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

30 June 2022

Supreme Court Rules EPA Must Obey the Law

It should be obvious that the EPA must obey the law.  However, the EPA and every other regulatory agency has long adopted the principle that they can exercise whatever flights of fantasy they wish in interpreting the laws passed by Congress that the agency has been empowered to enforce.   The EPA has declared that carbon dioxide is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and claimed that that gave it the power to control its emissions from power plants. Carbon dioxide was certainly not considered a pollutant when the Clean Air Act was passed into law.  It was declared a pollutant by the EPA under the Obama administration under the claim that it caused catastrophic man-made global warming.  That declaration of carbon dioxide as a pollutant had particularly threatening effects upon existing coal-fired power plants.  The Supreme Court put a temporary hold on the Obama EPA rules for carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.  In 2017, the Trump EPA changed those rules to make them more lenient, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided the Trump EPA rules were invalid.  This caused West Virginia and 18 other states to appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court.

If carbon dioxide actually did cause catastrophic man-made global warming, that would still not actually make it a pollutant and it would not really have been addressed by the Clean Air Act.  The EPA is required to provide scientific studies proving that an emitted gas is a pollutant.  The EPA cited no actual science proving that carbon dioxide caused catastrophic man-made global warming.  It did point at the UN IPCC reports, but those reports are only political documents fulfilling the desires of the governments of the world.  They are not scientific analyses, though they mascaraed as such.  The Summary for Policymakers for each report is written by the political representatives of the governments and any failures of the more detailed "science" sections of the report to support the political Summary for Policymakers are corrected as required.  There have been many re-writes of the science sections to make them more supportive of the political ends of the governments.  Nonetheless, the unwarranted assumptions and the holes in the scientific argument for catastrophic man-made global warming are apparent to any careful reader of the "science" sections of the UN IPCC reports.  Over the years, many of the scientists who wrote the original science sections stopped participating in the writing of the IPCC reports because they were furious about how the science sections were rewritten either by the scientists on the take or by purely political hacks.

In a 6 - 3 ruling, written by Chief Justice Roberts, the Supreme Court said that it was implausible that the Congress would have given the EPA the power to control carbon dioxide emissions of power plants without saying so clearly and explicitly in the Clean Air Act.  He also said that such controls have such a strong effect upon our energy service that such a power requires that Congress address it in law explicitly if those controls are entrusted to a government agency.  Indeed, the implication was that any agency making decisions with great magnitude and consequence must have been given that power very explicitly by our elected representatives.

This ruling is of huge importance for American energy infrastructure and the cost and reliability of power for Americans.  It will likely also result in a welcome reduction of regulatory overreach so common for most of our government regulatory agencies.  It will force Congress to make laws addressing many issues for which they might rather not take responsibility.  The rate of new rulings of government agencies far surpass the rate of new laws produced by Congress.  This court ruling will serve as a brake on the rapid growth of government micromanagement of most all aspects of our lives.

I propose we make 30 June a national holiday called Freedom from Regulation Day.

27 June 2022

Self Ownership, Obamacare, and Abortion Rights

I was asked to publish the following article at the Savvy Street.  I agreed, but I wanted to revise it a bit.  The revised version is entitled The Ninth Amendment, Self-Ownership, and Abortion Rights.  

The Supreme Court has noted that abortion is not mentioned in the U. S. Constitution.  It is not.  Neither is it mentioned explicitly that every individual owns his or her own life.  Yet those rights acknowledged explicitly in the Constitution in the First and Second Amendments would seem to have a basis in an assumption that every individual owns his or her own life.  The right to self-ownership is surely one of the rights that was meant to be protected by the Ninth Amendment.  "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

The Ninth Amendment is the most important amendment in the Bill of Rights philosophically because it recognizes that an individual's rights are not just a grant of government.  It recognizes, as did the Declaration of Independence, that all men are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness --"  It is the Ninth Amendment that recognizes the sovereignty of the individual in accordance with our philosophy of government spelled out in The Declaration of Independence.

