Monday, July 30, 2012

Observations From the Back Row

We must stop thinking of the individual and start thinking about what is best for society -
Hillary Clinton as first lady.

I hope I don't have to explain the irony of that! RK

On an otherwise pleasant morning, ACSH staffers’ blood began to boil after reading the latest anti-chemical screed in the Huffington Post, which included such fear-mongering claims as this: “Ninety-nine percent of pregnant American women carry multiple manmade chemicals in their bodies, sharing that concoction through the umbilical cord.”   The latest assault on chemicals preceded yesterday’s Environment and Public Works Committee's vote on the Safe Chemicals Act, which if passed, would replace the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. First introduced in 2005 by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the Safe Chemicals Act would require that manufacturers must first prove a chemical is safe before it’s approved for use. As the law currently stands, the EPA must demonstrate that a chemical already in use poses substantial health risks before it can be phased out…… As  ACSH;s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan aptly points out, “such legislation has no basis in reality, as anti-chemical hysteria is largely a psychological problem rooted in paranoia and politics, not science. Simply stated, the Safe Chemical Act would protect us from risks that don’t exist.”

In yesterday’s Dispatch, we considered the potential harms of the Safe Chemicals Act. If passed, it would replace the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976 and would require that manufacturers must first prove a chemical is safe before it’s approved for use.  Our discussion of this type of regulation led one of our readers to contrast it to our previous coverage of the dietary supplement industry. Here’s what Steve Curtis of Nellson Nutraceutical, LLC had to say:

Fearing tainted meat, China's women's volleyball team has stuck to a strict vegetarian diet for the last three weeks, which the team's coach is now blaming for his athletes' abysmal performance.  The Chinese team lost four of five matches at a world tournament that ended Sunday in Ningbo, China, falling to the United States, Brazil, Turkey and Thailand. While Brazil and the US are powerhouses in women's volleyball, Turkey and Thailand didn't even qualify for the 2008 Olympics, where China won bronze.  “They have showed significant decline in their strength and fitness” coach Yu Juemin said of his squad after Sunday's defeat to the US. “We are wary of meat tainted by lean-meat powder, and we didn't eat any during the game period,” Yu told the Shanghai Daily newspaper.

By Jennifer Marohasy
THERE is no doubt that many people are susceptible to the repetition of a single message. No matter how stupid the message, if enough people say it often enough, a large percentage of those who hear it will begin to believe it. That’s the basis of advertising and also propaganda: it’s how you make ideas fashionable, even scientific ideas. But just because an idea is fashionable doesn’t make it right and just because an idea is right, well it doesn’t mean it represents the truth  Fashion is in fact the lowest form of ideology and I have little regard for fashionable ideas – even fashionable scientific ideas. I also have little regard for what many claim to be good and wholesome ideas. My interest is in the facts, the evidence – the truth particularly as it pertains to the natural world.

By Katherine Timpf

When most people talk about President Obama's influence on America, they mention reforming health care, repealing "don't ask, don't tell" or ending the war in Iraq.  But a nearly unknown executive order could have a greater impact on the future of America than all of those things combined, potentially giving the federal government power to control every project in the country.  The obscure memorandum of understanding, based on a long-forgotten executive order signed by President Clinton in 1994, marries the issues of environmentalism and social justice. The federal government can use the laws from one to control the other.  Seventeen federal agencies signed the Aug. 4, 2011, memorandum — a clear indication of its widespread implications. By signing it, “Each Federal agency agrees to the framework, procedures, and responsibilities” of integrating environmental justice into all of its “programs, policies, and activities.”

Something called the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) enjoys de facto authority over government green building standards. Many would be surprised, however, to learn that it is not a government agency.

Rather, the USGBC is a non-profit environmental advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that sets the standards for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. For those unfamiliar, LEED is the dominant certification program used for measuring building sustainability and energy efficiency.

Technically, LEED is a voluntary program. But because a reported 400 U.S. cities and localities, 39 states and virtually the entire federal government currently require builders to meet LEED standards, USGBC effectively operates as a taxpayer-subsidized monopoly – one whose standards increasingly seem driven by ideology and influence rather than sound science and economic common sense.

