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

21 August 2015

Should Children of Illegal Aliens Born in the US be Automatic Citizens?

Robert Tracinski, who is usually a very astute thinker, has written on this subject in the Federalist.  This is a case where I believe he has used too broad a brush in making his argument in favor of the idea that literally anyone born in the U.S. is a citizen.  One may say it is a classic case of failing to understand context.

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." 14th Amendment

First, in the present context of massive illegal immigration, it appears that the US and the states are not acting as though they have jurisdiction over the illegal immigrants. So the idea that this statement implies that every person born in the US is a citizen may be questioned on this basis. It is certainly true that the children of foreign staff of embassies and consulates born in the US are not included.

More importantly, Article I, Section 8 provides Congress the power "To establish an uniform rule of Naturalization...". This means that the 14th Amendment has as its context an established uniform rule of Naturalization and assumes that all persons within the US are there legally, albeit some as visitors and some as residents not yet citizens. This being the case, the 14th Amendment confers citizenship on the children of those legally in the United States who are born in the US, provided their parents and the child are subject to the jurisdiction of the US. This certainly included the one-time slaves of the south, almost all immigrants until relatively recent times, and the people of the conquered or annexed territories such as those of Alaska, Hawaii, the Mexican War, the Oregon Territory, the Louisiana Purchase, the Western Reserve, etc.  Robert Tracinski says that the denial of citizenship to the children of illegal aliens implies its denial to both the former slaves and to all immigrants.  This is not the case at all.

What is not at all clear is that the children of illegal visitors or immigrants to the US should be considered citizens of the US. In my opinion, it is not wise policy to grant them automatic citizenship, because it encourages illegal immigration.

Of course, some will claim that I do not like immigrants because I have made this point. That is not at all so. I favor a much more welcoming legal immigration policy than the one we have now in the law. But I do believe we should have an enforced, liberal immigration policy, which the Constitution implies was needed and desirable.

I have worked hard to promote the legal immigration or visitation rights of a number of very good scientists, who are also very good people. I have also observed that most of our illegal immigrants are in fact hardworking and good people. There is a need to have such people here under legal conditions, while we exclude or imprison felons.

All of my ancestors were legal immigrants of the second half of the 1800s, some of whom were of nationalities sufficiently discriminated against that they were named as examples in the immigration law of 1866 as people not to be discriminated against.

I almost always agree with Robert Tracinski, but not in this case.  It is not at all the case that one is throwing out the Constitution if one does not believe that every child born in the United States is automatically a citizen.

19 August 2015

You Would Not Believe How Busy Santa's Elves Are in March - The World's Top CO2 Emitters

NASA has a program called Eyes on the Earth that allows one to download a program to examine satellite images and measurements around the world.  I decided to examine some month-long results for the AIRS satellite measurements for CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.  The more red the color, the higher the carbon dioxide concentration.  Of course one expects to see higher concentrations of CO2 over areas with high populations, much industrial activity, and areas with many coal-fired power plants.  At least this is what one expects given the hype that man is causing catastrophic man-made global warming with his use of fossil fuels.

Let us examine how those darned Americans polluted the Earth with their CO2 emissions in the month of March 2015:

Oops, we were outdone by Santa's elves, those very industrious little guys so hard at work using fossil fuel energy to make the gifts for this coming Christmas!  Who else could be responsible for this huge outpouring of CO2 in northeastern unsettled Canada, in Greenland, over the Arctic waters, and northernmost Siberia?  I thought the elves used magic rather than coal-fired power plants to make toys, but I must have been wrong.

Now we know that those Chinese are smothered in pollution from their huge number of coal-fired power plants, so if the examine the CO2 concentration map over China, we have to see a huge CO2 concentration.  Right?  So here is the March 2015 CO2 concentration map over Asia:

No, it seems even the Chinese cannot compete with those incredible elves.  Iran and Pakistan look to be at least as busy with coal-fired power plants as the Chinese are.  Western Russia is also more than competitive.

Well, perhaps I have chosen an odd month.  How about December 2014:

OK, now we see that the U.S. midwest and northeast are showing some signs of life.  Just not as much life as northern Greenland or parts of the Arctic Ocean, or parts of the northern Pacific Ocean, all of which must have some belching coal-fired power plants we knew nothing about.  My how ignorant we must be to have not observed those fired-up energy polluters.

But China must have been a hot spot in December 2014.  They were all just taking vacations in March 2015.

Yes, at last.  At least the people in northeast China were having some effect with their coal-fired power plants in December 2014.  But not much more than those very industrious Iranians and Pakistanis.  And look what those fishermen in the Timor Sea and the Arafura Sea just north of Australia were doing!

