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

20 May 2019

Ending Obama EPA climate deception by Paul Driessen

Let’s finally review Endangerment Finding used to justify trillions in climate and energy costs

In December 2009, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency issued its Endangerment Finding (EF) – decreeing that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) endanger the health and welfare of Americans. In the process, EPA ignored the incredible economic, health and welfare benefits of fossil fuels – and the fact that (even at just 0.04% of the atmosphere) carbon dioxide is the miracle molecule that enables plants to grow and makes nearly all life on Earth possible.

EPA turned CO2 into a “dangerous pollutant” and ruled that fossil fuels must be eradicated. The agency subsequently used its EF to justify tens of billions of dollars in climate research, anti-fossil fuel regulations, and wind and solar subsidies; President Obama’s signing of the Paris climate treaty; and proposals to spend trillions of dollars a year on Green New Deal (GND) programs.

And yet, despite multiple demands that this be done, there has never been any formal, public review of the EF conclusion or of the secretive process EPA employed to ensure the result of its “analysis” could only be “endangerment” – and no awkward questions or public hearings would get in the way.

Review, transparency and accountability may finally be on the way, however, in the form of potential Executive Branch actions. If they occur – and they certainly should – both are likely to find that there is no valid scientific basis for the EF, and EPA violated important federal procedural rules in rendering its predetermined EF outcome. (One could even say the EF was obtained primarily because of prosecutorial misconduct, a kangaroo court proceeding, and scientific fraud.) Failure to examine and reverse the EF would mean it hangs like Damocles’ sword over the USA, awaiting another climate-focused president.

To the consternation and outrage of climate alarmists, keep-fossil-fuels-in-the-ground radicals, and predictable politicians and pundits, President Trump may soon appoint a Presidential Committee on Climate Change, to review “dangerous manmade climate change” reports by federal agencies.

Meanwhile, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has filed a formal petition with EPA, asking that the agency stop utilizing and relying on the EF – and instead subject the finding to a proper “high level” peer review, as required by the Information Quality Act. The reasoning presented in CEI’s succinct and persuasive petition is compelling. Its main points are these.

* EPA’s Endangerment Finding and the Technical Support Document (TSD) that supposedly justifies it did not meet Information Quality Act (IQA) requirements for how the work should have been done.

* The agency’s evaluation of the then-current climate change and related science was clearly a “highly influential scientific assessment” (HISA), which triggered important IQA and OMB rules governing rulemakings that have “a potential impact of more than $500 million in any year” … or present “novel, controversial or precedent-setting” changes … or would likely raise “significant interagency interest.”

* EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” to shut down coal-fired power plants alone would cost $2.5 billion in annual compliance costs, EPA admitted. Its motor vehicle rules would cost tens of billions. The Paris agreement and GND would add trillions per year in costs to the US economy. All are based on the EF. And all were certainly controversial and generated significant interest by multiple other government agencies.

* EPA deliberately downplayed the significance of its review and decision, ignored the IQA and OMB requirements, and refused to allow citizens, independent energy, climate and health experts, or even scientific and professional societies to nominate potential reviewers or participate in the EF analysis.

* Instead, the agency utilized an entirely internal review process, designed and conducted entirely by its own federal employees. Those employees had substantial conflicts of interest, because they were reviewing their own scientific work; would be writing, implementing and enforcing regulations based on that work; and had jobs and professional status that might be affected by the outcome of their review.

[The review team even summarily dismissed one of EPA’s most senior energy and economic experts, because his probing analyses and comments “do not help the legal or policy case” for the EF decision.]

* EPA never allowed the general public or scientific, energy, health or economic experts to review its draft scientific assessment; never sponsored any public meetings; and never let its internal peer reviewers see any of the public comments that outside experts and organizations submitted to the agency.

* In fact, none of the EPA peer review panel’s questions and responses have ever been made public.

Each of these actions violated specific IQA and OMB peer review guidelines. Indeed, two years after the Endangerment Finding was issued, even EPA’s own Inspector General found that that agency had violated rules governing all of these matters. And yet even then nothing was done to correct them.

