Thomas J. Pyle of the American Energy Alliance does an excellent job tracing through the secondary effects of passing the NAT GAS act. He shows that when considering large legislation like this, we need to really think hard about all the markets and people that will be impacted.
Furthermore, some of the goals of this legislation, such as decreasing reliance on imported oil from unfriendly sources, could be accomplished with government simply getting out of the way and letting more oil production occur domestically.
We need to trust people, that is, people and investors trading freely, using their collective wisdom, as to which forms of energy are best for each purpose, Pyle writes: “The market and consumers have proven over and over — “déjà vu all over again,” but in a positive way — to be the best arbiters of what energy technologies succeed or fail. To put it simply, if natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are superior to gas or diesel, and they may be some day, consumers will figure that out on their own.”
Pyle also offers what he thinks is the real motive of two of the bill’s backers, energy investor T. Boone Pickens and left-wing cause financier George Soros: “Why compete in the free market when it’s more profitable to have Congress do your bidding for you?””
When it comes to unchecked government spending and misguided energy policies, it seems that Congress cannot escape channeling Yogi Berra’s oft-quoted remark, “it’s deja vu all over again.” The latest Congressional boondoggle concerns the NAT GAS Act, which will be addressed at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on September 22.
Some background first: the proposed law offers between $5 billion and $9 billion in tax subsidies — although there is no cap on maximum spending in the law — to encourage businesses to convert their vehicles to natural gas, despite the fact that many companies are already doing this doing on their own. Proponents of the law argue that using cleaner burning natural gas will help the environment and that it will improve the nation’s energy security, but a closer look reveals these demand-centric subsidies will lead to expensive consequences for consumers, taxpayers, workers and employers across the board.
George Soros: Media Mogul. Dan Gainor and Iris Somberg of the Business and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center, have produced a report on the media-related activities of liberal financier George Soros. In the executive summary, Gainor and Somberg report: “George Soros is arguably the most influential liberal financier in the United States, donating more than $8 billion just to his Open Society Foundations. In 2004, he spent more than $27 million to defeat President George W. Bush and has given away millions more since to promote the left-wing agenda. But what goes almost without notice is Soros’ extensive influence on and involvement with the media. … His media funding has helped create a liberal ‘echo chamber,’ in the words of one group he backs, ‘in which a message pushes the larger public or the mainstream media to acknowledge, respond, and give airtime to progressive ideas because it is repeated many times.’” … As a person with an interest in news media, I can attest that the liberal echo chamber is quite effective, with stories spreading rapidly across a network of media outlets. Liberal politicians — even President Obama — pick up on and repeat the echoes. The executive summary of the report is at George Soros: Media Mogul — Lefty Businessman Spends Millions Funding Journalism. That page contains a link to the full report and additional material.
‘Nullify Now’ tour in Kansas City. The idea that states can nullify unconstitutional laws passed by Congress is gaining traction as a way to reign in the federal government. This week an event in Kansas City will help citizens learn more about this possibility. Write the event’s organizers: “Crushing debt, health care mandates, ‘super’ congress, and more. The list of constitutional violations from DC never seems to end. The good news is that we don’t have to wait for DC to fix itself. As Thomas Jefferson told us, state nullification is “THE RIGHTFUL REMEDY” to unconstitutional actions by the federal government. … At Nullify Now! Kansas City, you’ll hear nationally-renowned speaker Thomas Woods (and nine others) present the constitutional case for nullification. You’ll learn: the constitutional basis for nullification, how nullification has been used in history, how nullification is being called upon right now vs Obamacare, to protect gun rights, against the TSA, and more, and what YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW to get your state to put a stop to the Feds.” The event is Saturday August 20, and tickets, ranging in cost from free to $75, are required. For more information click on Nullify Now! Kansas City.
Krugman: government spending and inflation will save us. On a Sunday television show economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman revealed a plan to restore our economy: Pretend that an enemy is about to attack us — an imaginary enemy is best — and put concerns of inflation and budget deficits aside in favor of a massive defense buildup. Yes, he actually said that. He also repeated the myth that World War II ended the Great Depression. In the past, Krugman wrote that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 “could even do some economic good” as rebuilding will increase spending. Video is at Paul Krugman: Massive Defense Buildup to Stimulate Economy. A very good analysis of Krugman’s ideas by Michael Pento is at Krugman’s War Won’t Avert Depression: “After all, the Keynesian economist’s favorite pastime is seeing people waste their lives digging holes in the ground or sacrifice their lives in war. Both acts create economic growth according to the topsy-turvy logic of men like Krugman. The truth is that wars are a miserable misallocation of capital and usually leave financial ruin in their wake. … The logical implication of Krugman’s arguments remains that working in productive employment is not at all necessary. If this is true, why not have people just save gas and stay home? The government could simply borrow and/or print money and send it to foreign countries that are dumb enough to produce goods and services for US consumption.”
Stossel on history. In a recent episode of the John Stossel television program, now available on the free hulu service by clicking on Stossel: Politically Incorrect History, we learn of the falsehoods of labor union mythology, how unions limited the ability of minority workers to get jobs, how workplace safety was increasing before the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, how the New Deal didn’t fix the Great Depression despite what is taught in public school, and how President Hoover doubled government spending in spite of his reputation. This is all in just the first segment.