Am I just cherry-picking data?  Well let us look at July 2015 then:

OK, now we have it.  Those American who live in the coastal states of the southeast are the culprits of all the fabled CO2 pollution!  Yes sir, now we can see why people in the Southeast are less interested in fighting man-made global warming than the high concentration of Northeastern Progressive Elitists are.  It would be harder for them to change their ways.  Even though the population density is less there, at least in July of 2015, they used more fossil fuel and polluted the atmosphere more than other Americans.  Now we have the smoking gun!

But even those American rednecks of the Southeast have competition.  Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and Siberia were just as active CO2 emitters as those Southeastern Americans.  Obviously they are really big fossil fuel energy users.

The 3 months of Dec 2014, Mar 2014, and Jul 2015 were the only individual months I tried.  You can choose a range of months and the program will display the results for each month one after the other.  I did this for the months from January 2013 to July 2015.  The results were fairly random outside the Arctic and near Arctic.  The brightest red conditions were always over the Arctic and near Arctic.  The brightest green conditions, a lower than average CO2 concentration, were also over the Arctic and near Arctic, though green was less dominant overall than red was.

So, it is rather hard to pin the increasing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere on man's burning fossil fuels.  Sorry, but that claim just is not working.  It appears very certain that natural effects are highly dominant and they are not well understood.  Scientists who are real scientists should be studying those natural causes of CO2 emission.

12 August 2015

The EPA -- Once Again Incompetent

I have shown that the EPA rulings on harm done by mercury from coal fired power plants make no sense at all.  There is absolutely no epidemiological evidence of increased mercury sickness or of asthma downwind of major clusters of coal-fired power plants.  Indeed, maps of mercury concentrations precipitated from the air show no such correlation with coal-fired power plants.  The EPA also cherry-picks studies of the health effects of mercury from fish on some islanders, while ignoring other studies of other islanders which show no mercury effects.  They then extrapolate from the cherry-picked exaggerated effect to predict an effect at levels microscopic to the natural mercury levels found in many areas of the United States.  The reckless ruling against coal-fired power plants based on the mercury argument is incompetent and highly unethical.

The EPA has also claimed that carbon dioxide is a pollutant, even though it is necessary to plant growth and humans exhale it.  The EPA falsely claims increased CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use will cause catastrophic man-made global warming.  On the basis of this foolish claim, it is putting out a Clean Power Plan which will require the closing of many coal-fired power plants and some gas-fired power plants and the very inefficient use of many of the remaining gas-fired power plants.  The use of a global warming model with hugely exaggerated warming effects says that the new, highly disruptive and expensive ruling will lower temperatures by 0.02 Kelvin, even as vast new coal-fired power plants will produce far more CO2 than the U.S. reduction.  Wind and solar energy are to be greatly increased to replace them on the electric grid.  Yet wind and solar energy are very expensive and very unreliable.  Once again the EPA is mired in incompetence and arrogantly insists on doing great harm to energy users, investors, and workers.

Recently, the EPA demonstrated its incompetence and its unethical behavior by dramatically releasing incredible amounts of gold mining waste water laden with lead, cadmium, and arsenic into the Animas River of the San Juan River Basin.  This water flows into the Colorado River and Lake Powell.  The EPA was slow in announcing the disaster and will not take the level of responsibility it expects of businesses that it goes after vigorously when they have such disasters.  This is the government and the government is never guilty of immoral activity.  Just ask the government if you do not believe this.

There is always a double standard for business relative to government.  The standards to which businesses are held are much, much higher.

03 August 2015

Most Okies are Better Off than Most New Yorkers

When discussing the impact of the current New York state minimum wage of $9.00/hour and the law requiring that the minimum wage for fast food workers will rise in stages to $15/hour, I discovered how surprisingly bad off compared to the national household median income most New York residents were.  Because I have family in Oklahoma and it is considered to be backward, poor, and only worth flying over by New York Progressive Elitists, I have decided to do a comparable comparison of Oklahoma to New York.  After all, Oklahoma is the home of many poor Native Americans and a land of people who should have fled the dust bowl in the 1930s in abject poverty, right?  This should be an easy contest for New York.

So once again I will find the cost of living in Oklahoma cities and towns and use that to adjust the median household income of each city or town.  This recognizes that income goes much further when the cost of living is low than when it is very high, as tends to happen in areas with a big government mentality.  Or at least this happens until the costs cause so many business failures that housing values collapse as people flee the area for jobs in areas with more limited government.

Now the total population of the state of Oklahoma is about 0.2 times that of New York state.  So, the size of the cities and towns in this list will be smaller.  I chose all of the bigger cities and towns and a few to represent low population areas of the state.  The results in the table below for Oklahoma should be compared to those for New York in my previous post.

