Monday, November 30, 2020

Video of the Day: Massive Evidence of Voter Fraud in Pennsylvania

Student Loan Forgiveness = Redistribution from the Poor to the Rich

Dan Mitchell November 22, 2020 @ International Liberty

There’s a lot of speculation that we’re in the midst of a political realignment, with Democrats becoming the party of the rich and the Republicans becoming the party of the working class.

 

I don’t pretend to know whether this realignment is happening or what form it will take, but there is plenty of evidence that Democrats are focusing on policies that disproportionately benefit those with high incomes.

And those policies often are at the expense of ordinary people, which is an especially repugnant form of redistribution.

Their efforts to restore the state-and-local tax deduction are an obvious example, but they also favor other tax breaks that are utilized overwhelmingly by rich people.

They also favor big subsidies for higher education, which mostly benefit kids from well-to-do families (and well-paid college bureaucrats).

And now they want to provide another windfall for the college crowd.

Jonah Goldberg opines on this perverse form of redistribution in a column for the New York Post.

 

…a coalition of 236 progressive groups led by teachers unions called on Biden to cancel student debt on his first days in office. Biden himself has already urged Congress to cancel $10,000 as part of a pandemic relief package. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have called for even greater debt forgiveness. Sanders’ plan would cost an estimated $1.6 trillion dollars. …Most Americans, especially most poor Americans, don’t have student debt, because most didn’t go to college in the first place. Moreover, most people who did go to college have no or very little student debt. …only 6 percent of borrowers owe more than $100,000. Virtually all of them borrowed so much because they attended graduate school. …do they deserve help more than truck drivers, mechanics or short-order cooks? One reason teachers unions — a huge source of donations and political organizing for the Democratic Party — want loan forgiveness is that teachers and administrators can boost their pay by going back to school to get advanced degrees. Other municipal and federal workers — another major constituency for Democrats — have similar rules. Using the pandemic as an excuse to reward workers who are far less likely to lose their jobs and more likely to find new employment if they do, seems awfully self-serving.

Writing last year for the Washington Examiner, Brad Polumbo argues for the principle of individual responsibility.

 

College is way too expensive, but nonetheless, most young people who are buried in student loans or struggling to pay off their debt only have themselves to blame. The average student is now graduating with $30,000 in debt…the median monthly payment is just $222. If you can’t afford that, as a college graduate, it’s probably your own fault. …If you chose to major in gender studies, French, or anything similarly impractical, it’s your own fault that you’re stuck with a lower starting salary and might struggle to make payments. That’s unfortunate, but it’s no justification for shirking your responsibility to pay back what you owe or asking taxpayers to bear the burden of your mistakes. …people who find themselves buried in hundreds of thousands in student loan debt have their own decisions to blame. …They chose expensive dream schools… To bail them out at taxpayer expense is to punish people who made responsible decisions and encourage recklessness from future generations. …to the millions of borrowers who’ve made terrible decisions, don’t ask for a bailout — it’s your own damn fault.

Some of you may be thinking that Polumbo’s argument made sense last year, but we’re now struggling with coronavirus-caused economic turmoil and perhaps debt forgiveness would help the economy.

But that’s not the case according to the number crunchers at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. They show that loan forgiveness isn’t “stimulus” even if one uses discredited Keynesian analysis.

 

…loan forgiveness…is the not the equivalent of sending $1.5 trillion of cash to households. …because borrowers often pay back their loans over 10, 15, or even 30 years, debt cancellation will increase their available cash by only a fraction of the total loan forgiveness. …Not only would loan cancellation provide relatively little spendable cash to households, but the cash it does offer would be poorly targeted from a stimulus perspective. …The majority of those most affected by the current economic crisis likely have little or no student debt. Over 70 percent of current unemployed workers do not have a bachelor’s degree, including 43 percent who did not attend college at all. …Indeed, about two-fifths of all student debt is held by households with graduate degrees. 

So if loan forgiveness isn’t the answer, are there any desirable policies?

Mike Riggs, writing for Reason, explains we need less government rather than more government.

 

…subsidies have…driven up the cost of education at a rate multiple times higher than inflation. …The most libertarian policy preference in my view is two-pronged: get the federal government out of the lending and guaranteeing game, and make student loan debt reasonably dischargeable in bankruptcy. These two policies would realign the incentives of colleges, lenders, and students to bring down prices and saddle fewer potential students with loans they are unlikely to repay.

Amen.

I don’t like loan forgiveness, but I do sympathize with many indebted students because when Uncle Sam started dispensing grants and loans, colleges and universities responded with dramatic tuition increases and then used the money to create fat, waste, and inefficiency.

Let’s end this column with some satire.

First, the geniuses at Babylon Bee produced this gem, which could be based on Jonah Goldberg’s column.

 

One local plumbing contractor, Sam Caughorn, is really looking forward to paying the tab on his neighbor’s $89,000 gender studies degree. …According to studies, there are millions of white girls working at coffee shops across the country while struggling under the crushing student debt they acquired by irresponsibly obtaining college degrees that gave them no marketable job skills. Benevolent politicians have proposed transferring all the wealth from trade workers and minority business owners to help indebted white girls with their student loans so they can still afford their daily latte and cat food expenses. Local gender studies major Amber White is looking forward to having all her debt forgiven, thanks in part to the contributions of plumbers like Sam Caughorn. …According to sources, Sam Caughorn owns a successful business he started right after high school. He also has 5 kids, a nice house, and serves as a deacon at his church. “I guess I can spare some change for poor disadvantaged girls like Amber,” he said. 

Second, here’s a cartoon that could be based on the column I cited from Brad Polumbo.