Midwest economic model in decline. Michael Barone in the Wall Street JournalThe Fall of the Midwest Economic Model: “Michigan is an extreme example of what has afflicted the industrial Midwest. Big corporations were replaced by big government as the leading employer, and public-employee unions replaced industrial unions as the chief financiers of the Democratic Party. In effect, public-employee unions have been a mechanism by which taxpayer money, in the form of union dues, permanently finances a lobby with a vested interest in higher spending and less accountability. It’s a lobby that’s benefited from the Democratic Party loyalties of black voters, of Latinos in Chicago (the only large Hispanic presence in the Midwest) and of culturally liberal suburbanites. This Midwestern model is unraveling before our eyes. The Midwest has not been hit as hard by foreclosures or unemployment as some other places, with Michigan an exception on both counts, but you have to look hard for green shoots of growth. They may be most evident in North Dakota, where low costs and light regulation have produced booms in energy and high tech. … So what does the president have to offer the Midwest? The idea that the wave of the future is an ever-larger public sector financed by a more or less stagnant private sector looks increasingly absurd. The Midwest’s public sector has, as Margaret Thatcher put it, run on ‘other people’s money.’”
Optimal level of government spending. In a video by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, Dan Mitchell explains that while some government is necessary, too much is harmful, and it’s certain that we have too much. In the video, Mitchell explains that government is useful when it provides core goods like rule of law and property rights, which gives people confidence to own property and produce goods and services. But once government gets too large, economic performance suffers, and prosperity is reduced. Mitchell cites a variety of studies that estimate that the economy works best when government spending is from 15 to 25 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Today, Mitchell says government spending in the U.S. consumes 40 percent of GDP, which is far above the growth-maximizing level — perhaps twice as much. The trend is upwards, too. At least we’re not France, where the figure is over 50 percent. Concluding, Mitchell said “Government today is far too big and this is hurting growth, undermining prosperity, and reducing competitiveness. It doesn’t matter whether Republicans are spending too much money, or Democrats are spending too much money. … If we want a strong economy, the Rahn curve tells use we need to dramatically reduce the burden of government spending.”
Future of Kansas insurance exchange. “TOPEKA — A federal appeals court ruling in Georgia that overturned a portion of the nation’s latest health insurance law Friday did little to end confusion over how to follow that law in Kansas. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires all Americans to carry health insurance or face penalties, is unconstitutional. The Court ruled that Congress exceeded its constitutional powers by requiring people to buy health insurance when they choose not to do so.” At issue is whether the state should continue to spend money and work on infrastructure to support Obamacare, when it appears increasingly likely that the law will be ruled unconstitutional. Gene Meyer reports in Kansas Reporter.
Concern over Wichita spending. At today’s city council meeting the council considered whether to pay travel expenses for Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer to attend a sister cities exchange meeting in Mexico. The mayor announced that he would be paying his own airfare, that the hotel and meals would be paid for by the host city, so the only expense would be for his luggage and perhaps some incidental meals. Council Member Pete Meitzner (district 2, east Wichita) said that if the city sends representatives on worthwhile missions, the city should pay all travel expenses. Vice Mayor Lavonta Williams (district 1, northeast and east Wichita) disagreed, noting that just last week she traveled to Texas on city business, and she paid for her own airfare. The mayor remarked that “primarily what we’re doing is we’re paying to perform the job we’re assigned to do,” and that previous commitments had been made that obligate the current council to follow through. … The next item was to pay for travel for other persons to attend the conference. The agenda packet for today’s meeting contained no information on these two items, certainly not the amounts of money involved or the persons to travel. … The council’s concern over spending on items like the mayor’s airfare is welcome, but this spending is small relative to the many areas in which the city could trim spending.
Kansas governor praises wind power. Today Kansas Governor Sam Brownback promoted investment in wind energy. In a press release he said “I want Kansas to be known as the ‘Renewable State.’ To get there, we have to balance the three E’s: Energy, Economy and the Environment. My first priority as Governor is to grow the Kansas economy, and getting wind power to market is a key component accomplishing that.” Contrary to the governor’s rosy picture, Lisa Linowes details the long string of failures of the wind power industry, including the fact that wind power is becoming more expensive, despite its massive federal subsidy. It is unknown why Brownback — who generally supports free markets — supports wind power and the government intervention necessary to prop up the industry. The same can be said for his support of ethanol, which is rapidly losing support for its three forms of government intervention that support it: a subsidy for its producers, a mandate to use it, and a tariff to protect domestic producers from foreign competition.
Corporate taxes. Mitt Romney made it an issue. David Henderson comments: “No, I’m making the simple point that a tax on corporations is a tax on people. I remember that in addressing the issue in the 1980s, the late Herb Stein said that it’s as if people think that if the government imposed a tax on cows, the tax would be paid by the cows.” In a video, Milton Friedman explained that “There’s no business to be taxed. There are people. Only people can pay taxes. … When you talk about a tax on business, it has to be paid by somebody. Either it’s paid by the stockholder, or it’s paid by the customer, or it’s paid by the worker. There’s no other way it can come from.” He also addressed the fiction that the Social Security tax is paid equally by employers and workers.
