A big “thank you” to Mike Smith for his rebuttal to an op-ed printed in today’s Wichita Eagle. In the commentary, which was signed by more than 60 members of the clergy from across the state, the writer states: “As people of faith, we believe it is our moral responsibility to care for all that has been entrusted to us.” I think the moral responsibility of people of faith is to refrain from telling lies. And while we’re at it, people of faith should stop using the coercive power of government to force others to conform to their prescriptions for life. God doesn’t do that, and neither should they.
Here’s what meteorologist Smith has to say:
Today’s Wichita Eagle has a terribly unfortunate editorial letter from the Kansas Interfaith Power & Light, an advocacy group on the subject of global warming. While everyone is entitled to their opinions, the quality of the science in the letter is dreadful. So, let’s compare the assertions to the science.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: The controversy over the timing of city and school board elections provides an insight into government. Then: Can a candidate for governor’s claims about Kansas school employment be believed? Wind power is expensive electricity, very expensive. A Wichita auto dealer pushes back against union protests. Finally, what is the real rate of unemployment in America? Episode 36, broadcast March 23, 2014. View below, or click here to view at YouTube.
To the extent that global temperatures are rising, and the extent that mankind is the cause, we should be concerned about global warming. Climate change I meant to say, please excuse me.
It’s no wonder that the term global warming has been replaced by climate change. As the following two charts show, the models that are in common use by climate scientists have predicted rising temperatures, but actual observations of temperatures have not conformed to predictions. Temperatures have been level in recent years.
Here’s a simplified chart of the temperatures predicted by climate scientists compared to actual temperatures. A more complicated version follows. Click on either chart for a larger version.
As you can see, actual temperatures have not risen as they should have, if only the Mother Earth would conform to the predictions of climate scientists. Despite this lack of predictive power, global warming alarmists (oops, I meant climate change alarmists) insist we should radically restructure our economy in order to accommodate the predictions of climate models that have been shown to be not very predictive — if we are concerned about accuracy.
In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: The City of Wichita held a workshop where the Community Investments Plan Steering Committee delivered a progress report to the city council. The document holds some facts that ought to make Wichitans think, and think hard. Then: What is the purpose of high tax rates on high income earners? Finally: Advances in producing oil and natural gas make for a more competitive and carbon-efficient economy. Episode 33, broadcast March 2, 2014. View below, or click here to view on YouTube.
A large portion of his presentation was on energy and its important role in the economy, and how radical environmentalists — the “green” movement — are harming our economy and people. An irony, he said, is that while President Barack Obama is in the “hip pocket” of radical environmentalists, he is presiding over the greatest oil and gas boom in American history. This boom is proceeding in spite of government, not because of it.
Moore emphasized the importance of energy costs to low-income people. Rising energy costs are like taxes on them, he said, while the wealthy can more easily absorb higher energy costs. “To be green is to be against capitalism, against progress, against poor people, against jobs.”
The boom in oil and gas production in America, made possible by horizontal drilling and fracking, is ahead of the rest of the world. While European countries have in the past embraced green energy technologies, these policies have failed, and the countries are retreating from them. Now, European countries want to use American drilling technologies, he said.
The lower electricity prices in America are a competitive advantage over Europe and China. German auto manufacturers are shutting plants in Europe and moving them to the United States, he said.
Of radical environmentalist groups. Moore said: “They don’t even care about global warming. If they really cared about global warming, they would be cheerleading fracking. Because fracking is making natural gas the new fuel for America. And guess what? Natural gas emits less carbon. It’s a great antidote to global warming.”
(According to the U.S. Energy information Administration, when generating electricity, coal emits from 2.08 to 2.18 pounds of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour electricity generated. Natural gas emits 1.22 pounds, or about 43 percent less carbon dioxide.)
Moore went on to tell the attendees that it is the United States that has reduced its carbon emissions the greatest amount in the last five years. He said this is remarkable in light of the fact that the U.S. didn’t sign the Kyoto Treaty, the U.S. didn’t implement cap-and-trade, and didn’t implement a carbon tax. “You would think these environmental groups would be applauding natural gas. Now these environmentalist groups have a new campaign called ‘beyond natural gas,’” he said.
Moore explained that at first, environmentalists said they could accept natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to solar power and wind. They were in favor of natural gas, he said, up until the time it became cheap and plentiful. Now, they are against gas. “My point is, the left and environmentalists are against any energy source that works.”
Over the past six years the U.S. has spent $100 billion promoting wind and solar power, but these two sources together account for just 2.2 percent of electricity generation. Even if the country were to quadruple the portion of electricity generated by these two renewable sources over the next 10 to 20 years, the nation would still need to get 90 percent of its electricity from other sources. Moore was doubtful that the country could quadruple the output from wind and solar.
Trends in carbon emissions
To further investigate the topics Moore raised, I gathered data from Global Carbon Atlas and prepared interactive visualizations using Tableau Public. You may access and use the visualizations by clicking here. Following are static excerpts from the visualizations. Click on each image for a larger version.
Looking at the amount of total carbon emissions, we see two important facts. First, after rising slowly, carbon emissions by the United States have declined in recent years. Second, carbon emissions by China are soaring. China surpassed the U.S. around 2005, and the gap between the two countries is increasing.
Note also that carbon emissions in India are rising. Emissions in most advanced economies are steady or falling. These trends are emphasized in the chart that shows carbon emissions for each country indexed from a common starting point. Emissions from China and India are rapidly rising, while emissions from countries with advanced economies have risen slowly or have declined.
A chart that shows the carbon emissions efficiency of countries, that is, the carbon emitted per unit of GDP, shows that in general, countries are becoming more efficient. Advanced economies such as the U.S., Japan, and Germany have an advantage in this metric. These countries emit about one-fourth as much carbon per unit GDP as does China.
The chart of carbon emissions per person in each country show that the United States leads in this measure. In 2011, the U.S. emitted about 17 tons of carbon dioxide per person. China was at 6.6, and India at 1.7. But, the trend in the U.S. is downward, that is, less carbon emitted per person. In China and India, the trend is up, and rising rapidly in China.
Fracking — short for hydraulic fracturing — is a method of oil and gas production by injecting pressurized fluid into rock formations. Along with horizontal drilling, this technology has lead to a rise in the production of natural gas, leading to much lower prices for consumers, and to the possibility of U.S. exports.
FrackNation, the film that McAleer and McElhinney made, is set for premier on AXS TV on January 22, 2013 at 9:00 pm eastern.
I spoke to McAleer on the telephone last week. I asked is fracking really a big deal for America? He answered:”The word game changer is much overused, but this really is a game changer. It’s going to make America an energy producer. Natural gas is no longer tied to the price of oil. Anywhere there’s fracking in America, there’s no recession.”
“I’d almost go as far as to say fracking is maybe the reason President Obama was reelected. The reason he won Ohio because there’s a fracking boom going on there. People have money in their pockets. … If you live in a fracking area or near where there is going to be fracking you’re feeling good.”
So why are progressives and liberals opposed to fracking? “Fracking brings economic boom to rural America, and many people view rural America as a backdrop, as something to be used.”
The elitists don’t really like farmers, he said. But they will gladly use them to make a political point. The idea that they would become independent from their largess is their concern. He added that opposition to fracking is anti-fossil fuel, anti-progress, and anti-modernity, but above all it is anti-American.
Those opposed to fracking spread fear of environmental damage such as spilling the chemicals or polluting ground water. Is this fear real? McAleer said fracking has been going on since 1947. How long can you fear something that hasn’t happened, he asked.
On the new Matt Damon movie Promised Land, described by the New York Times as “an earnest attempt, sometimes effective, sometimes clumsy, to dramatize the central arguments about fracking and its impact,” I asked what’s wrong with that movie?
McAleer said “It’s not fair, I suppose, to fact check a work of fiction. Having said that, it is pretending to be in a real world situation. There are lots of allegations, lots of multimillion dollar lawsuits, but no scientific evidence. There’s no scientific evidence about what Matt Damon talks about in promised land. The biggest lie of all is that the fraudulent environmentalists — of which there are many — are somehow in the pay of oil and gas companies to smear environmentalists. That’s just ludicrous. Yes there are fraudulent environmentalists — many of them — but they work for the environmental movement, not for oil and gas.”
I mentioned an incident in an advertisement for the movie that shows a family receiving the results from testing their water. The tests showed that the water was clean and not dirty, like illustrated in a dirty brown milk jug. The reaction of the family was anger. McAleer explained that these people were suing the oil and gas companies. They demanded that the EPA come in and test their water, and the EPA said their water is safe. They watched their multimillion dollar lawsuit flushed down the drain, along with their celebrity status.
Your movie FrackNation that’s coming out in January: What will it tell Americans?
McAleer said the film will show there is absolutely no evidence that fracking has ever contaminated groundwater. But there is plenty of evidence that people have lied, exaggerated, and misrepresented fracking.
I asked about the famous example in the movie Gasland of a family being able to light their drinking water on fire, the implication being that this was possible due to methane gas leaking into their water supply, with fracking being the cause. McAller said that people have been able to like their water on fire for many years before fracking started. Native Americans called certain places “burning springs.” These are naturally occurring events. The director of Gasland knew that, but he told me he left it out because it wasn’t relevant. It’s unethical journalism.
Sustainable development.Sedgwick County Commissioner Richard Ranzau writes that next week the commission will vote on the issue of sustainable development, and whether Sedgwick County should participate in a planning process. Writes Ranzau: “Sedgwick County will be voting on this issue next Wednesday, April 4th, 2012. Those of you that have concerns about this need to speak up now. Please email and call the commissioners and encourage them to vote NO on this. If you are a property owner, business owner, home owner, builder, developer, farmer, or taxpayer you should strongly oppose this agenda. Now is the time to stop this. This is President Obama’s plan to use HUD, DOT, and EPA to implement Sustainable Development/Smart Growth/UN Agenda 21.” Ranzau has written on this issue. His paper is at Sustainable Development and U.N. Agenda 21: Economic Development or Economic Destruction? Contact information for commissioners may be found at Board of County Commissioners. As of this writing the agenda and explanatory material for the April 4th meeting is not available. When it is, it can be found at the same page.
Pachyderms to feature talk on sustainable development. On a related matter, this Friday (March 30rd) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Tom DeWeese, President, American Policy Center, speaking on the topic “U.N. Agenda 21: Sustainable Development.” DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence. … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.
Climate models.William Happer, professor of physics at Princeton, calls attention to the problems of modern climate science in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. He asks: “What is happening to global temperatures in reality? The answer is: almost nothing for more than 10 years. … The lack of any statistically significant warming for over a decade has made it more difficult for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its supporters to demonize the atmospheric gas CO2 which is released when fossil fuels are burned.” While there has been warming over the past two centuries, Happer warns of linking this to the activity of mankind: “There has indeed been some warming, perhaps about 0.8 degrees Celsius, since the end of the so-called Little Ice Age in the early 1800s. Some of that warming has probably come from increased amounts of CO2, but the timing of the warming — much of it before CO2 levels had increased appreciably — suggests that a substantial fraction of the warming is from natural causes that have nothing to do with mankind.” While we need high-quality science regarding the earth’s climate, the current climate models are not providing that: “It is easy to be confused about climate, because we are constantly being warned about the horrible things that will happen or are already happening as a result of mankind’s use of fossil fuels. But these ominous predictions are based on computer models. It is important to distinguish between what the climate is actually doing and what computer models predict. The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with model predictions.” … The complete article in the Wall Street Journal (no subscription required) is Global Warming Models Are Wrong Again: The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with predictions. … Some will discount this article because Happer’s specialty is modern optics, optical and radiofrequency spectroscopy of atoms and molecules, and spin-polarized atoms and nuclei — not climate science. But, we see the problems with modern climate science and its predictive abilities.