P.S. The way federal intervention has screwed up higher education is very similar to the way federal intervention has also made the health sector expensive and inefficient.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sidney Powell and the Moment of Truth

Articles, Election 2020, Liberty Rewind, Politics, Social Issues

The Legacy Media on both sides of the aisle finds itself in a sea of turmoil. The world has become politically black and white, and journalistic seafarers appear willing to (let their reputations) die on their chosen big wave. But there is a single bright element of gray in this picture that has the potential to upset any smooth sailing: Sidney Powell.

Powell has been on a reputational roller coaster ride since election night, one moment being hailed as a freedom fighter, the next being ridiculed by media of all stripes. Yet one thing remains constant – her conviction that she has the goods.

A Media Attack

CNN recently ran a hit piece accusing her of being a high priestess for the QAnon conspiracy group, writing of her recent press conference alongside Rudy Giuliani that she:

“… claimed, with no evidence, a mass Democratic Party conspiracy to cheat in the election coupled with foreign interference by the ghost of Hugo Chavez, and mentions of China and George Soros thrown in for good measure.”

And put so succinctly, it appears a convincing metaphorical evisceration. However, whether Powell is ultimately vindicated in court or not, her accusations do have some substance that should not be so easily dismissed.

The ties between Chavez, Venezuela, and the Smartmatic voting systems are extremely well-documented, not least of which by The New York Times, who reported in 2006 that:

“a Venezuelan government financing agency invested more than $200,000 into a smaller technology company, owned by some of the same people as Smartmatic, that joined with Smartmatic as a minor partner in the bid.

In return, the government agency was given a 28 percent stake in the smaller company and a seat on its board, which was occupied by a senior government official who had previously advised Mr. Chávez on elections technology.”

Electronic Voting Questions

And as to whether the electronic voting systems could be cheated, it is worth listening to the words of  Smartmatic Director Antonio Mugica, who gave a press conference in 2017 admitting that an estimated one million phantom votes were created through fraud.

He stressed that the only way made possible was because “there were no auditors from the opposition parties” watching what was happening. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Powell might base her accusations on the multiple reports of Republican poll watchers being excluded from the counts.

Reputational Damage

Sidney Powell has worked in the Department of Justice for ten years under nine United States Attorneys from both political parties, in three federal districts. Until this most recent foray, she was highly-respected. With her accusations and statements on the election 2020 case, she has put her entire career and legacy on the line with only one hope of salvaging her reputation: to be proved right in a court of law.

She is center-stage in the battle for the White House, and regardless of what either her supporters or detractors might say, she has earned the right to be heard and to set out her case.

Read more from Mark Angelides.

Cops Refuse to be the Thanksgiving Police

Daniel Greenfield November 28, 2020 @ Sultan Knish Blog

 After failing to deal with months of violent riots in Portland, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that she instead wants the police to go after families celebrating Thanksgiving.

When asked whether Oregonians should call the police on their neighbors if they have more than 6 people in their homes for Thanksgiving, she replied, “This is no different than what happens if there's a party down the street... they call law enforcement."

Except law enforcement has no interest in replying.

The Marion County Sheriff’s office, whose jurisdiction includes the state capital, declined, stating, "We cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic."

When Governor Cuomo of New York, whose order forcing nursing homes to accept infected coronavirus patients may have killed as many as 11,000 senior citizens, tried to enlist law enforcement in his crackdown on Thanksgiving, the sheriffs of New York also wouldn’t do it.

The Steuben County Sheriff's Office assured that "the men and women of the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office will not be peeking in your window or attempting to enter your property to count the number of persons at your table on Thanksgiving."

"I can't see how devoting our resources to counting cars in our citizens' driveways or investigating how much turkey or dressing they've purchased is for the public good,” the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office objected.

“This national holiday has created longstanding family traditions that are at the heart of America, and these traditions should not be stopped or interrupted by Governor Cuomo’s mandates,” the Erie County Sheriff's Office declared.

"With regard to the Thanksgiving Executive Order, the Fulton County Sheriff's Office will NOT be enforcing it," another office stated, "So don't feel a need to hide cars, cover with leaves or walk 3 blocks so your house doesn't become a target of the Governors EO."

Democrats and their media have blamed this rebellion on Republican sheriffs in conservative areas, but Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr is a black Democrat and his office still opted out of the "enforcement of Thanksgiving gatherings".

While Governor Cuomo fumed that this Irish Democracy was, "frightening to democracy", a Buffalo print shop began selling stickers of Cuomo's giant head peering into windows.

Next door in New Jersey, Governor Murphy threatened to be, “as all over it as we can be."

Then he was caught on a viral video dining out with his family. Meanwhile, the Howell Township police chief stated, “I wasn’t going to have my police officers going knocking on doors and ruining somebody’s holiday just to check how many people are inside their house.”

The law enforcement rebellion wasn’t new in California. It had been going on for some time.

After Governor Newsom issued his latest curfew, the sheriffs of Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, Sacramento County, Tulare County, Fresno County, El Dorado County, and others announced that they would not be enforcing it with either tickets or arrests.

And no one would be tampering with Thanksgiving.

"The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office will not be determining—including entering any home or business—compliance with, or enforcing compliance of, any health or emergency orders related to curfews, staying at home, Thanksgiving or other social gatherings," the Sacramento County Sheriff stated. “We will not dispatch officers for these purposes."

“From the very beginning, we have not enforced these orders. We are not going to make criminals out of normally law-abiding citizens," Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said.

In Ohio, some sheriffs were willing to be the Thanksgiving police, while others weren’t.

"It's not knocking on people's doors on Thanksgiving and saying, 'You've had more than eight or 10 people,' and it's not to make criminals out of everyday working people," Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said.

The law enforcement uprisings in New York, California, Oregon, and Ohio are part of a larger trend with local police departments indicating that they don’t want to be the mask police.

A study in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Online found that only 10% of police departments surveyed were acting as the mask police while 70% encouraged following the rules. This attitude by law enforcement forced some of the biggest cities in the country to bypass the police and utilize other means of enforcing their lockdowns and arbitrary decrees.

