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

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

25 April 2017

Fake News Practiced by All the Media

Is a reduction of federal government spending for a few days by 13% really a government shutdown? Of course not, though that was all that happened the last time Congress did not agree on a new budget authorization in time.  Especially not when government spending is at least four times that of a legitimate government abiding by the principle that its proper function is only to protect every American individual's right to life, liberty, self-ownership, property, freedom of conscience, freedom of association, freedom of speech and press, the freedom of self-defense, the right to the ownership of one's own labor and the fruits it produces, the freedom to trade and to contract, and the pursuit of one's own happiness -- all while free from others, including the government, initiating the use of force against the individual.

Yet once again, such a trivial prospective reduction in government spending on the 100th day of the Trump administration is being called a government shutdown.  Fox News, CNN, ABC, and NBC are all guilty of this alarmist, Yellow journalism.  It is a lie that promotes interest in their broadcasts. They clearly believe they are promoting their own self-interest with a lie.  Americans should be angry about this misrepresentation of the facts by our Fake News media.

07 April 2017

The EPA lied -- nobody died by Steve Milloy

For years Steve Milloy has challenged the EPA on its claims about how deadly small organic particulates are.  His recent opinion piece to the Washington Times is most interesting.  See here.

Steve Milloy says:
In April 2012, I broke the news that EPA had been quietly conducting human experiments with certain outdoor pollutants that EPA had claimed were, essentially, the most toxic substances on Earth. EPA had repeatedly claimed since at least 2004 that any level of inhalation of fine particulate matter emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes could cause death within hours or days. The old, young and sick were most vulnerable, according to EPA.

To prove their assertions that fine particulate matter was so deadly, the EPA paid the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina to expose human subjects to fine particulate matter and even chlorine gas to try to do them harm.  Recently, the National Academy of Science had to admit that no one died and no harm was established by the illegal tests. Yes, the EPA was intentionally trying to harm people, though it had told the test subjects that they would not be harmed.  It apparently really did think that fine particulates were very dangerous and it was willing to expose people to what it claimed was deadly concentrations of fine particulates to prove they were right.  Only the fact they were not right prevented the EPA from killing the test subject people.

Milloy says:
So when the first Obama EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, testified to Congress that “Particulate matter causes premature death. It does not make you sick. It is directly causal to dying sooner than you should,” that was a lie, one compounded by her next false claim that particulate matter kills about 570,000 Americans per year. When the second Obama EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, wrote to Congress; chief outside EPA science adviser Jonathan Samet wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine; and EPA-paid university researchers working with the American Heart Association said that there was no safe exposure to particulate matter those too were lies. 
As it turns out, the only time EPA told the truth about particulate matter was when it told its human guinea pigs that the experiments were harmless. Meanwhile the Obama EPA used the phony killer particulate matter scare — backed by almost $600 million in utterly fraudulent scientific research and fueled with secret scientific data — to virtually wipe out the U.S. coal industry, severely harming coal miners, their families and their communities.

The EPA has also claimed that carbon dioxide, the basis for life on Earth, is a pollutant. It also has claimed that mercury from coal-fired power plants is deadly, with no evidence that this is true and no explanation for the failure to evacuate huge areas of the USA where the natural sources of mercury dwarf any possible emissions from coal-fired power plants.  See here and here.  This is also the government agency that incompetently released contaminants from the Gold King Mine into the Animas River.

What do you do with such a wrongheaded, dishonest, and dangerous government agency? You fire its employees, put it under new management, and hire new people who are rational and competent.  You make it a much smaller agency with highly limited powers.  At least this is what one would do if one wanted a rational, competent, and reasonably benevolent government. 

05 April 2017

Susan Rice -- "I leaked nothing to nobody."

OK, Susan, so you leaked nothing to nobody.  But did you leak something to somebody?  Or did you simply put the private, sensitive information on Americans into the hands of so many people that you could be sure that someone would leak that sensitive information?  Was the reason for doing this to put the information into the hands of so many people that any leak that did occur would be harder to trace back to a particular person, thereby further encouraging partisan, political leakers?  Would you risk such an action without the approval of Obama?

Why do you remember unmasking this information about Americans now when you claimed to know nothing about such information one month ago?

It was just a riot caused spontaneously by an Internet video unfriendly to Islam by a crazy Middle Eastern Christian, right?  Its your story and you are sticking to it no matter how heavily armed the Benghazi attackers were.

Bowe Bergdahl was a hero?  Oh, really?

The only reason national security would be put in the hands of such a wrongheaded, low-character person is because the man at the top wanted a perfectly pliable, unethical political henchman, No, henchperson.

26 March 2017

Trumping the State Department by Scot Faulkner

I am posting the following at the request of Paul Driessen.  Scot Faulkner recounts his experiences with the out-of-touch and spoiled State Department bureaucrats:

