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

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

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

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

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

31 July 2019

The Economist: Should political parties let just anyone run for president?

In an article deploring the fact that there are 25 candidates for the Democratic nomination to run for the presidency of the United States of America, The Economist wants American political party establishments to play a much bigger role in choosing a small number of candidates who will be allowed to run in party primaries.

They even advise increasing the number of superdelegates, who played a big role in selecting Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee for President in the 2016 election.  Superdelegates are not required to vote in accordance with the primary vote outcome in their states and they are usually chosen from the ranks of the Deep Party Apparatchiks.  This is a most undemocratic method for choosing a party nominee for President or any other elected office, but democracy is another of many words robbed of meaning by those elitists who hunger for power and have long grown accustomed to exercising it without challenge.  There was a backlash among Democrat voters to the role of superdelegates in the Clinton nomination that led to a cutback in the present power of superdelegates in the party.  An alternative suggested in the article is having a convention to choose a small number of candidates to put before the primary voters.  Still another is to have the party's Congress members put out a recommended slate of candidates, rather as the teachers unions do in public school board elections.

Why does The Economist think that many candidates are a problem?  Because:
"the system has thrown up too many candidates for voters to evaluate.  It rewards name recognition and social-media prowess, and asks activists to make decisions about people about whom they know little."
These are valid concerns.  However, there are so many loony birds among the candidates in this case that it is really easy to winnow out almost all of the candidates.  No, I can make a much stronger statement than that.  It is really easy to eliminate all of the Democrat candidates from any extensive evaluation because they are all nuts, power-hungry, and suffer from a huge delusion that they have the intellectual power to evaluate the needs of all Americans in their lives and to make decisions about people whom they know little.

If the people of the United States are unable to properly evaluate 25 candidates for the presidency, then how can one entertain a faith that any one of those candidates even has the capability of evaluating the real needs of 329 million individual Americans?  How can anyone maintain the delusion that any candidate can know enough about 329 million Americans to then micromanage their lives as the federal government already largely tries to do and the Democrat Party is united in wanting to do on a much grander scale?

We have a federal government that is four times the size it ought to be.  It is constantly violating the many and broad rights of the individual to life and self-ownership, liberty, to earn a living, property, and the pursuit of happiness.  It is constantly deciding who will be given a benefit and who will be deprived under force in order that the politicians can steal what they need to give that benefit.  Republicans have no business exercising these powers and Democrats have even less business doing so because they are even more blind to their unrealistic assumptions about their mental capabilities.

20 July 2019

Is the State Sovereign?

States or governments are never sovereign -- they are at best legitimate. The individual is sovereign and rights reside only in the individual. The legitimacy of government is derived from its protection of the many and broad sovereign rights of the individuals within its territory of operation. It is this individual rights protection service that justifies the existence of government. To say that a government or state is sovereign is the equivalent of saying that all rights reside in the government and the state hands out such privileges as it sees fit to individuals. Those privileges can be revoked at the whim of the sovereign state. The sovereign state demands that the people serve it, while the sovereign individual demands that the state serve each and every individual. There is a world of difference.
Joe Biden has explicitly embraced the sovereign state that grants such privileges as it chooses to individuals and denies the sovereignty of individuals and their pre-state assertion of rights which governments are formed to protect. This viewpoint highly dominates those of the Democratic Party and is also held by quite a few Republicans. It is the basis for the belief that it is a proper function of the government to do harm to some as long as it can claim it is doing good for more people than are harmed or that it is doing good for the "least among us." This viewpoint removes sovereignty from the individual and effectively removes all of his rights, while opening the floodgates on an endless list of government powers. The only real limit on government power is that it is only legitimate to the degree that it protects the exercise of each and every individual's rights.

18 July 2019

Connecticut and Other States with Unhappy Residents and Population Loss

Russell Blair wrote an article for the Hartford Courant about the residents' views about living in Connecticut that makes it clear that the high tax and Democrat-controlled state is poorly governed. 

The Connecticut Economic Resource Center surveyed state residents and found that 47% of them said they plan to leave the state within the next five years!  It also revealed that only 44% agreed that Connecticut was a good place to live and raise a family.

A Gallup poll in 2016 had found that 46% of Connecticut residents said they would like to leave the state given the opportunity.  At that time, the state was tied with the high-tax state of New Jersey in that statistic as the state with the most residents desirous of exodus.

The U.S. Census Bureau believes the state lost 1,215 residents in the year following 1 July 2017.  It was one of 9 states with a population loss in that one-year period.  The other population losers were New York, Illinois, West Virginia, Louisiana, Hawaii, Mississippi, Alaska, and Wyoming.  Puerto Rico was another loser.  Note that this period was one of general excellent economic growth in the United States.

A state report from May 2017 says that Connecticut residents have been leaving the state in accelerating numbers since the Great Recession.  A poll in October 2017 noted that the percentage of people with incomes above $150,000 a year considering a move to another state was much higher than the that from the population as a whole.

