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

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 (, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

03 February 2017

The Integrity of the Vote

It is illegal for non-citizens to vote in the U.S. except in a few localities of Maryland.  It is illegal for the dead to vote, thankfully everywhere in the U.S.  It is illegal to vote in more than one state in an election.  It is illegal for a person to vote while impersonating another person.  It is illegal to vote as a fictitious person.  In 38 states it is illegal to vote while serving time in prison as a felon, while in other states it is illegal for a period of time after the completion of serving time or until the felon has petitioned the state for the return of the right to vote.  Yet, each of these types of illegal votes are known to happen.  What we do not adequately know is how many of these illegal votes occur.

We do know that there is a great potential for illegal votes.  We also know that some politicians and their campaign associates eagerly court illegal votes.

During the 2016 election campaign, Obama was asked on a Spanish-speaking radio station broadcast if non-citizens were in danger if they cast a vote in the election.  He told them they, including undocumented aliens, were citizens and no one would come after them if they voted because they were citizens.  So as far as this Democrat is concerned, the naturalization laws established by Congress in accordance with the power invested in the Congress by our Constitution shall be ignored in the interest of the fact that more than 80% of the votes of non-citizens in 2008 were votes for the Democratic Party.

John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, wrote an e-mail advising non-citizen immigrants to get a driver's license and then state at a polling site that they were a U.S. citizen.  That greater than 80% portion of the vote is just too hard for a dedicated socialist Democrat to resist.  A Rasmussen poll in 2015 found that 53% of Democrats support allowing even illegal aliens to vote.

The Democrats have long opposed voter ID and they have long favored mail-in ballots whose validity is especially difficult to ascertain.  In most states one can register to vote simply by stating that you are a citizen, so many non-citizens are registered to vote.  One of the ways we know this is because jurors are called based on the voter registration roles and many of those called get out of jury duty by claiming that they are not citizens.  We also know from an Old Dominion University study of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study of voters in the 2008 and 2010 elections that 14% of non-citizens said they were registered to vote.

What is the potential for immigrants, and especially non-citizen immigrants, to affect the outcome of elections in the U.S.?  It is clearly a function of their numbers, their understanding that it is illegal for them to vote, and the protections against those determined to vote.  Let us examine the number of immigrants first:

Of the immigrants, 47.1% in 2014 were citizens.  So of the 42.4 million immigrants in 2014, 52.9% were non-citizens, making the number of non-citizens about 22.4 million.  About 20 million of them were older than 18 years of age.  Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch has been making the mistaken claim that there are 42.4 million non-citizens in the U.S.  But 14% registration of 20 million non-citizens is 2.8 million illegal registrations.

A 2012 Pew Research Center study found that about 2.75 million people are registered to vote in more than one state.  It also found that 1.8 million dead people were registered to vote.  Adding up the non-citizen registrants, the multi-state registrants, and the dead registrants, the voter registration rolls have a very worrisome 7.35 million registered illegal voters.  Some of these people may themselves use their false registrations to vote -- well excluding the dead ones --, but as worrisome as that is, there is great potential for an organized effort by a nefarious minded organization or party to convert that potential into actual election stealing results.

Mind you, I am not claiming that it is likely that President Trump is correct in saying that there were 3 - 5 million illegal votes in the 2016 election.  I am saying that it is not acceptable knowing what is at stake in elections to have such a large potential for election abuse.  Evil-minded socialists in particular are often inclined to trample on individual rights by using such potential tools to undermine American freedoms.

It is clear that the Democrats are especially keen on encouraging non-citizens to vote and other illegal voting practices.  There are some known cases of Republican politicians also doing so.  None of these nefarious activities should be tolerated in the least.  The integrity of the vote is a very serious matter. It is all the more so because voters unleash and direct the hugely exaggerated powers of our big governments which make a practice of hurting some citizens and other residents in favor of the whims of a plurality of votes collected.  This situation is bad enough when the votes are those of citizens cast in a legal manner.