Shy regulators. The Obama administration is so out of touch with the public that it appears shy about publicity over its actions. The Hill reports: “The Obama administration announced landmark carbon emissions standards for new power plants Tuesday, but hardly shouted from the rooftops about them. The administration rolled out the proposal with relatively little fanfare, and President Obama — who was in South Korea at nuclear security summit — did not issue a statement about the regulation. In contrast, when the Environmental Protection Agency issued final rules to control power plant mercury emissions in December, Obama praised them as major public health protections while touting White House efforts to ensure they don’t affect power grid reliability.” … More at White House, rather quietly, advances climate change agenda.
Just say no to taxes. Those who reject tax increases under all conditions are often described unflatteringly. The New York Times house conservative David Brooks has called them “fanatics” with “no sense of moral decency.” William Voegeli, writing in City Journal explains why we should not consider higher taxes as a solution to problems. “In rejecting tax hikes, Republicans aren’t trading in fanaticism. Rather, they’re confronting a governing failure — an abiding lack of candor about what our welfare state costs — that voters grasp but Democrats refuse to admit.” … The problem is soaring spending, growing faster than the economy: “What we can say is that over the last 40 years, government revenues have kept pace with economic growth while government spending has run steadily ahead of it. … Gross Domestic Product and federal revenues, both expressed in per-capita terms and adjusted for inflation, were about two and a half times as large at the end of the period as at the beginning. Federal expenditures were three times as large.” It is welfare-state expenditures that have grown the fastest, and by far. … Voegeli lays the problem at the feet of the Democrats: “For years, the Democratic Party’s raison d’être has been to establish, defend, and expand the welfare state. The Democrats could have told us all along — forthrightly, scrupulously, and unambiguously — that their project would cost a lot of money and that, should economic growth be insufficient to pay for it, big tax increases would be necessary. Had they done so, they would be in a strong position to argue that the terms of the deal they struck with yesterday’s voters oblige today’s Americans to pay higher taxes. But that’s not what they did.” … Much more to read at Not a Penny More: The case for antitax absolutism.
But not everyone agrees with the governor’s rosy assessment of wind power. Paul Chesser of American Tradition Institute offers a rebuttal of Brownback’s article, which first appeared in a Bloomberg publication.
Chesser writes: “Apparently Gov. Brownback has overlooked the horrid results of efforts in recent years to spur the economy and employment with government renewable energy ‘stimulation’ from taxpayer dollars. … The lessons of failure with government mandates in pursuit of a renewable energy economy are not hard to find.”
Following is Chesser’s response to Governor Brownback.
Kansas Gov., Former Sen. Brownback Incorrect on Promise, Economics of Renewable Energy
By Paul Chesser
American Tradition Institute today called attention to the many fallacies in a column written by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and published yesterday in the Bloomberg Government newsletter (subscription required), in which the former U.S. Senator touted the “long-term benefits” and “job creation” ability of renewable energy, predominantly with wind power.
Apparently Gov. Brownback has overlooked the horrid results of efforts in recent years to spur the economy and employment with government renewable energy “stimulation” from taxpayer dollars. He wrote for Bloomberg, “Experience has taught us that investments in the renewable energy economy is creating jobs across all employment sectors, including construction, engineering, operations, technology and professional services, in both rural and urban communities.”
“Unlike most of his fellow Republicans, it sounds like the governor continues to support President Obama’s failed initiatives to create ‘Green jobs’ in a hopeless attempt to save the U.S. economy,” said Paul Chesser, executive director of American Tradition Institute.
A press release from Earthjustice, the legal advocacy arm of the Sierra Club, proclaimed “A new report reveals Sunflower Electric (Sunflower) enjoyed a cozy relationship with Kansas regulators during the permitting process for the highly controversial coal-fired power plant Sunflower seeks to build in Holcomb.”
This incident — the details are not important for understanding the broad lesson — may be looked on as an example of regulatory capture. As defined in Wikipedia, “regulatory capture occurs when a state regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead advances the commercial or special interests that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.”
In more detail, the Wikipedia article explains: “For public choice theorists, regulatory capture occurs because groups or individuals with a high-stakes interest in the outcome of policy or regulatory decisions can be expected to focus their resources and energies in attempting to gain the policy outcomes they prefer, while members of the public, each with only a tiny individual stake in the outcome, will ignore it altogether. Regulatory capture refers to when this imbalance of focused resources devoted to a particular policy outcome is successful at ‘capturing’ influence with the staff or commission members of the regulatory agency, so that the preferred policy outcomes of the special interest are implemented.”
Regulatory capture — or at least the heavy-handed attempt by special interest groups to influence public policy to fit their interests — is a non-partisan sport. We shouldn’t be surprised to see this form of government failure taking place at all times, no matter which party or politicians are in power.
Radical environmentalists rejoiced. Sebelius was invited to speak at an Earthjustice conference held in Denver in June, 2008. Here are a portion of her written remarks, as supplied to me at that time by her press office, thanking Earthjustice for all it had done in Kansas to help Sebelius and mold her regulatory regime:
When Big Coal pumped their money and politics into Kansas, EarthJustice was there to fight back:
Provided litigation and public support
Helped shape the media messaging and outreach
Rallied supporters and engaged the public to get involved
It was a victory for all of us and I appreciate their help.
Wichita City council. As it is the fourth Tuesday of the month, the Wichita City Council handles only consent agenda items. The council will also hold a workshop. Consent agendas are usually reserved for items thought to be of non-controversial nature. Today’s Wichita Eaglespotlights one item where the city is proposing to hire an outside firm to inspect the roof of the airport for damage from last September’s storm. Some, including Council Member Michael O’Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita) wonder why the city can’t do the inspection with it’s own engineering staff and resources. … Of further note is that the city proposes to use general obligation bonds to borrow the funds to pay for this inspection. This is similar to last December, when the city decided to also use bonds to borrow money to pay for an analysis of nine aging fire stations and what repairs and upgrades they might require. While borrowing to pay for long-term capital projects is fine, this is borrowing for thinking about long-term projects. … The workshop will cover Century II parking meters, something involving the North Industrial Corridor, and a presentation on next year’s budget. The detailed agenda packet is at Wichita City Council May 24, 2011. No similar information is available for the workshop topics. … Next week is the fifth Tuesday of a month and the day after a holiday, so there’s two reasons to explain why there won’t be a city council meeting next week.
Kobach on voter reform in Wall Street Journal. Today’s Wall Street Journal opinion section carries a piece by Kris W. Kobach, who is Kansas Secretary of State. The title is The Case for Voter ID: You can’t cash a check, board a plane, or even buy full-strength Sudafed over the counter without ID. Why should voting be different? In it, Kobach writes Kansas is the only state with all of these elements of voter ID reform: “(1) a requirement that voters present photo IDs when they vote in person; (2) a requirement that absentee voters present a full driver’s license number and have their signatures verified; and (3) a proof of citizenship requirement for all newly registered voters.” In support of the need for these reforms, Kobach provides evidence of the prevalence of election fraud. He also cites evidence that there is already widespread possession of the documents necessary to vote: “According to the 2010 census, there are 2,126,179 Kansans of voting age. According to the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles, 2,156,446 Kansans already have a driver’s license or a non-driver ID. In other words, there are more photo IDs in circulation than there are eligible voters. The notion that there are hundreds of thousands of voters in Kansas (or any other state) without photo IDs is a myth.” … Some critics of these reforms fear that they will suppress voter turnout, and primarily that of Democratic Party voters. Kobach counters: “If election security laws really were part of a Republican scheme to suppress Democratic votes, one would expect Democrats to fight such laws, tooth and nail. That didn’t happen in Kansas, where two-thirds of the Democrats in the House and three-fourths of the Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of the Secure and Fair Elections Act. They did so because they realize that fair elections protect every voter and every party equally. No candidate, Republican or Democrat, wants to emerge from an election with voters suspecting that he didn’t really win. Election security measures like the one in my state give confidence to voters and candidates alike that the system is fair.” … The bill is HB 2067, and is the easiest way to understand it is by reading the supplemental note.
Tiahrt, former Congressman, to address Pachyderms. This week the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Todd Tiahrt, Former Congressman for the fourth district of Kansas, speaking on the topic “Outsourcing Our National Security — How the Pentagon is Working Against Us.” I suspect the prolonged decision process of selecting where the build the Air Force refueling tanker will be a topic. After the Pentagon awarded to contract to AirBus in 2008, which Boeing protested, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The Pentagon’s job is to defend the country, which means letting contracts that best serve American soldiers and taxpayers, not certain companies. Defense Department rules explicitly state that jobs cannot be a factor in procurement and that companies from certain countries, including France, must be treated as if they are U.S. firms in contract bids. Such competition ensures that taxpayers get the best value for their money and soldiers get the best technology.” More on this decision is here. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.
Blue Ribbon Commission coming to Wichita. “Local residents will have an opportunity to voice concerns and offer suggestions on how to improve the state’s court systems during two public meetings next week in Wichita. A panel from the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC), which was appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court to review the state’s court systems, will listen to public comments during the meetings at 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm, Thursday, May 26, 2011 at Century II, in Room 101, in Wichita. The BRC will examine ways to assure proper access to justice, the number of court locations, services provided in each location, hours of operation, the use of technology, possible cost reductions, and flexibility in the use of court personnel and other resources, and any other topic that may lead to the more efficient operation of our courts.” For more information, see the Blue Ribbon Commission Website.
School choice cast as civil rights issue.Star Parker, after citing the case of a homeless mother who falsified an address so her child could get into a good school: “Public school reality today for black kids is one that overwhelmingly keeps them incarcerated in failing, dangerous schools. It’s evidence of the indomitable human spirit that, despite horrible circumstances, many poor unmarried black mothers understand the importance of getting their child educated and will do whatever it takes to get their kid into a decent school. … But let’s not forget the bigger picture that the NAACP has consistently opposed school choice and voucher initiatives and has been a stalwart defender of the public school system that traps these kids and prohibits the freedom and flexibility that these mothers seek. … Generally, black establishment politicians and organizations such as the NAACP have defended government public schools and education status quo and sadly have hurt their own communities. Nothing contributes more to the growing income gaps in the country than disparities in education, and the impact continues to grow.” … A common choice of allowing widespread school choice is that poor and uneducated parents aren’t capable of making wise selections of schools for their children.
Medicare reform necessary.Wall Street Journal in Republicans and Mediscare: Paul Ryan’s GOP critics are ObamaCare’s best friends: “With ObamaCare, Democrats offered their vision for Medicare cost control: A 15-member unelected board with vast powers to set prices for doctors, hospitals and other providers, and to regulate how they should be organized and what government will pay for. The liberal conceit is that their technocratic wizardry will make health care more rational, but this is faith-based government. The liberal fallback is political rationing of care, which is why Mr. Obama made it so difficult for Congress to change that 15-member board’s decisions. Republicans have staunchly opposed this agenda, but until Mr. Ryan’s budget they hadn’t answered the White House with a competing idea. Mr. Ryan’s proposal is the most important free-market reform in years because it expands the policy options for rethinking the entitlement state.” The unelected board referred to is the Independent Payment Advisory Board. With its mission to reduce spending, some have aid this board is the feared “death panel.”
Science, public agencies, and politics.Cato Institute Senior Fellow Patrick J. Michaels explains the reality of cap-and-trade proposals in this ten minute video. If the Waxman-Markey bill was implemented, world temperature would be reduced by 0.04 degrees. That compares to a forecast increase of 1.584 degrees. If implemented worldwide by the Kyoto nations, the reduction would be 0.08 degrees worldwide. … Michaels says the growth in emissions by China eclipses anything we in America can do. … Michaels echos Dwight Esienhower’s warning that “we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.” He goes on to explain some of the dangers of “public choice science.”
Why not school choice in Kansas?WhyNotKansas.com is a website that holds information about the benefits of giving families the freedom of school choice. The site is new this week, and is a project of Kansas Policy Institute and Foundation for Educational Choice. Innovation in school choice programs is common in many states. Kansas, however, still grants the education bureaucracy a monopoly on the use of public dollars in education.