In Los Angeles, violators were threatened with having their water and power shut off. In New York City, a legion of city inspectors were pulled away from other duties to swarm Orthodox Jewish areas in Brooklyn after Governor Cuomo announced a crackdown on religious Jews.

The use of inspectors rather than police has become a widespread and illegal tactic for targeting small businesses, but has reached its limit as most businesses can’t survive if they close down.

The early months in the pandemic saw a boom in surveillance technologies, including drone flybys and infrared remote scans, but most police departments didn’t want anything to do with them.

A small number of police departments adopted the drones and made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Not only did most people hate them, but they also proved to be useless. Police departments that tried using the drones to break up large gatherings found that people wouldn’t listen. And the surveillance capabilities of the drones had been vastly overhyped.

As the Black Lives Matter riots broke out, police departments shifted away from coronavirus enforcement to cope with the violence and avoid being caught up in viral videos. It was around this time that the increased crime rate brought on by the riots and the mass jailbreak of prison inmates to protect them from the virus tied up the resources of underfunded departments.

Coronavirus enforcement, something most departments and officers didn’t want to do anyway, was the first casualty of the new dangerous environment brought on by the BLM riots.

Law enforcement had only been able to commit the spare resources to coronavirus enforcement because of a drop in crime rates early in the lockdowns, but once crime rates soared and cities and counties hit highs that hadn’t been seen in decades or generations, all of that ended. The budget cuts brought on by the collapse of small businesses and police defunding also left local law enforcement without enough resources to even answer calls, let alone play mask police.

And most law enforcement personnel are resentful of having been hung out to dry, robbed of resources and political support by Democrat governors and mayors, and then told to enforce widely unpopular shutdowns and mask fines by those same politicians.

Democrat politicians can’t defund the police and expect them to shut down Thanksgiving.

“It’s ironic on the heel of these cries to 'defund the police' and limit their response to what some perceive as non-emergency calls that the police department is now being asked to police family gatherings during the holiday season,” the president of Akron’s police union objected.

Not all law enforcement personnel have opted out of coronavirus enforcement. Elected sheriffs have the easiest time shrugging crackdowns away. Urban police chiefs appointed by mayors can’t put out dismissive press releases as easily, but they have made it a very low priority.

The struggle to enforce coronavirus lockdowns and codes without much support from police departments is a sign of just how challenging the post-police vision of the Democrats will be.

Democrats have turned to inspectors to fine small businesses and pull their licenses, but the inspectors are running into angry small business owners and patriotic crowds.

The Anne Arundel County Health Department was forced to cancel evening enforcement and daytime enforcement in rowdier bars. It also had to stop sending female inspectors. After Democrat Milwaukee health inspectors faced a backlash for harassing a pro-Trump rally, they no longer go anywhere without a police escort. That defeats the purpose of police defunding.

The bigger purpose of police defunding is to fundamentally shift enforcement priorities from fighting crime to pursuing social agendas, and while police departments dutifully rack up hate crime citations and participate in community policing events, their mission hasn’t changed.

The coronavirus lockdowns succeeded in dividing the country and destroying small businesses on an unprecedented scale, but they failed to turn America into East Germany. Instead the fault lines of the pandemic revealed that much of the country would not go along with the crackdown.

And the men and women of law enforcement, for the most part, did the right thing.

Even in difficult times, that ought to give us hope for the future of our country. And this Thanksgiving, it is another thing about this great nation to be thankful for.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.  
 
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About Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield is a journalist investigating Islamic terrorism and the Left. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center

Should the United Nations Decide that Low Taxes Are a Violation of Human Rights?

November 28, 2020 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty  

Professor James Buchanan won a Nobel Prize for developing the theory of “public choice,” which looks at how politicians, bureaucrats, and voters seek to maximize their self interest, generally in ways that lead to an ever-expanding burden of government.

 

Some people wonder why Buchanan’s analysis was prize-worthy when the unseemly nature of government has long been understood (as illustrated by the quote from Thomas Jefferson).

But it was a revelation for most academic economists, who – when they did policy analysis – naively assumed that people in government were motivated only by a desire to improve society.

I’m starting today’s column with this bit of background because I want to remind people that government has a natural tendency to expand. Often in an economically suicidal fashion, as we see from nations such as Greece and Venezuela.

I

 Indeed, that’s the reason for my theorem on “Goldfish Government.”

But awful policy doesn’t have to be the outcome. The final part of the theorem says that bad results can be averted if there’s some sort of external constraint on rapacious government.

In the United States, our Founders gave us a Constitution that was explicitly designed to constrain the power of government. And it worked, at least up until FDR’s Supreme Court decided to put ideology above the law.

Tax competition” is another constraint on government greed. This is the premise that the “stationary bandit” of government won’t tax and spend as much when politicians know that people and businesses can move across borders to escape bad policy.

And tax competition works. In recent decades, politicians have faced pressure to lower tax rates. Even for groups that they normally target, such as corporations and upper-income taxpayers.

Needless to say, politicians don’t like this development. Interest groups don’t like this development. International bureaucracies don’t like this development. And folks on the left don’t like this development.

Indeed, the non-profit groups on the left are vociferous opponents of tax competition, precisely because they understand it is a threat to their agenda.

I’ve previously written about the dodgy work of Oxfam. Today, let’s look at the agenda of Christian Aid (they obviously believe in Socialist Jesus rather than Libertarian Jesus).

Sorley McCaughey is with the Irish branch of that organization and he argues in the Irish Times that low taxes are a violation of human rights, as defined by the United Nations.

I’m not joking. Here are some excerpts from his column.