City or Town
Cost of Living % Compared to National Average
Median Household Income (National = $53,046)
Effective Median Household Income
% National Effective Median Household Income
Broken Arrow
Ponca City
Oklahoma City

Whereas, the residents of New York City had effective median household incomes of only 80% of the national average and those of Buffalo had such incomes of only 78% of the national average, most of the residents of Oklahoma have higher incomes.  Most of the population in Oklahoma enjoys median effective household incomes which are 90% or more of the national average.  For most Oklahomans, the cost of living is below 90% of the national average.

Only three towns were found with effective median household incomes below 76% of the national average.  One of these, Hugo, has a population of only 5,325 and is in the table only to represent the low population southeast area of the state.  Its effective median household income is better than that of larger Ithaca, NY, population 30,016 and home of Cornell University.  Another, Sallisaw, has only 8,779 residents, of whom most are Native Americans.  Stillwater, home of Oklahoma State University, has a population of 45,584.  None of the other towns are worse off than Buffalo.

The biggest city in the state, Oklahoma City, has an effective median household income of 97% of the national median.  The other colossus in the state is Tulsa with an effective median household income of 90% of the national median.  The third largest city, Norman, home of the University of Oklahoma, has an effective median household income of 103% the national value.  Broken Arrow, number 4 in size, is at 131%, #5 Lawton is 93%, and #6 Edmond is at 123% of the national median household income.  There is no contest between Oklahoma and New York.

The Progressive Elitists of New York are famous for telling the rest of the country how to manage the finances of the country and about how concerned they are about income inequality.  They assure us that the big government model is best for reducing income inequality and will generally make most people better off.  Now, there are many very wealthy and high income people in New York.  But the median household income tells us that income point at which half the households make more and half make less.  Thus there can be a minority of people who are have very high incomes who do little to shift the median income level up when most households are making far less than they are.  New York state is famous for its income inequality in fact.  Not withstanding the preaching of its controlling Progressive Elitists.

The minimum wage in Oklahoma is the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.  According to the advice now being given to us by many Progressive Elitists, it should be $15/hour.  They claim this would give so many more purchasing power that they would spend their local economies to a condition in which everyone would have higher incomes.  But, the people of Oklahoma have managed to do far better than New Yorkers for the most part by ignoring this advice.  They have also ignored advice on the advantages of big government to a considerable degree.  It appears that the experiment has been done here.  The people who inherited the land of the dust bowl and a large Native American population are better off economically than New Yorkers, who have the national financial and business center of the nation.

There is far less income inequality in Oklahoma than in New York.   Most households have higher effective median incomes.  Wow!  The people of fly-over country are beating the pants off of those New Yorkers guided by the all-knowing Progressive Elitists.  Now who would have thought that Okies could win this contest so handily?

So, hi Mom, Betsy, Scott, Peggy, and my nieces and nephews in Oklahoma.  Congratulations on beating those New Yorkers economically and for not following their advice on matters of politics.  It is a very good idea to keep the cost of living low and the cost of doing business low by keeping government smaller.  Keep on trucking!  Keep electing those smaller government Republicans and leave those Big Government Democrats to the New Yorkers, who are killing themselves.

02 August 2015

New York Further Damages Economy with a Minimum Wage of $15/hr.

A minimum wage mandate is a serious infringement upon the rights of individuals to earn a living, to enter into contracts with one another, and their freedom of association.  It is a fundamentally unethical use of force in which third parties impose their ignorance and values upon others.  It should be opposed with great vigor as a matter of principle.

Too often, Americans believe they are pragmatists with little need for the principles that actually make it easier and far more efficient for them to identify the values and means by which people secure their lives and happiness.  They actually forgo valid principles thinking they can identify the practical means to achieve their values without them.  They pursue this phantom path to their perdition as often as to their happiness.

New York state just mandated a rise in the minimum wage to $15/hour throughout the state for fast food workers working for companies operating in 30 or more locations.  The full requirement has to be met in 2021, with staged increases before that.  The general minimum wage increased from $8.75/hour on 31 December 2014 to $9.00/hour.  Such state-wide minimum wage laws can cause very different degrees of harm in communities with different income levels and different costs of living.  It is also much harder for a state with a lower median household income than the national average to sustain the economic effects of a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.

Let us examine how this lack of principled support for individual rights is going to cause further harm to the already sub-par New York state economy.  We will compare the median household incomes of many New York state cities to the national average of $53,046.  We will note the cost of living in those cities compared to the national average, given as 100%.  We will compute an effective median household income for these New York cities by dividing their median household income by their cost of living ratio with the national cost of living average.  We will then give the city effective median household income as a percentage of the national median household income.