Connecticut has recovered only 80.8% of the jobs lost in the Great Recession, making it one of a very few states which has not recovered all of the jobs lost.

West Virginia and Wyoming lost many jobs thanks to the anti-coal policies of the Obama administration.  The refusal to allow oil and gas developments on federally owned lands made it impossible for many new jobs in that industry to be developed in Wyoming and Alaska.  The Obama policies suppressing the construction of pipelines hurt both West Virginia and Wyoming as potential oil and gas producers.  Wyoming and Alaska are hurt by excessive federal land ownership.  Anti-mining rulings by the federal government have prevented much mining activity in Alaska.

The status of freedom in the states is another big factor in economic growth of a state and in the general happiness of state residents.  The Cato Institute Ranking of Freedom in the States ranks Connecticut #33, New York #50, Illinois #35, New Jersey #47, West Virginia #34, Louisiana #30, Mississippi #40, Wyoming #38, Alaska #15, and Hawaii #49.  Only the Alaska rating suggests that a lack of freedom in the state and local governments in that state is not a factor in its loss of population.

Another factor that hurts a state in population retention and growth is the quality of K-12 education adjusted for student hetergeneity and expenditures adjusted for the cost of living, which people have not been able to look-up until recently, but they do sense it.  A Cato Institute Policy Analysis of 13 November 2018 by Liebowitz and Kelly has provided such an analysis recently, though it is little known.  In their ranking of the 50 states and DC, Connecticut ranks 38.

Consider the other recent population losers and their rankings in the Cato Institute K-12 education analysis:  New York ranks 46, Illinois ranks 40, West Virginia is 51, Louisiana is 47, Hawaii is 11, Mississippi is 25, Alaska is 48, and Wyoming is 37.  An expensive and poor job of educating children in a state will have a strong job suppression effect and make a state a poor place for a family to raise children.  Of the states losing population, only Hawaii is doing a good job of educating children. Mississippi is very average, but it has a bad reputation as a result of irrational ratings with widespread use such as the U.S. News & World Report rating.  When a state does a poor and inefficient job of educating children, it is likely to do a poor and inefficient job of all other aspects of governance.

The lesson for Connecticut and the other population losers is that poor governance has a very significant effect on people in pursuit of their happiness.  High taxes, poor education for children, excessive and abusive business regulation, the general state of freedom, and high rates of violence and theft are very effective in creating an unhappy populace.

Government is a great servant but horrid master by Jeffrey Foss

Today bigger, supremely powerful global governments are justified by environmental claims

Jeffrey Foss

Through the ages, the suffering, destruction and murder perpetrated by governments like those of Caligula, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Castro and their ilk reduces the evil of common criminals like Al Capone, Daniel Ortega, Bernie Madoff and El Chapo to the scale of breaking wind at Sunday dinner.

There is a historical lesson here for any of us who would entrust our sustenance, security and happiness to government. History teaches us that when governments go bad, they can really stink – enough to make us ashamed of our very species. But the more we entrust to government, the bigger it gets; and the bigger it gets, the more likely it is to become our ill-odored, malignant master, instead of our servant or helper.  

Governing is all about power, of course. Otherwise the governed would not obey, and anarchy would ensue, assuming it wasn’t there already. Thus the first power of government must be the appropriation of violence (such as imprisonment, torture and execution) unto itself for its sole use. All other forms of violence are outlawed.

If you or I kill someone, that is murder, which is illegal. But when government kills someone, it is execution or warfare, which is perfectly – and ever so conveniently – legal. If we take money from someone by force or stealth, that’s theft, But when government does likewise, it’s taxation, fees or fines. If I break into your house, I do not pass Go, I do not collect $200, I go straight to jail. If government breaks into my house, they get the police (or even a SWAT team) to do it.

All governments are born in sin: the appropriation of overwhelming power. Power doesn’t immediately or necessarily entail evil, of course. Power can be used for good. But misuse of power is as seductive as Delilah sitting at the side of the bed.

So government must be controlled, like the powerful beast it is, by putting a ring though its nose. The genius of democracy is that it ties that ring by millions of strings to the hands of ordinary people like you and me, by our votes. By pulling together we can control the beast – unless we let it get too dang big, or we get divided into one faction that wants small, controllable government and another that wants free stuff and payment for not working, courtesy of legalized government theft and violence against others.

So our first rule must be to vote for less government, not more. Note well that, by a cruel irony of fate, the so-called Democratic Party, which advertises itself as the champion of the powerless, is for ever-bigger government. Note also that the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln that freed the slaves, is for less.
To be clear as blue skies, I am not arguing against government. Far from it. Government is necessary. Good government is a wonderful servant: it lubricates our cooperation while putting a lid on our violence as we procure food, clothing, shelter, safety and (if we engage in the proper pursuits) happiness.

If you take a look at what’s around you, you made or created little or nothing. Others made it for you, just as you make things for them, in a system of cooperation involving money, banks, sales, purchases, property, mutual benefit and so on. This system gives us virtually everything we have.