…the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. …Ratified by Ireland and more than 120 countries, signatory states are bound by the obligations within the treaty and compliance is assessed by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child every five years. In a landmark decision earlier this month, the committee confirmed that their current review of Ireland will, for the first time, consider the country’s role in facilitating tax avoidance and whether it undermines the ability of developing countries to raise revenue and guarantee the rights of children. …The decision…has the potential to change the way tax competition between countries is assessed. …Justice demands a reorientation of tax policy that puts principles of international cooperation, equality and human rights – including those of children – at its core.

As you might expect, there are plenty of people in the United Nations who also are pushing an anti-tax competition agenda.  And it’s been going on for a while. Here are some excerpts from a 2016 story.

A United Nations human rights expert has urged the…UN secretary-general to make the elimination of tax havens a priority to ensure that corporations, billionaires and ‘kleptocrats’ pay their fair share of taxes. …American law professor Alfred de Zayas also urged Antonio Guterres…to call a world conference on phasing out the offshore havens. …De Zayas urged the General Assembly to draft a convention to outlaw tax havens worldwide.

And here are passages from another report that year.

Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, and two members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, Obiora Okafor and Jean Ziegler, stressed the importance of establishing a UN body designated specifically to target and eliminate tax heaven secrecy. …countries lose hundreds of billions of dollars every year…funds that could and should be used to fund public services such as health care, schools, housing, social security… “States must set uniform minimum taxation floors, to prevent individuals and business entities from shopping for the lowest possible tax rates,” experts stated.

The following year, in 2017, I took part in a meeting of the U.N.’s so-called Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, as well as the Special Meeting of ECOSOC on International Cooperation in Tax Matters.

At the risk of understatement, it was an eye-opening experience as participant after participant discussed ways of extracting more money from the productive sector of the economy (very similar to what I observed when participating in conferences at the U.N. in 2012 and 2019).

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DRm7MOUX4AAXK1f.jpg

And I’ve written over the years about various U.N. proposals for global taxes on financial transactions, energy, wealth, tobacco, air travel, and the Internet.

All of these proposals are based on the flawed theory that bigger government can promote development. And all of the proposals also are hypocritical since U.N. bureaucrats, like their counterparts at other international bureaucracies, are exempt from tax.

Maybe the moral of the story is that we should tighten belts at the United Nations rather than allow the bureaucrats to push policies that tighten the belts of people who actually pay taxes?

P.S. James Buchanan was the target of a despicable smear by a taxpayer-funded academic hack.

P.P.S. If it’s even possible, the work the United Nations does on poverty is even worse than its work on taxation.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

How Environmentalism Has Kept Communism Alive – Part One

 By November 27th, 2020 @ America Out Loud

It is time to face reality: communism is back. It has reappeared nearly everywhere under the guise of radical environmentalism. This abhorrent cult puts nature well above mankind primarily for the purpose of controlling if not subjugating us all in the name of protecting nature, ecosystems, or ‘Gaia.’ Take your pick; either way it’s about preservation, not conservation. Resource development, therefore, becomes tantamount to high crime in the eyes of radical environmentalists.

In an outstanding new book from The Epoch Times news outlet titled “How the Spector of Communism Is Ruling Our World,” the authors state:

“communist elements have commandeered much of the environmental movement to advance their own political agendas. Communism’s infiltration of environmentalism has been underway virtually since the beginning of the environmental movement”. 

An interesting data point was when former President of the Soviet Union, previously General Secretary of the USSR’s Communist Party, Mikhail Gorbachev, launched the new environmental organization Green Cross International.

The Epoch Times’ book’s most lucid and penetrating statement, which we hope we can learn to recognize, is: 

“Communism must create or use an enemy that threatens all of humankind and intimidates the public around the world into handing over both individual liberty and state sovereignty. Creating global panic about looming environmental and ecological disasters is a route toward achieving its goal.” 

Read this again and think for a moment. You will notice how closely radical environmentalists follow this exact approach today.

In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels declared that capitalism was an enemy of the environment and perhaps were the first to use the term ‘ecosystem.’ Marx lined up his followers to rail against those who could be accused of despoiling the environment. After Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik Party launched their 1917 coup in Russia, they dictated that all land, forests, water, minerals, animals, and plant resources become the property of the state. This was done to prevent the public from using them without state authorization.

In the 1960s, popular radical books such as Silent Spring and The Population Bomb tried to convince readers that all pesticides should be outlawed and population growth should be controlled by the government. These books contributed to the establishment of the first Earth Day in 1970, followed by the United Nations Conference on The Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. Soon there was the formation of an alphabet soup of environmental groups stridently demonstrating and propagandizing the damage mankind was supposedly doing to our blue planet.

Before that decade was over, we in the U.S. were addressing our real problems with the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that launched seven pieces of sensible legislation to protect our surface and groundwater and properly handle waste disposal from our mines and agriculture. But the EPA strayed from rational policy formulation after 1980 and little useful legislation was ever passed again. From then on, only stringent rules were created to impede economic progress at great cost with no benefit to the environment or human health. 

The true beginning of the current socialist/communist surge began in 1988 when the World Meteorological Society and the United Nations Environment Program created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

It was at this point that the idea of man-caused global warming surfaced as the most important mechanism to defeat capitalism by requiring a one-world government to take the reins of saving the Earth from extinction.

Two years later as the Soviet Union was crumbling, Gorbachev addressed an international conference on the environment in Moscow, where he called for the establishment of an international monitoring system and a covenant to protect unique environmental zones. A majority of the world’s environmentalists accepted his charge. It was the beginning of rule by propaganda and the end of sound policy and scientific research in matters of the environment, with global warming leading the charge. When warming stopped around the turn of the century, radical environmentalists cleverly change the fear to ‘climate change,’ knowing full well that, since the climate is always changing, their crusade would always have its boogieman. 