The entire Obama EPA process smells like a crooked prosecutor who framed CO2 and was determined to get a conviction. The agency built its entire case on tainted, circumstantial evidence, and testimony from agency officials who had conflicts of interest and their own reasons for wanting CO2 convicted of endangering Americans. EPA reviewers ignored or hid exculpatory evidence and colluded to prevent witnesses for the CO2 defendant from presenting any defense or cross-examining agency witnesses.

A full reexamination now is essential, and not just because the Obama EPA violated every procedural rule in the books. But because EPA ignored volumes of climate science that contradicted its preordained EF finding. Because real-world climate and weather observations consistently contradict alarmist computer models and headlines. Because science is never settled … must never be driven by ideology … and must be reevaluated when new scientific evidence is discovered – or evidence of misbehavior is uncovered.

We know far more about Earth’s climate and have far more and better data than a decade ago. But climatologists still cannot explain why our planet experienced multiple ice ages and interglacial periods, Roman and Medieval warm periods, the Little Ice Age, or Anasazi, Mayan and Dust Bowl droughts.

And yet some of them insist they can accurately predict calamitous temperatures, weather events and extinctions 10, 20, 100 years from now – based on computer models whose temperature predictions are already a degree Fahrenheit above what satellites are measuring … and that rely primarily or solely on carbon dioxide, while downplaying or ignoring fluctuations in solar energy and cosmic ray output, the reflective properties of clouds, El NiƱo events, ocean current shifts, and other powerful natural forces.

And then, in the face of all that uncertainty and politicized science, they demand that the United States slash or eliminate its fossil fuel use – and that the poorest nations on Earth continue to forego fossil fuel development, and instead remain wracked by joblessness, misery, disease, malnutrition and early death.

Thankfully, poor countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America are building or planning more than 2,000 coal and gas-fueled generating plants. They deserve to be freed from dictatorial carbon-colonialism and eco-manslaughter – and to become as wealthy, healthy and vibrant as modern industrialized nations that also relied on fossil fuels to develop … and are still 80% dependent on those fuels today.

But if those countries are building fossil fuel power plants, driving millions more cars and trucks, and emitting multiple times more CO2 and other GHGs than the United States – why should the USA slash or eliminate its coal, oil and natural gas? Why should we roll back our job creation, living standards, health and welfare, based on the IPCC’s junk science and EPA’s fraudulent Endangerment Finding?

For unfathomable reasons, a few White House advisors still oppose any PCCS or IQA-triggered review of the EF or junk/fraudulent science behind it. Perhaps they are too closely tied to the Deep State or invested financially or ideologically in the $2-trillion-per-year Climate-Industrial Complex. But whatever their reasons, they must be ignored in favor of science and the national interest. Let’s get the job done – now!

Write to President Trump: Ask him to appoint his Presidential Committee on Climate Science – and instruct the EPA to agree to the CEI petition and review the 2009 Endangerment Finding forthwith!


Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of many articles and books on energy, environmental and human rights issues.

I have posted this article at Paul Driessen's request.  I was a signer of the petition to the President in support of a Presidential Committee on Climate Change, along with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, Heritage Action for America, CFACT, the Institute for Energy Research, Americans for Limited Government, Institute for Liberty, Caesar Rodney Institute, Ethan Allen Institute, John Locke Foundation, Rio Grande Foundation, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and many other organizations and individuals.


14 May 2019

CEI Brings Out Its 2019 edition of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State

The Competitive Enterprise Institute has issued its 2019 Edition of Ten Thousand Commandments: An Annual Snapshot of the Federal Regulatory State.  Because the government never provides the legally required accounting for the costs of regulation, CEI Vice President for Policy, the indomitable Wayne Crews, provides a conservative estimation of the costs of regulation every year.  That low-ball estimate for 2019 is $1.9 trillion.  Because the government has no desire that we know what its bewildering bureaucratic hurricane of mandates costs us, this task of making a realistic estimate of its costs is herculean.

Are you sure that a regulatory cost of $1.9 trillion can be justified by the benefits of regulation?  This is more than the entire GDP of Canada and nearly equal to the entire GDP of Brazil.  The federal government budget is $4.412 trillion.  This additional regulatory cost of $1.9 trillion makes the entire burden of the federal government at least $6.312 trillion.  Do you really think you received a reasonable value in government benefits from the $6.312 trillion?