Economics in one lesson this Monday. On Monday (May 9), four videos based on Henry Hazlitt’s classic work Economics in One Lesson will be shown in Wichita. The four topics included in Monday’s presentation will be The Curse of Machinery, Disbanding Troops & Bureaucrats, Who’s “Protected” by Tariffs?, and “Parity” Prices. The event is Monday (May 9) at 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Lionel D. Alford Library located at 3447 S. Meridian in Wichita. The library is just north of the I-235 exit on Meridian. The event’s sponsor is Americans for Prosperity, Kansas. For more information on this event contact John Todd at email@example.com or 316-312-7335, or Susan Estes, AFP Field Director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 316-681-4415.
Sowell on government intervention. Must government intervene to fix the economy? Politicians face tremendous pressure to be seen as active, writes Thomas Sowell: “It is not politically possible for either the Federal Reserve or the Obama administration to leave the economy alone and let it recover on its own. Both are under pressure to ‘do something.’ If one thing doesn’t work, then they have to try something else. And if that doesn’t work, they have to come up with yet another gimmick. … The idea that the federal government has to step in whenever there is a downturn in the economy is an economic dogma that ignores much of the history of the United States. During the first hundred years of the United States, there was no Federal Reserve. During the first one hundred and fifty years, the federal government did not engage in massive intervention when the economy turned down. No economic downturn in all those years ever lasted as long as the Great Depression of the 1930s, when both the Federal Reserve and the administrations of Hoover and of FDR intervened. The myth that has come down to us says that the government had to intervene when there was mass unemployment in the 1930s. But the hard data show that there was no mass unemployment until after the federal government intervened. Yet, once having intervened, it was politically impossible to stop and let the economy recover on its own. That was the fundamental problem then — and now.”
Charles on energy and stuff. “We are making it cool to use less stuff,” says Charles, Prince of Wales, KG KT GCB OM AK QSO CD SOM PC AdC(P) FRS. Irish documentary film makers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer have a new short film that looks at the activities of England’s Prince Charles as compared to what he wants the rest of us to do. Write the documentariasts: “Prince Charles is the latest to be exposed as an eco-Hypocrite in our short film series. The Prince is coming to the US this week to speak at Georgetown University about ‘sustainability’ so we decided to see just how he lives up to his own standards. We’ve made a short film that exposes just how hypocritical the Prince is as he lives a fabulous, luxury life whilst lecturing the rest of us that we have to live with less. Prince Charles — Hypocrite exposes the double standard that is at the center of so much environmentalism. … He is coming to the US to lecture on sustainability and tells people they must live with less in order to save the planet but tells us we must end our ‘age of convenience.’ He wants to make our lives more inconvenient to save the planet from alleged climate change but the Prince refuses to make any changes in his own life.”
Government and entrepreneurship. From an essay by Dane Stangler titled Entrepreneurship and Government, contained in Back on the Road to Serfdom: The Resurgence of Statism, edited by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.: “The third way in which the state can intrude on entrepreneurship is through distorted incentives: either with misguided regulations or unintended consequences, the government could end up creating the wrong incentives for entrepreneurs. Will Baumol discussed such institutional incentives in a famous article in which he argued. ‘How the entrepreneur acts at a given time and place depends heavily on the rules of the game — the reward structure in the economy — that happen to prevail.’ Problems arise when these rules of the game encourage ‘unproductive’ entrepreneurial behavior. The principal example of such unproductive behavior is rent seeking, which occurs when companies pursue a bigger slick of economic activity by means other than market competition — that is, when they graduate to seeking favors from Washington rather than seeking a competitive edge by means of innovation. A company’s entreaties to government for protective action often indicate a returns curve that has already turned negative.” … While the article mentions “favors from Washington,” we can easily substitute state capitols, city halls, or county courthouses. For example, Wichita’s economic development policy is firmly rooted in the belief that the city can direct entrepreneurial activity with no wrong incentives or ill consequences. Listening to the recent summit of aviation industry leaders with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, it is apparent that this industry thrives on, and will continue to expect, large doses of incentives and special treatment and favor from government. But is the aviation industry best for the future of Wichita? While government leaders across Kansas pledge not to lose most important industry, we know it can happen (see Detroit). We have to be careful to make sure that our government policies don’t hasten this loss.
While those who advocate cap and trade legislation charge that conservatives, particularly Charles and David Koch, have outspent them, a study finds the opposite.
According to American University Professor Matthew Nisbet, in 2009 environmental groups spent $394 million on climate change and energy policy efforts such as promoting cap and trade. Opposition groups spent $259 million. Information like this helps place the reports of conservative spending, including that of Charles and David Koch, in perspective. Without this, we’re left with the one-sided reports from Greenpeace and the New Yorker magazine, in which numbers are mentioned without — or with little — context.
The report also looks at expenditures on lobbying. In this area, it’s less clear how much was spent lobbying for or against cap and trade legislation, as companies and organizations report their total spending on all lobbying activity, not the amount spent on specific bills. In this light, Nisbet reports that “environmental groups were able to forge a network of organizations that spent a combined $229 million on lobbying across all issues. In comparison, the network of prominent opponents of cap and trade legislation spent $272 million lobbying across all issues.”
Spending on elections is mixed. Considering contributions to members of Congress, proponents of cap and trade legislation outspent opponents. But in independent expenditures, the situation is reversed. But on Proposition 23 in California, environmental groups spent the most.
In conclusion to its chapter on spending, the report states: “… propelled by a wealthy donor base and key alliances with corporations and other organizations, the environmental movement appears to have closed the financial gap with its opponents among conservative groups and industry associations. Indeed, the effort to pass cap and trade legislation may have been the best-financed political cause in American history. The effort also demonstrates not only the vast revenue base and organizational capacity of the environmental movement, but also the movement’s enhanced ability to coordinate activities among its constituent members and to build partnerships.”
Climate Change Advocacy: Revenues, Spending, and Activities
By Matthew Nisbit
After the failure of the Senate cap and trade bill in August 2010, many commentators blamed the bill’s demise on the massive spending by fossil fuel companies, industry associations and their conservative allies. Others, however, noted that environmental groups—joined by dozens of leading companies and organizations—had devoted record amounts of financial resources in an effort to pass the bill. As an unnamed Obama administration official said about environmental groups, “They spent like $100 million and they weren’t able to get a single Republican convert on the bill.”
To better understand the influence of spending in the cap and trade debate, in this chapter I review the nature, composition and funding sources of the U.S. environmental movement and compare these factors to the opposing coalition of conservative think tanks and industry associations. Then, analyzing data compiled from tax returns, annual reports, and other sources, I systematically compare the revenue and forms of spending by both sides in the debate.
Though most environmental groups are limited in how much money they can devote to direct lobbying, in the debate over cap and trade, they were able to spend heavily on efforts to educate the public and policymakers on the need for a mandatory emissions cap, hiring the country’s top political consultants. They also invested in partnerships with corporations and other organizations in a strategy aimed at counter-balancing the amount spent on lobbying by opposing industry associations and companies.
As the analysis indicates, the environmental movement has made sizable gains in closing the spending gap with their conservative and industry opponents. Indeed, the effort to pass cap and trade legislation may have been the best-financed political cause in American history. The effort also demonstrates not only the vast revenue base and organizational capacity of the environmental movement, but also the movement’s enhanced ability to coordinate activities among its constituent members and to build alliances.
Owens still blocks judicial selection reform.Kansas Reporter writes that one man, Senator Tim Owens, an attorney and Republican from Overland Park, is still blocking judicial selection reform. But a move by the House gives Senate President Stephen Morris a chance to let Senators vote to concur with the reform measure passed by the House. Or, Morris could refer the measure to Owens’ Judiciary committee, where it will die. See New way of picking appeals judges gets second shot.
Greed is killing Detroit. Greed is often portrayed as a negative quality of the rich. But Investor’s Business Daily tells what happens when union greed — yes, everyone can be greedy — runs wild in a city: “Census data released Tuesday show Detroit’s population has plunged 25% since 2000 to just 713,777 souls — the same as 100 years ago, before the auto industry’s heyday. As recently as the 1970s, Detroit had 1.8 million people. What’s happening is no secret: Detroiters are fleeing an economic disaster, the irreversible decline of the Big Three automakers. … Sure, a lot of the blame goes to a generation of bad management. But the main reason for Detroit’s decline is the greed of the industry’s main union, the UAW, which priced the Big Three out of the market.” … Having killed the goose with the golden egg once, union leadership seeks seek to do it again: “Even as Detroit collapses, new UAW chief Bob King promises to ‘pound’ the transplants into submission and force them to drink his union’s poison, too. Given what we know, every town that is now home to a foreign automaker should be very afraid. If King has his way, they’ll soon suffer Detroit’s fate.”
Liberal Bias at NPR? Stephen Inskeep, co-host of the National Public Radio program Morning Edition, defends his network against charges of liberal bias. In The Wall Street JournalInskeep writes that NPR draws an audience with diverse political views, including conservatives: “Millions of conservatives choose NPR, even with powerful conservative alternatives on the radio.” Which, I would say, is all the more reason why the network should stand on its own without government funding. … Inskeep also writes about the recent undercover video by James O’Keefe, who NPR claims, through a spokesperson, to have “inappropriately edited the videos with an intent to discredit” NPR. If true, shame on O’Keefe. The NPR spokesperson concedes that then-NPR chief fundraiser Ron Schiller made some “egregious statements.”
Electric cars questioned.Margo Thorning writing in The Wall Street Journal, explains that the new crop of all-electric or near-all-electric cars not worthy of government support. She notes the Consumer Report opinion of the Chevrolet Volt: “isn’t particularly efficient as an electric vehicle and it’s not particularly good as a gas vehicle either in terms of fuel economy.” … Batteries remain a problem: “A battery for a small vehicle like the Nissan Leaf can cost about $20,000 and still only put out a range of 80 miles on a good day (range is affected by hot and cold weather) before requiring a recharge that takes eight to 10 hours. Even then, those batteries may only last six to eight years, leaving consumers with a vehicle that has little resale value. Home installation of a recharging unit costs between $900 and $2,100.” … Thorning notes that half of the electricity that powers America is generated by coal, so all-electric cars are still not free of greenhouse gas emissions. Also, “a substantial increase in the numbers of them on the road will require upgrading the nation’s electricity infrastructure.” … While electric cars are not ready to save the earth, the U.S. government insists on intervention: “Despite these significant flaws, the government is determined to jump-start sales for plug-ins by putting taxpayers on the hook. The $7,500 federal tax credit per PEV is nothing more than a federal subsidy that will add to the deficit. There are also federal tax credits for installing charging stations in homes and businesses and for building battery factories and upgrading the electric grid. The administration’s goal — one million PEVs on the road by 2015 — could cost taxpayers $7.5 billion.” And saddle Americans with expensive automobiles that do little to address the problem they’re designed to solve. Reading the Journal article requires a subscription, but it is also available at The American Council for Capital Formation, where Thorning is Senior Vice President and Chief Economist.
Government as business. Yesterday’s reading from Robert P. Murphy’s book Lessons for the Young Economist explained the value of the profit-and-loss system in guiding resources to where they are most valued. For those who wan to “run government like a business” I offer today’s excerpt from the same book, which explains how lack of the ability to calculate profit means this can’t happen: [Regarding a capital investment made by Disney as compared to government:] The crucial difference is that the owners of Disneyland are operating in the voluntary market economy and so are subject to the profit and loss test. If they spend $100 million not on personal consumption (such as fancy houses and fast cars) but in an effort to make Disneyland more enjoyable to their customers, they get objective feedback. Their accountants can tell them soon enough whether they are getting more visitors (and hence more revenue) after the installation of a new ride or other investment projects. Remember it is the profit and loss test, relying on market prices, that guides entrepreneurs into careful stewardship of society’s scarce resources. In contrast, the government cannot rely on objective feedback from market prices, because the government operates (at least partially) outside of the market. Interventionism is admittedly a mixture of capitalism and socialism, and it therefore (partially) suffers from the defects of socialism. To the extent that the government buys its resources from private owner — rather than simply passing mandates requiring workers to spend time building bridges for no pay, or confiscating concrete and steel for the government’s purposes — the government’s budget provides a limit to how many resources it siphons out of the private sector. (Under pure socialism, all resources in the entire economy are subject to the political rulers’ directions.) However, because the government is not a business, it doesn’t raise its funds voluntarily from the “consumers” of its services. Therefore, even though the political authorities in an interventionist economy understand the relative importance of the resources they are using up in their program — because of the market prices attached to each unit they must purchase — they still don’t have any objective measure of how much their citizens benefit from these expenditures. Without such feedback, even if the authorities only want to help their people as much as possible, they are “flying blind” or at best, flying with only one eye.