In 1998, an article titled Green Cross: Gorbachev’s Enviro-Communism, by the late Natalie Grant Wraga who grew up in the Soviet Union said:

“Protection of the environment has become the principal tool for an attack against the West and all it stands for. Protection of the environment may be used as a pretext to adopt a series of measures designed to undermine the industrial base of developed nations. It may also serve to introduce malaise by lowering their standard of living and implanting communist values.”

In Marx and Engle’s manifesto, the authors resolved to:

“build a movement that can replace capitalism with a society in which common ownership of the means of production replaces capitalist ownership, and in which the preservation and restoration of ecosystems will be a fundamental part of all human activity.”

But Marx predicted that capitalism would eventually fail all by itself. It has yet to do so, and thus communist-minded radical environmentalists have had to keep up the war against private business with a battle cry of ecological collapse. This was based on the prevalent but somewhat spurious theory of the relationship between living things and their environment. Indeed, eco-socialism is not now simply a branch of socialism; it is what socialism has become today.

In Part two of this series, we will detail the massive damage the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has wrought upon the world.

 

About the Author:

 
Dr. Jay Lehr is Senior Policy Analyst with the International Climate Science Coalition and former Science Director of The Heartland Institute. He is an internationally renowned scientist, author and speaker who has testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government, as well as many foreign countries. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he went on to receive the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona. He later became executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers. Tom Harris is Executive Director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute. He has 40 years experience as a mechanical engineer/project manager, science and technology communications professional, technical trainer and S&T advisor to a former Opposition Senior Environment Critic in Canada’s Parliament.

Big Government Enables Big Corruption

November 24, 2020 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty

Most readers care about economic developments and economic comparisons involving the United States.

https://i0.wp.com/freedomandprosperity.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Aug-27-19-Just-Facts-Chart.jpg

Some readers also care about what’s happening in other major nations, such as China, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom.  Relatively few readers, by contrast, care about economic developments in nations with comparatively small economic footprints, such as Peru. That’s understandable, but I want to cite Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s recent column in the Wall Street Journal because she focuses attention on the very important – and very unsavory – relationship between big government and corruption.

Her column is about political turmoil in Peru, but what she writes applies everywhere in the world.

…it’s hard to see how an electorate that so often votes for populism at the polls can extricate itself from the grasp of crooked politicians. The hard left’s solution, which is to rewrite the 1993 constitution and give the state a larger role in the economy, would make things worse. …Peruvians are frustrated. They have been told that by voting they can secure an honest government. But elected officials repeatedly turn out to be self-interested and corrupt. …Yet as fast as they throw the bums out and bring in new ones, more scandals arise. At the core of this dysfunction is a state with vast powers to redistribute wealth. …Even voters who say they want less corruption may find that change conflicts with their self-interest. The siren song of populism draws them to politicians who can hand out plenty of government jobs and other goodies in a world of weak institutional checks.

Amen.

I made the same point, for instance, in this 2009 video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. And I was focusing on the United States.  Simply stated, when politicians have more power over the allocation of a nation’s resources, the greater their incentive to abuse that power.  To be sure, it’s not a linear relationship.

A country’s political culture also matters. Some nation’s have developed very low levels of tolerance for corruption, so there’s not a strong relationship between corruption and the size of government.  As you can see from Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, the Nordic nations are among the countries that are especially good in this regard.

But nation’s from the developing world, including the perennial bottom-dweller Venezuela, tend to get poor scores. The moral of the story is that it’s especially important to limit government (and therefore limit opportunities for corruption) in countries that don’t have high scores. I’m including this data because Peru, unfortunately, is in the bottom half of nations.

Not a terrible score when compared to Venezuela, but weak compared to Chile.  That being said, I want to close with a dose of optimism about Peru.

Today’s final visual is a chart showing how economic freedom in the country dramatically increased starting in the mid-1980s when the “Washington Consensus” was ascendant. And, just as Prof. William Easterly found in his research, this eventually kick-started much better economic performance.

P.S. It is worrisome that Peruvian economic policy stopped improving beginning about 2005. And based on Ms. O’Grady’s column, it seems unlikely that policy will get better in the near future.

P.P.S. Chile remains (at least for now) the big economic success story of Latin America, though Panama deserves a bit of attention as well.


Holiday Travel 2020

November 30, 2020 By Michael D. Shaw @ HealthNewsDigest

With Thanksgiving now behind us in this annus horribilis of 2020, let’s examine how the rest of the holiday travel season will shape up. Travel is down compared to last year, but is higher than many observers expected. The AAA had forecast a ten percent overall decline in Thanksgiving travel compared with last year, the largest year-on-year drop since the recession of 2008. But the change is far smaller, around 4.3 percent, for those traveling by car, who make up a huge majority of those who plan to travel—roughly 47.8 million people.

Air travel was projected to drop by about one-half, compared to last holiday season. Still, if you compare this to the rest of the pandemic, the volume—as reflected by TSA security checks for the weekend preceding Thanksgiving—is the highest since mid-March. Notably, the airlines have touted studies showing that the onboard environment is quite safe, owing to enhanced air filtration, rigorous cleaning procedures, and mask-wearing.

A friend in her late 50s who traveled recently (before the Thanksgiving season) told me that she was impressed with the care taken by the airlines. She remarked that the oddest thing was just being in proximity with so many people, after having not done this for months.

Predictions for Christmas travel will be difficult, in that people are—to say the least—conflicted. The CDC says “Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.” The agency also offers many recommendations on how to make gatherings safer.

We should inject some perspective here. A bad flu season can produce upwards of 80,000 deaths. Most of these deaths are confined to older individuals with comorbidities, and people who are immunocompromised. Flu death figures are surely more reliable than those for COVID-19.

After all, the Guidance for Certifying Deaths Due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) doesn’t even require a COVID test for that cause of death to be indicated. Moreover, hospitals and health systems are eligible to receive higher payments for complex COVID-19-related treatment under the CARES Act.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 seems to spread more easily than flu and causes more serious illnesses in some people. It can also take longer before people show symptoms and people can be contagious for longer. And, there is no vaccine (yet) for COVID-19.