How the racism charge is used. The Capital Research Center has published a piece that illustrates how the political left tosses around a charge that no one wants to be accused of: racism. In an email the Center says: “Author Kevin Mooney examines a little-known group called Color of Change, which alleges that conservatives in the media are racists. Targeting figures like TV talk show host Glenn Beck and Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch, Color of Change enjoys the praise of prominent left-of-center groups like Media Matters and MoveOn.org. Mooney says the Left admires Color of Change because it has learned how to use the incendiary charge of racism to stifle conservatives’ free speech.” … The report itself says: “The intense anti-Fox animus is not new, but this time conservatives have good cause to be concerned about one aspect of the new campaign against Fox. That campaign aims to exploit the most incendiary of tactics — the issue of race — to dislodge conservatives from prominent media posts. … Despite much evidence that contemporary America has moved beyond the tragic legacy of slavery and segregation, the Left remains eager to accuse its opponents of racism.” … It will come as no surprise that George Soros is a financier of this organization. The compete report is The Left Wing Targets Conservative Media.
The failure of American schools.The Atlantic: “Who better to lead an educational revolution than Joel Klein, the prosecutor who took on the software giant Microsoft? But in his eight years as chancellor of New York City’s school system, the nation’s largest, Klein learned a few painful lessons of his own — about feckless politicians, recalcitrant unions, mediocre teachers, and other enduring obstacles to school reform.” Key takeway idea: “As a result, even when making a lifetime tenure commitment, under New York law you could not consider a teacher’s impact on student learning. That Kafkaesque outcome demonstrates precisely the way the system is run: for the adults. The school system doesn’t want to change, because it serves the needs of the adult stakeholders quite well, both politically and financially.” … Also: “Accountability, in most industries or professions, usually takes two forms. First and foremost, markets impose accountability: if people don’t choose the goods or services you’re offering, you go out of business. Second, high-performing companies develop internal accountability requirements keyed to market-based demands. Public education lacks both kinds of accountability. It is essentially a government-run monopoly. Whether a school does well or poorly, it will get the students it needs to stay in business, because most kids have no other choice. And that, in turn, creates no incentive for better performance, greater efficiency, or more innovation — all things as necessary in public education as they are in any other field.” … Overall, an eye-opening indictment of American public schools.
Professors to Koch Brothers: Take your green back.In The Wall Street JournalDonald Luskin takes a look at what should be a non-controversy: A gift by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation to Florida State University to endow a program to study the foundations of prosperity, social progress, and human well-being — at the Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education. (Sounds like a good match.) Writes Luskin: “Then there’s the donors. One of the donors, according to the two professors, is known for his ‘efforts to influence public policy, elections, taxes, environmental issues, unions, regulations, etc.’ Whom might they be referring to? Certainly not George Soros — there’s never an objection to that billionaire’s donations, which always tend toward the political left. No, it’s Charles and David Koch, owners of Koch Industries.” … Critics say the gift is an assault on academic freedom. Luskin counters: “The issue at FSU isn’t that the university has bargained away its academic freedom. The problem is that FSU has exercised its academic freedom in a way that the political left disapproves of. As [FSU College of Social Sciences] Mr. Rasmussen put it to the St. Petersburg Times: ‘If somebody says, ‘We’re willing to help support your students and faculty by giving you money, but we’d like you to read this book,’ that doesn’t strike me as a big sin. What is a big sin is saying that certain ideas cannot be discussed.”
History and legacy of Kansas populism. Recently Friends University Associate Professor of Political Science Russell Arben Fox delivered a lecture to the Wichita Pachyderm Club that was well-received by members. Now Fox has made his presentation available on his blog In Media Res. It’s titled The History and Legacy of Kansas Populism. Thank you to Professor Fox for this effort, and also to Pachyderm Club Vice President John Todd, who arranges the many excellent programs like this that are characteristic of the club.
Federal grants seen to raise future local spending. “Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program.” — Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman (The Yale Book of Quotations, 2006) Is this true? Do federal grants cause state and/or local tax increases in the future after the government grant ends? Economists Russell S. Sobel and George R. Crowley examine the evidence and find the answer is yes. The conclusion to their research paper Do Intergovernmental Grants Create Ratchets in State and Local Taxes? Testing the Friedman-Sanford Hypothesis states: “Our results clearly demonstrate that grant funding to state and local governments results in higher own source revenue and taxes in the future to support the programs initiated with the federal grant monies. Our results are consistent with Friedman’s quote regarding the permanence of temporary government programs started through grant funding, as well as South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s reasoning for trying to deny some federal stimulus monies for his state due to the future tax implications. Most importantly, our results suggest that the recent large increase in federal grants to state and local governments that has occurred as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will have significant future tax implications at the state and local level as these governments raise revenue to continue these newly funded programs into the future. Federal grants to state and local governments have risen from $461 billion in 2008 to $654 billion in 2010. Based on our estimates, future state taxes will rise by between 33 and 42 cents for every dollar in federal grants states received today, while local revenues will rise by between 23 and 46 cents for every dollar in federal (or state) grants received today. Using our estimates, this increase of $200 billion in federal grants will eventually result in roughly $80 billion in future state and local tax and own source revenue increases. This suggests the true cost of fiscal stimulus is underestimated when the costs of future state and local tax increases are overlooked.” … An introduction to the paper is here.
Debt observed as sold. New U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp, who represents the Kansas first district, recently observed the Bureau of Public Debt electronically sell debt obligations of the United States of America. In a press release, the Congressman said: “In a matter of minutes, I observed the United States sell $30.4 billion more in debt. The ease with which this transaction was done reminded me that it is just too simple for Washington to acquire, buy, sell and trade debt.” As to the upcoming decision as to whether to raise the ability of the U.S. to borrow: “As Congress considers yet another increase in the debt limit, the only responsible option that exists is to put America on a path to fiscal responsibility with clear limits on spending. Democrats say they want a debt limit increase that is ‘clean’ without any of the budget cuts we have proposed. Yet, they have offered no plan to eliminate annual trillion-dollar deficits. There is nothing ‘clean’ about increasing the limit without tackling the massive deficits and ever-increasing debt. … With nearly one-half of the nation’s debt held by foreign countries, including more than $1.1 trillion by China, our national security is threatened as well. Too many of our freedoms and liberties are threatened when Americans owe trillions of dollars to nations who put their interests before ours.”