Kent Lassman, President of CEI, in announcing the issuance of the 2019 Edition of Ten Thousand Commandments, says
.... we have recently seen some exciting progress on the regulatory front. In 1993, the Federal Register, where all new regulations are published, clocked in at 61,166 pages. Like the debt, it grew year after year, unchecked and seemingly uncontrollable. By the end of the Obama era, the year’s Federal Register took up 95,894 pages. The first year of the Trump administration, however, things changed. In 2017, the annual total was back down to 61,950 pages. In 2018, we saw only a slight increase to 63,645 pages. In other words, the annual mountain of new regulations was the smallest in a generation—and some of those pages actually contained de-regulatory actions.
While this is great progress, it is totally unreasonable to expect everyone, though mostly businessmen, to read 63,645 pages every year, to know and remember the entire sum of all prior regulations, to be aware of every court ruling on regulations of this magnitude, and to additionally know about every other memorandum issued by the regulatory agencies, of whose identities the federal government itself has no central account.  Most regulations are aimed at businessmen so this avalanche of mandates puts them at huge risk, even when one has the best of intentions with respect to the welfare of one's fellow man.  There being no cost-benefit analysis of any worth for almost any regulation, one cannot figure out how to be compliant simply by applying reason to the issue of what one can and cannot do.  Indeed, some of the best examples of completely irrational governmental requirements are to be found among our federal government's regulations.

Here are some further highlights of the report according to the CEI webpage:
  • Each U.S. household’s estimated regulatory burden is at least $14,600 annually on average. That amounts to 20 percent of the average pre-tax household budget and exceeds every item in that budget, except housing.
  • In 2018, the Trump administration issued 3,368 rules. That’s more than the 3,281 final rules in 2017, which was the lowest number of regulations coming out of federal agencies in a single year since the National Archives began publishing rule counts in 1976.
  • In 2018, Washington bureaucrats issued regulations at a rate of 11 for every one law Congress enacted. The average for this “Unconstitutionality Index” for the past decade has been 28 to one. The five agencies issuing the most rules are the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and the Treasury.
  • President Trump should ignore his regulatory impulses on issues like antitrust, social media and technology, infrastructure, trade restrictions, telecommunications, food and drugs, subsidies, and more. Given divided government and the absence of Congressional action, the president should use executive orders to compel regulatory agencies to: put out an annual regulatory report card, implement a regulatory cost budget to keep his reform agenda on track, and address the misuse of agency guidance documents.

While writing this post, I discovered an error in the first bullet on the CEI web page which stated:
The estimated $1.9 trillion “hidden tax” of regulation is greater than the corporate and personal income taxes combined. If the cost of federal regulations were a country, it would be the 9th largest, behind India and just ahead of Canada. 
I have sent an e-mail message to Kent Lassman and Wayne Crews to alert them to this error.  I pointed out that:
It is true that $1.9 trillion is less than the GDP of India.  In order of 2019 projected GDPs, it is less than that of USA, China, Japan, Germany, India, France, United Kingdom, Italy, and Brazil and ahead of Canada.  Canada is number 10, so the burden of the $1.9 trillion of regulatory cost shoves Canada to the #11 rank as our regulatory burden takes the #10 ranking. 
So they need to change India to Brazil and #9 to #10.  I am sure they will.

12 May 2019

The Brainwashing of a Nation by Daniel Greenfield

Subtitled:
From campus identity politics cults to the media, brainwashing is bigger than ever.

Greenfield says:

The human mind, like the human body, adapts to a crisis with a fight-or-flight response. Brainwashing forces the mind into a flight response. Once in flight mode, the mind can rationalize a new belief as a protective behavior that will keep it safe. Even when, as in the case of the suspect, the new belief will actually destroy his life. Fight or flight mode inhibits long term thinking. In panic mode, destructive and suicidal behaviors seem like solutions because they offer an escape from unbearable chemical stresses.
There’s a good biological reason for that. Our minds stop us from thinking too much in a crisis so that we can take urgent action, like running into a fire or at a gunman, that our rational minds might not allow us to do. But that same function can be ‘hacked’ by artificially putting people into fight-or-flight mode to break them down and shortcut their higher reasoning functions. Decisions reached subconsciously in fight-or-flight mode will then be rationalized and internalized after the initial crisis has passed.