Let’s face it though, we do not like for our activities and freedom to be restricted, so many folks are quietly (or not so quietly) rebelling. Millions have noticed that “two weeks to flatten the curve” has morphed into a seemingly boundless array of rules, with no definable endpoint. The coming vaccine is one thing, but it will be months after that before everyone who wants it will have received it. And, there’s the conflict: Freedom and “security,” or at least the promise of being more secure.

Perhaps that’s why I’m seeing so many new faces at my parish, apparently known in the area for its less restrictive and more commonsense policies. Jennifer Roback Morse, PhD, President of the Ruth Institute, wryly observed that Thanksgiving regulations mark too many as rulers, not leaders. She also noted that totalitarians have always feared the family, since it can stand on its own. Morse reminds us that there is plenty of collateral damage associated with lockdowns and restrictions.

Columnist Eddie Scarry tells us why he traveled for Thanksgiving, and is not sorry. Chances are, after considering all the factors, you may decide to travel during the rest of this holiday season.

Which brings us to the Travel Safety Kit Collection from Refreshed Traveler. The kits feature carbon filter face masks, hand sanitizer, tissues, antibacterial wet wipes, and more, all in a TSA compliant clear bag. Just what you need to get to your next destination healthy and refreshed—especially in the era of COVID-19.

Founder and CEO Peter T. Cook told me that “Refreshed Traveler has been a pioneer in creating the world’s best safety and wellness kits since 2018, and SARS-CoV-2 has, of course, changed everything. Our passion is to keep you healthy on the go. Please try our products on your next trip.”

 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Being Thankful for the Left

Daniel Greenfield November 26, 2020 @ Sultan Knish Blog 

 When we celebrate Thanksgiving, after being thankful for family and friends, for health and comfort, for food and shelter; we shouldn't forget to be thankful for the left.There is no light without darkness and without evil, the good often fails to find their own voice. It is in the presence of slavery that we remember the worth of freedom. Men and nations are forged in war; not only the war of shell and shot, but the war of ideas. War teaches us to fight for what we have. Wars of ideas teach us to stand up for what we believe.

It is because conservatives are basically hopeful and confident that we are also prone to extremes of despair. Too many us were shocked at the decline of our society because of our great confidence in it. The faith that conservatives have in America makes them vulnerable to being crushed by the latest victory of the left. 

I have seen far too much despair and defeatism, too many comments that suggest there is no hope for America and the only thing left to do is pour a glass of wine and watch the sun go down. But those comments testify to how sheltered Americans are from the struggles against tyranny around the world.

Eight years of Obama is bad, but try sixty-nine years of Communism on for size. That's what generations of Russians had to live through. Ask some of the conservative activists in Europe who have never had any of the freedoms that we still take for granted whether they've given up hope. Ask people from countries where criticism of Islam can mean death, whether they've given up hope.

There are countless tales of courage over the last century of men and women who did not stop fighting, who did not stop teaching their children so that they would not stop resisting. And those stories have not ended. They continue today in Europe, Asia and South America. And those people would envy the conditions under which we fight, where we can protest without being shot or sent to prison, where we can have a shot at winning elections if we try hard enough.

Where we are, compared to 100 percent of the rest of the world, still free.

We face a hard fight, not only for our freedom, but the freedom of the world. The international left has made America its special project. It knows that if it can extinguish the hope of liberty in this land then it will drive the rest of those who hope for freedom across the ocean deeper into despair. And it wants your despair. It wants you to give up so that the rest of the world gives up too and bows under its chains.

And yet this fight is a glorious one. This fight is our birthright. And we should be thankful for the fight.

It would be more pleasant if there were no Obama or Biden. If Alinsky had never been born and Marx had never been whelped. It would be nice if we lived in a world where red was just a color and the Democratic Party was a rural movement suspicious of the Federal government and dreaming of an agrarian utopia. But then so would never having to work for a living or getting up out of bed.

Life is challenge and we face all kinds of different challenges. We get up early out of bed in the morning and drive to work. We rise in the middle of the night when the baby cries and we go to the hospital when our loved ones need us there. We do dreary things and terrible things that seem so different from the life we imagined as children. And we do them not only because they are duty, but because these challenges, the daily ones and the once in a lifetime ones, make us who we are.

Besides these prosaic challenges, the daily routines and the occasional tragedies, there are uncommon challenges that we face when the foe comes to our gate and demands that we bow and become slaves. This is the challenge that we face as a society, a nation and a people. It demands more of us and it ennobles us. It makes us a great people and a great nation, rather than only another people who seek to live in comfort with no thought for anything else.

Good emerges in response to evil. We need our enemies to remind us of who we are and what we can do when our backs are against the wall. We need evil to remind us of the good that we are capable of. As a whetstone sharpens a sword, so evil sharpens us into a weapon against it. It makes us morally stronger and teaches us the stark truths that we cannot take refuge from evil; we must confront it.

If there were no left, would there be nearly as much patriotism among true Americans as there is now? And if there were no left, how many of us would really contemplate the core principles of freedom and free enterprise? If there were no left, how many of us would ponder what we truly believe and what compromises we are willing and unwilling to make? If there were no left, would we be the same people that we are today?

For those of us who believe in the Bible, the Lord created both darkness and light. And if it were not for the darkness, would the light be nearly as precious to us? Imagine a world without sunrise or sunset, where the sight of rays of light clearing away the darkness would have no meaning? And then remember that things are treasured to the extent that they can be taken away from us.

Would we value freedom as much if we did not have to defend it? Would we hold it as dear if we did not fear that it would be taken away? Would we even be aware of what freedom is and what a free people must be if not for the dark hand of those who wish to strip us of those freedoms?