Wichita City Council this week. This week the Wichita City Council handles several important issues. One is approval of the policies regarding incentives for downtown development. Then, the council will consider approval of the city’s portion of the Hawker Beechcraft deal. In order to persuade Hawker to stay in Kansas rather than move to Louisiana, the State of Kansas offered $40,000 in various form of incentive and subsidy, and it was proposed at the time that the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County each add $2.5 million. Of note is the fact that Hawker’s campus in east Wichita … oops, wait a moment — their campus is not within the boundaries of the city. Like Eastborough, Hawker is surrounded on all four sides by Wichita, but is not part of the city itself. I don’t know if this should have any consideration as to whether the city should give Hawker this grant. … Then, there’s approval of the Industrial Revenue Bonds for the Fairfield Inn in downtown at WaterWalk. The agenda material says that the hotel is now complete, so the construction loan is being refinanced with the IRBs, “which will be initially purchased by the construction loan lender and then later redeemed with the proceeds of a permanent commercial loan insured by the Small Business Administration.” The benefit of the bonds is that the hotel escapes paying $328,945 in sales tax on its furnishings, etc. The city has already issued a letter of intent to do this, so it’s likely this item will pass and someone else will have to pay the sales tax this hotel is escaping. … The complete agenda packet is at Wichita City Council May 17, 2011.
Wichita as art curator. The controversy over spending $350,000 on a large sculpture at WaterWalk promoted one reader to write and remind me of the city’s past experience as custodian of fine art. In 2004, the city mistakenly sold a sculpture by James Rosati as scrap metal. Realizing its mistake, the city refused to complete the transaction. The buyer sued, the city lost and appealed, losing again. Estimates of the sculpture’s worth ranged up to $30,000. Editorialized Randy Scholfield at the time in The Wichita Eagle: “That the sculpture ended up in an auction of surplus junk in the first place says something about how much the city valued it or exercised proper stewardship.”
Over 30 major news organizations linked to George Soros.Business and Media Institute: “When liberal investor George Soros gave $1.8 million to National Public Radio, it became part of the firestorm of controversy that jeopardized NPR’s federal funding. But that gift only hints at the widespread influence the controversial billionaire has on the mainstream media. Soros, who spent $27 million trying to defeat President Bush in 2004, has ties to more than 30 mainstream news outlets — including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Associated Press, NBC and ABC.” … This is from the first of a four part series.
Romney seen as candidate of business, not capitalism.Timothy P. Carney in To Mitt Romney, big government is good for business: “Mitt Romney has the strongest business backing of any Republican presidential hopeful, and he carries himself as a technocratic problem solver. … Examine Romney’s dalliances with big government that have caused him such grief, and you’ll see a trend: They all are described as ‘pro-business,’ they all amount to corporate welfare, and they all reflect the technocratic mind-set you’d expect of a business consultant. Romney’s record and rhetoric show how managerialism veers away from the free market and into corporatism.” … Carney discusses Romney’s disastrous health care program in Massachusetts — which is seen as a prototype for Obamacare, his efforts to lure business to the state with subsidies, his support of ethanol subsidies, a national catastrophic insurance fund, and the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Programs for elderly must be cut. Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post: “When House Speaker John Boehner calls for trillions of dollars of spending cuts, the message is clear. Any deal to raise the federal debt ceiling must include significant savings in Social Security and Medicare benefits. Subsidizing the elderly is the biggest piece of federal spending (more than two-fifths of the total), but trimming benefits for well-off seniors isn’t just budget arithmetic. It’s also the right thing to do. I have been urging higher eligibility ages and more means-testing for Social Security and Medicare for so long that I forget that many Americans still accept the outdated and propagandistic notion that old age automatically impoverishes people.” … Samuelson goes on to show that many are doing quite well in old age and gets to the heart of the problem: “The blanket defense of existing Social Security and Medicare isn’t ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive.’ It’s simply a political expedient with ruinous consequences. It enlarges budget deficits and forces an unfair share of adjustment — higher taxes, lower spending — on workers and other government programs. This is the morality of the ballot box.” In other words, the elderly, which are a powerful voting bloc, have found they can vote themselves money. Concluding, he writes “Social Security was intended to prevent poverty, not finance recipients’ extra cable channels.”
Social Security seen as unwise, financially. A video from LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies, explains that apart from the political issues, Social Security is a bad system from a purely financial view. Explained in the video is that 22 year-olds can expect to earn a 1.6 percent rate of return on their “investment” in Social Security contributions. Further, the “investment” is subject to a “100 percent estate tax.”
Market development in Wichita. From Wichita downtown planning, not trash, is real threat: “While the downtown Wichita planners promote their plan as market-based development, the fact is that we already have market-based development happening all over Wichita. But because this development may not be taking place where some people want it to — downtown is where the visionaries say development should be — they declare a ‘market failure.’ But just because people make decisions that visionaries don’t approve of, that’s not market failure. And this is one of the most important reasons why Wichitans should oppose the downtown plan. It proposes to direct public investment away from where free people trading in free markets want public investment to be. The public investment component of the downtown plan says that people who decided not to live or work downtown are wrong, and they must now pay for others to be downtown. … We have market-based development in Wichita. We don’t need a government plan to have market-based development.”