Tragically, those who seek to expand the powers of government far beyond its enumerated powers in the Constitution, have never wanted to acknowledge the sovereignty of the individual.  His broad rights to self-ownership, to freedom of conscience, and to freedom of association have been subject to frequent violation by government too eager to control the lives of its citizens.  The central role of the Declaration of Independence and of the Ninth Amendment have both been denied.  This means that many government overreaches that should have been held unconstitutional on the basis of the Ninth Amendment have not been so thwarted.  The Ninth Amendment has been almost totally ignored.  This has led to many very contorted rulings by the federal courts trying to find some protection of rights that many Americans believe they have somewhere in the Constitution.  Justice Clarence Thomas has been notable for his lone attempts to point this problem out.

It has been noted by many that the Justice Alito argument that abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution and therefore is not a right recognized by the Constitution, opens the door for making a similar argument against a right to same-sex marriages, the use of contraceptives, and interracial marriages.  Based on the Alito argument, each of these rights might be returned to the states for legislation limiting or protecting them.  These rights, as is the case with an abortion right, must have their proper basis in the right to self-ownership and freedom of association, both of which should be seen as protected by the Ninth Amendment.

The abortion rights decision by the Supreme Court has greatly angered many people, most of whom have consistently voted for the Democratic Party, though a sizeable fraction of Republicans also believe in abortion rights. The Democratic Party has been most vociferous in its denial of the right to self-ownership in all contexts but one and in its denial of the protections of the Ninth Amendment.  The existence of an abortion right must start with a woman's ownership of her own body. 

One of the best examples of the Democratic Party interfering with the right to self-ownership was the enactment of Obamacare.  Every Democrat Senator and 87% of the Democrats in the House of Representatives voted for Obamacare.  They spent an incredible amount of political capital on this highly unpopular legislation.  While there were other reasons why many Democrats wanted this control over the maintenance of every American's mind and body, many wanted and understood that they were  really asserting a principle that no one owned their own mind and body exclusively.  They asserted that there was a collective ownership of every person's mind and body, which gave the collective, acting through the government, the right to dictate how every American would maintain his or her own mind and body.  The principle of collective ownership of our minds and bodies was explicitly noted in the first income tax return Obamacare applied to that designated the tax penalty line Shared Collective Responsibility.  I made the argument at the time that this assertion of collective ownership was the real issue with Obamacare, but almost no one supported me in this.

So now many women are furious that their abortion rights may be limited by the state they or other women live in.  They insist that they own their own bodies and should have the right to decide for themselves whether they will have an abortion or not.  Unfortunately, it does not dawn on them that if there is a right to self-ownership, then it applies far more broadly than just to abortion issues.  It surely also applies to the right that every individual, man or woman, has to determine how they will use and maintain their bodies.  It applied to Obamacare and many other examples of government limits on our board sovereign individual rights to self-ownership, including the ownership of our labor and our freedom of contract.  But no, selective assertion of a broad principle is all they care about.  Because of that failure to think in terms of principles, the Supreme Court now has no basis to assert any national abortion right.  The matter has been turned over to the states to decide.

I believe a woman has an abortion right, but its boundary is limited by that time when the development of a fetus makes it a human being protected from murder, or by when it is capable of independent life.  I am not asserting where that boundary is.  That is a thorny problem.  Perhaps that is a problem best left to the states and the more local beliefs of the people who live in those states.  However, wherever those decisions are made, if a woman has an abortion right, it is critically dependent upon her right to self-ownership.  Women who want to assert this right, ought to assert the right to self-ownership for every individual, man or woman, in all the contexts to which it applies.  If they do this, government will be far more limited than it is today and everyone but a few invidious special interests will benefit immensely.

