mention that it is the USPS that has problems. Hudgins points out that this should worry us. Do we really want a health care industry run as badly as the U.S. postal service? He also notes that the postal service did not have a monopoly on first-class mail until 1845 and that private companies could pick up mail at the post office for subscribers and deliver it to their homes and businesses until 1872. Similarly, it is likely that the government will move over time to restrict competition to their health insurance.

14 August 2009

Compromise - The Road to Socialism

Last night, I heard Bill O'Reilly say that compromise is always good. He is not unusual among Americans in saying that. When reasonable people get together and attempt to find a way to work with one another to achieve a goal they share, compromise often is worth everyone's effort.

But..... When someone who believes in the rights of the individual is confronted by a socialist, any compromise between them moves the freedom-loving individualist down the road to serfdom. Compromise is no longer good. It is the primary means through which the persistent socialists have robbed most benevolently-minded and non-confrontational Americans of one precious freedom after another.

For those of us who believe that everyone has individual rights, each fifty-fifty compromise on a freedom with the socialists results in our losing half of whatever freedoms we were still allowed to enjoy. Two compromises, and we have only a quarter of our freedom. Frankly, when one has less than half a freedom, it would seem clear to me that one's condition with respect to that freedom is best characterized as slavery.

Let us suppose we drive a hard bargain in each confrontation and we only lose 20% of the freedom each time. At the end of 3 compromises, one has only a 0.512 fraction of the freedom left. This is barely better than slave status. After 5 compromises, one's freedom is less than a third of what it should be.

The compromiser is guaranteed a loss of all of his freedoms over time, because the socialist, who loves using the force of government and loves confrontation, always comes back to demand more. The socialist can always compromise to his advantage. There is, however, no way to compromise one's way back to freedom.

Those who would be free, must be prepared to never compromise their freedoms. They must fight every fight as though their lives depend upon the outcome, because they do. They must fight with no thought of surrender and with no quarter, because only evil-doers prosper from the compromise of the freedoms of the individual. The rational domain for compromise does not include our freedoms!

Whalen: We Broke the Bank!

Mike Whalen, founder, president, and CEO of Heart of America Restaurants and Inns and also policy chairman at the National Center for Policy Analysis, summarized the debt situation of the federal government in an excellent commentary in the 11 August 2009 Washington Times called We Broke the Bank! We need to rein in our overspending. Let us examine some of his key points:
  • On-the-books national debt is $11.6 trillion.
  • Off-the-books debt including Medicare and Social Security, is $107 trillion.
  • Even these amounts do not include pensions and benefits of federal workers and veterans.
Adding just the $11.6 trillion [expected to be $12 trillion by October] to the $107 trillion gives us $119 trillion in debt. The GDP is about $14.3 trillion and federal revenues are about $2.5 trillion, so the debt to federal revenue ratio is 48. But, he points out that there is no available cash in the government revenues to pay the debt, since it is all obligated elsewhere already.

Looking at this another way:
  • Total national private net worth is $51.5 trillion.
  • Federal unfunded liabilities are 2.3 times the nation's net worth.
  • "That's pretty darn broke."
Whalen says there is no way to service this debt. The game is up. "Even if we significantly slash the federal entitlements by half, we cannot fix this problem. Even if we increase federal receipts from the 50 year average of 18.5 percent of GDP to say 27 percent, killing private sector growth, we cannot fix the problem."

Indeed, the problem may well be fixed only after the U.S. goes bankrupt and forfeits on its obligations. The best we can do is to rein in spending drastically and do the opposite of Mike Whalen's suggestion on increasing federal receipts as a fraction of GDP. We know that attempts to increase tax rates result in a drop in federal revenues, while decreases in rates result in increases in federal revenues.

Many people absolutely cannot understand this. But, first, it has been demonstrated when Presidents Coolidge, Kennedy, Reagan, and George W. Bush reduced income tax rates and when Clinton reduced the capital gains tax. Tax decreases result in added growth of the economy, which contributes to more tax receipts for the federal government. But, this is not the only effect. Lower taxes make people feel better and make them more confident about their future, which helps them to deal with the federal debt they are saddled with.

Finally, and this is really important, people work very hard to avoid high taxes. Business decisions that make great sense with low tax rates, make no sense with high tax rates and are not undertaken. People also cheat much more when the tax rates are high. The size of our underground economy, while not proportionally as large as that in Italy, will increase as tax rates increase. Another hugely important factor is the velocity of transactions. When tax rates are low, especially capital gains taxes, people buy and sell with much greater frequency. Taxing 10 transactions of $10,000 at a rate of 12% yields $12,000, but taxing 4 transactions of $10,000 at a rate of 20% yields only $8,000. The frequency of taxable transactions is critical in government revenues.