This bit of background is important because ThinkProgress has shown to be an unreliable source of information. Case in point: Yesterday John H. Hinderaker of Powerline examined a recent post on ThinkProgress that is critical of Koch Industries and found it and its author Lee Fang to be highly lacking in a number of areas, such as facts, knowledge, and understanding of economics. One comment left to the article included: “Based on 25 years of scholarly research and market experience, I can say that Fang the Farcical knows not the first thing about either manipulation or commodities pricing. You would think that Soros could have found a junior assistant trader to teach Fang the basics. But then there wouldn’t have been a story, would there?”
Here’s just a small example: One of the most telling parts of Fang’s article is this: “Big banks and companies like Koch employ a contango strategy by buying up oil and storing it in massive containers both on land and offshore to lock in the oil for sale later at a set price.”
Here Fang is criticizing Koch Industries for speculation in oil markets. Hinderaker notes that unlike banks — which aren’t in the oil business — Koch Industries is actually in the oil business: “Koch certainly does buy oil and store it; it is in the oil business. However, I would be curious to know what ‘big banks’ ‘buy up oil and stor[e] it in massive containers both on land and offshore.’”
Buying something when the price is low and storing it for later use seems a rather innocent act. I wonder if Fang has ever done like I have: When I notice the grocery store has Diet Pepsi on sale, I buy extra and store it for later use when I expect the price will be higher.
By John H. Hinderaker
The Think Progress web site is a Soros-funded mouthpiece for the Obama administration. Someone at Think Progress or its parent, the Center for American Progress, has instructed cub reporter Lee Fang to devote full time to attacking Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Industries. (It would be interesting to know who gave that instruction, and why.) We have deconstructed several of Mr. Fang’s attacks, all of which have been juvenile. But his latest effort is perhaps his most pitiful yet.
In “The Contango Game,” Fang tries to show that Koch Industries “manipulates the oil market for profit.” Unfortunately, young Mr. Fang has neither the business experience nor the intelligence to understand the issues about which he writes. The result is that nearly every sentence is a howler. Among other things, while a contango market is the main subject of Fang’s post, he doesn’t know what the phrase means.
Fang begins with the claim that oil prices are high these days because of speculation. Whether it is even possible for “speculators” — some call them investors — to have a material impact on the price of oil over time is dubious. While partisans like to blame speculators for rising oil prices–never, however, for falling prices–objective studies, like this one by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 2008, have failed to document any such influence.
A common criticism of anyone taking a conservative political position is that they should stop getting all their information from Fox News. Criticism like that works both ways, however, especially now that the Center for American Progress Action Fund, according to Politico, is “ramping up an in-house full-fledged, ideologically driven news organization aimed in part at tripping up Republican candidates on the ground in the early presidential contests.” In the coming weeks the ThinkProgress blog will be relaunched as this news organization.
Some key points:
There are ambitious goals: “The newsroom side is absolutely competing with all the leading news organizations,” said Faiz Shakir, the editor-in-chief of ThinkProgress. “We’re not out there to peddle research — we’re out there to make news.
Disclosure requirements are good for my political enemies, but not for me: “ThinkProgress may quack like a duck, but it’s hardly just another media organization. For one thing, like the conservative groups that have drawn Democratic criticism, its parent 501(c)4 nonprofit doesn’t disclose its donors, which Palmieri justified on the grounds that, unlike those groups, they don’t produce political advertising.”
CAP Action fund is, of course, an arm of the Center for American Progress, a think tank closely associated with President Barack Obama’s administration and George Soros, who advocates many liberal and left-wing political causes: “Further, CAP Action Fund openly runs political advocacy campaigns, and plays a central role in the Democratic Party’s infrastructure, and the new reporting staff down the hall isn’t exactly walled off from that message machine.”
Oh, it’s a moral thing: “Rejecting a question from POLITICO about why CAP declined to reveal its donors while calling out the Kochs for not disclosing their donations, he [blogger Lee Fang, a vocal critic of Charles and David Koch] said ‘It’s fundamentally different when you have wealthy individuals that want to donate to a worthy cause, and the Koch brothers and some of their cohorts that are funding groups that are essentially just advancing their self interests and their lobbying interests.’” Fang and the others at Center for American Progress and its allied organizations are evidently not able to understand that the economic freedom that Charles and David Koch advocate is not necessarily in their own interests, if all they wanted to do is become richer. As Charles Koch recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “Too many businesses have successfully lobbied for special favors and treatment by seeking mandates for their products, subsidies (in the form of cash payments from the government), and regulations or tariffs to keep more efficient competitors at bay. Crony capitalism is much easier than competing in an open market.”
Center for American Progress news team takes aim at GOP
By Ben Smith & Kenneth P. Vogel
The liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund is ramping up an in-house full-fledged, ideologically driven news organization aimed in part at tripping up Republican candidates on the ground in the early presidential contests.
The group, executives told POLITICO, now has 30 writers and researchers at ThinkProgress, its blog, which is being redesigned and relaunched in the coming weeks. The editorial staff, similar in size or larger than that of many political websites, marks the latest phase in the deliberate, decade-long construction of a liberal infrastructure for reporting, research, and hammering home a message that the right is scrambling to match.