16 June 2022

USA Gasoline Price Skyrockets in Accordance with Democrat Energy Policy

 The USA average gasoline price from June 2020 to June 2022 is charted below:

For the last 6 months of 2020, the price of gasoline averaged about $2.20/gal.  The outcome of the 2020 election put the Democrats solidly in control of US energy policy.   The Democrats were really going to be able to pursue their long-stated goal of seeking the death of the American oil and gas industry, since they controlled the Presidency and both houses of the Congress.  The oil and gas industry had no choice but to respond with drastic investment caution as the Democrats canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline once again, canceled oil and gas leases, and put huge tracts of US land with great deposits of oil and gas off limits for development.  Over time, it also became clear that the government was canceling many other environmental permits actually needed to produce oil from existing oil leases and that it was generally preventing the building of new oil and gas pipelines.

Keeping oil and gas production in the US at a constant level requires a constant investment of effort and money.  This is even more true now that so much of our production is due to fracking.  The inevitable result of the Democrat anti-carbon fuel policies was that the US oil and gas industry was not willing to invest enough money to increase production enough to keep gasoline prices low.  The Democrats made it too hard to do so and any investment the oil and gas industry made was subject to later annihilation as the Democrats pursued their stated goal to kill the oil and gas industry.

The Democrats and the Federal Reserve also proceeded to flood the economy with new money.  The Treasury Department money presses printed money day and night, without pause.  The employees manning the presses and verifying the paper and ink ingredients were virtually flogged to print record amounts of new money.  Congress passed major spending bills and the Federal Reserve pursued its own money supply expansion policies.  The result was that the measure of the money supply called M2 increased rapidly from June 2021 to January 2022.  This generated a general price increase in almost all goods and services.  Oil and gas products could not be an exception.

Biden and the Democrats keep claiming these factors are not the cause of the gas price increases.  They say they were caused by increased demand as the economy recovered from Covid-19 and by Putin.  The economy was recovering, but the oil and gas industry had been readily able to supply an economy of equal size prior to the Covid-19 contraction.  Despite the Democrats, the oil and gas industry has steadily increased the number of active oil rigs since the minimum in the July to September 2020 period.  But, the number presently employed is still not as many as were employed prior to the Covid-19 downturn.  Democrat policies make banks and other lenders unwilling to lend money to the oil and gas industry and their own investors have reason to exercise extra caution in pursuing only the most lucrative projects with supporting infrastructure already in place.

As for Putin and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that effect is responsible for the spike on the gas price curve, but note that there appears to be a rapid price increase before and after that spike that seems to be based at least mostly on other factors in play prior to the Russian invasion.

The increase in gasoline and diesel fuel prices are deleterious for our entire economy.  Add these to the high price increases in almost all goods and services, and many Americans are struggling to get by.  Americans with low incomes are hurting the most.  The Democrats say they care, but they do not care the least little bit.  They are determined to pursue their expensive oil and gas price policies with an aim to murder the oil and gas industry, no matter how many Americans are hurt.

After all, they claim it is because carbon dioxide emissions by man are an existential threat to the planet.  I have demolished that argument many times on this blog.  Others have also shown the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis to have failed in its scientific predictions.  On the basis of the scientific method, this Democrat argument holds no water, but they cling to it as though it is a religion.  It is a truth that people have chosen to annihilate millions of others due to their differing religions or lack thereof, so it is hardly surprising that Democrats of the catastrophic man-made global warming religion are very willing to do great harm to the standard of living of many, many of their fellow countrymen and of many in the developing world who desperately need the advantages of affordable oil and gas.

Those who hunger for ever-increasing power are willing to use that power brutally.  The Democrats are demonstrating that general truism by driving up the cost of our goods and services while leaving our incomes behind the curve.  This is just one more instance showing the foolishness of those many Americans deceived into believing the Democrats were the "kind" party.  Constant expressions of caring about others are a sign that someone is trying very hard to pull the wool over the eyes of the na├»ve.  This has been the one thing that Democrats have been very accomplished at doing.  Dealing with reality is another thing entirely.