Wichita City Council this week. As it is the fourth Tuesday of the month, the Wichita City Council handles consent agenda items only and often has a workshop. Consent agenda items are thought by the agenda-builder to be non-controversial, and are voted on by the council as a group, unless a council member requests to pull an item for individual discussion and voting. … This week’s meeting will also feature the awarding of a key to the city to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Perhaps the governor will take a moment to comment on his economic development plan, which discourages the type of targeted incentives that Wichita relies on. … The agenda packet is at 03-22-2011 Council Agenda Packet.
Government the problem.Rasmussen: “Ronald Reagan famously declared in his first inaugural address in January 1981 that ‘government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.’ Forty-six percent (46%) of Likely U.S. Voters tell us in a new national telephone survey that that policy position is held mostly by conservatives and 40% say Reagan’s view is shared by most Americans.” The poll finds “Just 19% of the Political Class believe Reagan’s view is shared by most Americans.” The political class is the minority of voters who believe in big government. Rasmussen says they “tend to trust political leaders more than the public at large and are far less skeptical about government.” The Wall Street Journal has more on this at Populism and the Political Class.
Budget worse than thought. “The Congressional Budget Office on Friday released its analysis of President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal and found it does less to rein in deficits and the debt than the administration had estimated.” A large share of the blame is placed on the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts. See CBO: Obama budget worse than projected on 10-year deficit.
Detroit turns schools over to charters.From Education Week: “The financially embattled Detroit school system has announced a controversial plan to turn nearly a third of the district’s 141 schools over to charter operators or education-management organizations by next school year. Officials say their only other option is to close dozens of low-performing schools. If the plan to hand 41 schools over to outside managers is approved by the school board, the 73,000-student Detroit district will be borrowing a page from the same playbook that a growing number of large urban districts seem to be using.” … The article notes that Philadelphia turned over seven schools to charter operators, and Los Angeles will turn over seven next year. Charter schools are funded by public money but operate largely outside the existing public school system. They usually have wide latitude in setting policies, and generally the teachers union is not involved. Not everyone thinks the plan will work, with one critic writing “Chartering schools is not a silver bullet that can solve the long-standing governance, financial, and academic issues that districts like Detroit face.” … Kansas has few charter schools as Kansas law is designed to ensure that few charters will be granted.
The State and the Intellectuals. Murray N. Rothbard asks the question “Why do people obey the edicts and depredations of the ruling elite?” and provides the answer. From For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto: The answer is that, since the early origins of the State, its rulers have always turned, as a necessary bolster to their rule, to an alliance with society’s class of intellectuals. The masses do not create their own abstract ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently; they follow passively the ideas adopted and promulgated by the body of intellectuals, who become the effective “opinion moulders” in society. And since it is precisely a moulding of opinion on behalf of the rulers that the State almost desperately needs, this forms a firm basis for the age-old alliance of the intellectuals and the ruling classes of the State. The alliance is based on a quid pro quo: on the one hand, the intellectuals spread among the masses the idea that the State and its rulers are wise, good, sometimes divine, and at the very least inevitable and better than any conceivable alternatives. In return for this panoply of ideology, the State incorporates the intellectuals as part of the ruling elite, granting them power, status, prestige, and material security. Furthermore, intellectuals are needed to staff the bureaucracy and to “plan” the economy and society. … In the modern era, when theocratic arguments have lost much of their lustre among the public, the intellectuals have posed as the scientific cadre of “experts” and have been busy informing the hapless public that political affairs, foreign and domestic, are much too complex for the average person to bother his head about. Only the State and its corps of intellectual experts, planners, scientists, economists, and “national security managers” can possibly hope to deal with these problems. The role of the masses, even in “democracies,” is to ratify and assent to the decisions of their knowledgeable rulers.
Global warming panic explained. A liberal tries to explain why she thinks the world will end, and what should be done about it. From Battlefield315.
This time it’s Robert Redford caught in a few “do as I say, not as I do” moments. He opposes environmentally-friendly development near a vineyard he owns, as reported in the New York Times: “Robert Redford, the actor and environmental superhero, is a vocal supporter of renewable power and sustainable growth — but it seems that doesn’t include a proposal for an ecofriendly housing development in his corner of the Napa Valley.”
Tax increment financing. “Largely because it promises something for nothing — an economic stimulus in exchange for tax revenue that otherwise would not materialize — this tool [tax increment financing] is becoming increasingly popular across the country. … ‘TIFs are being pushed out there right now based upon the but for test,’ says Greg LeRoy. ‘What cities are saying is that no development would take place but for the TIF. … The average public official says this is free money, because it wouldn’t happen otherwise. But when you see how it plays out, the whole premise of TIFs begins to crumble.’ Rather than spurring development, LeRoy argues, TIFs ‘move some economic development from one part of a city to another.’ … In Wichita, those who invest in TIF districts and receive other forms of subsidy through relief from taxes are praised as courageous investors who are taking a huge risk by believing in the future of Wichita. Instead, we should be asking why we have to bribe people to invest in Wichita. Much more on tax increment financing at Giving Away the Store to Get a Store: Tax increment financing is no bargain for taxpayers from Reason Magazine.
Lessons for the Young Economist. The Ludwig von Mises Institute has published a book by Robert_P._Murphy titled Lessons for the Young Economist. Of the book, the Mises Institute says “It is easily the best introduction to economics for the young reader — because it covers both pure economic theory and also how markets work (the domain of most introductory books).” From my reading of samples of the book, I would agree, and also add that readers of all ages can enjoy and learn from this book. The book is available for purchase, or as is the case with many of the works the Institute publishes, it is also available to download in pdf form at no charge. Click on Lessons for the Young Economist.
The worst Congress. While liberals praise the 111th Congress as one of the most productive ever, not all agree. The Washington Examinerreprises some of the worst moments of this Congress, and concludes: “Our Founding Fathers were always wary of those who wanted government to do lots of big things. That’s why they created a system that separated powers among three more or less equal branches and provided each of them with powerful checks and balances. When professional politicians become frustrated with Congress, it is a sign that our system is working as intended. Columbia University historian Alan Brinkley told Bloomberg News recently that ‘this is probably the most productive session of Congress since at least the ’60s.’ When Congress votes on bills that no one reads or understands, it can be quite ‘productive.’ Americans have already rendered a verdict on such productivity and elected a new Congress with orders to clean up the mess in Washington.”
China has seen the future, and it is coal.George Will in The Washington Post: “Cowlitz County in Washington state is across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore., which promotes mass transit and urban density and is a green reproach to the rest of us. Recently, Cowlitz did something that might make Portland wonder whether shrinking its carbon footprint matters. Cowlitz approved construction of a coal export terminal from which millions of tons of U.S. coal could be shipped to Asia annually. Both Oregon and Washington are curtailing the coal-fired generation of electricity, but the future looks to greens as black as coal. The future looks a lot like the past.” Will goes on to explain how it is less expensive for coastal Chinese cities to import American and Australian coal rather than to transport it from its inland region. China uses a lot of coal, and that is expected to increase rapidly. The growth of greenhouse gas emissions in China trumps — by far — anything we can do in American do reduce them, even if we were to destroy our economy in doing so.
The recent tax bill has a $3 billion grant for wind projects.
The 2009 stimulus bill had $30 billion for wind.
Wind power installations are way down from recent years.
The 2008 stimulus bill forces taxpayers to pay 30% of a renewable energy project’s costs. Wind energy also get a tax credit for each unit of power produced.
“Subsidies for renewable energy cost taxpayers about $475,000 for every job generated.”
“The wind industry claims to employ 85,000 Americans. That’s almost certainly an exaggeration, but if it is true it compares with roughly 140,000 miners and others directly employed by the coal industry. Wind accounts for a little more than 1% of electricity generation and coal almost 50%. So it takes at least 25 times more workers to produce a kilowatt of electricity from wind as from coal.”
The Wall Street Journal has also long been opposed to this intervention in the market for ethanol, recently quoting a report by a group of U.S. Senators: “Historically our government has helped a product compete in one of three ways: subsidize it, protect it from competition, or require its use. We understand that ethanol may be the only product receiving all three forms of support from the U.S. government at this time.”
Kansas lags in charter schools. It won’t be a surprise to regular readers of this site, but Kansas is way behind most states in taking advantage of charter schools. This is a school reform measure that, while not perfect and doesn’t succeed in all cases, provides a way to increase opportunity for often the most disadvantaged students. It also increases opportunity for those students who don’t directly use them. Paul Soutar takes a look at how Kansas earns such a poor evaluation regarding charter schools in his article Weak Charter School Law Works Against Taxpayers’ Interests.
Bureaucrats Gone Wild in Cancun. Global warming alarmists are meeting, and Americans for Prosperity is there to keep an eye on them. AFP says: “The United Nations Climate Change Conference is meeting in Cancun, Mexico from November 29 — December 10, 2010 where bureaucrats will work to transfer wealth and technology from developed to developing nations by raising the cost of traditional energy. But before these international bureaucrats get to ‘work’, they decided to throw a lavish party for themselves.” A news headline spotlighted in a video produced by AFP reads “Cancun climate change summit: scientists call for rationing in the developed world. The video is here: Bureaucrats Gone Wild in Cancun. AFP is taking its Hot Air Tour there. There are two ways to view this event: online, or by attending a watch party. There’s one in Wichita Thursday evening. Click on Hot Air Tour: Live from Cancun for more information and to register.
Obama federal employee pay freeze — or not.President Barack Obama has been praised for instituting a pay freeze for federal employees. But the freeze may not be all it seems to be. Vincent Vernuccio of the Competitive Enterprise Institute reports: “President Obama’s proposal of a pay freeze for federal employees is a small step towards curbing government spending. However, a closer look shows there is less to it than meets the eye. In fact, many federal employees will still see their salaries increased. While Obama’s plan would stop the annual across-the-board cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all federal workers, it will not stop workers from getting raises altogether. The freeze will not affect pay raises for job classification upgrades. As an official at the Office of Management and Budget told Federal News Radio, ‘employees will still be eligible for step increases.’” The full analysis is at the Daily Caller in Federal workers will still receive raises despite pay freeze.
The moral case against spreading the wealth. From The Moral Case Against Spreading the Wealth by Leslie Carbone: “After two years, the results of President Obama’s wealth-spreading policies have confirmed centuries of economics, political philosophy, and common sense: Forced wealth redistribution doesn’t make things good for everybody; it makes things worse, both fiscally and morally.” Carbone explains the two reasons: Government-mandated wealth distribution does create prosperity, and it’s not a legitimate function of government. On the type of behavior we’d like to see in people, she writes: “Wealth redistribution discourages the virtuous behavior that creates wealth: hard work, saving, investment, personal responsibility.” After explaining other problems that progressive taxation — wealth redistribution — causes, she sounds a note of optimism: “Through Tea Parties and popular protests, millions of Peters and Pauls, and Joe the Plumbers are rejecting what F.A. Hayek so aptly called the fatal conceit of paternalistic government. Decades of federal expansion have demonstrated what history, economics, philosophy, and common sense have told us all along: People, working through the market, are the engines of prosperity, both moral and financial — but only if we get government out of their way.” Leslie Carbone is the author of Slaying Leviathan: The Moral Case for Tax Reform. That book expands on the ideas presented in this article.