“We see ourselves as a content provider,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the president of The Center for American Progress Action Fund, the group’s advocacy arm. “There actually is an echo chamber now.”
This week George Soros is hosting two conferences that seek to influence and change the international financial system and the news media. In contrast to a conference recently hosted by Charles and David Koch, the Soros events have received little advance attention, and it seems likely that there will be little reporting afterward.
A search of Google news shows just a handful of stories mentioning these events. The Boston Globe has short mention of the event taking place in New Hampshire, presumably only because it is in the neighborhood. But Dan Gainor of Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group, has the details on these two events and who is attending.
The New Hampshire event, previewed by Gainor in the Wall Street Journal piece Unreported Soros Event Aims to Remake Entire Global Economy, is intended to “‘establish new international rules’ and ‘reform the currency system.’ It’s all according to a plan laid out in a Nov. 4, 2009, Soros op-ed calling for ‘a grand bargain that rearranges the entire financial order.’” The goals of the conference are lofty — and scary. Soros has written that “The main enemy of the open society, I believe, is no longer the communist but the capitalist threat.” As described by Gainor, this conference appears to exist to counter the threat Soros sees: “That’s what this conference is all about — changing the global economy and the United States to make them ‘acceptable’ to George Soros.”
Proposals for government funding of news media and a return to the fairness doctrine will be big topics, says Gainor.
Contrast with Koch event
The virtually non-existant news coverage of these two Soros events stands in stark contrast to the frenzy whipped up by media in anticipation of the recent Koch-sponsored conference in January. This is despite the fact that several journalists are speaking at the New Hampshire event, and the Boston event is all about news media.
The Koch event was also protested, and the protests widely covered in the news. It appears there are no plans by anyone to protest the Soros events.
Perhaps David Boaz offers insight when he wrote: “One difference between libertarianism and socialism is that a socialist society can’t tolerate groups of people practicing freedom, while a libertarian society can comfortably allow people to choose voluntary socialism.”
The message of capitalism, free markets, and economic freedom is powerful. When people realize its benefits and its ability to foster civil society and prosperity for everyone, the special interests that live off government intervention are threatened. As Boaz notes, if people choose to reject freedom and live under some other form of order, libertarians have no problem with that.
But Boaz qualifies this. Such a choice must be voluntary. That’s not what Soros and his supporters have in mind. Their intent is to expand the role of government, and since government operates by force and coercion, this expansion is not voluntary. The more Soros has his way, the more the freedom and liberty of Americans is at risk.
We ought to take note of these conferences. But with a virtual news blackout, most people won’t be aware of them and the plans being made.
Follow-up to Koch profile. A few pieces have provided amplification and commentary on the Weekly Standard profile of Charles and David Koch, notably Politico and Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. … Has a secret conspiracy been uncovered by Politico? Groups identified as lined up against the Kochs include a non-profit group titled Brave New Films, Greenpeace, Public Citizen, Common Cause, Ruckus Society, AFSCME (an arm of AFL-CIO), Service Employees International Union, and Center for American Progress with its attack blog ThinkProgress. Asks Post’s Rubin: “[a conspiracy] not of the Kochs but of the left-leaning groups that have mounted a campaign against them. … In other words, groups that purport to be nonpartisan are actually involved in a coordinated effort to smear the Kochs.” … Rubin notes the commonality shared between many of these groups: they receive millions from “foundations controlled by or linked to Soros,” referring to left-wing cause financier and anti-capitalist George Soros. … And are the Koch donations overly generous? Writes Rubin: “Left unsaid in all of this is the degree to which the Kochs’ political giving has been exaggerated. How much do they give? Over the last 20 years, about $11 million. Not chump change for you and me, but kind of stingy actually for billionaires whom the left would have us believe are taking over the American political system. By way of comparison, Duke Energy — the third-largest nuclear power plant operator — has been a major donor to Democrats, including the president. That would be the same Duke Energy that just forked over a $10 million line of credit for a single purpose — the 2101 Democratic Convention. Just the sort of thing Common Cause would be concerned about. After the next conference call with the other members of the Soros gang, I’m sure it’ll get right on it.” … Both articles are worth reading.
The decline of Detroit: a lesson for Wichita?William McGurn in The Wall Street Journal: “Most Americans did not need to be told that Detroit is in a bad way, and has been for some time. Americans know all about white flight, greedy unions and arrogant auto executives. The recent census numbers, however, put an exclamation mark on a cold fact: A once-great American city today repels people of talent and ambition.” How did this happen? McGurn quotes Rev. Robert A. Sirico: “Detroit is a classic example of how a culture that was legendary for enterprise and innovation was slowly eroded by toxic politicization from the 1960s on.” … Later McGurn asks “What happened to this Detroit? In many ways the answer is liberal politics and expanding government.” … Could this happen to Wichita? Our population is not declining. But Wichita has been said to be more dependent on one industry (aircraft manufacturing) than Detroit was on automobile manufacturing. And Wichita government is becoming more liberal — notwithstanding the protests of several self-styled conservative city council members who will soon be leaving office. Increasingly business looks to city hall rather than markets for inspiration and financing. Our mayor, city council members, and bureaucrats want more “tools in the toolbox” for intervening in the economy. … Yes, the devastation seen in Detroit could happen here.