Trumping the State Department
Reining in the budget and activities of this bloated bureaucracy is essential
Scot Faulkner
President Trump’s budgetary assault on the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is long overdue.  He is forcing a rethinking that will benefit America and the world.
The State Department is one of the most bloated of federal bureaucracies.  Front line consular officers, many just starting their careers at State, actually help Americans abroad. However, there are also countless “Hallway Ambassadors” who aimlessly roam from irrelevant meeting to obscure policy forum, killing time and our tax dollars.
Legions of these taxpayer funded drones fill the State Department.  Some are reemployed retirees who travel to overseas missions conducting “inspections” to justify their additional salaries. 
The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) is to the State Department what the Teacher Unions are to public education.  It exists to protect tenure and to prevent any accountability or reduction among the State Department drones.
The Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC) is a uniquely harmful part of State.  This Bureau’s main mission has been to create photo ops of treaty signings.  The arms control treaties have usually been unenforceable with sworn enemies of America.  The Bureau’s agreements with the Soviet Union undermined U.S. security.  Its bureaucrats developed elaborate procedures for justifying the minimizing or overlooking of blatant treaty violations.  They are using this same play book for the Iranian Nuclear deal.
Headquarters waste and dysfunction are just the beginning of State Department ineffectiveness.  In the mid-1980’s, I viewed State Department field operations personally while serving as Director of the U.S. Peace Corps in Malawi.
The most egregious problem was the un-American culture that permeates career Foreign Service Officers.  Except for toasting America at the July 4th Embassy party each year, being pro-American is viewed as unprofessional. Long serving Americans would advise me that rising above nationalism and acting “world wise” was the mark of a seasoned diplomat. 
Not only did these U.S. foreign bureaucrats avoid Americanism, they avoided the host country.  The Embassy team members spent their business and recreational time with diplomats from the other Embassies and with European expatriates living in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city.  Their only sojourns outside the capital were to Salima, the lakeside resort, or to the Ambassador’s vacation home on the Zomba Plateau.
As Country Director, I eliminated the chauffer-driven luxury car used by my predecessor and reallocated the chauffer to other duties.  At the wheel of a Nissan Patrol, I spent the majority of my time in the field with my seventy-five volunteers.  This meant absorbing in depth knowledge of Malawi and its people.
State Department versus reality was proven many times over.  The most blatant was the 1985 fuel shortage.  Malawi was land-locked.  The Mozambique Civil War closed off its closest ports.  A problematic network of rail lines brought goods, including gasoline, to Malawi via South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia.  My volunteers told me a Zimbabwean labor dispute was going to cause a five week disruption of fuel to Malawi.  I dutifully reported this to the Embassy Team.  They scoffed, assuring me that their British friend running Mobil-Malawi was telling them no disruption would occur.  I directed my staff to begin stockpiling gasoline.
The disruption occurred.  The Embassy team kept dismissing my reports and telling themselves the disruption would be short-lived.  By week four, the Embassy motor pool was without fuel.  Staff was delivering messages via bicycle.  By week five, the Ambassador asked to purchase fuel from the Peace Corps, which had remained fully operational.
The Embassy was blind-sided on an even more important issue.  Air Malawi announced it was going to purchase a new fleet of passenger jets along with a comprehensive parts and maintenance agreement.  At this point the State Department replaced the Embassy’s Commercial Attaché with a Hispanic who could barely speak English.  Instead of sending this person to Spanish-speaking Equatorial Guinea, they posted him to the most Anglophile country in Africa.  He was miserable and totally ineffective.
Alternatively, the German Ambassador moved about Malawi’s 28 regions, equaling my zeal for the field.  When Boeing’s sales team arrived they were given a proper, but cool reception.  The Fokker team arrived to a hero’s welcome and the multi-million dollar deal was signed shortly thereafter.  American business lost a huge contract.
USAID has spent over $1 trillion on overseas projects since its founding in 1961.  Empty buildings and rusting tractors are silent testaments to its failures.  What funds were not diverted to corrupt government officials went for unsustainable efforts, driven more by academic theories than practicality.
State Department and USAID need a fundamental review and a day of reckoning. This is fertile territory for President Trump and Secretary Tillerson to implant business principles and common sense. 
Scot Faulkner served as the first Chief Administrative Officer of the U.S. House of Representatives and on Reagan’s White House Staff. He advises global corporations and governments on strategic change and leadership.

24 March 2017

Judge Neil Gorsuch Says the Declaration of Independence Is Not Foundational Law

Under questioning by Ben Sasse, Republican Senator from Nebraska, Judge Neil Gorsuch said that the Constitution is the foundational law.  The Declaration of Independence is not, though it is informative of the background of the Constitution and should not be lightly discarded.  Unfortunately, Judge Gorsuch did not discuss the fact that the Declaration of Independence is the primary statement of the philosophy behind the Constitution.  He neglected to say that the Declaration of Independence is the American document that defines the legitimate purpose of government -- the protection of the rights of the individual.

It is the Declaration of Independence that makes it clear that sovereignty resides in the individual, not in government.  Government exists to serve the sovereign individual, the holder of rights.  The individual and his rights exist whether government does or not.  Government does not define individual rights.  It is the nature of man and his need to survive and flourish in life that define individual rights.  An understanding of this is absolutely necessary to make it possible for government to fulfill its legitimate purpose in protecting everyone's individual rights.

The Bill of Rights enumerated some individual rights.  Yet that same document, in the 9th Amendment, made it crystal clear that the enumeration of individual rights was incomplete and that the federal government was not "to deny or disparage the other rights retained by the people." Unfortunately, the federal courts have attributed almost no protections to individual rights under this 9th Amendment, having virtually ignored the broad scope of individual rights acknowledged in the Declaration of Independence as those of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The 14th Amendment also recognizes the broad individual rights of citizens: "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Absent the context of preexisting and preeminent individual rights, the protections of those rights by the government are bound to be haphazard at best.  More likely, the government itself will become the greatest threat to individual rights.  The fact that the Declaration of Independence is not considered a foundational document in the law drastically undermines our understanding of the purpose of government, its proper limits, and the effectiveness of the Constitution to fulfill its contract with the people to provide "a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, ..."

It is very disturbing when politicians and judges prove themselves to be rudderless before their essential and only task of protecting individual rights.  There is no way that a knowledge of these individual rights is or can be spelled out by a few short documents.  The Constitution is itself a given document whose meaning is the Law of the Land.  It is not a changing or living document and it must be interpreted in accordance with its original meaning.  When and if one cannot do that, it should be amended.

What is living and evolving is our understanding of individual rights.  The Constitution literally makes it clear that we are to see to it that the government protects everyone's equal individual rights as these rights are understood in terms of man's nature and the reality in which he lives.  The use of this understanding of man's rights is not a matter of changing the meaning of the Constitution.  Its meaning was always to provide a very limited government whose purpose was the protection of individual rights.  There is no other interpretation of the Constitution which is self-consistent, rational, and legitimate.