Christmas organ concert tomorrow. On Wednesday December first, Wichita State University Organ Professor Lynne Davis will present the First Annual Christmas Organ Concert. This event is part of the “Wednesdays in Wiedemann” series. Tomorrow’s program includes voice with Paul Smith, theater organ with Jim Riggs, and Christmas carols. These recitals, which have no admission charge, start at 5:30 pm and last about 30 minutes, although this special performance is scheduled to last 45 minutes. The location is Wiedemann Recital Hall (map) on the campus of Wichita State University.
Free exchange of ideas and gunfire at universities. Today’s Wichita Eagle carries a letter by a university teacher opposing the carrying of concealed guns on college campuses. One point the teacher makes is “And, ultimately, I don’t believe that universities can continue to foster the free exchange of ideas once they have been reconstituted as free-fire zones.” This idea, that concealed carry results in “free-fire” hasn’t been noticed, at least in Kansas. A Wichita Eagle article from last year, when the Kansas concealed carry law had been in effect for three years, reports no problems with the law. Firefights have not erupted in our streets as the result of the concealed carry law.
Charter school praised, then denied. The Center for Education Reform reports on how difficult it can be to start a charter school in some states: “You’d think that 1,600 pages of meticulously crafted curriculum, staffing, school philosophy and financial planning would at least give a prospective charter school a fighting chance. Not in Frederick County, MD. Being well prepared — not to mention a more than worthy option for local parents — just means that the education establishment will sharpen their swords even more to see that you are not approved to enter ‘their space.’ Last night, the Frederick County School Board unanimously voted to block the creation of the Frederick Classical Charter School, a school that would have offered kids there a real alternative and a classically based education. Though opposition heaped praise on the proposal, they did so as they cemented their arguments against it. And they did it just because — because they felt threatened, because they were working in their own best interest, and because they could. Maryland’s charter law is so weak (it has earned a ‘D’ in CER’s latest rankings — stay tuned) that only an overhaul will level the playing field for future options in areas outside Baltimore and more enlightened districts such as Prince George’s County.” More coverage is at Give charter a chance. Maryland, with a “D” grade for its charter school law, is better off than Kansas, which received an “F” from the same organization. It’s why few in Kansas try to start charter schools. The struggle in Kansas has even been reported on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, and in response a letter writer described the charter school laws in Kansas as “pseudo charter laws that still give local districts the power to block new schools.”
Solution to Kansas school funding. Wichita’s Brent Davis offers commentary on his blog about Kansas school spending and its advocates: “School funding advocates like superintendent Morton of Newton are clearly biased since they directly benefit from increased taxation for schools and yet there is no direct correlation in any available data of economic growth trending with educational expenditure.” Davis is in the education industry, so his opinion should be given consideration. The full article is on his blog at The Solution to Kansas’ Ed Funding Paradox.
Kansas school landscape. In an Insight Kansas editorial as presented at State of the State Kansas, Wichita State University professor H. Edward Flentje lays out the landscape of Kansas school finance and the surrounding politics. “In sum, the education article [of the Kansas Constitution] and related court action have moved duly elected state lawmakers — the governor and the legislature — to the sidelines in governing and financing public schools. Any agenda for educational reform will be subject to the liking of the state’s educational establishment and state court judges. Most state and local board members, school superintendents, public school teachers, and the statewide associations representing these interests, not to mention school finance litigators, prefer it this way.” He also — correctly in my opinion — forecasts a dim future for meaningful school reform in Kansas: “Evidence suggests this alliance will be slow to move on reform initiatives shaping the future of public schools, such as charter schools, merit pay, student assessment, and revision of school finance, among other issues.” … While incoming governor Sam Brownback has a plan for education reform in Kansas, it seems mostly focused on revising the school finance formula and a host of minor issues. Important reforms like charters schools and teacher merit pay seem to be missing from consideration at this time.
Tiahrt hearts committeeman position.According to the Kansas City Star’s prime buzz blog, outgoing Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt wants to swap positions with incoming Congressman Mike Pompeo, who has been a Kansas Republican national committeeman. According to the post: “Tiahrt said his chief motive for seeking the office is to ensure that Kansas Tea Partiers have a say. ‘I just want to make sure that when it comes to new ideas, the Republican Party doesn’t become the party of old, stodgy ideas, and that we are very receptive to this new movement and the ideas they bring.’”
The motives of global warming alarmists, who insist that mankind must ratchet back economic progress in order to save the earth’s climate: Are these motives pure and scientific, or are there other forces in play?
Many have suspected that the global warming battle is more a war against capitalism than anything else. Now new information is revealed that reinforces these suspicions. As Investor’s Business Daily tells it: “Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III on Mitigation of Climate Change (say that twice), told the Neue Zurcher Zeitung last week: ‘The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.’ After all, redistributing global wealth is no small matter.”
The Climate Cash Cow
Investor’s Business Daily
Hoaxes: A high-ranking member of the U.N.’s Panel on Climate Change admits the group’s primary goal is the redistribution of wealth and not environmental protection or saving the Earth.
Money, they say, is the root of all evil. It’s also the motivating force behind what is left of the climate change movement after the devastating Climate-gate and IPCC scandals that saw the deliberate manipulation of scientific data to spur the world into taking draconian regulatory action.
Left for dead, global warm-mongers are busy planning their next move, which should occur at a climate conference in relatively balmy Cancun at month’s end. Certainly it should provide a more appropriate venue for discussing global warming than the site of the last failed climate conference — chilly Copenhagen.
Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III on Mitigation of Climate Change (say that twice), told the Neue Zurcher Zeitung last week: “The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.” After all, redistributing global wealth is no small matter.
Edenhofer let the environmental cat out of the bag when he said “climate policy is redistributing the world’s wealth” and that “it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization.”
Kansas Senator Lee to tax court.State of the State KS reports that Kansas Senator Janis Lee has been appointed by Governor Mark Parkinson to the Kansas State Court of Tax Appeals. Lee is a Democrat from Kensington in northwest Kansas. This action opens another position in the senate — another three pending vacancies need to be filled due to senators who won election to other offices — and others are likely to follow as incoming governor Sam Brownback fills his cabinet. Lee scored 13 percent on the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for this year, which is a voting record more in favor of economic freedom than some other Senate Democrats — and some Republicans such as Senate President Steve Morris, for that matter. Lee’s replacement will be selected by the Democratic Party precinct committeemen and committeewomen in that senate district.
Saving is good. A letter in today’s Wichita Eagle holds this observation: “Rich people don’t spend money in hard times. Give them a tax break, and they will stash it away. That’s why they are rich.” This letter contains a misconception that news media mistakenly repeats over and over: that consumer spending is good and saving is bad. What happens to savings — the “stash it away” the letter writer refers to? Few people stuff cash in the mattress or in a safe. Instead, they do several things with they money they decide not to spend on immediate consumption, which is the definition of savings. If put it in a bank, the bank lends it to others who will spend it. If used to pay down debt, that frees up funds for others to spend. If used to buy stocks and bonds, that provides funds for business to invest. Importantly, these funds usually go into increasing the nation’s stock of capital. This capital spending is especially desirable, as it supports current economic activity — that is, the people and companies that work today to produce capital goods — but it sets up the country to produce even more wealth in the future.
KDOT seeks public comment on public involvement policy. This seems almost like circular reasoning, but the Kansas Department of Transportation seeks public comment on a document titled “Sharing the Future — Public Involvement in the Kansas Transportation System.” The document — all 113 pages — may be found on this page. Comments should be directed to Kansas Department of Transportation, Bureau of Public Involvement, 700 S.W. Harrison, Topeka, 66603-3754, (785) 296-3526, fax (785) 368-6664, or email@example.com.
Texas stimulus spending — not.Texas Watchdog takes a look at federal stimulus spending in Texas and finds some disturbing results. An example: “A closer look at spending by each agency shows wild differences in the amount of money spent and the number of jobs created. At least eight agencies have reported spending $500,000 or more for every job claimed. In the case of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, its $883,993 per job is an estimate because more than a year after it was awarded nearly $8 million for a statewide library broadband upgrade project, nothing has been spent and none of its projected nine employees have been hired.”
Adapt, don’t overreact to climate change.Bjorn Lomborg — The Skeptical Environmentalist — of the Copenhagen Consensus Centerargues in the pages of the Washington Post that mankind has shown that it can adapt to climate change. This record, he argues, means we should not panic about climate change. We can afford a long-term perspective: “… when it comes to dealing with the impact of climate change, we’ve compiled a pretty impressive track record. While this doesn’t mean we can afford to ignore climate change, it provides a powerful reason not to panic about it either.” He cites the example of the Netherlands: “Keeping Holland protected from any future sea-level rises for the next century will cost only about one-tenth of 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.” Concluding, he writes: “[adaption] will enable us to get by while we figure out the best way to address the root causes of man-made climate change. This may not seem like much, but at a time when fears of a supposedly imminent apocalypse threaten to swamp rational debate about climate policy, it’s worth noting that coping with climate change is something we know how to do. ”
Future of California.George Gilder, writing in the Wall Street Journal, lays out a grim future for California based on voters’ refusal to overturn AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act. Of the requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state, Gilder writes: “That’s a 30% drop followed by a mandated 80% overall drop by 2050. Together with a $500 billion public-pension overhang, the new energy cap dooms the state to bankruptcy.” He says that AB 32 may not be necessary at all: “The irony is that a century-long trend of advance in conventional ‘non-renewable’ energy — from wood to oil to natural gas and nuclear — has already wrought a roughly 60% drop in carbon emissions per watt. Thus the long-term California targets might well be achieved globally in the normal course of technological advance. The obvious next step is aggressive exploitation of the trillions of cubic feet of low-carbon natural gas discovered over the last two years, essentially ending the U.S. energy crisis.” … Referring to green energy radicals, Gilder writes: “Their economic model sees new wealth emerge from jobs dismantling the existing energy economy and replacing it with a medieval system of windmills and solar collectors. By this logic we could all get rich by razing the existing housing plant and replacing it with new-fangled tents.” Which reminds me of when I criticized those who promote wind power for its job creation: “After all, if we view our energy policy as a jobs creation program, why not build wind turbines and haul them to western Kansas without the use of machinery? Think of the jobs that would create.” An economic boom to those along the Santa Fe Trail, no doubt.
All the billionaires. An amusing commentary — amusing until you realize what it really means — by Scott Burns in the Austin American-Statesman takes a look at how long the wealth of America’s billionaires could fund the federal government deficit. The upshot is that there are about 400 billionaires, and their combined wealth could fund the deficit for about nine months. What’s sobering about this? All this wealth would go to fund only the deficit — that portion of federal spending above revenue for the year. There’s still all the base spending to pay for. And the wealth of these people, which in many cases is in the substance of the companies they founded or own — Microsoft, Oracle, Koch Industries, Wal-Mart, Google, etc. — would be gone.
Where are the airlines? James Fallows of The Atlantic regarding the new “groping” TSA screenings at airports. Echoing Wichitan John Todd from last week, one reader writes: “And again, where are the airlines? When TSA begins to drive away customers, they’ll react, is the stock answer. I would argue that it already does drive away customers (certainly if the emails I receive are any indication), but what of those it ‘merely’ makes angry? There’s something wrong with a business model that accepts angry and harassed customers as an acceptable option to no customers at all.” Wichitan Mike Smith writes in: “Tomorrow, the U.S. Senate is having a hearing regarding the TSA’s new procedures that I hope results in the procedures being rescinded. If your readers want to make last minute contact with Kansas Senators Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback (who is on the committee with TSA oversight), I urge them to do so.”
Next for the tea party.Patrick Ruffini in National Review looks at the future of the tea party. Ruffini notes the difficulty in maintaining the momentum of grassroots efforts. Both Bush and Obama have faced this. He cautions: “The experience should provide a cautionary tale to the Tea Partiers, with their more humble origins: Hitch yourself to established power institutions at your own peril.” But other, newer organizations have sprung up to help tea party activisits: “Ned Ryun, executive director of American Majority — one of the more promising new institutions that have risen up around the Tea Party movement — wants to ignore Washington and go local. ‘What the movement is really about, quite frankly, is the local leaders, and I’ve made a point with American Majority of going directly to them, and ignoring the so-called national leaders of the movement,’ he told me. ‘I think the national leaders are beside the point; if they go away, the movement still exists. If the local leaders go away, the movement dies.’” Kansas is one of the states that American Majority has been active in since its inception. American Majority plans to be involved at the local government level in the 2012 elections.