For evidence of that, look no further than LEED v4, the USGBC’s proposed fourth generation changes to its green building standards……The era of the taxpayer-supported USGBC monopoly must end.

A quarterly magazine called Skeptic published a cover story a few weeks back by Donald Prothero titled “How We Know Global Warming is Real and Human-Caused.” That struck us here at The Heartland Institute as rather strange.  Our work for years has been skeptical of the idea that human activity is causing catastrophic climate change, which is the conventional wisdom of the mainstream media. And we have two immense volumes of peer-reviewed literature and the videos of many conferences to prove it.  So if the very name of your magazine is Skeptic, shouldn’t readers expect you to carefully examine the spoon-fed doctrines of the likes of Al Gore, Michael Mann, the UN’s IPCC, etc., and be … well … skeptical of “doctrine” — especially in light of the Climategate scandal? Alas, no.

At a London fundraiser last night, Mitt Romney said,

“The EPA has an important responsibility, and that is to keep clean and make more clean our air and our water. I happen to think that the decision by the Supreme Court and by the administration to have the EPA also regulate the emissions of carbon dioxide was beyond the intent of the original legislation. My view is that the EPA, if it keeps to its mission and does not use its power to foster or further an anti-carbon energy agenda, would be a more effective department…” [Emphasis added] [h/t Politico, for the quote]
While Romney is spot on about the overreach of Massachusetts v. EPA, it’s also true that U.S. air is clean and safe. No one is being harmed by ambient air quality anywhere in the U.S.

In light of recent comments by NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen – stating that climate change is a moral imperative on par with slavery – climate change is, once again, front and center. Immediately, environmental alarmists and reactionary extremists on both sides of the political spectrum started pointing fingers and raising voices.  While the climate debate certainly has merit and must be studied (scientifically, not politically, of course), climate change is not the crux of this overarching environmental issue. The real issue is can government actually provide the solution?
Answering this question requires only a brief look at government’s track record of fixing problems and protecting things.

·         A Broken History of Environmental Protection
·         Protecting infinity and Beyond
·         Do Viable Market Alternatives Exist?
·         Markets Always Win

The perpetually growing state is synonymous with endlessly eroding freedom and, every year, government shovels more and more responsibility into its bloated craw. At the same time, it fails the most basic obligations. Fortunately, politicians and bureaucrats, convinced they know all the answers, are consistently proven wrong by the laws of economics. As F.A. Hayek eloquently states in The Fatal Conceit, "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design." Or protect.

Another green company backed by an Obama bundler just bit the dust. After announcing earlier this year that the company would lay off 200 of its 300 employees, solar manufacturer Amonix Inc. closed its operation in North Las Vegas leaving taxpayers in the red by $20 million.

“Just seven months after California-based solar power company Amonix Inc. opened its largest manufacturing plant, in North Las Vegas,” reports the Las Vegas Sun, a liberal paper, last January, “the company’s contractor has laid off nearly two-thirds of its workforce. Flextronics Industrial, the Singapore solar panel manufacturer that partnered with Amonix to staff the new $18 million, 214,000-square-foot plant, laid off about 200 of its 300-plus employees Tuesday.” 

My Take - I guess it was Romney’s fault that all those jobs ended up in Singapore?  No?  Okay, then who sent them there?  Clearly it must have been Romney’s fault those workers lost their jobs there and here?  No?  Okay….then whose fault was it? Most importantly…who decided to “invest” in this company?  Surely it must have been Romney!  No?  Well then who in the world could have been so stupid as to spend that kind of money on a plan that was so stupid that it failed in seven months? Oh…this was a government investment called a subsidy promoted by…..Oh Nooooo….say it ain’t so Joe… just couldn’t have been ‘The One’! Could it?  Of course not…. after all his wide business experience as a community organizer how could he have made such a mistake?  RK