Moran to vote “no” on debt ceiling.United States Senator Jerry Moran, a newly-elected Kansas Republican, has informed President Obama that he won’t vote for an increase in the national debt ceiling. Wrote Moran: “Americans are looking for leadership in Washington to confront the problems of today, not push them off on future generations. To date, you have provided little or no leadership on what I believe to be the most important issue facing our nation — our national debt. With no indication that your willingness to lead will change, I want to inform you I will vote “no” on your request to raise the debt ceiling.” The entire letter from Moran is at I will vote “No.”
Golden geese on the move. Thomas Sowell: “The latest published data from the 2010 census show how people are moving from place to place within the United States. In general, people are voting with their feet against places where the liberal, welfare-state policies favored by the intelligentsia are most deeply entrenched.” Sowell notes that blacks, especially those young and educated, are moving to the South and suburbs. “Among blacks who moved, the proportions who were in their prime — from 20 to 40 years of age — were greater than in the black population at large, and college degrees were more common among them than in the black population at large. In short, with blacks, as with other racial or ethnic groups, those with better prospects are leaving the states that are repelling their most productive citizens in general with liberal policies.” Detroit, he writes is “the most striking example of a once-thriving city ruined by years of liberal social policies.” Finally, a lesson for all states, including Kansas: “Treating businesses and affluent people as prey, rather than assets, often pays off politically in the short run — and elections are held in the short run. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg is a viable political strategy.” (Mass Migration Of America’s Golden Geese.) The migration statistics concerning Kansas are not favorable, although some are trending in a better direction.
Legislators will have more access to SRS case files.Kansas Health Institute News Service reports” “Parents whose children have become state wards now have the option of signing a one-page form that gives state legislators unrestricted access to information in their family’s case file.” Previously legislators had access to the information, but “social workers decided what information from the file would be shared. And legislators were not given documents or copies from the files but verbal briefings.” Some are concerned that information harmful to children will be made public.
Government planners vs. individuals. Another reading from Economics for Real People: An Introduction to the Austrian School by Gene Callahan. The topic is individuals acting in markets vs. government planning: Economics does not hold that the desires of the consumers are pure or virtuous. It does illustrate that the market process is the only way to approximately gauge those desires. All other systems must attempt to impose the rulers’ values on the ruled. Those who plan on doing the imposing have a very high regard for their own judgment, and a very low regard for that of the rest of us. To paraphrase the economist G.L.S. Shackle, the man who would plan for others is something more than human; the planned man, something less. … [Ludwig von] Mises describes those who would coercively replace the value judgments of their fellow men by their own value judgments: [They] are driven by the dictatorial complex. They want to deal with their fellow men in the way an engineer deals with the materials out of which he builds houses, bridges, and machines. They want to substitute “social engineering” for the actions of their fellow citizens and their own unique all-comprehensive plan for the plans of all other people. They see themselves in the role of the dictator — the duce, the Führer, the production tsar — in whose hands all other specimens of mankind are merely pawns. If they refer to society as an acting agent, they mean themselves. If they say that conscious action of society is to be substituted for the prevailing anarchy of individualism, they mean their own consciousness alone and not that of anybody else. (The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science)
Americans of all political persuasions can agree that we face serious national problems, including sluggish job growth and soaring federal spending. The way to solve these problems is by coming together, not by attacking each other. President Obama should call off the attack dogs, before they end up biting him too.
One of the duties of being a blogger on the left is constant disparaging of the source of funding or leadership of your opposition. All done, of course, while ignoring the painfully obvious problems with your own.
Thank you, Gidget I love reading Gidget’s blog. It’s titled Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe), and the tagline is “The Kansas GOP is filled with characters on the inside. I’m looking through the window and holding up a mirror.”
Gidget writes anonymously, partly for reasons she explains in her post below. But we do know […] Quick Takes
Death penalty to be Pachyderm topic This Friday (December 6, 2013) the Wichita Pachyderm Club presents Ben Jones, who is with Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty. His topic will be “Capital Punishment in Kansas from a conservative perspective: Is it a failed policy?”
Jones is also a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Yale University.
The public […] Quick Takes
If I voted for Mitt Romney They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney, we’d have a flip-flopper for president. Well, I voted for Mitt Romney, and that’s what we have. […] Quick Takes
Means of production It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that nobody has complete power over us, that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves.
– Frederick Hayek […] Quick Takes
Wichita Pachyderm Club speaker lineup Here is the current lineup of speakers for the Wichita Pachyderm Club.