It is the left's opposition that has added urgency to a hundred issues, from the national debt to the War on Terror to freedom of speech and of religion. It has made us think about those issues, to take them out of the back of our minds and hold them up to the light as a reminder of how important they are and what must be done about them.

The left's corruptions remind us of the need for purification. As it gathers the worst of all around it, we find ourselves called to be better than we are. As the left works to doom our country, and as we suffer defeat after defeat, these defeats only serve to remind us that we must be better, that we must do more, learn more and become more in order to save our country.

War is the great teacher and this is a political war, short on bodies and heavy on minds, it is a war in which casualties are not taken in the chest or the arm, but in the mind, in reason and emotion, and against these weaknesses, we can and will prevail.

As we fight the left, we become stronger, more dedicated and more purposeful. We become the men and women that we were meant to be.

As you sit around your tables, thinking of all that you have gained and lost this year, remember and be thankful for the left, for though the winter ice gives way to the summer sun and bitter defeat gives way to sweet victory, it is defeat and hardship that teaches better than comfort and ease. We can learn more from our defeats than we ever could from our victories. Our defeats teach us endurance and fortitude, they teach us that defeat can be borne and that its sting can be turned into the weapon that unseats the foe. And our foes make us who we are.

Their evil teaches us to find the good within ourselves. Their strength teaches us to find our own strength. And their plots against what we have teach us how many treasures we have, not least of these being the full value of our freedom and our happiness that they wish to take from us.

Their war on America is teaching us to be better Americans. It may not feel that way right now, but we are privileged to have this opportunity and this fight.  

We should be thankful for the left, its assaults on us are teaching us how to fight and its plots against our freedom are teaching us how to be free.

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About Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield is a journalist investigating Islamic terrorism and the Left. He is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Fr

 

Happy Thanksgiving from America’s Hypocritical Politicians

November 26, 2020 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty 

I’m going to break tradition.  Normally, I use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to explain how the Pilgrims almost starved to death because they initially used a socialist system for farming, but then began to prosper once the colony shifted to a property rights-based approach (the same thing happened at the Jamestown settlement in Virginia as well).

If you want to learn about the failure of socialism in the early 1600s, watch this video from Reason, or these videos from John Stossel and Prager University.

Today’s topic, though, is about Thanksgiving hypocrisy by the political elite.

In his column for the Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley excoriates do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do politicians.

…politicians have always believed that they deserve special treatment, that the ordinary rules don’t apply to them. They have pushed for limits on school choice for the poor while sending their own children to private schools. They have advocated for gun control and defunding the police while being protected by armed security guards. …there could be as many as 50 million Thanksgiving travelers this year, only 10% less than in 2019. This is a form of mass civil disobedience like nothing the country has seen since the 1960s. Some of it is born of Covid fatigue, to be sure. But the endless parade of politicians flouting their own rules surely has also played a role. It began shortly after the spring lockdowns and if anything has become more commonplace, even farcical. …

There’s a widespread assumption among liberal elites that the rest of us are incapable of calculating risks and taking necessary precautions to ride out the pandemic, and it’s insulting. …

The decision of so many millions of Americans to buck public-health warnings, trust their common sense, and spend Thanksgiving with loved ones is a welcome indication that people may be tiring of all this condescension.

Meanwhile, NBC News reports on the two-faced actions of Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver.

Denver’s mayor is explaining himself and offering an apology after he traveled to Mississippi for Thanksgiving, though he had urged others to stay home if possible because of the coronavirus pandemic. …

The mayor’s trip comes as officials in Colorado have warned about a steep increase in Covid-19 cases that threatens to stress the hospital system, and after warnings from the governor and others to keep Thanksgiving gatherings small and safe. …

The station reported he traveled to Houston for the Mississippi trip, and that his account tweeted the guidance to stay home about 30 minutes before his flight.

Last but not least, Bill McGurn of the Wall Street Journal is not impressed with the hypocritical behavior of politicians, but he focuses on the big-picture lesson to be learned.

Californians live under some of the tightest Covid-19 restrictions in the nation. So when Gov. Gavin Newsom was recently caught without a mask at a crowded table for 12 at a posh Napa Valley eatery, he instantly became the poster boy for the “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” crowd. …

No doubt Thanksgiving will bring fresh examples. While many citizens dutifully inform grandma there’s no room for her at the table because of new Covid-19 restrictions, someone inevitably will be caught enjoying the holiday with dozens of friends and second cousins… And it’s easy to mock these pols for their blatant hypocrisy when they are caught. But maybe the more important lesson to be learned here is that hypocrisy is guaranteed when we impose one-size-fits-all mandates that are rigid and unworkable.

Amen.

I wrote back in May about the two-faced behavior of politicians in the coronavirus era, and nothing has changed in the past six months.

They genuinely think that they should be exempt from all the nonsensical policies that they impose on everyone else.

They’re hypocrites on coronavirus. They’re hypocrites on education. They’re hypocrites on taxes. And they’re hypocrites on global warming.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Biden Cabinet Roundup: Retreads and Woke Folk

Something old, something new, something borrowed, everything blue.

Joe Biden is choosing the usual suspects to fill out his proposed “Cabinet” as President Donald Trump’s chances to expose election fraud continue to meet resistance in U.S. courts. The former vice president’s picks are mainly the same political lifers we all have seen before, because appointments to power positions are what these folks do for a living.

This topic is mainly nauseating to Trump supporters, so we’ll keep it brief.

Antony Blinken: An Obama retread, Blinken also served as the former vice president’s national security adviser back in the day. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Blinken’s ties to Mr. Biden date back nearly two decades, beginning when he served as staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while Mr. Biden served as a U.S. senator representing Delaware.” Blinken is hardly a fresh face on the American political scene.

John Kerry: Remember him? The dude who likes to windsurf and play nice in the sandbox with foreign leaders has been asked to become climate czar. Who even knew that was an official position?