Cults, abusive relationships and totalitarian movements maintain ‘total crisis’, shutting down higher reasoning, creating a permanent state of stress by triggering fight-or-flight responses unpredictably. This leads to Stockholm Syndrome, where the captive tries to control their fate through total emotional identification with their captor, pack behavior, loss of identity and will, and eventually suicide or death.

Total crisis leads to burnout, emotional exhaustion, detachment from friends and family, and violence.
How do you brainwash a nation?
Control the national environment, force a crisis on the country, and tap into their fear and guilt. And then you can outlaw planes, cows, skyscrapers, straws, plastic bags and the rest of the Green New Deal.
The environmental crisis is just one example of how leftist movements can brainwash a nation.
The growing number of millennials who say that they will not have children because of environmental panic is an example of how brainwashing can make suicidal behavior seem like self-preservation.

Since the Left still lacks total control over the United States, it relies on repetition, itself a form of control and stress, to create fear and panic. It makes up for its lack of physical control by bombarding Americans with messages meant to inspire fear, love, hate and guilt through the media, through the educational system, through entertainment and through every possible messaging channel.


Global Warming panic is one of a succession of manufactured leftist crises in America that began with a class crisis. transitioned to a racial crisis, and then to an environmental crisis.

He also says "Human beings don't behave rationally." Most people do behave relatively rationally in certain compartments of their life, but largely irrationally in other compartments. Unfortunately, moral philosophy is about the most irrational compartment of most peoples lives.

I do not think intelligence itself makes you more vulnerable to brainwashing, expect insofar as unintelligent people seem much less likely to give thought at all to moral philosophy and they are usually only captured by the education system for about 12 years, not 16 years or more. It is the amateurs of moral philosophy who spend 16 or more years trying to please nearly universally leftist teachers and professors who are most likely to fall victim to the Left. A social metaphysician in the hands of leftist educators for 16 years is a goner.

Before the education system played this role, it was largely religions that played it. However irrational the religion, one of them was usually able to secure a monopoly on moral philosophy over a substantial region of the earth, demonstrating that most people are social metaphysicians.

With these qualifications, much of what Greenfield says is correct. In 1965 when I was a freshman at Brown University, I had many moral and political discussions with very committed leftist products of the nation's finest private schools. Over and over, I had the experience that someone would reluctantly concede that I was right about my limited government and generally libertarian individualist philosophy on an issue. The next day they were still spouting the belief they had conceded was wrong the day before as though we had never had our discussion. The same thing happens now when I explain why catastrophic man-made global warming is a failed hypothesis.

Greenfield is right about this: "That is why the Left cannot be defeated through policy debates and intellectual abstractions. It is a belief system. Though it traffics in seeming abstractions, these are a language, but not the meaning. The esoteric languages of policy and pop culture in which it speaks are vehicles for a deeper language of primal emotions. Behind the theories and manifestos is a great darkness of fear and terror, of love and hate, of emotional instability and vulnerability on which its lies and propaganda are built."

The only way to defeat this brainwashing is to be there constantly throughout children's and young people's lives encouraging them to apply reason to every problem and every situation. Without that encouragement, few children and young people are able to make that commitment to reason. Being there does require having the rational arguments to defeat the leftist belief system and making those argument over and over throughout a child's upbringing. One needs to take care that children really do understand the basis of rational individualism and that they do not just adopt it as a religion themselves.

I remember literally making a compact with myself when I was 5 years old to always put reason first. I did not always succeed, but I did put a lot of effort into that commitment. I realized even then that many adults, teachers, and, later, authors were wrong about many things. Whatever they said had to be subjected to critical evaluation before it was believed. I sorted what I learned into three categories: This I have evaluated and is true, this I have evaluated and is false, and this I have not yet evaluated so its truth is unknown.

Unfortunately, few people at any age make such a commitment to reason and far too many accept the word of authorities all too readily. Most students simply try to remember all they are told and assume it must be true. This often makes then "fast learners", which is interpreted as intelligence. That sort of false intelligence does make such people very much more likely victims of brainwashing.