The Old Dominion University study estimated that 6.4% of U.S. non-citizens themselves voted in the November 2008 election and that 81% of those votes were for Obama.  Such numbers were actually enough that had they not been cast, John McCain would have won the electoral votes of the state of North Carolina instead of Obama.  That did not change the outcome of that election nationally, but there are not infrequent presidential elections that are changed by flipping a state with 15 electoral votes.  It is also very likely that Al Franken became a Senator representing Minnesota because of the illegal votes cast in that election.  ObamaCare was made law as a result of his election.  The Colorado Secretary of State, Scott Gessler, in an investigation of the U.S. Senate election of 2010 found that almost 5,000 illegal aliens cast votes in that election.  In 2005, the U.S. GAO found that as many as 3% of the 30,000 people called to jury duty in one U.S. district court were non-citizens despite being on the voter registration rolls.

Elections have consequences.  It is, unfortunately, rather difficult to detect all of the illegal votes after an election.  One has to find a way to see to it that illegal votes are not cast at all.  And one has to do this despite the concerted efforts of the Democratic Party to maintain the huge potential for election fraud. The Obama administration refused to comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which requires the states to keep accurate and up-to-date voter registration rolls, with help from the federal government in identifying those with citizenship and those without it.  The state of Maryland requested the help guaranteed by the NVRA to clean up its voter registration rolls from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and was denied the information under the claim that that agency had to "safeguard the confidentiality of each legal immigrant."  Few states have made the effort to comply with the NVRA and without help from the federal government, it is very difficult for them to do much.

In general, the Obama administration has opposed voter ID, which is required, contrary to Obama's claims, in most other nations.  It has favored same-day registrations, voting by mail, open borders, amnesty for illegal aliens, and every other measure to increase the immigrant vote.  To clean up this mess, the federal government must be required to help the states comb their voter registration rolls for non-citizens and it must help them identify the registered dead using its information on social security and Medicare.  To be sure, there are cases in which the states can probably help the federal government clean up its social security and Medicare records as well.  It is important that every vote actually cast is checked against provided voter identification, including absentee ballots.  No voter registration should be allowed without proof of citizenship.  And, there should be a concerted effort to inform non-citizens that it is illegal for them to vote.  Each and every case of illegal voting that is found should be prosecuted vigorously and punished severely.  There need to be frequent and careful investigations of elections looking for any voter fraud that has occurred.  Elections are too vitally important not to make a major law enforcement effort to insure their integrity.

Thoughts on Collectivists and Progressive Elitists from Notes to a Friend

In the reaction to President Trump's efforts to reduce the scope of government, some key characteristics of the collectivists, socialists, and Progressive Elitists are more openly clear than usual.

The socialists are going berserk.  Hysteria is a key component of socialism.  The madness of crowds, the imagined evils of business, the fears for the environment, the dislike for mankind and man's need to control his environment, the dislike for unequal accomplishment and award, fear of uncertainty, and the fear of being independent or of having to think independently.  Hysteria, alarmism, fear -- they all make the socialist want to trust his life and its care to government and to the collective.

Collectivists and Progressive Elitists are known to be less charitable than conservatives are and I am sure than libertarians are as well.  They look into their own souls and they see a lack of benevolence.  They are ashamed. They seek a cheap and easy way to convince themselves that they are benevolent.  By using the force of government, they can choose the causes of "benevolent" action and dilute the cost to themselves in time and money by making everyone contribute to their chosen causes.  Despite putting a gun to the head of others to achieve their goal, they convince themselves to an extent that they are now benevolent, but that conviction is most uncertain and uneasy.  It is difficult to completely evade the fact that they have done harm to some in order to fill the hole in their own souls.  They are cursed with at least the vague notion, that unlike them, the good man finds it easy and natural to view most other men in a benevolent manner because he sees introspectively his own good and noble soul and naturally tends to project that evaluation of what it is to be a man onto others.