In summary, our best hope in minimizing the damage is to reduce government spending, stop making unfunded future obligations such as throwing more people into Medicaid, and accelerate the economy with tax cuts for investors and hardworking businessmen. The more business investment, the sooner the unemployment rate comes down and this helps to decrease government spending on unemployment and increases income tax revenues. The more business investment, the more profits are realized and this adds to tax revenues. If there is a solution, this is it.

Unfortunately, the Democrat Congress and Obama will not hear of any of this. Unless the American People throw them out of office as soon as possible, we are doomed to bankruptcy as a nation. Then, of course, the People must demand reductions in spending and tax rates, or we are still doomed. They must learn to appreciate the ability of Americans to manage their own lives and to grow the economy while making life richer and easier for almost everyone.

13 August 2009

The Sun Controls the Earth's Climate

The source of more or less energy for the Earth is the Sun. The output of UV radiation is particularly variable for the Sun with variations of 0.5 to 0.8%. This UV radiation affects the ozone concentrations in the atmosphere, the energy deposited in the upper atmosphere, and the winds in the upper atmosphere. It affects the amount of sulfur moved from the oceans into the atmosphere, which then affects lower atmosphere cloud cover, which then reflects light back into space. Overall, the energy from the Sun measured by satellites since 1979 has varied by 0.22%. The high to the low energy output were separated by only 7 years. This difference causes a surface temperature difference of at least 0.45 degree C, according to Ian Plimer. He also says the urban warming effect was 0.1 degree C for a total warming of 0.55 degree C. This is about equal to the late 20th Century temperature increase. This was an irradiance variation of about 0.53 Watts/meter squared.

Since most of this period has been one of relatively high solar activity and output, there is reason to believe that longer term measurements will show much larger variations in solar output. If the Sun's irradiance were to be only about 1 to 1.5 Watts/meter squared less than now, we would experience conditions equivalent to the very cold Maunder Minimum of the Little Ice Age. The 23rd Sun cycle was very short, being 10.0 years long rather than the average of 11.1 years, and resulted in a large decrease in solar irradiance. The quiet sunspot Cycle 24 has started and by September 2008 there were 200 consecutive days without sunspots. The very cold Dalton Minimum of the early 1800s was the last time something like this happened. Some astronomers believe that temperatures will start falling due to solar inactivity between 2012 to 2015 and reach a minimum in solar energy in 2040. This will result in the Earth being very cold around the period of 2055 - 2060.

If the temperature of the Earth is primarily due to the Sun's activities, then the other planets should be similarly affected. They are. In 1998, the Hubble telescope discovered that Triton, the moon of Neptune, had warmed since 1989 when a space probe visited it. Measurements on Pluto showed its temperature to have risen 2 degrees C. The Hubble telescope also measured a 1 degree C increase in the temperature of Jupiter in 2006. Mars has been found to have had a temperature increase of 0.65 degrees C between the 1970s and the 1990s, which is very close the 0.7 degree C increase in temperature on Earth in the last century.

Ian Plimer makes a very good case that the Earth's temperature responds primarily to changes in the activity of our Sun. The IPCC computer models greatly underestimate the effects of the Sun and greatly overestimate the effects of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. I again strongly recommend Ian Plimer's book Heaven and Earth.

12 August 2009

Slaves Work, the Governments Spend

I will keep this brief. Anyone in their right mind knows the government is spending our money like a drunken sailor on prostitutes, gambling, drinking, and drugs. But, it is still alarming to measure that spending against the GDP:

1987 21.6% of GDP
1997 19.6% of GDP
2007 20.0% of GDP
2009 27.4% of GDP

This does not measure the costs of ever-increasing regulatory compliance or the equivalent of 3.8 million man-years spent on tax filing and planning. It also gives no information on the many unfunded liabilities, such as those to Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. It does not add in the costs of the upcoming government "reformed" health care program or any other spending plans of our thoroughly socialist government. As I recall, in recent years we have actually been spending about 44% of GDP on all government taxes and mandates. Since the figures from the CBO above show a sudden 7.4% jump in the federal government expenditures and many states have been increasing taxes, it appears that the total cost of government is already above 50%, probably at least 52%!

If 52% of everything we produce is taken by government, are we not more slaves than free men? The Democrat leadership has been saying their opposition is Un-American. I thought it was Un-American to be a slave!

Cash for Geezers Program

I saw a great cartoon in the 11 August 2009 Washington Times in the Commentary Section by Chuck Asay. It says:
Sometime, perhaps, in the not-too-distant future...
Someone in one of 3 minicars shown, says "They're finding tremendous savings in the health care business!", while driving into a huge complex with a guard and security fence and a large sign saying U.S. Government Eugenics Center. A sign out front says, "Ask about our CASH for GEEZERS program."