Wichita is fortunate to have an active and dynamic Pachyderm Club that presents, nearly every Friday, an educational program than enriches civic life. I am thankful for John Stevens, the club president; John Todd, club vice-president in charge of […] Quick Takes
The Kansas Economic Freedom Index identifies Kansas legislators who vote in favor of economic freedom — and those who don’t.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness — Declaration of Independence
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. — Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Government is essentially the negation of liberty. — Ludwig von Mises
It is the responsibility of the patriot to protect his country from its government. — Thomas Paine
It does not take a majority to prevail, but an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. — Samuel Adams
You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor where they are, nor how many of them there are, nor what they are doing or will do. Two things you know, and no more: first, that they exist; second, that they will find you. — Albert Jay Nock
A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that ... it gives people what they want instead of what a particular group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. — Milton Friedman
As the coercive power of the state will alone decide who is to have what, the only power worth having will be a share in the exercise of this directing power. — F.A. Hayek
The kind of rules we should have are the kind that we'd make if our worst enemy were in charge. — Walter E. Williams
Your principle has placed these words above the entrance of the legislative chamber: “whosoever acquires any influence here can obtain his share of legal plunder.” And what has been the result? All classes have flung themselves upon the doors of the chamber crying: “A share of the plunder for me, for me!” — Frederic Bastiat
This was all before politicians gave us the idea that the things we could not afford individually we could somehow afford collectively through the magic of government. — Thomas Sowell
While the short-run prospects for liberty at home and abroad may seem dim, the proper attitude for the Libertarian to take is that of unquenchable long-run optimism. — Murray N. Rothbard
Barbra Streisand told Diane Sawyer that we're in a global warming crisis, and we can expect more and more intense storms, droughts and dust bowls. But before they act, weather experts say they're still waiting to hear from Celine Dion. — Jay Leno
The great virtue of free enterprise is that it forces existing businesses to meet the test of the market continuously, to produce products that meet consumer demands at lowest cost, or else be driven from the market. It is a profit-and-loss system. Naturally, existing businesses generally prefer to keep out competitors in other ways. That is why the business community, despite its rhetoric, has so often been a major enemy of truly free enterprise. — Milton Friedman
Increasingly, it seems that the biggest difference between conservatives and liberals is that the conservatives know government is force. But that doesn't stop them from using it. — John Stossel
One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it's remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver's license. — P.J. O'Rourke
Late one night in Washington, D.C. a mugger wearing a ski mask jumped into the path of a well-dressed man and stuck a gun in his ribs. "Give me your money!" he demanded. Indignant, the affluent man replied, "You can't do this. I'm a United States Congressman!" "In that case," replied the robber, "give me my money!" — Related by Walter Block
The libertarian creed, finally, offers the fulfillment of the best of the American past along with the promise of a far better future. Even more than conservatives, who are often attached to the monarchical traditions of a happily obsolete European past, libertarians are squarely in the great classical liberal tradition that built the United States and bestowed on us the American heritage of individual liberty, a peaceful foreign policy, minimal government, and a free-market economy. Libertarians are the only genuine current heirs of Jefferson, Paine, Jackson, and the abolitionists. — From "For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto" by Murray N. Rothbard
No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: “But what would you replace it with?” When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with? — Thomas Sowell
Here’s Williams’ law: Whenever the profit incentive is missing, the probability that people’s wants can be safely ignored is the greatest. — Walter E. Williams
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. — Barry Goldwater
A society that puts equality — in the sense of equality of outcome — ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests. — Milton Friedman
When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself. — F.A. Hayek
The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. — H.L. Mencken
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. — C.S. Lewis
When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. — Benjamin Franklin
What is euphemistically called government-corporate "partnership" is just government coercion, political favoritism, collectivist industrial policy, and old-fashioned federal boondoggles nicely wrapped up in a bright-colored ribbon. It doesn’t work. — Ronald Reagan
Those fighting for free enterprise and free competition do not defend the interests of those rich today. They want a free hand left to unknown men who will be the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. — Ludwig von Mises
The problem is big government. If whoever controls government can impose his way upon you, you have to fight constantly to prevent the control from being harmful. With small, limited government, it doesn’t much matter who controls it, because it can’t do you much harm. — Harry Browne
Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place. — Frederic Bastiat
It is indeed probable that more harm and misery have been caused by men determined to use coercion to stamp out a moral evil than by men intent on doing evil. — F.A. Hayek
Freedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself ... Economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom. — Milton Friedman
Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for. — Will Rogers
The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened. — Norman Thomas
[The political system] tends to give undue political power to small groups that have highly concentrated interests; to give greater weight to obvious, direct and immediate effects of government action than to possibly more important but concealed, indirect and delayed effects; to set in motion a process that sacrifices the general interest to serve special interests rather than the other way around. There is, as it were, an invisible hand in politics that operates in precisely the opposite direction to Adam Smith's invisible hand. — Milton Friedman
I'd rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the faculty of Harvard. — William F. Buckley Jr.
Liberty is not a means to a political end. It is itself the highest political end. — Lord Acton
The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. It is the most effective system we have discovered to enable people who hate one another to deal with one another and help one another. — Milton Friedman
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow citizens. — Adam Smith
Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. — H.L. Mencken
This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists' tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the "hidden" confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists' antagonism toward the gold standard. — Alan Greenspan, “Gold and Economic Freedom” 
Fundamentally, there are only two ways of coordinating the economic activities of millions. One is central direction involving the use of coercion — the technique of the army and of the modern totalitarian state. The other is voluntary cooperation of individuals — the technique of the marketplace. — Milton Friedman
The compelling issue to both conservatives and liberals is not whether it is legitimate for government to confiscate one’s property to give to another, the debate is over the disposition of the pillage. — Walter Williams
In Germany, they came first for the Communists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then ... they came for me ...
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
— Pastor Martin Niemöller
There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as "caring" and "sensitive" because he wants to expand the government's charitable programs is merely saying that he's willing to try to do good with other people's money. Well, who isn't? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he'll do good with his own money — if a gun is held to his head. — P.J. O'Rourke
The difference between libertarianism and socialism is that libertarians will tolerate the existence of a socialist community, but socialists can't tolerate a libertarian community. — David Boaz
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty. — Thomas Jefferson
After all, only the imagination limits the kind of laws and restrictions that can be written in the name of saving the planet. — Walter E. Williams
One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary. — Ayn Rand
People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the publick. ... It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary. — Adam Smith
Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. — Immanuel Kant
When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it. — Frederic Bastiat