The new naysayers. President Obama and others have criticized Republicans for being the party of “No.” Now that some of the president’s deficit reduction commission recommendations are starting to be known, there’s a new party of “No.” Writes Ross Douthat in the New York Times: “But Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson performed a valuable public service nonetheless: the reaction to their proposals demonstrated that when it comes to addressing the long-term challenges facing this country, the Democrats, too, can play the Party of No.”
Community Improvement Districts spread to Overland Park.As reported in Kansas Reporter, Overland Park is considering whether to create its first Community Improvement District. In this case, the district — which allows merchants within to charge extra sales tax for their own benefit — would benefit a proposed residential and retail complex. More about these tax districts may be found here.
Political attacks on tap at Pachyderm. Wichita State University political science professor Mel Kahn will be the presenter at today’s (November 5) meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club. The always-interesting professor will speak on the topic “Do Political Attacks Help or Harm our Republic?” This seems like a timely topic given the recent general and primary elections. The public is welcome at Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.
Hold the celebration “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds, in fact, that 59% of Likely U.S. Voters think it is at least somewhat likely that most voters will be disappointed with Republicans in Congress before the next national elections. That includes 38% who say it is Very Likely.” More at Most Voters Think House GOP Likely To Disappoint By 2012. Is this evidence of a deeply-ingrained cynicism by American voters? I hope not — but I can’t blame people for thinking so.
We understand, that’s why we resist. The incredibly insightful George Will discusses in the Washington Post what he calls the “nationwide recoil against Barack Obama’s idea of unlimited government” and explains why progressives (the people who used to be called liberals) are so confused and unable to accept the political reality of the day: “The progressive agenda is actually legitimated by the incomprehension and anger it elicits: If the people do not resent and resist what is being done on their behalf, what is being done is not properly ambitious. If it is comprehensible to its intended beneficiaries, it is the work of insufficiently advanced thinkers.” I added the emphasis to make sure we grasp the essence of Will’s description of the progressive mindset: that we regular people are just not capable of understanding what is in our own best interests. That is the working belief of Obama and the progressives. As an aside, it’s amazing the the Post can have a columnist as good as Will and as corrupt as Dana Milbank at the same time.
Obama really doesn’t get it. In a preview of a 60 Minutes interview to be broadcast on Sunday, CBS News reports: “After a [sic] suffering a ‘shellacking’ in the midterm elections, President Obama acknowledges what many have seen as his chief weakness — failing to sell the importance of several legislative milestones to the American people. … ‘Making an argument that people can understand,’ Mr. Obama continued, ‘I think that we haven’t always been successful at that.’” In other words, it’s a marketing problem for Obama. Others have said the same. Recently Jonathan Alter wrote “It’s a sign of how poorly liberals market themselves and their ideas that the word ‘liberal’ is still in disrepute despite the election of the most genuinely liberal president that the political culture of this country will probably allow.” But I think that people understand perfectly well the liberal or progressive agenda — if not at a deeply intellectual level than by instinct — and I agree with George Will: “Is political power — are government commands and controls — superseding and suffocating the creativity of a market society’s spontaneous order? On Tuesday, a rational and alarmed American majority said ‘yes.’”
Kansas Senate after the election. The Kansas Senate, unlike the House, was not up for election this year, although there were two special elections. In one, the appointed incumbent was elected, and in another, a replacement for Jim Barnett was selected. While the composition of the Senate remains 31 Republicans and nine Democrats, not all the Republicans are conservatives. Quite a few — including the Senate leadership and two Wichita-area members — have voting records indistinguishable from many Democrats. A good guess at the number of conservative-voting senators is 17, short of a majority. Upcoming: There will be at least three new senators selected. In two cases — to replace Tim Huelskamp and Jeff Colyer — the likely replacements will be conservative, as are the two resigning members. In the third case, to replace majority leader Derek Schmidt, it is likely that the replacement will be more fiscally conservative, although Schmidt did vote against the big-spending budget and sales tax increase this year. With a conservative governor taking office and the House controlled by conservatives, might a few senators decide to adopt a more conservative view? Those left-leaning members who are looking to run for reelection in 2012 have a decision to make.
Kansas City Star on Parkinson’s pollution. The Kansas City Star laments outgoing Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson‘s decision to fire Kansas Department of Health and Environment chief Rod Bremby. The issue is Parkinson’s desire to get a coal-fired electricity plant in Kansas permitted before new rules come into effect. There are several problems with the Star’s editorial. First, cabinet secretaries like Bremby serve at the pleasure of the executive. If they don’t do what the boss wants, they’re gone. Second, the Star refers to the “tons of new pollution” that will “drift eastward across Kansas.” The editorialist should remember that Bremby denied the permit for the plant based on its carbon dioxide emissions, not for emissions of actual pollutants like sulfur dioxide. To the extent that carbon dioxide is harmful, it is because of its (alleged) impact on global warming, and that impact is disputed. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant in the sense that it is poisonous or harmful to those who breath it, as it is naturally abundant in the atmosphere. By the way, Bremby’s decision to deny the permit was entirely political, as he was apparently willing to approve a permit for an oil refinery that would emit 17 million tons of carbon a year, when he denied the power plant solely because of its emissions of 11 million tons. See Rod Bremby’s action drove away the refinery.
Poll: Republicans to win big.Wall Street Journal: “A vigorous post-Labor Day Democratic offensive has failed to diminish the resurgent Republicans’ lead among likely voters, leaving the GOP poised for major gains in congressional elections two weeks away, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Among likely voters, Republicans hold a 50% to 43% edge, up from a three-percentage-point lead a month ago. … ‘It’s hard to say Democrats are facing anything less than a category four hurricane,’ said Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster who conducts the Journal poll with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. ‘And it’s unlikely the Democratic House will be left standing.’”
Rasmussen: Health care, bailouts, stimulus not popular with voters. “A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that most Likely Voters think their representative in Congress does not deserve reelection if he or she voted for the national health care law, the auto bailouts or the $787-billion economic stimulus plan.” The complete story is here.
Downtown Wichita planning. The people of Wichita need to be wary about the planning for the revitalization of downtown Wichita developed by planning firm Goody Clancy. As Randal O’Toole explains in a passage from his book The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future, planning provides an opportunity for special interests to run over the will of the people: “When confronted with criticism about their plans, planners often point to their public involvement processes. ‘Hundreds of people came to our meetings and commented on our plans,’ they say. ‘So we must be doing something right.’ Wrong. Planning is inherently undemocratic. Efforts to involve the public mainly attract people who have a special interest in the outcome of the plans. … Planning processes are even less likely to attract the public than elections. Getting involved in planning requires a much greater commitment of time than simply voting, and the process is so nebulous that there is no assurance that planners will even listen to the public. … At the same time, some groups have a strong interest in getting involved in planning either for ideological reasons or because planning can enrich their businesses. The usual result when a few special interest get involved in a process ignored by everyone else is to develop a plan that accommodates the special interests at everyone else’s expense.” When we look at who is involved in the Wichita planning, we see these special interests hard at work.
Heartland policy blog launched.The Heartland Institute has launched Somewhat Reasonable, described as an “in-house” policy blog. In an announcement, HI says: “It is the place friends and fans of The Heartland Institute can keep up with the conversation about free markets, public policy and current events that takes place every day among our fellows and scholars. Heartland staffers don’t always agree, which is part of the fun of working at a libertarian think tank.” Heartland is continually at the forefront of research and advocacy for free markets and economic freedom.
Tea Parties and the Political Establishment.The Sam Adams Alliance has released a new report that examines the relationship between tea party activists and the political establishment. Its research shows “shows the two entities are united on issue priorities, but differ when it comes to their level of enthusiasm and the Tea Party movement’s ability to accomplish its political goals.” One finding is that the political establishment doesn’t have much confidence in tea party activists’ ability to achieve their goals: “… only about 7 percent of Establishment respondents said the Tea Party knows how to accomplish its goals, while about 41 percent of Tea Party activists surveyed say this is true.” But the establishment needs tea party activists: “42 percent of Establishment respondents said it was ‘very important’ that Tea Partiers work with them.” In conclusion, the study states: “The Tea Parties have knowingly or unknowingly begun to promote a distinctly separate understanding of the political landscape compared to the Establishment’s. The tensions between them illustrate the underlying differences in their conception of the current political environment, their willingness to embrace populist elements, selection of means and tactics, and their acceptance of new entrants into the political world. However they share many of the same issue priorities, indicating that there is opportunity for a closer and more amicable relationship between the two factions.” The full document is at Surface Tension: Tea Parties and the Political Establishment.
Chevrolet Volt. The Chevrolet Volt plug-in car is suffering a bit of dings in its green-glamour now that GM has revealed that it will use its gasoline motor more often than previously thought. But there are substantive reasons why this car should be scrutinized. Writes Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.: “Cars account for 9% of America’s CO2 output, making power plants a much more sensible target if your worry is global warming. Ironically, the Volt rolls out amid news that an investor is abandoning a big U.S. nuclear project, leaving America more dependent than ever on ‘dirty’ coal for its electricity. Storing electricity — which is what the Volt’s batteries do — is probably the least efficient thing you can do with the output of such plants. Then again, perhaps this explains the rapturous greeting the Volt is receiving from the utility industry. … The Volt’s defenders will shout that the Volt is a blow against terrorism and in favor of energy independence. Two answers: The Volt doesn’t need defenders if it’s a car that consumers want, and that GM can make and sell at a profit. But GM can’t. … The second answer is that even if every American drove a Volt, and every car in America was a Volt, it would not appreciably change the global challenges we face.” More at Volte-Face: GM’s new electric car depends on coal-belching power plants to charge its batteries. What’s the point?
It is also true that more environmental scientists say that global warming is a problem than not. But if you omit from your sample all of those environmental scientists who are on a government tab — salary or research grant — and those relatively few environmental scientists who are on the tab of an oil company or some other vested private industry, you are likely to have a much smaller ratio between those who agree versus those who disagree about global warming. If you are a professor at a state university and write a research paper showing that global warming is not a problem, how long do you think your government funding will remain?
In the case of the New York Times, a crusade against energy fits right in with its hatred of capitalism and the freedom that inexpensive energy gives to millions of Americans with modest incomes. If you’re the typical Times reader, you don’t have to worry much about the cost of energy. But for most Americans, the cost of energy is very important.
Inexpensive energy — which the Times opposes — is essential to our standard of living and its continued advancement. As economist George Reisman has written, we need to consider “the comparative valuation attached to retaining industrial civilization versus avoiding global warming.” This is a balance that global warming alarmists don’t consider. Or if they do, they come out against human progress in favor of something else.
The types of carbon emission controls and reductions advocated by the Times would lead to — in Reisman’s words again — “the end of further economic progress and the onset of economic retrogression.” Summing up, he writes: “Global warming is not a threat. But environmentalism’s response to it is.”
This is why we should be thankful that Charles and David Koch have been active in the global warming debate. Koch Industries‘ position on this issue is given on their website KochFacts.com:
A free society and the scientific method require an open, honest airing of all sides, not demonizing and silencing those with whom you disagree. We’ve strived to encourage an intellectually honest debate on the scientific basis for claims of harm from greenhouse gases. Because it’s crucial to understand whether proposed initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases will achieve desired environmental goals and what effects they would likely have on the global economy, we have tried to help highlight the facts of the potential effectiveness and costs of policies proposed.
Here’s an article full of important observations about the drive to produce more of our electricity from wind power. For example, promoters of wind (and solar) say we can use it to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But this article points out that only one percent of our electricity is generated from oil.
Another important observation has to do with the high cost of electricity generated by wind: “Along the way, yet another claim has been made: that wind energy is low cost. This is surprisingly bold considering that if that was really true, then why would any RES be necessary? For some reason all ‘calculations’ showing wind to be low cost conveniently ignore exorbitant subsidies, extra backup and balancing costs, additional transmission costs, etc.”