I wonder if this is not too optimistic. It assumes that at least some sort of trade in value will attach to our elderly. The implication is they will be worth perhaps as much as a trade-in clunker, say $4,500 or so. But clearly Obama already has advisers who do not think old people are worth that much. Assisting them in suicide is much cheaper and there is no need to provide aid to the United Auto Workers Union or to pretend to do the environmentally correct thing, so it realistically seems unlikely that senior Americans will be politically valued as highly as a clunker by our socialist government.

I might be wrong. If so, it will be because the environmentalists always say that man is the problem and we must reduce the population. Maybe, we are heading to a parallel with the Cash for Clunkers program in which well-functioning cars are traded in and destroyed for $3,500 or $4,500. The government can eliminate the older sick people by denying them health care. But how will they handle the problem of culling the population at the rate the environmentalists really want? Well, how about offering well-functioning older people a financial incentive to enter the government eugenics program? The pitch will be "Earn cash for your loved ones. You only have a short while to live anyway. So, leave a legacy. Leave an estate for your children and grandchildren by trading yourself in for a cash award."

Of course, Obama and his socialist hordes are bringing back higher estate taxes, so they will get a good part of this money back. They will save money on Medicare and collect a death tax also!

10 August 2009

The Sense of Taxing Prescription Cannabis

In California, it is legal to buy cannabis for medicinal purposes with a prescription from a doctor. The federal government has previously objected to this and sometimes arrests those who grow and distribute marijuana strictly for this market. The feds have even arrested sick users. Obama, to his rare credit, says the federal government should allow the states to determine their policy with respect to cannabis.

What I find odd is the fact that the state of California levies a sales tax on the marijuana bought with prescriptions for medical purposes. Now, even the city of Oakland is about to levy a sales tax on this prescription medicine. Those who support the legalization of marijuana cultivation and distribution beyond the medical market, are cheering the taxes for making cannabis legitimate. Now, I do think that when marijuana is made available for general use of adults, it is very reasonable to tax that marijuana. It is wrong to tax a prescription medicine, however, and that is the present status of marijuana sales in California. Well, at least of those that are being taxed.

Gov. Kaine of Virginia: Families Cannot Handle Truth of Virginia Tech Massacre

Democrat Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia is proving once again how little confidence the leaders of the Democrat Party have in the People. In April 2007, he had set up a Virginia Tech Review Panel to find out if the mass murder committed by Seung-Hui Cho could have been avoided. That panel issued its report and the Governor accepted it.

But ...... the families of Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson, who had refused to join the $11 million settlement, dug into the matter. Their lawyers found out that Dr. Robert C. Miller who had been head of the Cook Counseling Center at Virginia Tech, had removed Cho's mental health records and taken them home with him. These records were not supplied to the panel.

In addition, the campus wide alert was found to have been sent out 46 minutes after the university had claimed it had been. This was 10 minutes after Cho had started his shooting spree in Norris Hall and well after the initial dorm shootings of two students.

Barbara Hollingsworth of the Washington Examiner has written about this here.

One might think all this would be reason to reopen the panel. Gov. Kaine refused to do so. His lawyer, Mark Rubin, wrote an e-mail to the victim's families and said the panel would not be reopened because doing so would further upset the families. 60 families objected, so Kaine hired TriData, an Arlington consulting firm, that had so poorly handled the initial panel to be in charge of any revisions of the report.

Hollingsworth asked:
  • Why was Dr. Miller never interviewed by the panel?
  • Why didn't the State Police find Cho's records?
  • How many student records have been removed from campus by university staff without legal authorization?
To these questions, I will add this: How on Earth could university officials have gotten away with falsifying the timeline on the campus-wide alert by 46 minutes? Surely the panel should have uncovered this lie. Clearly, the panel's investigation was incompetent or meant from the beginning to be a cover-up. The latter looks the more likely of the two.

And clearly Gov. Kaine does not want the public to know this, so he responded by in effect telling the victim's families that they could not handle the truth. Kind of reminds one of Nancy Pelosi claiming that Nazis are opposing the Obama-Pelosi-Reid health care government takeover. Odd, because as I recall it, the socialist Nazis themselves did take over German health care and did ration it to the elderly, the mentally handicapped, and such people as they regarded as undesirables. That seems to me to bear a considerable resemblance to the Obama-Pelosi-Reid plan. I suppose that is why they are early-on trying to create the illusion that the Nazis and various un-Americans are opposing them, rather than a massive grassroots uprising of many Americans.

It is very clear that Democrat leaders do not think very highly of the People.