History and observation teach that democratic governments linked to economic freedom have excelled in helping us produce the plenty we now enjoy. Our form of democratic, republican government, relative to every other form that has ever existed, is best at serving the people.
But government can also be a horrible master. The reason people outside the developed democracies do not enjoy the health, wealth and happiness we have is that their governments suffer from the disease universally endemic to government: serving itself to achieve its own goals.

It is no accident that the government atrocities of Stalin, Mao and their ilk were inflicted on their own citizens. These leftist governments gained and sustained power by claiming they cared deeply about the people and pretending the vice of envy is really a virtue. They thereby instigated hatred of the rich by the poor, hatred of the successful by the unsuccessful, hatred of the happy by the discontented. Weakened by internal conflict, the people were readily conned into domestic and foreign wars both hot and cold, and into bizarre economic experiments. Over 100,000,000 were starved, murdered or worked to death.

By yet another cruel irony of fate, the poor were the main victims. Stalin, for instance, reorganized millions of previously successful farmers into communes, and then starved them to death when they were bold enough to protest that farming itself was being destroyed. Those citizens he permitted to live did so in despicable poverty and fear, while Stalin himself spent his days in the palaces of the Czars, the very people he reviled, strutting about like a toy soldier, grinning like the cat that ate the canary.

Today we are told even vastly bigger government is needed – at a global level – to protect planet and civilization from the ravages of fossil fuels, runaway climate change and big evil corporations.

We already see this eco-imperialism imposed on billions of people, who are told they develop as they wish, use fossil fuels or improve their health and living standards more than a trifling bit. As the globalist ruling elites gain ever more power, they are demanding that citizens of already developed countries reduce their living standards, stop driving cars and flying airplanes, and eat insects and organic vegetables instead of meat or conventional foods. Of course, like Stalin, the ruling classes would exempt themselves from the diktats and penalties they impose on the masses.

Let there be no doubt: history teaches there are two keys to the levels of health, wealth and happiness that we humans have so far achieved. The first is democracy: putting government under our control. The second is freedom to make our own economic choices, to work for whom we choose, to own property, and to start businesses if we like, without being smothered by endless regulations, paperwork and taxes.

But keeping government under control isn’t easy. Government power stealthily increases, even in democracies. As Figure 1 shows, the growth of US government has been relentless, creeping and sneaky since the halcyon days when the Original Colonies first cut off the chains of monarchy. 
The graph shows that government’s share of all the money made in the country has steadily increased from about 3% in 1790 to over 40% today. Who can doubt that government had less power in 1790 than it does now? Or that the people rebelled over far less odious usurpations than they face today?

Those who lean left preach that there are good reasons for us to envy and revile the rich – indeed, anyone in the arbitrarily designated 1% of top earners. But by a stroke of unparalleled self-deception they refuse to see that this same logic applies with its ultimate force to big-spending, big-taxing, big-borrowing, big-leftist government itself.

So if you are tempted by some politician’s promise to play Robin Hood for you, you are being fooled. Politicians may pretend to be Robin, but under their disguise of forest green you will always find the evil Sherriff of Nottingham and his taxman. And what honor is there in getting someone to steal for you?

It is wrong for any of us to envy, revile or hate the rich simply because they are rich. We should instead rejoice in the success of law-abiding people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Stewart Butterfield (my former student, Canadian entrepreneur and midwife of Flickr and Slack). They are beacons of hope. 

Those decent people among us who legally acquire a few millions or billions of dollars to pose against the many trillions of dollars taken from us by government are like those 1776 colonists, who rose up against King George III, wrote a Declaration of Independence and Constitution that set down their inspirations, aspirations, and belief in God, unalienable natural rights, and small government with limited powers, intentions and instruments of taxation and suppression.

They show us that we too can get ahead, be free and prosper with limited government that understands its proper role.

Dr. Jeffrey Foss is a philosopher of science, Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria, Canada, and author of Beyond Environmentalism: A Philosophy of Nature.

FIGURE 1. Growth of U.S. government, 1790 to 2016.

Comment by Charles:  I have posted this article at the request of Paul Driessen.  Jeffrey Foss understands the threat of big government very well.

03 July 2019

NASA and NOAA Continue to Fudge the Surface Temperature Data

Tony Heller at The Deplorable Climate Science Blog shows how NASA and NOAA have altered the surface temperature data once again to greatly exaggerate global warming.  The maintenance of an appearance of catastrophic man-made global warming requires a continuous program of outright fraud and data fudging.  Here is the comparison of three sets of claimed unaltered temperatures as recorded:

Keep cooling the older temperature readings and keep warming the more recent temperature readings and one can create the appearance of catastrophic man-made global warming.  It is even worse than this comparison graph shows because even the 2000 temperature record had been tampered with in a most unscientific way to exaggerate a warming trend.

For further discussion of the surface temperature data fraud see Paul Matthews' article on climate scientists fiddling the data.

The federal government swamp continues to function in NOAA and much of NASA even two years into the Trump administration.