Cost of Living % Compared to National Average
Median Household Income (National = $53,046)
Effective Median Household Income
% National Effective Median Household Income
Niagara Falls
New York City

Only Yorktown, home of many IBM operations, and Hauppauge on Long Island beat the national effective median household income!  Most of the cities in the state have effective median household incomes only 66 to 81% those of the nation as a whole!  The New York state economy is a very bad mess.  The people of New York are generally much worse off than the average American.  New York state was once a rich state and it still has many natural advantages that should help it to hold its own compared to other states, barring negative effects due to its Big Government state government model installed by decades of Democrat one-party control of the state.

There are two closely related reasons for this.  One is that government policies have a very large impact on the cost of living.  Big Government policies drive up the cost of living, until and unless those policies drive so many businesses away that people abandon their housing or are desperate to sell it to move to a location with jobs.  Housing prices drop precipitously in such cases.  Nine of the above cities have a housing cost of living which is 66% of the national average or lower.  These are desolate cities and include cost of housing values in Buffalo at 32%, Rochester at 35%, Niagara Falls at 34%, Jamestown at 38%,  Elmira at 39%, Syracuse at 45%, Utica at 45%, and Schenectady at 53%.

The other effect of Big Government is on businesses whose labor, regulatory, and tax costs are all driven up considerably.  Those businesses then fare worse in competition with other businesses nationally and internationally.  They expand more slowly than they would otherwise.  They have less money to invest in facilities, production equipment, employee training devoted to the company core purposes, research and development, quality control, and better pay and benefits for their employees generally.  They deliver lower returns to their investors and cause those investors to abandon them.  Highly skilled and hardworking employees move to states that pay them better and where they can find healthier companies with which to build their careers.  There is an inevitable failure of the state economy to keep up with those of states with more limited governments.

The abysmally low effective median household incomes of most of New York state's cities above are a result of and a clear indicator of the very unwise economic policies of the state of New York.  This was once a wealthy state with comparatively higher median incomes.  There is still great wealth in New York, but it is in the hands of a relative few people, thanks to government policies.  The very big government of the state of New York has been mostly controlled by Democrats for a 100 years, and when it was not, it was in the hands of Progressive Elitist Republicans.  Despite the many claims of concern for economic equality, the divergence in income levels in New York state is actually unusually large compared to most other states, especially those with much more limited power governments.

The cost of the higher than average minimum wage payments has to be spread over some combination of higher prices, lower wages for other employees, lower returns to investors, less investment in facilities except those which allow a facility to operate with fewer employees, and fewer low skill employees.  In general, the choices which will be made to meet the minimum wage demand will have the net effect of providing less money to the communities of New York.  Most of the people in these communities are already suffering by the national standard of income.  How are most of those people supposed to be able to pay a few among them much higher wages?  The present $9.00/hour general rate and the future $15/hour rate for fast food workers are well above the national average minimum wage.  The present high minimum wage is one of many factors responsible for the great income inequality and the low incomes of most New Yorkers already.

Minimum wages have less impact on communities in which most people are well-off, so they can afford to pay more for services.  When those higher minimum wages are in industries that compete outside the state, they hurt more than for local service industries.

The New York state minimum wages are going to hurt most New Yorkers.  They will hurt many businesses and eliminate jobs for the initially least productive potential employees.  Young, under-educated people will be the ones most likely not to be offered jobs.  Blacks and Hispanics will by and large suffer still higher unemployment rates than they do now.  Some will become wards of the state.  Some will leave the state to find jobs.  The working population will become older and older.  This will be a further drain on businesses over time.

It is not hard to figure out these effects.  Generally, economists recognize that labor pay increases with demand for labor.  Demand for labor increases when the added production of an employee more than covers all of the many costs associated with putting an employee to work.  Democrat Socialists who most often support minimum wage increases often know this, but they also know that most people would like to see low-paid workers paid more.  Some low-paid workers would like to be paid more.  Employers are in comparatively small numbers.  Vote maximization suggests that one count on the ignorance and the emotions of most voters on the effects of minimum wages.  They are popular.  But, wise leaders would steer away from them and would work hard to educate voters in the great harm they do.  Such leaders could do much to prevent cities in well-positioned states from falling far below the national effective median household income levels.  But, it is especially hard to find such wise leadership in the bowels of the Democrat Socialist Party.

I was surprised to find just how badly depressed the effective household income of most New Yorkers is.  One does not usually think of most New Yorkers and Mississippians as being in the same highly depressed income boat.  The choice of Democrats to rule one's state has dire consequences.