Freedom of speech has evolved since the time of the Constitution's adoption as the Law of the Land. It still means that one has the right to say what one wants to those within hearing range, but it also now means that one has the freedom to buy a radio or a television station and say what one wants through that medium, or that one can say what one wants in a video posted to You Tube.  Similarly, property and labor rights have evolved in many ways to include new forms of contracts and new forms of intellectual property.  It has come to be recognized that domestic partnership contracts have to equally recognize the partnerships of two people of the same sex, as well as those of two people of the opposite sex.  Not to do so is a violation of the principle of the equal protection of individual rights necessary to the right to pursue one's happiness.  One can only hope that our broad right to freedom of association will one day be more recognized than it is now.  As these changes have occurred and will continue to occur in our real lives, the 9th and 14th Amendments should be constant as sources of the justification for protecting these individual rights. No change in the Constitution is needed to protect individual rights, despite their evolving nature.

To be clear:  I am not a believer in a living Constitution.  I believe that it is our understanding of individual rights that is changing.  To some degree, those individual rights are themselves evolving as the conditions of man's existence in reality change.  Most of that change is the result of man using his rational faculty to improve and control the world in which he lives.  We need judges throughout our judicial system who understand that the Constitution itself should be interpreted literally and always in such a manner as to maximize the protection of individual rights.  These same judges should be open to understanding our individual rights and prepared to expand their range.  It is not the Constitution which is the primary basis for rational law.  The primary basis is the protection of individual rights.  The Constitution is an important and critical tool to limit the powers of government and to direct its actions toward the equal protection of every citizen's many and broad individual rights.  This is the critical context for all valid constitutional law -- indeed for any valid law.

It is sadly the case that Judge Neil Gorsuch seems to defer too much to any existing law and any prior interpretation of the law whether or not they violate these principles of legitimate government.  It appears that Justice Clarence Thomas will remain the best of the Supreme Court justices.

19 March 2017

Immigration Policy



While I favor a welcoming and less expensive immigration legal process than the one we have, it is important that the individual rights of Americans and those in the USA legally as residents or visitors be protected. The context of individual rights requires that those who would enjoy them must also honor the right of others to enjoy them. People known to have acted in violation of others individual rights in other countries should be culled from the pool of those allowed to immigrate to the USA. They have no right to expect the rights we Americans are supposed to protect for one another. The legal process for immigration that the Constitution wisely assigns Congress to create in law is a rational recognition of this context for individual rights. We have a legal process created by Congress and flawed as it is, it should be enforced as the Rule of Law requires. I would like to see many improvements in the immigration laws, but it is important that government review the character of those wanting to immigrate to the USA for the worst misfits for a society that values individual rights.

Context should also be applied to the anchor baby issue. The Constitution both states that Congress will create immigration laws and that those born in the USA are citizens of the USA. Congress having established a legal immigration policy and the federal government having enforced it in accordance with the Rule of Law, there are not supposed to be any illegal immigrants in the USA. The writers of the Constitution no doubt made those born in the USA citizens in that context. Making children born to illegal immigrants citizens violates the context and creates the horror situation of legally having to deport their parents even as the children are incorrectly deemed citizens. Context properly held, those born of illegal immigrants should not be considered citizens.

Context is again critical to the issue of Muslim immigrants. For those Muslims who believe that the use of force to make others practice Islam or to prevent those born into Islam from leaving is a requirement of their religion, the context of freedom of conscience is violated. Freedom of religion is a subset of that broader freedom of conscience. As with every right, the right can only be claimed and enjoyed by those willing to allow all others that equal right to freedom of conscience. It is entirely rational to prevent the immigration of those who practice the religion of Islam and who believe that it requires them to use force to prevent others from enjoying their equal right to freedom of conscience. Doing so is not an infringement of freedom of religion as it is often claimed to be, but a recognition of the critical context in which all individual rights can be exercised.


16 March 2017

My Reply to "Sustainability is an Economic Boon Not a Liability"

Richard Matthews posted Sustainability is an Economic Boon Not a Liability at the Green Market Oracle.  Here is my comment in response:

There is no scientific consensus that the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is correct. Most scientists who do say they believe in catastrophic man-made global warming cannot offer a clear explanation of the scientific theory that claim is based on.  Those who offer a theory very often disagree with one another.  Then there are many scientists who see the hypothesis as false, though many of them believe that carbon dioxide does cause some warming, which may be regarded as beneficial, not catastrophic.  Then there are still other scientists, including myself, who understand that the effects of carbon dioxide on the surface temperature are many, all of them very small, and more of them cooling effects than warming effects.  The net result is that CO2 has an insignificant effect. This is why the effect of CO2 has not been measurable to date.

There are many benefits to conserving energy.  Those real benefits are best achieved by people individually choosing them, not by government mandates and subsidies.  Real benefits will be pursued in the free market.  It is only harmful energy policies that need to be imposed by government.

The EPA ruling that CO2 is a pollutant is scientifically unsupported.  Its claims that mercury emitted by coal-fired power plants was a real danger were also without scientific justification.  Years of mercury precipitation data have failed to show any downwind mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants that can be seen above the dominant natural sources of mercury in the USA.  If mercury is such a hazard, there are huge swathes of land in the southern American West and Great Plains states that have to be evacuated due to natural sources of mercury.  Yet even in those areas of relatively high natural mercury contamination in the USA, there is no epidemiological evidence of harm to people.

The last sentence in blue was not in the original comment.

12 March 2017

Those "devastating" EPA reductions by Paul Driessen

Budget and personnel cuts reflect environmental progress and essential regulatory reforms

The Trump White House wants significant reductions at the Environmental Protection Agency: two dozen or more programs, including a dozen dealing with President Obama’s climate initiatives; a 20% downsizing in EPA’s 15,000-person workforce; and a one-fourth reduction in its $8.1 billion budget.
The plan requires congressional approval, and thus is hardly a “done deal.” Not surprisingly, it is generating howls of outrage. Former U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the proposal would be “crippling,” and “devastating for the agency's ability to protect public health.”
One employee resigned because the cuts would prevent him from serving “environmental justice” and “vulnerable communities.” A congressman claimed EPA is “already operating at 1989 staffing levels,” and the reductions could mean “cutting the meat and muscle with the fat.”
A deep breath and objective assessment are in order.
1) Since EPA was created in December 1970, America’s environmental progress has been amazing. Our cars now emit less than 2% of the pollutants that came out of tailpipes 47 years ago. Coal-fired power plant particulate, mercury, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions are 10-20 % of their 1970 levels. The white plumes above factory and power plant “smoke stacks” are 90% steam (water vapor) and plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide (which Obama EPA officials disingenuously called “carbon pollution”).
Our lakes, rivers, streams and coastal areas are infinitely cleaner and far safer to drink from or swim in. The notorious lead contamination in Flint, Michigan water occurred under Gina McCarthy’s watch, because her agency didn’t do its job. It was her EPA officials who also triggered the infamous Gold King Mine blowout that contaminated hundreds of miles of river water with arsenic and other toxic metals.
So much for “protecting public health,” ensuring “environmental justice,” and safeguarding our most “vulnerable communities.” It’s as if we’ve come full circle, and now need to be protected from EPA. In truth, that goes all the way back to the agency’s first administrator, William Ruckelshaus, who ignored his own scientists, banned DDT, and sentenced tens of millions of Africans and Asians to death from malaria.
2) EPA became bloated, incompetent and derelict in its fundamental duties largely because it became ideological, politicized and determined to control what it was never intended to regulate. Through mission creep, sue-and-settle lawsuits, and an eight-year quest to help “fundamentally transform” America’s energy and economic system, it attempted to regulate every rivulet, puddle and other “Water of the US,” stuck its nose in numerous local affairs – like the road to a nickel mine in Michigan – and colluded with environmentalists to block Alaska’s Pebble Mine before a permit application had even been submitted.
Most egregious was the agency’s use of alleged “dangerous manmade climate change” to justify its “war on coal,” its “Clean Power Plan,” and its determination to slash fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions by regulating nearly every factory, farm, hospital, mall, drilling project and vehicle in America.
EPA’s other chief climate crusade target was methane, which it called “an extremely powerful climate pollutant” and absurdly claimed is responsible for “a fourth of all global warming to date.” Methane is a tiny 0.00017% of Earth’s atmosphere – equivalent to $1.70 out of $1 million (and compared to 0.04% for CO2) – and U.S. energy operations account for less than a tenth of all annual natural and manmade methane emissions. To control that, EPA wanted industry to spend billions of dollars per year.
It also demanded that cars and light trucks get 54.5 mpg by 2025. To meet that standard, automakers would have to downsize and plasticize vehicles, making them less safe and causing thousands of serious injuries and deaths – a reality that EPA ignored in its cost/benefit and environmental justice analysis.
When states, industries or experts raised questions about EPA’s “CO2 endangerment” decision, its biased and dishonest “social cost of carbon” analysis, or its use of “secret science” and highly suspect computer models to justify “climate chaos” claims – the agency railed about “intimidation” and “interference” with its mandate to “protect public health and welfare.” It’s time to take those questions seriously.
3) EPA obviously has too many anti-energy, anti-development staff, programs and dollars looking for more activities to regulate and terminate, to justify their existence. As these programs are properly and necessarily cut back, EPA budgets and personnel should likewise be reduced.
4) Complying with EPA and other government regulations inflicts staggering costs that reverberate throughout our economy, as businesses and families struggle to read, comprehend and comply with them. The Competitive Enterprise Institute calculated that federal regulations alone cost $1.885 trillion per year – prior to the epic regulatory tsunami of 2016 – with the Obama era alone generating $800 billion to $890 billion in annual regulatory burdens, the American Action Forum estimated.
EPA alone is responsible for well over $353 billion of the cumulative annual federal regulatory bill, CEI’s Wayne Crews estimated, based on 2012 data from the first four years of the Obama presidency. Just as disturbing, the total federal regulatory bill is equal to all individual and corporate tax payments combined.
Even more frightening, embedded in those federal regulations are fines and jail terms for some 5,000 federal crimes and 300,000 less serious criminal offenses. An absence of intent to violate the law, even failure to know and understand millions of pages of laws and regulations, even the mistaken assumption that no agency could possibly implement such an absurd rule, is no excuse. You’re still guilty as charged.
These regulatory burdens crush innovation, job creation, economic growth, and business and family wellbeing. They kill jobs, raise the cost of energy, food, products and services, reduce living standards, harm health and shorten lives. They violate any honest concept of “environmental justice.” Poor, minority, working class and other vulnerable families are hardest hit.
5) In fact, environmental justice is little more than a meaningless, malleable, phony concoction whose primary purpose is promoting progressive programs. Whatever EPA seeks to do advances justice and protects the vulnerable. Whatever an industry does or wants is unjust. Whenever anyone criticizes an agency action, it reflects racism or callous disregard for public health.
Only the effects of government regulations, and the actions of government regulators, appear to be exempt from recrimination, intimidation and penalties imposed in the name of environmental justice.
6) Fully 98% of all counties in the United States voted for Donald Trump and his vision for a less regulated, more prosperous nation, with fewer diktats from a Washington, DC that exempts itself from rules it inflicts on others. They did not vote for rolling back real environmental progress – and know full well that President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are doing no such thing.
They also know there is ample room – and abundant need – for the proposed EPA reductions. That’s why a CNN/ORC poll after Mr. Trump’s February 28 speech found that 70% of Americans who watched felt more optimistic about the nation’s future, and his policies and priorities were what the country needs now.
7) If President Trump’s program, budget and personnel proposals for EPA are approved, many highly paid agency employees will lose their jobs. That’s always painful, as thousands of coal miners, power plant operators and other employees in communities impacted by heavy-handed EPA regulations can attest – and as the powerful new documentary film “Collateral Damage” demonstrates.
However, downsizing is often essential to the survival of a company – or a country. As President Obama was fond of saying, elections have consequences. Let’s hope Congress and the Trump Administration move forward on EPA restructuring, stand firmly in the face of the predictable forces of professional outrage, and do a good job explaining why these changes are absolutely essential.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death and other books on the environment.
Posted at Paul Driessen's request.

04 March 2017

Diogenes searching for honest policies by Paul Driessen



Renewable energy is defective solution in search of a problem, money and power

Paul Driessen

The Greek philosopher Diogenes reportedly carried an oil lamp during the daytime, the better to help him find an honest man. People everywhere should join Congress and the Trump Administration in search of honest energy and climate policies – as too many existing policies were devised by special interests seeking money and power, and often using imaginary problems to justify their quest.

The health and environmental impacts from fossil fuels are well documented, though often exaggerated or even fabricated by activists, politicians, bureaucrats and companies with lofty agendas: securing climate research grants, and mandates and subsidies for renewable energy projects to replace fossil fuels; reducing economic growth and living standards in industrialized nations; and redistributing the world’s wealth, fundamentally transforming the global economy, and telling impoverished countries what kinds of energy and what level of economic development they will be permitted to have

More often than not, proponents justify these agendas by insisting we must prevent dangerous manmade global warming and climate chaos, prevent unsustainable resource consumption, and safeguard people against purported technological risks. My multiple articles on the catechism of climate cataclysm … sustainability realities, absurdities and duplicities … and selective application of precautionary pabulum address the conceptual fallacies of these interchangeable, agenda-driving mantras.

All three are routinely defined, twisted, used and abused to block technologies that activists despise, and promote technologies and policies that advance their agendas and fill their coffers.

But beyond their glaring, often insurmountable conceptual problems are the practical issues. With what, exactly, will these agitators replace fossil fuels? Applying the same health and environmental standards they use against oil, natural gas and coal – just how clean, green, Earth-friendly, sustainable, climate-stabilizing, healthy, and human rights/social justice-oriented are their renewable energy alternatives?

If their alternatives are so wondrous, why do they still need permanent mandates, renewable portfolio standards, investment tax credits, production tax credits, feed-in tariffs, myriad other subsidies, exemptions from endangered species and other regulations, and laws requiring that utility companies buy their electricity whenever it is produced (even if it is not needed)? Why must they build and run fossil fuel “backup” power plants for the 50-85% of the time that wind and solar are not producing?

The following brief examination will hopefully guide more rigorous analyses of the impacts of these “technologies of the future” – aka wind, solar and biomass technologies that served mankind rather poorly for countless generations, until the fossil/nuclear era began, and now are supposed to serve us once again.

Probably the biggest single problem with any supposedly renewable, sustainable alternative is its horrendously low energy density: the amount of energy produced per acre. We can get far more electricity or fuel from a few dozen, hundred or thousand acres of oil, gas or coal production operations than we can from millions or tens of millions of acres of renewable energy projects.

Moreover, fossil fuel operations can often be conducted in the middle of farm fields or wildlife habitats – or the land can be reclaimed and returned to those uses once the energy has been extracted. Offshore oil and gas platforms actually create thriving habitats for marine life. Most renewable energy operations displace food crops or destroy wildlife habitats – and must do so in perpetuity.

And so we have corn as high as an elephant’s eye, across an area the size of Iowa (36 million acres) to produce ethanol that replaces 10% of US gasoline but also requires vast quantities of water, fertilizer, fuel and pesticides to grow the corn and turn it into fuel – instead of feeding hungry people.

We find bright yellow canola fields across more millions of acres in Montana, Saskatchewan, Germany and elsewhere, to produce biodiesel – and still more acreage devoted to switchgrass for ethanol and algae ponds for “advanced biofuels.” In Brazil, it’s millions of acres of sugarcane for ethanol, and millions more for other biofuels from palm oil, from areas that once were rainforests, “the Earth’s lungs,” as environmentalist groups like to say. Once teeming with wildlife, they are now monoculture energy plantations – so that we don’t have to desecrate Mother Earth by drilling holes in the ground to produce oil and natural gas: nature’s own biofuels, created over millions of years and stored for mankind’s benefit.

Of course, when these expensive, environment-intensive alternatives are burned, they send more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the same as fossil fuels do – on top of the CO2 that was burned by fuels and released from soils and clear-cut trees to produce the “climate-friendly renewable” energy.

Meanwhile, American and Canadian companies are cutting down millions of acres of forest habitats, and turning millions of trees into wood pellets that they truck to coastal ports and transport on oil-fueled cargo ships to England – to be hauled by truck and burned in place of coal to generate electricity. The pellets cost more than coal (which Britain still has in abundance), so utility companies receive huge taxpayer subsidies to make up the difference. One power plant received £450 million ($553 million) in 2015.

The financially and environmentally unsustainable scheme is justified on the ground that trees are renewable; so the scam helps Britain meet its climate change and renewable fuel obligations under various laws and treaties. Even though the trees-to-pellets-to-power process emits more carbon dioxide and pollution than coal-based power generation, the “wood fool” arrangement is considered to be “carbon neutral,” because growing replacement trees over the next century or two will absorb CO2.

If this sounds freaking dishonest and insane, it’s because it is freaking dishonest and insane. Diogenes must be turning summersaults in his grave. But there’s more.

On top of all this biofuel lunacy, we also have tens of thousands of wind turbines towering above fields, lakes, oceans and homes – butchering millions of birds and bats, and impairing the health of thousands of humans whose wellbeing is sacrificed to Big Wind profits. We’ve also got millions of solar panels sprawling across countless acres of desert and grassland habitats, to produce well under 1% of the world’s electricity. Their expensive, intermittent power reaches distant urban areas via thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines. They all require greenhouse gas-emitting backup power plants.

Those turbines, panels, transmission lines and backups require millions of tons of steel, copper, concrete, rare earth and other exotic metals, fiberglass and other materials – much of it produced under nonexistent health and environmental laws in faraway countries, where injury, illness, child labor and death run rampant … and are ignored by local, national and United Nations authorities and human rights activists.

Removing all these worn-out turbines and solar panels will cost billions of dollars that state and federal governments don’t have, and developers have rarely had to cover with bonds. 

Finally, the energy produced from all these “planet-saving” enterprises is far more costly than what could be produced using fossil fuels. Poor families are hit hardest, as they must spend a much larger portion of their incomes on energy than middle class and wealthy families. Businesses, factories, hospitals and schools also face rising energy costs, and must lay off workers, reduce services or close their doors.

The impacts ricochet throughout communities and nations, adversely affecting living standards, nutrition, health and life spans. We are reminded once again: Corporate fraud affects a limited number of customers; government and activist fraud affects every taxpayer, citizen and consumer.

The essence of all these renewable fuel programs is embodied in the notion that we must capture methane from cow dung, to safeguard Earth’s climate from this “potent greenhouse gas.” The operable term is BS.

The US Congress and Trump Administration could become world leaders in returning honesty and sanity to energy, climate, economic and environmental discussions and policies. Let’s hope they do.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.
This post was made at Paul Driessen's request.


02 March 2017

The Economist Provides the Solution to Clean Energy's Dirty Secret

The 25 February - 3 March 2017 issue of the Economist has a cover story entitled "Clean energy's dirty secret."  There is a lead off editorial to the issue that states that "the renewables revolution is wrecking the world's electricity markets."  This is because clean energy generation by wind and solar is erratic and requires expensive standby generation capacity from fossil fuels.

The solution, at least in large part, that the Economist suggests is to use meter technology, batteries, and frequent updates on the rapidly fluctuating cost of energy as wind and solar output fluctuates from near zero to some part of their maximum electric power output to force the demand for electricity to fluctuate as rapidly as does its generation by erratic and unreliable wind and solar power generators.

So the rich can ignore the hourly changes in the cost of their electricity, while those less well-off watch the meter informing them of the rapid changes in the cost of electricity to figure out whether they can afford to cook dinner, watch television, use their computer, use a power tool, vacuum, or use their air conditioner.  So, not only are most people to pay more for their energy use due to the phantom of hysterical catastrophic man-made global warming, but many are to be forced to watch the electricity cost meter extremely diligently and to tailor their lives to its whimsical machinations.

Or we could just use our plentiful fossil fuels that also feed our plants with the carbon dioxide they require and make them very much more healthy.  And we can do this with absolutely negligible effects on the temperature on the surface of the Earth.  That sure would give us a better lifestyle and leave us with money and time to create important improvements in human security and happiness. This is much more sensible than having to tell Johnny that he has to stop reading or doing his homework now and turn the lights off because the wind generators cannot move due to too little or too much wind.

Where do these Progressive Elitists get this mindset that it is the height of morality to mess up the lives of others, especially those not very well off, with their many fanciful controls?  How can they be so malevolent?  When they say they are not malevolent but merely concerned about some bad outcome due to carbon dioxide emissions as a precautionary measure, are they not obliged to have carefully and rational examined the relevant science on that issue before they take actions that surely will hurt many people?  Isn't that rational examination of the science a necessary test of anyone's benevolence and the proper exercise of the precautionary principle?  First do no harm, unless it is absolutely and  irrefutably necessary.

28 February 2017

Comments on Immigration Policy

The basic American Principle is the understanding that the individual is sovereign, individual rights are broad and should be inviolate, and that the only legitimate purpose of government is to protect the exercise of every individual's right.  Unfortunately, few Americans understand this.  Many fewer understand this in most countries of the world.  What is more, not only do they recognize few if any individual rights in many countries, but even compared to most Americans of an authoritarian bent, they believe in much more brutal suppression of individual rights.  In some countries, the majority of the people do not believe in even such simple and fundamental freedoms as freedom of speech, freedom of press, or freedom of conscience.  Freedom of conscience means one is free to exercise a different religious belief or none at all.  One is free to exercise a moral belief which has no basis in any religion.  Our immigration policies should recognize the severity of the problems for our society that these differences in belief, which are often very firmly held, will have.

We should welcome everyone who believes in the American Principle as an immigrant.  It is reasonable to allow people to come to the United States as immigrants who are good candidates to learn this principle better in time and provided they are not too firmly set in beliefs that are anathema to this American Principle.  I see no reason to welcome immigrants who are adamantly opposed to the American Principle.  I do not see a reason why one is obliged to welcome someone into one's home who means to abridge your individual rights.  Yes, of course, my freedom of association and my property rights allow me to select who will enter my literal home.  There is some difference as to the limits of restriction one can impose in one's country without being intolerant and unwelcoming to different viewpoints and ideas.  As long as the differences of opinion and belief do not consist of a permission or a moral imperative to initiate the use of force to violate the rights of another individual, our society should be welcoming to newcomers who many have many very divergent viewpoints. But we do not as a People who control a government which is supposed to protect everyone's rights have a moral obligation to welcome individuals to the United States who want to suppress the rights of other individuals by the use of force.  Indeed, it is irrational to do so.

Every individual right exists in the context that each individual has that right only so long as he or she does not deny the exercise of that same right to others by the use of force.  I understand that many Objectivists and many libertarians believe that a complete open door immigration policy is a moral requirement.  That belief fails to understand the context for individual rights which I have just named. As I have pointed out before in The Pre-Conditions for Religious Freedom Unmet by Islam, there is no right to emulate The Profit Mohammed's use of force to spread Islam and to prevent anyone from giving up the religion.  There is no right to establish a government based on Islam.  There is no right to restrict criticism of Islam in speech or in the press.

The following article by Nick Saffran of AEI is quite interesting in addressing the problem of welcoming immigrants from many or most of the Muslim majority nations: Terrorism Is Not The Only Reason To Be Skeptical of Muslim Immigration.

08 February 2017

Obama's Comrade Pants Act

I was recently commenting on the repeal of ObamaCare in response to an article on-line at the Foundation for Economic Education and said that ObamaCare was a sad case of one-size-fits all.  An anonymous pest named D G then called me stupid for not knowing that there are three plan levels in ObamaCare.  Of course, I did know that there are four plan levels, but one could say that I did somewhat exaggerate in the one-size-fits all.  But, really only a little bit as will be apparent in my discussion of how Obama, Reid, and Pelosi had planned to pass the Comrade Pants Act, but they lost control of the House and the Senate due to the reaction against ObamaCare before they could carry out their plans.

Recognizing that pants are very important to the welfare of Americans and that some people did not have pants of sufficient quality to meet the standards of Democrat politicians and bureaucrats, Obama and his party in Congress decided that something had to be done about this.  Of course they were quite busy with passing ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank so they were running badly behind schedule in pushing the Comrade Pants Act through Congress.  It was a race against time also, because they knew they were about to lose their legislative majorities, having sacrificed it to the principle that the government held ownership rights in everyone's mind and body, thus allowing them to dictate the means of maintaining everyone's mind and body.  Pants were important, but what could in principle be as important as that mind and body collective ownership principle?

So the Senate had had a thousand-page act thrown together by pants manufacturers, cloth makers, pants manufacturing equipment makers, haberdashers, egalitarian professional agitators, and their Senate staff members. None of the Senators had had time to read the act, but they knew there would be more time to do that after the act was passed.  Now there was a problem -- the act had tax penalties in it for anyone who wore pants that were not up to the standards set in the act.  Well, more precisely most of the standards were to be set up by federal government bureaucrats.  Those penalties would also have to be levied on anyone who did not purchase the required pants as well.  But constitutionally, all legislation levying taxes, tariffs, and other fees has to originate in the House of Representatives. So how could they satisfy this requirement without starting over, which time did not allow?  Simple.  They stripped out all but the bill number of a bill passed in the House to establish National Lollipop Day, changing the name of the bill to the Pant-wearer Protection and Affordable Pants Act, colloquially known as the Comrade Pants Act.  They poured the Senate act text into it and passed this act in the Senate after sufficient non-citizen votes were cast for Al Franken to allow the Senate to do so.  By then, the House did not have time to approve the act that resulted from reconciliation of the PPAPA and the National Lollipop Day texts.  Usually a reconciliation can be performed quickly, but the differences in the two texts were just a bit too much for the remaining time before recess.

While all of this legislative activity was carried out at a frenzied pace, Obama and Pelosi had been telling the American people over and over that if they liked their pants they could keep them.  It they liked their pants providers, they could keep them also.  They also said that because pant making equipment was to become standardized, as were the patterns and styles, the cost of pants would drop.  Everyone could efficiently examine them on on-line exchanges and purchase them there under competition among many pants suppliers, once they provided their social security numbers and credit card information to the government with its well-known regard for the security of their information.  People with qualifying incomes would receive subsidies for their critical pant purchases, while people with higher incomes would pay full price.  People who bought many pants with subsidies were thus supported by those who bought pants at full price, but of course those people who bought many pants must have needed them and it was recognized that need was an irrefutable claim on the labor and income of others.  Tax forms were to have a new line.  It was the shared pants responsibility line that one had to fill out proving that one had either purchased pants on-line from one of the pants exchanges or that pants from any other source met the specifications for what was deemed good pants by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Democratic Party did not want to be criticized for forcing everyone to wear a single pant size, so they set up four levels of pants that one could purchase.  The Act itself was vague about what distinguished these pants levels, but the bureaucrats anticipated the House passing the legislation and rapidly filled out the requirements.

Platinum Level: 44-inch waist, 40-inch in-seam, wool cloth, gray, pockets both front and back, six pair a year.

Gold Level:  40-inch waist, 36-inch in-seam, linen cloth, cream-color, pockets in back only, four pair a year.

Silver Level:  36-inch waist, 32-inch in-seam, denim cloth, blue, pockets in front only, 2 pair a year.

Bronze Level:  32-inch waist, 28-inch in-seam, polyester cloth, pink, no pockets, 1 pair a year.

As you can see, this is not a one-size-fits-all law.  There is all the accommodation for different needs that any comrade might reasonably have.  All you have to do is sign onto the federal pants exchange in your state and choose your bronze, silver, gold, or platinum pant plan.  What could possibly be wrong with this?

To this day there are many Democrats who bemoan the failure to pass the Comrade Pants Act.  That act was so going to address everyone's pants needs and in the process make us all a little more equal.  Of course, this was just a second step in this quest for equality.  There were many more goods and services to which the Democratic Socialist Party planned to apply the same legislative methods.

20 Feb 2017 Update:  It has recently been suggested that the government having established the right to force individuals to buy a product or service should now force the People to buy Ivanka's clothing line.  As we know from ObamaCare, this requirement must be implemented without regard for the individual's sex, age, or personal needs.  So guys, line up and select your Ivanka clothing of choice!  The choices will only diminish with time.


Excellent Article on Effects of Vouchers and Education Choice

James Agresti, a rare Brown University graduate who appears to have thwarted Brown's concerted efforts to mold all of its graduates into Progressive Elitist tribalists, has written an excellent article on the effects of vouchers and education choice.  The article is published on the Foundation for Economic Education website and called DeVos Confirmed: Everything they said about her is false.

Reforming our government-run and controlled education system is one of the most important requirements for developing a civil society with a properly limited government, a broad respect for and protection of individual rights, and the freedom for individuals to choose their own values and to manage their own lives within a richly diverse and cooperative private sector.  These reforms also have the beneficial effect of reducing the political power of the teachers labor unions.  Both government-run schools and teachers labor unions are ham-handed supporters of big, awfully big government, collectivism, and the splintering of the American people into countless tribes at war with one another.

05 February 2017

The hidden agendas of sustainability illusions by Paul Driessen

Absurd, impractical sustainability precepts are actually a prescription for government control

As President Trump downgrades the relevance of Obama era climate change and anti-fossil fuel policies, many environmentalists are directing attention to “sustainable development.”
Like “dangerous manmade climate change,” sustainability reflects poor understanding of basic energy, economic, resource extraction and manufacturing principles – and a tendency to emphasize tautologies and theoretical models as an alternative to readily observable evidence in the Real World. It also involves well-intended but ill-informed people being led by ill-intended but well-informed activists who use the concept to gain greater government control over people’s lives, livelihoods and living standards.
The most common definition is that we may meet the needs of current generations only to the extent that doing so will not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainability thus reflects the assertion that we are rapidly depleting finite resources, and must reduce current needs and wants so as to save raw materials for future generations.
At first blush, it sounds logical and even ethical. But it requires impossible clairvoyance.
In 1887, when the Hearthstone House became the world’s first home lit via hydroelectric power, no one did or could foresee that electricity would dominate, enhance and safeguard our lives in the myriad ways it does today. Decades later, no one anticipated pure silica fiber optic cables replacing copper wires.
No one predicted tiny cellular phones with superb digital cameras and more computing power than a 1990 desktop computer or 3-D printing or thousands of wind turbines across our fruited plains – or cadmium, rare earth metals and other raw materials suddenly required to manufacture these technological wonders.
Mankind advanced at a snail’s pace for thousands of years. As the modern fossil-fuel industrial era found its footing, progress picked up at an increasingly breathtaking pace. Today, change is exponential. As we moved from flint to copper, to bronze, iron, steel and beyond, we didn’t do so because mankind had exhausted Earth’s supplies of flint, copper, tin and so on. We did it because we innovated – invented something better, more efficient or practical. Each advance required different raw materials. 
Who today can foresee what technologies future generations will have 25, 50 or 200 years from now? What raw materials they will need? How we are supposed to ensure that those families meet their needs?
Why then would we even think of empowering government to regulate today’s activities today based on the wholly unpredictable technologies, lifestyles, needs, and resource demands of distant generations? Why would we ignore or compromise the needs of current generations, to meet those totally unpredictable future needs – including the needs of today’s most impoverished, energy-deprived, malnourished people, who desperately want to improve their lives?
Moreover, we are not going to run out of resources anytime soon. A 1-kilometer fiber optic cable made from 45 pounds of silica (Silicon is the Earth’s most abundant element in the crust [CRA additions]) carries thousands of times more information than an equally long RG-6 cable made from 3,600 pounds of copper, reducing demand for copper.
In 1947, the world’s proven oil reserves totaled 47 billion barrels. Over the next 70 years, we consumed hundreds of billions of barrels – and yet, in 2016 we still had at least 2,800 billion barrels of oil reserves, including oil sands, oil shales and other unconventional deposits: at least a century’s worth, plus abundant natural gas. Constantly improving technologies now let us find and produce oil and natural gas from deposits that we could not even detect, much less tap into, just a couple decades ago.
Sustainability dogma also revolves around hatred of fossil fuels, and a determination to rid the world of them, regardless of any social, economic or environmental costs of doing so. And we frequently find that supposedly green, eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives are frequently anything but.
U.S. ethanol quotas eat up 40% of the nation’s corn, cropland the size of Iowa, billions of gallons of water, and vast quantities of pesticides, fertilizers, tractor fuel and natural gas, to produce energy that drives up food prices, damages small engines and gets one-third less mileage per gallon than gasoline.
Heavily subsidized wind energy requires standby fossil fuel generators, ultra-long transmission lines and thus millions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, rare earth metals and fiberglass. The turbines create chronic health problems for people living near them and kill millions of birds and bats – to produce intermittent, wholly unreliable electricity that costs up to 250% more than coal-based electricity.
For all that, on a torrid August 2012 day, Great Britain’s 3,500 giant wind turbines generated a mere 12 megawatts of electricity: 0.032% of the 38,000 MW the country was using at the time.
The United Kingdom also subsidizes several huge anaerobic digesters, intended to convert animal manure and other farm waste into eco-friendly methane for use in generating electricity. But there is insufficient farm waste. So the digesters are fed with corn (maize), grass and rye grown on 130,000 acres (four times the size of Washington, DC), using enormous amounts of water, fertilizer – and of course diesel fuel to grow, harvest and transport the crops to the digesters. Why not just drill and frack for natural gas?
That brings us to the political arena, where the terminology is circular, malleable, infinitely elastic, the perfect tool for activists. Whatever they support is sustainable; whatever they oppose is unsustainable; and whatever mantras or protective measures they propose give them more power and control.
The Club of Rome sought to build a new movement by creating “a common enemy against whom we can unite” – allegedly looming disasters “caused by human intervention in natural processes” and requiring “changed attitudes and behavior” to avoid global calamities: global warming and resource depletion.
“Building an environmentally sustainable future requires restricting the global economy, dramatically changing human reproductive behavior, and altering values and lifestyles,” said Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown. “Doing this quickly requires nothing short of a revolution.”
“Current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class – involving high meat intake, the use of fossil fuels, electrical appliances, home and workplace air conditioning, and suburban housing – are not sustainable,” Canadian arch-environmentalist Maurice Strong declared.
“Minor shifts in policy, moderate improvements in laws and regulations, rhetoric offered in lieu of genuine change,” former Vice President Al Gore asserted – “these are all forms of appeasement, designed to satisfy the public’s desire to believe that sacrifice, struggle and a wrenching transformation of society will not be necessary.” Environmental activist Daniel Sitarz agreed, saying: “Agenda 21 proposes an array of actions intended to be implemented by every person on Earth. Effective execution of Agenda 21 will require a profound reorientation of all humans, unlike anything the world has ever experienced.”
“Sustainable development,” the National Research Council declaimed in a 2011 report, “raises questions that are not fully or directly addressed in U.S. law or policy, including how to define and control unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, and how to encourage the development of sustainable communities, biodiversity protection, clean energy, environmentally sustainable economic development, and climate change controls.” In fact, said Obama science advisor John Holdren, we cannot even talk about sustainability without talking about politics, power, and control. Especially control.
Of course, the activists, politicians and regulators feel little pain, as they enjoy salaries and perks paid by taxpayers and foundations, fly to UN and other conferences at posh 5-star resorts around the world, and implement agendas that control, redesign and transform other people’s lives.
It is We the Governed – especially working class and poor citizens – who pay the price, with the world’s poorest families paying the highest price. We can only hope the Trump Administration and Congress will dismantle and defund sustainable development, thealter ego of cataclysmic manmade climate change.
Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A ConstructiveTomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.