That’s a simple and brilliant observation: if electricity from wind is so cheap to produce, why do utilities have to be forced — and subsidized — to produce it?
Fifteen Bad Things with Windpower–and Three Reasons Why
By John Droz Jr.
Trying to pin down the arguments of wind promoters is a bit like trying to grab a greased balloon. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on it, it squirts away. Let’s take a quick highlight review of how things have evolved.
1 — Wind energy was abandoned well over a hundred years ago, as it was totally inconsistent with our burgeoning more modern needs of power, even in the late 1800s. When we throw the switch, we expect that the lights will go on — 100% of the time. It’s not possible for wind energy, by itself, to ever do this, which is one of the main reasons it was relegated to the dust bin of antiquated technologies (along with such other inadequate sources like horse power).
2 — Fast forward to several years ago. With politicians being convinced by lobbyists that Anthropological Global Warming (AGW) was an imminent threat, a campaign was begun to favor all things that would purportedly reduce CO2. Wind energy was thus resurrected, as its marketers pushed the fact that wind turbines did not produce CO2 in their generation of electricity.
Media only mind when donors are conservatives
By Richard W. Rahn
What is the most corrupting institution in society? Quite simply, it is government, because it controls and distributes more money to more people and institutions than any other single entity and it has the power to coerce and punish or reward that dwarfs what any private party might be capable of doing.
Now that we are in the midst of the political season, we are constantly being warned by the establishment media about the dangers of businesses donating to political candidates either directly or indirectly. In recent weeks, there have been at least two major hits in the New Yorker and New York magazine on businessmen Charles and David Koch and their roles in supporting candidates who oppose the policies of President Obama and the Democrats, as well as for supporting free-market think tanks and grass-roots organizations. Yet, at the same time, the articles note that the brothers have given far more to cultural institutions and events than they have to their political causes. Through factual errors, exaggerations and insinuations, the Koch brothers are portrayed as a great danger to the “progressives.” Ah, if only it were more true.
Overland Park: Monday, August 2 at 2 pm and 6:30 pm at Blue Valley Northwest High School, 135th and Switzer, Overland Park
Salina: Wednesday, August 4 at 2 pm and 6:30 pm at Highway Patrol Training Center Auditorium, 2025 East Iron, Salina.
Garden City: Thursday, August 5 at 2 pm and 6:30 pm at 801 Campus Drive, Garden City
Written comments may be submitted before August 15 by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or in writing to: KDHE Bureau of Air, Attn.: Sunflower Comments, 1000 S.W. Jackson, Suite 310, Topeka, KS 66612-1366 or presented at the hearing.
Last year’s disclosure of email correspondence between climate scientists was a wake-up call to the world. The emails showed leading climate scientists exhibiting “professional misconduct, data manipulation and jiggering of both the scientific literature and climatic data.”
Since then, there have been several reviews of this episode, each finding there was no untoward behavior by the scientists. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Patrick J. Michaels takes a look at these reviews and finds that their purported independence is not as advertised.
The Climategate Whitewash Continues
Global warming alarmists claim vindication after last year’s data manipulation scandal. Don’t believe the ‘independent’ reviews.
Last November there was a world-wide outcry when a trove of emails were released suggesting some of the world’s leading climate scientists engaged in professional misconduct, data manipulation and jiggering of both the scientific literature and climatic data to paint what scientist Keith Briffa called “a nice, tidy story” of climate history. The scandal became known as Climategate.
Now a supposedly independent review of the evidence says, in effect, “nothing to see here.” Last week “The Independent Climate Change E-mails Review,” commissioned and paid for by the University of East Anglia, exonerated the University of East Anglia. The review committee was chaired by Sir Muir Russell, former vice chancellor at the University of Glasgow.
This Friday (June 11) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Mike Smith, C.C.M. of WeatherData Services, Inc. as its guest presenter. His topic will be “An Atmospheric Scientist Looks at Global Warming.” I have seen this presentation, and it is very informative and should not be missed.
This special presentation will end at 1:15 pm instead of the usual 1:00 pm ending time.
All are welcome to attend Wichita Pachyderm Club meetings. The program costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch including salad, soup, two main dishes, and ice tea and coffee. The meeting starts at noon, although it’s recommended to arrive fifteen minutes early to get your lunch before the program starts.
The Wichita Petroleum Club is on the ninth floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway (north side of Douglas between Topeka and Broadway) in Wichita, Kansas (click for a map and directions). You may park in the garage (enter west side of Broadway between Douglas and First Streets) and use the sky walk to enter the Bank of America building. The Petroleum Club will stamp your parking ticket and the fee will be only $1.00. Or, there is usually some metered and free street parking nearby.
Climate change — its reality (or not) and man’s response to it — is an important topic and deserves serious discussion. The actions of one of the most prominent and vocal groups promoting a radical global warming agenda, however, aren’t fostering greater understanding of the issue, much less an informed debate.
As people become aware of the shaky foundation of the climate science promoted by groups like Greenpeace, we can expect more attacks like this recent report. Groups that promote an extremist view of climate science as does Greenpeace need to deflect attention from the facts. Personal attacks are one way to accomplish this.
Another example of this deflection using personal attacks, and one that does nothing to advance debate or discussion, came from Greenpeace yesterday. Greenpeace has labeled Charles and David Koch “climate criminals,” and has produced a video of an “investigator” sniffing around New York City trying to find David Koch. While productions like this can be amusing or funny — although this attempt fails in both regards — it does succeed in deflecting attention from the really important issues and facts.
Deflecting attention is one thing. Presenting false information is another matter, and far more serious. The video ends with an enactment of a crime scene of a dead polar bear, implying that man-made global warming is killing polar bears. The reality is just the opposite.
If Greenpeace was interested in facts rather than scoring quick and easy points through character assassination, it might note that Koch Industries has a good, and improving, environmental record. The Koch and the Environment page tells of Koch Industries’ commitment to the environment, and lists awards the company has received.
At Reason.com, the underwhelming nature of the report’s revelations is noted: “The Greenpeace noise machine managed to persuade the Guardian to publish a ‘shocking’ article detailing the amazing fact that donors tend to support groups that advocate points of view with which they generally agree.”
The article also notes the tremendous amount of money given to causes purported to support environmental issues: “In 1999, individuals, companies and foundations gave an average of $9.6 million a day to environmental groups.”
To place that number in context, Greenpeace is creating an issue over Koch donations of $25 million given over three years.
A Scientific American article contains a statement from Cato Institute (an organization that receives Koch funding) founder and President Edward Crane that shows how Greenpeace is deflecting attention from the real issue:
“I’m concerned that Greenpeace appears to be more interested in our funding sources than in the accuracy of the research that is being funded,” he added. “Climategate (not to mention peer-reviewed publications) would vindicate that accuracy.”
Curiously, that article finds it necessary to use apologetic quotation marks when mentioning the term “free market,” as though this concept is something readers of that publication may not have been exposed to, or may not believe exists.
In the article Greenpeace Report : Koch brothers and Exxon deserve medals at Mens News Daily, we see that we ought to be offering thanks: “If Charles and David Koch and ExxonMobil are playing even a fraction of the part in public education as Greenpeace claims, then we owe them our thanks.”
In Global Warming: Who’s funding the fight?, Environmental Policy Examiner notes the Koch’s long-time support for free markets and institutions that support economic freedom: “The Greenpeace story doesn’t mention how long Koch (and Exxon, for that matter) have been funding organizations like this. That’s because their funding predates any controversy about global warming.”
Greenpeace calls the Manhattan Institute a “climate denialist” organization because they hosted Bjorn Lomborg twice in the last two years. So they are sliming Koch Industries for providing some funding to the Manhattan Institute, whose “climate crime” is hosting Bjorn Lomborg. They say Lomborg “challenges and attacks policy measures to address climate change.” …
Greenpeace appears to have lost its collective mind. Lomborg is not a denialist. He understands climate change and anthropogenic contributions to it. He supports actions to alleviate it. He just doesn’t agree with Greenpeace on specific policies. His real sin, in the eyes of Greenpeace, is that he wants us to remember the other problems facing this planet, such as poverty and disease. But it is absolutely straight jacket insane to call him a “denialist.”
This week’s release of a report by the extremist environmental group Greenpeace on Wichita-based Koch Industries contains claims that exaggerate the nature of the information contained in the report. These over-hyped “findings” are used to advance Greenpeace’s global warming alarmist agenda, but should give us cause to examine Greenpeace and its agenda.
The title of the report — “Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine” is the first exhibit. The peculiar use of the term “climate denial” — used in the report’s title and repeated many times in the report — makes it look as though the organizations named in the report deny the existence of climate itself, which is, of course, nonsense. Even the term “climate science denial,” which is also used, is misleading. We’ve seen in recent years the shaky foundation on which modern climate science rests — at least the science cited by environmental extremists and global warming alarmists like Greenpeace.
The accusatory language used in the report and its accompanying promotional materials — “secretly funding,” “quietly funneled,” “expose the connections,” — is misleading in two ways. First, it accuses Koch Industries and Koch Family Foundations of attempting to hide connections to the organizations named in the report. But these connections are not hidden. Instead, they are widely known.
For example, David Koch’s biography on the Koch Industries website notes that he serves on the board of directors of the Cato Institute, and that he is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation. The role of Charles Koch in the founding of the Cato Institute is widely known as a matter of history and is mentioned in documents on Cato’s website.
Second — and here’s where Greenpeace really exaggerates — the information the Greenpeace report characterizes as “uncovered” can be found by reading IRS form 990 documents. These are freely available at several locations such as Guidestar. They show how charitable foundations spend money, including contributions made to the organizations named in the Greenpeace report.
It’s not just the Greenpeace report itself that is way over-the-top in its sensationalism. Personal attacks are used too, as when a Greenpeace blog writes about the Kochs: “They are the dons of a massive climate crime family.” This type of demonization doesn’t help advance debate.
Then there’s the report’s accusation that a conservative “echo chamber” exists to spread misinformation about climate change — as though such things don’t exist among left-wing organizations like Greenpeace itself.
We must first recognize that the claims made in the Greenpeace report about climate science are far from settled, and that many scientists disagree with Greenpeace’s views. Many would say the report itself is full of misinformation about the state of climate science. For example, Greenpeace claims that the “ClimateGate” emails from last November casts no doubt on the scientific consensus regarding climate change.
As to charges of an echo chamber, the accompanying material to the report encourages the very type of “echoing” that the report denounces. It suggests a hashtag (a method of categorizing or tagging communications) to use on Twitter, for example. And it encourages linking the word “Koch” to the report: “Put up as many links as you can, everywhere and anywhere you can put up links. Help us make sure that when someone Googles ‘Koch,’ the top search result will be our report.”
This blatant push by Greenpeace to create the appearance of interest in the report is ironic when we realize the report accuses groups like Americans for Prosperity of “Astroturfing” — the alleged effort to create a false impression of grass roots interest in an issue or cause.
We have to wonder what Greenpeace is trying to accomplish with this report. The exaggerated claims of uncovering previously “hidden” information, the insistence that only Greenpeace’s radical global warming agenda is correct and everyone else is wrong, the character assassination of Charles and David Koch — all this should lead us to seriously question the credibility of Greenpeace.
Wichita’s Koch Industries has come under attack from an environmental extremist organization for its support of open debate and dialog about the science of climate change.
A report issued by Greenpeace uses inflammatory language and a one-sided view of the facts surrounding climate change in order to attack those it disagrees with. This comes at a time when scientists and the public are becoming increasingly skeptical of the claims of extremist organizations like Greenpeace — and with good reason, too.
Revelations such as the emails from the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, for example, have peeled back the veneer and revealed extremists who have more than the pure pursuit of science as their agenda. This Greenpeace report is another example.
As an example of the way the report presents facts in an attempt to make its case, here is the report’s criticism of one public policy foundation that received Koch funding: “… [it] has hosted Bjorn Lomborg twice in the last two years. Lomborg is a prominent media spokesperson who challenges and attacks policy measures to address climate change.”
There are those who have broken free from groups like Greenpeace, and the remarks of one give us insight into the true nature of these groups. Patrick Moore, who at one time was President of Greenpeace Foundation in Canada, has said this on the environmental extremists’ need to continually invent disasters: “At the beginning, the environmental movement had reason to say that the end of the world is nigh, but most of the really serious problems have been dealt with. Now it’s almost as though the environmental movement has to invent doom and gloom scenarios.”
Moore shows that he totally understands the harm of radical environmental groups like Greenpeace: “The environmental movement has evolved into the strongest force there is for preventing development in the developing countries. I think it’s legitimate for me to call them anti-human.”
This reveals the true anti-human, anti-progress agenda of environmental extremist groups like Greenpeace. They deny the tremendous progress and benefit to humans that industrialization — propelled by capitalism wherever it is allowed to thrive — has produced. They don’t want to let the debate and discussion proceed.
Koch Industries has provided this response to the Greenpeace report:
In a consistent, principled effort for more than 50 years — long before climate change was a key policy issue — Koch companies and Koch foundations have worked to advance economic freedom and market-based policy solutions to challenges faced by society. These efforts are about creating more opportunity and prosperity for all, as it’s a historical fact that economic freedom best fosters innovation, environmental protection and improved quality of life in a society.
The Greenpeace report mischaracterizes these efforts and distorts the environmental record of our companies. Koch companies have long supported science-based inquiry and dialogue about climate change and proposed responses to it. Koch companies have put tremendous effort into discovering and adopting innovative practices that reduce energy use and emissions in the manufacture and distribution of our products.
We believe the political response to climate issues should be based on sound science. Both a free society and the scientific method require an open and honest airing of all sides, not demonizing and silencing those with whom you disagree. We’ve strived to encourage an intellectually honest debate on the scientific basis for claims of harm from greenhouse gases. We have tried to help bring out the facts of the potential effectiveness and costs of policies proposed to deal with climate, as it’s crucial to understand whether proposed initiatives to reduce greenhouse gases will achieve desired environmental goals and what effects they would likely have on the global economy.
From 12 noon to 2:30 pm on Wednesday, February 3, 2010 , a forum will be conducted in the Craig Community Auditorium (GEB 233) regarding the controversial issue of Global Warming/Climate Change and the impact the outcome of this debate could have on future energy policy, legislation and costs. The same forum will be repeated again from 6:30 to 9:00 pm in GEB 233. The featured speaker will be Dennis Hedke who is a Partner in the firm Hedke-Saenger Geoscience, Ltd., based in Wichita, KS. He is engaged in consulting assignments both nationally and internationally. He has long been involved in research related to the earth’s climate, and the efficient delivery of energy. His research encompasses a broad range of issues across the geopolitical spectrum. Following his introductory comments, there will be a viewing of the documentary “Not Evil, Just Wrong” which addresses the numerous inaccuracies and misrepresentations contained in Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”. One of the Producers of the documentary, Ann McElhinney, will be available as part of a panel to take questions after the viewing. Mr. Hedke, radio talk show host Chris Stigall and members of an environmental group with an opposing point of view will also be on the panel. For questions, contact Jerry Magliano at 913-530-1761.
The Great American Forum hosts another event: “Come hear our panelists discuss the failed policies of the first year of the Obama Administration, and common-sense solutions to fixing our country! The topics will be: Homeland Security & Defense (Ben Sauceda), Cap & Trade (Rick Macias), Healthcare (Kenya Cox), and Economics (Brandon Rudkin). There will be a question and answer period.”
Thursday, January 21, 2010 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, at Rhatigan Student Center Room 215 at Wichita State University.
Writing about the hacked emails, Rigging a Climate ‘Consensus’ states: “The real issue is what the messages say about the way the much-ballyhooed scientific consensus on global warming was arrived at, and how a single view of warming and its causes is being enforced. The impression left by the correspondence among Messrs. Mann and Jones and others is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.”
In The Climate Change Climate Change: “Steve Fielding recently asked the Obama administration to reassure him on the science of man-made global warming. When the administration proved unhelpful, Mr. Fielding decided to vote against climate-change legislation. If you haven’t heard of this politician, it’s because he’s a member of the Australian Senate. As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to pass a climate-change bill, the Australian Parliament is preparing to kill its own country’s carbon-emissions scheme. Why? A growing number of Australian politicians, scientists and citizens once again doubt the science of human-caused global warming”
In Don’t Count on ‘Countless’ Green Jobs: “If the green-jobs claim sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. There’s an unavoidable problem with renewable-energy technologies: From an economic standpoint, they’re big losers. Renewables simply cannot produce the large volumes of useful, reliable energy that our economy needs at attractive prices, which is exactly why government subsidizes them.”
In An Inconvenient Democracy: “With cap and trade blown apart in the Senate, the White House has chosen to impose taxes and regulation across the entire economy under clean-air laws that were written decades ago and were never meant to apply to carbon. With this doomsday machine activated, Mr. Obama hopes to accomplish what persuasion and debate among his own party manifestly cannot. This reckless ‘endangerment finding’ is a political ultimatum: The many Democrats wary of levelling huge new costs on their constituents must surrender, or else the EPA’s carbon police will inflict even worse consequences.”
(Kansas Liberty) “The Environmental Protection Agency issued a ruling today in which it determined that greenhouses gasses, such as carbon dioxide, are harmful to public health. … Derrick Sontag, Americans for Prosperity-Kansas state director, said he disagreed with Jackson’s statement that business leaders had requested additional government regulation of their carbon emissions.”
(Kansas Liberty) “World leaders and climate experts commenced their environmental discussion at the Copenhagen climate conference today, leaving global warming skeptics to wonder whether the recent ‘Climategate’ scandal would be acknowledged during the significant meeting.”
(Kansas Liberty) Do Kansas school spending advocates consider all sources of funding when discussing school spending? “Stephen Iliff, a member of the 2010 Commission, which studies education issues in Kansas, said that during his time as a commissioner, he has noticed that school officials, school lobbyists and the mainstream media generally only cite the amount of aid schools receive from the state, while leaving out federal and local funding sources.”
(Kansas Reporter) “Kansas State Board of Education member Walt Chappell, who last month was formally reprimanded by board chairwoman Janet Waugh for comments he made in a TV interview, claimed today that Waugh and other board members are trying to stifle his First Amendment rights to speak freely.”
(Kansas Watchdog) “KSBOE member Walt Chappell questions the validity of a reprimand he received from Board Chair Janet Waugh. The reprimand chastised Chappell for speaking about education issues outside of Board meetings and not being in agreement with other board members. Chappell pointed out that other Board members who speak out but agree with the Board have not been reprimanded.”
(Kansas Watchdog) “In Sunday’s online edition of the Wichita Eagle an opinion piece by Rhonda Holman attempts to address statements by KSBOE member Walt Chappel and reporting by Kansas Policy Institute on school funding. The article barely scratched the surface.”
(Kansas Watchdog) “In a 3-2 vote the Sedgwick County Commission has asked the state Legislature for voter approval before any future property tax increases that raise the mill levy. The request is part of the county’s annual legislative platform or wish list. The platform specifically requests: ‘Tax Equity — Part 2. All local sales tax increases must be approved by voters under Kansas law. All property tax increases that raise the mill levy should also be required to receive voter approval.’”
(Kansas Watchdog) “State Senator Julia Lynn (R-Olathe) grilled SRS Secretary Don Jordan at the second day of recent hearings on children’s issue about contracting irregularities in his agency. Lynn questioned Jordan’s decision in Oct 2008 to send an extra $712,000 to Community Living Opportunities in Lenexa, after Kansas Democratic Party Chair, Larry Gates, who was a CLO board member, acted as a “private citizen” in requesting additional funding.”
(State of the State, Kansas) “This week we look at the possibilities for making Kansas energy efficient. With the first cold blast over the last couple weeks, winter is here and heating bills will jump.”
(Kansas Health Institute) “New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the percentage of Kansans without health insurance remained relatively steady in 2007-2008 at 12.4 percent. However, the percentage of Kansas children without coverage increased to 9.6 percent from 7.8 percent in 2006-2007. This KHI Fact Sheet provides a summary of the most recent data on the uninsured in Kansas.”
Wichita Geophysicist Dennis Hedke has compiled a great deal of useful information that he uses in making presentations on the science, economics, and politics of climate change and global warming alarmism.
Now he’s compiled his material and made it available on his new website HeadOnIssues.org.
Hedke says in the site’s introductory message to readers: “Most, if not virtually all of the data presented comes from very high quality outside sources. I have simply accessed it and in some cases ‘interpreted’ it, though much of it is self-explanatory. … And, yes this is a ‘poltical’ website. There has never been a time like the present to be involved in the political process, and I hope you will take the time and effort to become engaged, avoiding apathy.”
The global warming debate is at a crossroads. With a skeptical American public already rising up against a cap-and-trade scheme that would send energy prices through the roof, a whistleblower at the influential Climate Research Unit revealing that the temperature data used to make the case for global warming was badly manipulated, predictions of yet another cold winter, and the fact it has been nearly a decade since global temperatures stopped rising.
India and China have suggested they might agree to increase their emissions at a slightly slower rate, but that’s it, and would still put the U.S. at a huge competitive disadvantage. Developing countries in the Third World are willing to get on board, but only if they get staggering wealth transfers from U.S. taxpayers.
In the face of all this, President Obama is expected to stop by the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen — on the way home from picking up his Noble Peace Prize in Norway — to commit the United States to a path of emissions reductions that will, in his own words, cause energy prices to “necessarily skyrocket,” as if nothing had changed at all and global warming remained the world’s most pressing problem.
The world is starting to come to grips with the limits of the American president’s rhetoric, but Obama has yet to face this reality. During his goodwill tour of Asia last month, Obama stood with Chinese President Hu Jintao and promised to “rally the world” toward a binding global agreement on global warming — a Kyoto II — in Copenhagen.
Obama followed up his Chinese appearance by announcing he would attend the conference in person. He plans to tell the world America is “politically committed” to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050. Those happen to be the reduction levels in the cap-and-trade bill passed by the House, but surely the president knows from his brief stint in Congress that he can’t commit the country to doing such a thing without a vote in the Senate.
The more the American people learn about cap-and-trade — and what it will mean for their jobs, communities and family budgets — the less they like it. Here in Kansas, according to a study by the National Association of Manufacturers, it would mean the price of gasoline would increase 24 percent, electricity by 64 percent, and natural gas by 77 percent. We would stand to lose twenty-nine thousand Kansas jobs by 2030.
Obama, it seems, is more interested in pleasing adoring crowds in Europe than blocking a policy that would slam Kansans with huge costs. But these huge price impacts create problems abroad, too. Australia’s Senate rejected cap-and-trade last week. China and India can accept some efficiency measures, but certainly cannot risk disrupting economic growth. It looks increasingly clear that the most likely result from Copenhagen will be a lot of sweeping rhetoric about progress, a commitment to meet again next year in Mexico City, and no agreement of any substance.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t lessen the anger for the American people because the Obama administration is doing more than making promises abroad. They are actually taking active steps to circumvent the Senate and implement policies that outsource our economic future the United Nations. Under the direction of White House Climate Czar Carol Browner, the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to unleash on onslaught of greenhouse gas regulations through a twisted interpretation of the 1970 Clean Air Act, leaning on the United Nations climate reports that depend, in turn, on the now-discredited temperature data from the Climate Research Unit.
Americans for Prosperity will be there in Copenhagen to tell the real story of what is at stake: our country’s economic future, and whether this administration will get away with outsourcing it to bureaucrats at the United Nations and so-called scientists who are willing to obfuscate and manipulate. We can’t afford to lose this fight.
Phil Kerpen is director of policy and Derrick Sontag is Kansas state director for Americans for Prosperity, a national grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility and accountability. On the web at www.AmericansforProsperity.org.
Individual liberty, limited government, economic freedom, and free markets in Wichita and Kansas