When President Obama goes off prompter, he usually tells truth … at least the “truth” as he sees it. Obama’s quote above not only reminds me of Karl Marx, the father of socialism and communism, moreover, his arrogant, anti-business, anti-capitalism screed reminds me of the words of Thomas Jefferson who wisely said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have.” Perhaps that’s why so many Marxists and socialists professors and liberal teachers are rewriting and revising history today, because they don’t want the voting public to be knowledgeable about the truth of history, politics and economics. Why? Hitler’s minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, supposedly said: “Truth is the enemy of the State.” ……..  Pick any grand, utopian, liberal, humanist, progressive, or socialist policy over the past 112 years – Theodore Roosevelt’s “Square Deal,” Woodrow Wilson’s “Statolatry” (state worship), FDR’s “New Deal” and welfare-state policies of the 1930s and ’40s, Truman’s “Fair Deal,” LBJ’s “Great Society,” Nixon’s EPA, Carter’s Department of Education, Clinton’s failed attempt at universal health care, or President Obama’s neo-socialist, Keynesian policies contained in Obamacare today. In other words, these progressive presidents followed Mussolini’s famous fascist slogan of 1923 – Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State…… Western Marxists like Obama exploit the trappings natural to democracy to contrive getting elected and then mercilessly exploit the reins of political power…. institute a torrent of radical reforms, regulations and legislation, thus propelling society inevitably into a welfare state, socialism and, if feasible, toward communism.

A rural Oregon man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail and over $1,500 in fines because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater.
Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Ore., says he plans to appeal his conviction in Jackson County (Ore.) Circuit Court on nine misdemeanor charges under a 1925 law for having what state water managers called “three illegal reservoirs” on his property – and for filling the reservoirs with rainwater and snow runoff.  “The government is bullying,” Harrington told in an interview Thursday.  “They’ve just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies. So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we’ll prevail,” he said.

One of my pet peeves is the conservative who lectures us on the “limits” of markets and looks with a self-satisfied and condescending shake of the head upon the stupid rubes he must endure who persist in supporting the market all the same. Why, haven’t these dopes read Wilhelm Roepke, whose views are to be considered definitive?  In this unfortunate post, we get the usual laments about what “capitalism” has done to the public. If only banking had stayed local we wouldn’t have had all these problems, etc.  Absent as always from these critiques is any discussion of the Federal Reserve, the elephant in the living room, which is a friend neither of localism nor the free market. Likewise absent is any acknowledgment that to call the banking system of today a “free market” is at best an expression of one’s sense of humor. As I’ve noted elsewhere, the current system is rather far from the Misesian ideal; it includes:

What the Federal Reserve System can do and what it will do are two different things.
The Federal Reserve System can monetize anything. It can create digital money and buy any asset it chooses to buy. There are no legal restrictions on what it is allowed to monetize. If it were to do this, and it continued to do this, the dollar would fall to zero value. This would produce hyperinflation. The result would be the destruction of all dollar-based creditors. Debtors could pay off their loans with the sale of an egg or a pack of cigarettes. This is what farmers did in 1923 in Germany and Austria.
The economists who advise the Federal Reserve System know this. The bankers who run the banks that own the shares of the 12 regional FED banks know this. Bernanke knows this. The day will come when the decision-makers on the Federal Open Market Committee will have to fish or cut bait. They will have to decide: mass inflation (20%) or hyperinflation (QEx). They will have to decide: recession or hyperinflation.

Today, FarmEcon LLC released RFS, Fuel and Food Prices, and the Need for Statutory Flexibility, a study of ethanol’s impact on food and fuel prices. FarmEcon prepared the study for the American Meat Institute, California Dairies Inc., Milk Producers Council, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, and National Turkey Federation.  The study argues that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), commonly known as the ethanol mandate, is detrimental to both non-ethanol industry corn users and food and fuel consumers. The program should therefore be reformed. The RFS has “destabilized corn and ethanol prices by offering an almost risk-free demand volume guaranty to the corn-based ethanol industry.” Consequently, food producers who use corn as a feedstock “have been forced to bear a disproportionate share of market and price risk” when corn yields fall and prices rise. This has become painfully obvious in recent weeks as drought conditions in the Midwest depress yields and push corn prices to record highs.


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