Avril Haines: Not exactly a household name, Haines has been lurking within the Democratic confines for-like-ever. Haines is a Democratic spook of the first order who served as a CIA deputy director during the salad days of Barack Obama. Biden wants Haines for the position of Director of National Intelligence.

Janet Yellen: The first woman to become the Federal Reserve chairman has been floated as Biden’s pick for Secretary of the Treasury. Yellen would have to face confirmation. Despite being only 74, Yellen has that Ruth Bader Ginsburg look about her, making you wonder if she’s too old to count back from 100 by seven.

Ron Klain: A political operative of the highest order, Klain was Biden’s first choice out of the box for chief of staff. Klain’s claim to fame was that he oversaw the Ebola epidemic during the Obama years. He’s a Democratic lawyer who was Biden’s right-hand man when he was V.P. Same name, almost the same position.

Woke-Folk Abound

New faces seem to be limited to the category of identity politics. Even then, they are not really new, more like hangers-around and primarily unheard of until now.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield: Biden has plucked Thomas-Greenfield out of near obscurity for the U.S. ambassador’s position to the United Nations. She held the august position of U.S. ambassador to – wait for it – Liberia. She’s also held the position of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Ah, okay, whatever.

Michele Flournoy: Biden’s pick for Pentagon chief is a classic “let’s break the glass ceiling” choice. In addition to her primary qualification – that of being a woman – Flournoy appears to be ideal for making foreign wars great again. As Helen Buyniski wrote for RT.com, “Flournoy is admirably suited to this role, as the founder of a think tank (Center for a New American Security) now run by Ukrainian regime-change-cookie-distributor-in-chief Victoria Nuland. She was on the front lines of the Obama administration’s disastrous wars in Libya and Syria and helped expand the war in Afghanistan before departing for the private sector in 2012.” Chocolate chip or peanut butter, anyone?

Julie Chávez Rodriguez: Chávez Rodriguez is headed for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. She’s not new to the political scene, holding second-tier positions and circling the Democratic wishing well for a while now. She served as one of Biden’s deputy campaign managers and Kamala Harris’ national political director.

Alejandro Mayorkas: Having fled the Fidel Castro regime way back when, Mayorkas is Biden’s pick for Director of Homeland Security. What could be more apropos in a Biden administration than elevating a lawyer who has spent his career advocating for immigrants to become U.S. citizens in the top spot at the Department of Homeland Security? Mayorkas also worked in the Obama administration, where he oversaw the DACA program. Again, he is not a political novice, but he does fit that all-important Democratic “identity” category.

There are many more players Biden is calling on to serve his administration should he become the 46th president of the United States. If you run down the list, these folks fit in one of two categories: They are longtime Democratic politicos of the sort about which one might ask “Oh him? Is he still alive?” or they fall into the “identity category” – woman, check, black, check, Hispanic, check. Any which way you cut it, a Biden administration would hardly represent anything new under the sun.

Paris Climate Treaty Puts America Last

By Stephen Moore | November 24, 2020 @ CNSNews

Here we are in the midst of the second wave of a once-in-a-half-century pandemic, with the economy flattened and millions of Americans unemployed and race riots in the streets of our major cities. And Joe Biden says that one of his highest priorities as president will be to...reenter the Paris Climate Accord.

Trump kept his America First promise and pulled America out of this Obama-era treaty. Biden wants us back in — immediately.

Why? Paris is an unmitigated failure. You don't have to take my word for it. National Geographic, a supporter of climate change action, recently ran the numbers and admits in its recent headline: "Most Countries Aren't Hitting 2030 Climate Goals." That's putting it mildly. Most haven't even reached half their pledged target for emission reductions.

Robert Watson, the former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, laments: "Countries need to double and triple their 2030 reduction commitments to be aligned with the Paris target."

Gee, this sounds like a treaty we definitely should be part of and pay the bills for.

The one country making substantial progress in reducing carbon emissions is the U.S. under President Donald Trump. Even though our gross domestic product is way up over the past four years, our carbon dioxide emissions are DOWN. Our air pollution levels and emissions of lead, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants are at record-low levels.

Meanwhile, Beijing is far and away the largest polluter. Year after year, it makes hollow promises to stop climate change while building dozens of new coal plants. India and its 1 billion people are hooked on coal, too.

Here is Paris in nutshell: We put our coal miners out of their jobs and cripple our $1 trillion oil and gas industry while China and India keep polluting and laugh at us behind our back.

These nations have bigger and more immediate development priorities than worrying about climate change models and their guestimates of the global temperature in 50 years.

China has much deeper and sinister ambitions. Those don't involve cleaning up the planet. The communists in Beijing are obsessed with seizing world superpower status away from the U.S. The China 2025 plan for technology domination doesn't involve switching to expensive and unreliable energy sources. Their plan is to goad the U.S. into doing that.

The tragedy of all this is that we have a clean and efficient source of energy. Thanks to the shale oil and gas revolution, the cost of fossil fuels has fallen by 70% to 80% — and the costs will continue to fall, thanks to the superabundance of these energy sources. The U.S. has more fossil fuel energy than virtually any other nation. We are technologically ahead of the rest of the world in drilling productivity and have become a net exporter.

Gas is the planet's wonder-fuel. It should be the 21st-century power source. It makes no sense economically or ecologically to switch to windmills and solar panels, unless you are an investor in these expensive 19th-century energy sources.

Across the globe, world leaders are overjoyed that under a Biden administration, the U.S. will reenter the Paris Accord. Why wouldn't they be? We pay the bills. We hang our booming free market economy on a cross of climate change regulation. We pretend that the world is complying — when their actions speak much louder than their words. We trust, but we don't verify.

If Paris is one of Biden's first official acts as president, he will be announcing to the world that putting America First has been replaced with putting America Last.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy."