VIDEO: Common Core parallels Obamacare — Designed to end Home schooling

The forced top down system called Obamacare is no different from the forced top down system of Common Core. Some are even calling Common Core by a new name – Obamacore. The linkages between Obamacare and Obamacore are presented including the use of Obamacare by public schools to gain access into the lives of parents who home school.

The video shows bio-metric devices (cameras, wrist bands, pressure sensitive mouses, chair posture devices, etc.) used to monitor children while in class. These devices can be used to measure various bio-metrics, e.g. physical reactions, of each student. An example presented is how these devices will be used to measure student reactions to pro-homosexual classes presented K-12. Should any of these devices measure negativity or a negative reaction toward homosexuality then the child, and even parents, can be punished under anti-bullying laws or policies being implemented in school districts, cities, counties and states.

This video is an excellent analysis of Obamacore (Common Core State Standards) done by the FreedomProject Education. The key presenters call Obamacore a “Trojan Horse”, which puts parents at the back of the school bus.

Florida’s Deceptive Common Core Implementation and Teacher Training

Despite Gov. Rick Scott’s executive order (Executive Order 13-276) replacing the Common Core and withdrawing Florida from PARCC, teachers are still being trained in Common Core as the Florida Standards are essentially the Common Core State Standards with another name, slight renumbering of standards, and a few additional standards.

In an email sent to me from Cheryl Etters (FLDOE Spokeswoman) as a response to a media inquiry, she termed my assertions rooted in fact as “opinions,” which is one of their dismissive tactics when the FLDOE and State officials are called on to explain their deceptive and misleading campaign to stealthily implement the Common Core State Standards in Florida schools and the continued training of Florida teachers in the Common Core State Standards.

Why are Florida teachers, including me, being trained in the Common Core State Standards a year after Gov. Scott’s executive order when they were replaced by the Florida Standards?

The simple answer is that they are one and the same with minor differences- a plan meant to appease President Obama, Jeb Bush, and the testing industry (AIR, Pearson).

To satisfy your own mind, read and compare for yourself: Common Core ELA Standards and the Language Arts Florida Standards (LAFS); and Common Core Mathematics Standards and the Mathematics Florida Standards (MAFS).

It’s amazing that Gov. Scott, Education Commissioner Pam Stewart, and FLDOE personnel cannot come clean and respond whatsoever to these claims- because they cannot in an honest fashion!

I have been waiting about a week for a response to our media inquiry; but when faced with fact and evidence, a response is difficult for them to formulate.

Beacon Educator, through FLDOE regulation, is the largest online provider of professional development courses and still offers training in Common Core but not (and has not as of yet) the Florida Standards.

Why is Beacon Educator not offering professional development courses in the Florida Standards? By continuing to offer professional development courses in the Common Core, is this an admission by the FLDOE and the State that the Florida Standards and Common Core are one and the same?

Ms. Etters’ response was: I’m not quite sure how to respond to your opinions. A mention on Beacon Educator – they appear to be a private vendor and are not associated with the Florida Department of Education. What do you mean by “through FLDOE regulation?”

            If Ms. Etters consulted the Beacon Educator website, she would know.

Concerning Beacon Educator, Beacon has three disclaimers suggesting they adhere to/meet FLDOE requirements and that it received past funding through the FLDOE:

Beacon Educator provides facilitated online courses for busy educators. These courses comply with the National Staff Development Council Standards, Florida Department of Education Professional Development Protocol Standards, and the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) mandates.

Forming a consortium with other districts including Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Gadsden, and the PAEC districts, Beacon Learning Center received the U.S. Department of Education Technology Innovation Challenge Grant (2000-2006). Other funding sources included Bay District Schools and the Florida Department of Education through grants including the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, (1997-2000), Florida Goals 2000 (1998-99), and other Florida Department of Education grants (2002-2003).

Furthermore, Beacon Educator is not a private vendor, but a public one: “Beacon Educator, the professional development division of Beacon Learning Center, is a self-supporting, internet-based enterprise within Bay District Schools.”

Given that, the Bureau of Educator Recruitment, Development and Retention within the FLDOE approves each school district’s Master Inservice Plan to offer professional development: “The master plan shall be updated and approved by local boards on an annual basis by September 1 of the current year with written verification submitted annually to the Commissioner of Education by October 1 of the current year.”

Bay County Public Schools has an approved Master Inservice Plan from the FLDOE, hence FLDOE regulation, and thus offers professional development through their owned entity- Beacon Educator.

Doesn’t Ms. Etters and the folks at the FLDOE know this?

Notice the attached Weekly Briefings (May and August 2014) from Miami–Dade County Public Schools and the associated flyers (May and August 2014).

Both briefings offer the exact same courses, but the Briefing from May, under Online Modules, says in the second bullet: “New Florida State Standards (Common Core).”

The proof is in the pudding! I took all of the courses and earned credit in them per my Beacon Educator transcript and M-DCPS Staff Development (SD) Record– eight months after Gov. Scott’s executive order supposedly ending the Common Core in Florida.

Notice the credit entries say “Common Core” and not “Florida Standards.”

There’s no denying- Common Core is going full steam ahead with disastrous results unless appropriate action is taken.

By appropriate action, I mean taking action at the ballot box: Adrian Wyllie for Governor.

Both former Gov. Charlie Crist and Gov. Scott support Common Core and its implementation.

Charlie Crist gave us Common Core; Rick Scott is implementing them.

Crist, who likes to be liked, stands for nothing and forced it on Florida to appease President Obama and Jeb Bush.

Gov. Scott, like Crist, is implementing Common Core, and lying to us in the process, under the guise of the Florida Standards to appease Jeb Bush and the testing industry- his base and support. He has to under false pretenses (Florida Standards) for political survival and in a way that is acceptable to both president Obama and Jeb Bush.

Moreover, both of them do virtually nothing to those caught cheating on standardized tests, and you know cheating will take off like wildfire on these new Florida Standard Assessments.

Therefore, if you are in true opposition to Common Core, then the appropriate course of action is to vote for Adrian Wyllie unless you want Common Core under Gov. Scott or Common Core and PARCC under Gov. Crist.

A Different Opinion on Smart Meter “Phobia”

Recently someone sent me James Tracy’s blog on an editorial written by the Palm Beach PostSmart Media Phobia Sad, But Don’t Cut Power” regarding FP&L’s smart meters. The Palm Beach Post circulation covers the area for which FP&L maintains its headquarters. Essentially the editors feel that the Internet is a blessing and a curse because people, other than them, don’t know how to interpret data and they are reading things other than the mainstream media and are being “misinformed”. We apparently repeat these misunderstandings until they sound like “fact”.

The editorial goes on to repeat industry propaganda about how one can be continually exposed to smart meters for 375 years and that would equate to a 15-minute cell phone call. Dr. Tracy, in his blog post, details all the science he has previously provided FP&L that refutes such nonsense. I decided to call out the Palm Beach Post on other false information in their Op-Ed. Most likely they won’t print it, but luckily we have alternative media to by-pass their censorship power.

My response sent to the Palm Beach Post editorial was as follows.

Editors of the Palm Beach Post:

I am the lead petitioner in the action against the Florida Power & Light (FP&L) smart meter opt out fees currently before the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC). I read your editorial published September 4, 2014 and shook my head, as it is nothing but another corporate propaganda piece that spreads misinformation.

First, I take exception to the insinuation that I suffer from “lack of training to parse data”. I am a CPA and trained auditor. I know how to research, source and interpret data. I also have a background in the regulatory process having worked 11 years for a telephone company. I have handled complicated transactions such as the AT&T divestiture to the planning and implementation of Sarbanes – Oxley regulations for a multi-billion dollar company. I have spent about 10 hours per day, 5 days a week for two years reading every governmental and industry report on the smart grid and smart meters. My computer is now overloaded with downloads.

Second, it is not a fact that “the vast majority of FP&L’s approximately 4.6 million customers have “adopted the new technology without a second thought”. The truth is the vast majorities don’t even know they have a smart meter or what it does differently. But what is true is that the claims of the smart meter giving people information to help manage their energy are a lie, as the current information provided to customers is useless. This can be supported by FP&L’s disclosure that the vast majority of customers have yet to even access their silly Energy Dashboard. But I am sure the editors of this paper do so every day, correct?

Third, the biggest lie in your is this statement “The facts are clear: Smart meters lower everyone’s utility bills by reducing the need for trucks, fuel, and meter readers. They reduce the length and extent of power outages. They pose no credible threat to health.”

Smart meters do not reduce the length and extent of power outages – smart technologies (sensors on equipment like transformers and substations and smart switches on feeders) do provide this benefit.

Regarding your statements of “credible threat to health”, where have we heard that phrase before? Ah, yes, the tobacco industry used that phrase for decades quite successfully, didn’t they? Now let’s look at the credibility of FP&L’s lead consultant on smart meter health, Dr. Peter Valberg. He claims that there is no “credible” science that shows RF harm. Your readers should know that he also testified on behalf of Phillip Morris in their light cigarettes deceptive marketing case. His testimony essentially stated that light cigarettes were just not being smoked properly, and also that the tobacco studies performed by Philip Morris were consistent” with what was known to the outside scientific community. No deception, right? How “credible” is this guy? Your readers can decide but they should also do an internet search on the BioInitiative Report before they make their decision.

But most importantly, smart meters have not lowered your bills – not one penny – they have actually increased them. Let me count the ways:

First, the old meters had a net book value (NBV) of $75 million and an estimated useful life of approximately 36 years. FP&L wrote off $101 million (includes cost of removal) when they threw the perfectly operational old meters in the garbage. The annual depreciation charges for these meters were around $7 million per year ($249 Million Gross value/36 yrs). The approximate annual return on investment FP&L received on the NBV of $75 million, using 9.48% pre-tax cost of capital was $7 million.

Contrast that to now. The smart meter project capital is $645 million with an estimated useful life of 20 years (and if you believe the 20 yr life, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you). This equates to depreciation charges of about $32 million per year ($645M/20yrs). The return on investment FP&L will earn on this new smart meter capital will be about $61 million per year ($645M at 9.48%), decreasing by about $3 million each year to reflect the lower NBV from depreciation.

Second, FP&L current rates are based on a 2013 test year and the 2012 rate case settlement agreement keeps the rates the same until at least 2017. The 2013 test year reflects an overall net Operations & Maintenance (O&M) cost of $3.4 million for the smart meter project. (Funny, in 2009 they estimated that the year 2013 would produce a net O&M savings of $20 million. I guess the project is overrunning its budget.) FP&L recently testified that once the project was completed in 2013 there would be about $40 million annual net savings in O&M.

When rate case settlements are made they are made for a period of time. Each party looks at that period of time to determine if anything needs to be considered and factored in before the final settlement is agreed to and finalized. FP&L raised its hand high, saying, look over here, I have new plants coming on line in these outer years and we need to raise rates to recover our investment and such was granted. But did FP&L raise their hand or did the FPSC insist that the smart meter savings of $40 million, which would start to be realized during that period, also be accounted for? No. FP&L was not required to reduce the rates in the outer years to reflect the savings.

Third, lets not forget to count all the new costs that are being incurred that did not exist with those old analog meters. Now you have communication costs to send the data wirelessly back to FP&L, cyber-security costs, software license and maintenance fees, data storage costs, big data consultants, settlements on fires and property damage, more equipment to be damaged in storms and the list goes on.

So Palm Beach Editorial Board, please disclose to your readers your facts to support your claim that smart meters have lowered our utility bills. The miscellaneous tariffs for all these activities – service connects/disconnects, reconnects for non-payment – are EXACTLY the same as they were when FP&L didn’t have smart meters. FP&L’s 2013 test year also included significant manual meter-reading costs as they still had over 800 thousand meters left to install in their assumptions and those costs are still baked into our current rates.

Your readers can decide for themselves, if FP&L, who made NO disclosure in their rate case settlement agreement that they planned to file these smart meter opt out tariffs (despite smart meters being an issue in the rate case), is deserving of an additional $2 million a year in revenue from these customers when they are keeping the $40 million in savings for three years and overcharging smart meter customers for truck rolls they are no longer performing. Is FP&L violating the rate case settlement agreement by trying to change rates for services already provided at the date of that agreement?

From my vantage point – if they are deserving of the $2 million in additional revenue because the project is over and we need to recognize a new ‘cost of service” – then it is only fair to re-price all activities affected by this fact and reduce the rates for all customers by $40-45 million.

There is no financial payback for me as I have sunk tens of thousand of dollars into this effort and countless unpaid hours of time. I do so for two reasons – 1) the many “Friedman’s out there who have no voice and are being harmed by this product and 2) to expose the illegal coordination and fraud/deception that took place between FP&L and FPSC as it pertains to this project.

The documented audit trail of deception is as long as the distance from my house in Venice to Tallahassee. Quite frankly, the conduct of our FPSC that I discovered on this journey is more disturbing than FP&L’s. I will take that item up with our state legislators when they return to Tallahassee for the next session.

Dear Rick and Pam — as in Scott and Bondi

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AG Bondi and Governor Scott in Sarasota, FL.

Let me publicly reiterate my private conversations with each of you at your campaign rally on Labor Day. I am a laborer, a small business owner who works at least 60 hours a week six days per week and barely pays our family’s bills. I am also a strong advocate of elders and of children; thus, I vociferously support your combined efforts to cleanse Florida of pill mills and to “stop the pot” machine steamrolling over the Sunshine State, about to become the “Stoned State.”

Both of these issues are inextricably interwoven with each other and with another urgent elder issue – guardianship abuse. How so? The mentality that pushes pills to adults also pushes pot to our youth, in particular, and exploits our elders, by filling them with prescription drugs while in guardianship as Wards of the State of Florida. We call it chemical restraint. If there is one State Ward in Florida who is not under the influence of chemical restraints – anti-depressants and other psychotropics – it would be extraordinarily rare.

Typically, the State of Florida forcibly administers to each of its tens of thousands of Wards some or all of the following prescription drugs, commonly against the will of both the Wards and their families: Zoloft, Lorazepam, Clonidin, Lexapro, Seroquel, Ativan, Xanax, Risperdal, Haldol, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, … ad infinitum. If the names sound familiar, it is because these same drugs are part and parcel of the pill mills Florida has evicted from our borders. Why then are our beloved parents and grandparents victimized by court-authorized pill mills via guardianships?

SSPX0004

Beverly Newman speaking to Governor Scott.

At least equally hideous to the abusive use of chemical restraints on the elderly is the forcible immobilization of them through physical restraints, tethering frail elderly women and men to beds and chairs, such that they cannot move their bodies or limbs. On September 21, 2009, I personally witnessed both the chemical and physical restraint of my 89-year-old Father, Al Katz, at Manatee Memorial Hospital, against his will and mine.

From September 21 through September 24, with an emergency room diagnosis of cardiac and respiratory distress, my Father, a Ward of the State of Florida, was repeatedly drugged with Haldol, a narcotic that caused him to suffer vivid flashbacks to the tortures he endured as a slave laborer for seven years in the Holocaust. With each dosage of Haldol, Dad was infused with fear, which invariably led to what is known as four-point physical restraints on his wrists and ankles, tying him to the bed so that he could not move at all. Despite my pleas to cease the pill mill administration of Haldol to my Dad and to loosen the rigid physical restraints on him, which were causing him untold cardiac and respiratory stress, the Hospital staff did not relent.

Unknown to me at the time, Manatee Memorial Hospital had previously used the same chemical restraint, Haldol, and physical restraints on a patient whom it consequently buried due to cardiac arrest. During his Hospital stay for alcohol withdrawal in August 2007, Daniel Joseph Jordan, age 41. He entered the Hospital robust and left dead, a victim of torment; yet, two years later, the Hospital employed exactly the same measures on my Dad, a Ward of Florida, who miraculously survived after weeks of doctor-ordered chemical restraints, physical restraints, and isolation after his transfer to Manatee Memorial’s dark, deep basement.

The links between marijuana peddling, prescription pill mills, and guardianship abuse are based upon profit motives and a drug-culture mentality. We citizens of Florida call upon our Governor and our chief legal officer to cut the ties that bind these destructive forces in our State, which splinter our families and end human lives in immeasurable misery.

CLICHES OF PROGRESSIVISM #20 – Government Can Be a Compassionate Alternative to the Harshness of the Marketplace

In every election campaign, we hear the word “compassion” at least a thousand times. One political party supposedly has it, the other one doesn’t. Big government programs are evidence of compassion; cutting back government is a sign of cold-hearted meanness. By their misuse of the term for partisan advantage, partisans and ideologues have thoroughly muddied up the real meaning of the word.

The fact is that some of what is labeled “compassionate” is just that, and it does a world of good; but a whole lot of what is labeled “compassionate” is nothing of the sort, and it does a world of harm. The former tends to be very personal in nature, while the latter puts an involuntary burden on someone else.

As Marvin Olasky pointed out in his 1994 book, The Tragedy of American Compassion, the original definition of compassion as noted in The Oxford English Dictionary is “suffering together with another, participation in suffering.” The emphasis, as the word itself shows—“com,” which means with, and “passion,” from the Latin term “pati,” meaning to suffer—is on personal involvement with the needy, suffering with them, not just giving to them. Noah Webster, in the 1834 edition of his American Dictionary of the English Language, similarly defined compassion as “a suffering with another.”

But the way most people use the term today is a corruption of the original. It has come to mean little more than, as Olasky put it, “the feeling, or emotion, when a person is moved by the suffering or distress of another, and by the desire to relieve it.” There is a world of difference between those two definitions: One demands personal action, the other simply a “feeling” that usually is accompanied by a call for someone else—namely, government—to deal with the problem. One describes a Red Cross volunteer, the other describes the typical Progressive demagogue who gives away little or nothing of his own resources but lots of yours.

The plain fact is that government compassion is not the same as personal and private compassion. When we expect the government to substitute for what we ourselves ought to do, we expect the impossible and we end up with the intolerable. We don’t really solve problems, we just manage them expensively into perpetuity and create a bunch of new ones along the way.

From 1965, the beginning of the so-called War on Poverty, to 1994, total welfare spending in the United States was $5.4 trillion in constant 1993 dollars. In 1965, total government welfare spending was just over 1 percent of gross domestic product, but by 1993 it had risen to 5.1 percent of GDP annually—higher than the record set during the Great Depression. The poverty rate in 1994 was almost exactly where it was in 1965 and now, 20 years later, it’s even higher. It was apparent when “welfare reform” was enacted in 1996 that millions on welfare were living lives of demoralizing dependency; families were rewarded for breaking up; and the number of children born out of wedlock was in the stratosphere—terrible facts brought about, in large part, by “compassionate” government programs.

A person’s willingness to spend government funds on aid programs is not evidence that the person is himself compassionate. Professor William B. Irvine of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, once explained, “It would be absurd to take a person’s willingness to increase defense spending as evidence that the person is himself brave, or to take a person’s willingness to spend government money on athletic programs as evidence that the person is himself physically fit.” In the same way as it is possible for a “couch potato” to favor government funding of athletic teams, it is possible for a person who lacks compassion to favor various government aid programs; and conversely, it is possible for a compassionate person to oppose these programs.

It is a mistake to use a person’s political beliefs as the litmus test of his compassion. Professor Irvine said that if you want to determine how compassionate an individual is, you are wasting your time if you ask for whom he voted; instead, you should ask what charitable contributions he has made and whether he has done any volunteer work lately. You might also inquire into how he responds to the needs of his relatives, friends, and neighbors.

Many of the political world’s most boisterous welfare statists are also among the most duplicitous and selfish (in the bad sense of the term) hypocrites. While small-government conservatives and libertarians generally give generously from their own pockets, charitable organizations are often lucky to get a little more than token donations from the “progressives” of the world. For a mountain of evidence in that regard, see the 2006 book, Who Really Cares? by Arthur Brooks, then at Syracuse University and now president of the American Enterprise Institute.

It’s worth noting that not even progressives donate to supposedly “compassionate” government agencies a penny more than the law requires them to. There’s nothing illegal about writing out a check to the “Department of Health and Human Services,” but progressives, when they seek to personally help others, tend to write their checks out to private agencies.

True compassion is a bulwark of strong families and communities, of liberty and self-reliance, while the false compassion of the second usage is fraught with great danger and dubious results. True compassion is people helping people out of a genuine sense of caring and brotherhood. It is not asking your legislator or congressman to do it for you. True compassion comes from your heart, not from the state or federal treasury. True compassion is a deeply personal thing, not a check from a distant bureaucracy.

In a television interview in Nassau, Bahamas, in November 2012, I was asked by host Wendall Jones, “Mr. Reed, what about the Good Samaritan in the New Testament? Doesn’t that story show that government should help people?” My reply: “Wendall, what made the Good Samaritan good was the fact that he personally helped the stricken man along the road. If he had simply told the helpless chap to ring up his congressman, no one to this day would have the gall to call him anything but a good-for-nothing.”

“But what about Christianity itself?” Jones then asked me. “Isn’t it in favor of redistribution as a compassionate way to help the poor?” Fortunately, I know a few things about the Bible and Christianity. My reply: “Wendall, the Eighth Commandment says ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ It doesn’t say, ‘Thou shalt not steal unless the other guy has more than you do or unless you’re convinced that you can spend it better or unless you can find a politician to take it on your behalf.’ And even more to the point, a new book on the subject, For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty (link provided below) answers this question in both a detailed and scholarly fashion.

Progressives are often so convinced of their moral superiority that they tend to be very intolerant of a good, opposing argument. Mr. Jones edited out the above exchange before airing the show, but you can see the rest of it here.

The marketplace is often dismissed as a cold, impersonal, and selfish place where compassion takes a back seat to self-interest. But that view ignores some important facts: 1) The marketplace is what produces the wealth that compassion allows you to share or give away; 2) Historically, the freest of societies are the most compassionate in the truest sense of the term; 3) Nothing about being a government employee spending other people’s money makes you more compassionate or effective than the rest of society; 4) Government “compassion” usually gets diverted toward vote-buying and programs that perpetuate the very problems it was supposed to remedy. The news brings daily reminders that there’s no shortage of “harshness” in government—as well as greed, waste, fraud, and inefficiency.

The next time you hear the word “compassion,” probe the person invoking it to find out if he really knows what he’s talking about—or at least to determine if he is compassionate with his own resources.

Lawrence W. Reed
President
Foundation for Economic Education

Summary

  • “Compassion” isn’t simply giving something away, especially if what you’re giving wasn’t yours in the first place.
  • True compassion means getting personally involved.
  • Instinctively, when we want to help others with our own time and resources, we overwhelmingly tend to do so through donations of time and money to private agencies, not to public ones.
  • The marketplace, where self-interest is a powerful motivator for the creation of wealth, is therefore the primary source for whatever wealth anybody has to give away.

For further information, see:

The Politics of Compassion” by William B. Irvine

Presidents and Precedents” by Lawrence W. Reed

For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty, edited by Anne Bradley and Art Lindsley

Book Review: The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky” as reviewed by Daniel Bazikian

larry reed new thumbABOUT LAWRENCE W. REED

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s. Prior to becoming FEE’s president, he served for 20 years as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. He also taught economics full-time from 1977 to 1984 at Northwood University in Michigan and chaired its department of economics from 1982 to 1984.

EDITORS NOTE: Earlier versions of this essay have appeared in FEE publications under the title, “What Is Real Compassion?” The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Renewables: Florida’s Green Energy Killing Fields

BirdsFlorida Power and Light (FP&L) on its website states, “At our three solar energy centers throughout Florida, we’re making the most of our state’s sunshine, turning it into clean energy and using it to power your home or business.” FP&L has solar energy centers (solar panel farms) located in Cape Canaveral (Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center), Desoto County (Desoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center) and Indiantown (Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center).

In August 2007 then Governor Crist joined FPL Group Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Lew Hay in announcing FPL Group’s $2.4 billion investment program aimed at increasing the use of solar thermal energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. One of the country’s largest electric utilities, FPL is planning to build 300 megawatts of solar generating capacity in Florida. The new facility will avoid nearly 11 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over a 20-year period. FPL Groups serves customers in 26 states, and its principal subsidiary, Florida Power & Light Company, serves more than 4.3 million customer accounts in Florida.

“It only makes sense that the sunshine state would have a solar power plant,” former Governor Crist said. “This plant will serve as an example to other Florida and American companies that alternative energy can work.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, “As of June 2013, California leads the nation with 3,761 megawatts of installed solar capacity. Arizona comes in second with 1,250 megawatts. New Jersey, which isn’t exactly known for its sunny skies but where roof-mounted units have proven popular, ranks third with 1,119 megawatts. Florida, by contrast, has 202 megawatts, making it No. 10 in the nation.”

What the media does not tell you is how many birds have been killed at FP&L’s three solar energy centers.

The author of Energy Freedom and Executive Director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) Marita Noon writes, “Even green projects have an impact on their surrounding environment. Green energy, specifically so-called renewables [wind, solar], has been sold to the American public as the answer to a host of crimes against the planet.”

Noon reports:

Wind turbines chop up bald and golden eagles, and other endangered species, like a Cuisinart—the taller turbines with longer blades (which produce more energy, and, therefore, is where the trend is heading) have a predicted annual ten-fold mortality increase.

[ … ]

Hundreds of acres of photovoltaic solar panels confuse migratory water birds, such as the “once-critically endangered brown pelican whose lifestyle involves fishing by diving into open water,” to veer miles out of their way to dive toward what they perceive are lakes or wetlands—only to die from “blunt force trauma.” At the largest solar thermal plant in the world, Ivanpah, owned by BrightSource Energy, the 170,000 reflecting mirrors—designed to “superheat liquid in boilers”—literally fries feathers. The USA Today reports that the intense radiation—called solar flux—has singed some birds, melted feathers, and denatured the protein in their wings as they fly through the intense heat. Unable to fly, the injured birds drop out of the sky and die.

Ellen Knickmeyer and John Locher from the Associated Press report, “Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — ‘streamers,’ for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair.  Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one ‘streamer’ every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.”

ABC NEWS VIDEO: Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) mandated that 33% of the states energy be from solar power, stating, “The sun in California is like the oil in Texas.”

The BrightSource Energy website states, “Since its founding in 2006, BrightSource has significantly evolved – from a small start-up with a great idea that became the foundation for the world’s largest solar thermal power project – to a company focused on global deployment of its solar field technology and support services.”

On September 21, 2012, the LA Times ran a story about the BrightSource Energy large-scale solar projects titled, “Taxpayers, ratepayers will fund California solar plants,” with the subhead: A new breed of prospectors — banks, insurers, utility companies — are receiving billions in subsidies while taxpayer and ratepayers are paying most of the costs. Critics say it’s a rip-off.

Florida FP&L ratepayers subsidize these three renewable solar energy wildlife killing fields. Will we be constructing more of these “solar deserts” in the sunshine state?

RELATED ARTICLES:

Charlie Crist says Florida is the Sunshine State, but “we’re hardly doing any solar energy production”
Climate change issue highlights depth of Crist-Scott divide
State Gave $69 Million Loan to Green Energy Company on Verge of Bankruptcy

The Paladins of Police Abuse and Militarization: 3 quick thoughts on the MSM, Libertarians, and Ferguson by Max Borders

1. The mainstream media have been lagging libertarians and citizen journalists on the issue of domestic militarization and police abuse for years.

Only with the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, has police abuse become a “story.” Thankfully it is. But where were the mainstream media when Radley Balko was reporting on police militarization in 2006—and about abuse in general for a decade? Where was the MSM while Reason was reporting on police abuse daily? Citizen activists like the Peaceful Streets Project have been trying to raise awareness for local areas like Austin. Copblock has similar awareness-raising strategies and encourages citizens to film police as often as possible. The Free Thought Project also catalogs police abuse, and I must have read a story per week like this, on average, in the lead-up to Michael Brown’s killing. Now the MSM shows up and attempts to gallop to the front, as if paladins who’d been there all along.

2. Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman is either a liar or a fool.

I don’t want to appear as if I’m going all ad hominem, but I can’t think of any other possible hypothesis for Waldman. In this article, he says libertarians have been MIA on the matter of Ferguson. Nevermind that his own WaPo colleague Radley Balko, mentioned above, covers this beat. It’s clear Waldman hadn’t done any due diligence before he wrote the piece and turned the event into a opportunity to take a cheap shot at Rand Paul. Senator Paul (R-Ky) has since published his views in Time.

As I said above, libertarians have been jumping up and down about this issue for a long time, and recent events in Ferguson are no exception (see here and here). Sometimes we’re the only ones writing about militarization. And progressives seem only to care about it when it’s going to prove the whole country is racist. It’s silly to most of us that this one instance has become so important right now because the mainstream media have decided it is important. Some combination of an information cascade and bandwagon effect was in play, I suppose. In any case, Paul Waldman simply hopped on that bandwagon and used it to pull a drive-by on the very people who have been trying to raise awareness for a long time.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown has no time for this sort of garbage, as she demonstrates over at The Dish.

3. The treatment and detainment of two journalists, Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, is a cakewalk compared to what other journalists and citizen journalists have endured.

Consider the case of Antonio Buehler, who was slammed to the ground by police after he filmed a New Year’s Eve traffic stop in which he witnessed two officers roughing up two young women suspected of DUI. They then threatened and arrested Buehler on felony charges, allegedly for spitting at one of the officers. Another person, quite fortuitously, filmed the Buehler incident and determined that the police had lied about the spitting. Since that time Buehler has spent considerable time and money fighting all the trumped-up charges. See his story here:

Similarly, citizen journalist Ademo Freeman had been looking at significant jail time for felony wiretapping charges. See tons of other examples at Photography Is Not A CrimeThe Free Thought Project, and Copblock.org. These folks are not invisible to those who care. They have just been invisible to the MSM, who apparently circle the wagons around their own and make these practices a story when it suits them. 

MaxBordersVEsmlABOUT MAX BORDERS

Max Borders is the editor of The Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also cofounder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

RELATED ARTICLE: Database Shows What Military Equipment Your Local Police Department Has Been Stockpiling

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Deputizing America: Sooner or later, we’ll all work for the State—unless we do something about it by Iain Murray

It’s an old Western movie trope. The harassed sheriff needs help against Desperado D. Blackhat and his gang of gunslingers. He goes into the saloon, finds the gambler who was once the most feared crack shot this side of the Pecos, and makes him his deputy. Together, they run Blackhat and his gang out of town. If you thought that type of quick-and-dirty deputizing died with the Wild West, think again. Government is deputizing people all over the country to do its law-enforcement work. But unlike that gambler, they don’t get the chance to say no.

Take, for instance, FedEx. The delivery company has been indicted by federal prosecutors for not doing the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) job for it. The DEA alleges that FedEx knowingly shipped pharmaceuticals for online pharmacies that were based on invalid prescriptions, because it should have known “the principals, company names, shipping addresses and billing addresses that were initially connected to” a network of pharmacies closed down by the DEA in 2003. As a recent Wall Street Journal editorial summarized:

Translation: FedEx employees should have connected the dots. But if it’s so easy, why didn’t the DEA do it? The truth is that unmasking the bad guys would have required an extensive metadata analysis of customer data that is not FedEx’s job.

The DEA also alleges that FedEx should have known its orders were based on fraudulent prescriptions from visiting the pharmacies’ facilities for inspection. That’s not something a shipping company is set up to do. It is something a law enforcement agency is set up to do, but the DEA didn’t do it. So by its indictment of FedEx, the feds are telling all other delivery firms that they are now forcibly deputized to do the DEA’s job in the War on Drugs. If they don’t play along, they need to show up in court.

Banking regulators have been playing a similar game. Under a campaign known as Operation Choke Point, they have been telling banks that if they don’t investigate their customers for “high-risk” activity, they will be subject to subpoenas and everything that implies. As a result, banks have simply been cutting off links to potentially risky customers on the simple basis of what business they are in. As Department of Justice documents show (which I document extensively in my recent report on the operation), the motivation for Choke Point was the feds’ lack of manpower to investigate the risky businesses themselves. So they deputized the banks to do their job for them.

If New York’s Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has its way, bitcoin businesses operating in the state will be deputized, too. The NYDFS, supposedly concerned about fraud risk, is demanding that businesses that use bitcoin keep a public record of every transaction. This would destroy the currency’s appeal by undermining one of its most potent selling points: users’ expectations of privacy. As Jim Harper, global policy counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, told Coinbase,

Surveillance of transactions is at odds with both bitcoin users’ and consumers’ privacy demands, and the level of privacy they could expect is similar to that dictated by deals between corporations and governments in the fiat currency realm.

There are many more examples, from gambling regulators forcing credit processing companies to stopping unlawful online gambling transactions—without a clear definition of “unlawful” in this context—to immigration authorities deputizing employers to confirm potential employees’ immigration status.

In each of these cases, the executive is essentially requiring businesses to deploy employees to work for the government, rather than the company. The justification, supposedly to protect consumers from fraud or other abuse by a third party, traditionally has been reserved to the government as part of its law enforcement powers. That’s why the term “deputizing” is so appropriate—the government is making businesses into its policemen. The only difference is it will charge them with a crime if they don’t agree. No wonder the easy way out is just to stop doing business with the third party at all.

This is a disturbing and unprecedented tendency. It’s time that we put a stop to it, before we all end up working for the government whether we like it or not. Next time, it won’t just be dodgy online pharmacies or payday lenders that are in the crosshairs, but anyone or anything the government of the day doesn’t like or understand. In a world where you can’t do business because the government has its nose in everything, innovation will grind to a halt much like the Western movie genre.

ABOUT IAIN MURRAY

Iain Murray is vice president at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

New TV Spot Blasts President Obama on his Iran and anti-Terror policies

Secure America Now sponsors an ad that recreates the “Daisy Girl.” It suggests President Obama’s refusal to stand up against Iran’s nuclear program is risking disaster for America. Muslim jihadists in America are probable.

Breaking Defense’s James Kitfield interviewed Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the outgoing chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Kitfield asked General Flynn: Did you ever feel like a lone voice in the administration warning that the terrorist threat was growing, not receding? General Flynn replied:

I think we collectively felt that way. We said many times, “Hey, we need to get this intelligence in front of the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the National Security adviser! The White House needs to see this intelligence picture we have!”

We saw all this connective tissue developing between these [proliferating] terrorist groups. So when asked if the terrorists were on the run, we couldn’t respond with any answer but ‘no.’ When asked if the terrorists were defeated, we had to say ‘no.’ Anyone who answers ‘yes’ to either of those questions either doesn’t know what they are talking about, they are misinformed, or they are flat out lying.

Read the full interview here.

Described as “a nonpartisan organization dedicated to bringing critical security issues to the forefront of the American debate,” Secure America Now says, “Iran is not only the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, they openly brag about providing Hamas with missile technology,” Roth further told Breitbart News, “Between rockets launched behind human shields in Gaza to Hamas guerrillas tunneling into Israel, America can no longer ignore how a nuclear Iran would further destabilize the world.”

The ad shows the Daisy Girl turning in response to a nuclear blast behind her. It reminded me of a description by a woman who was an excellent Bible student who said she had a dream while living in an unpopulated area of Tennessee in her retirement. She was startled and turned to see mushroom clouds in the distance which she said was in the direction of Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga where I lived at the time.

It’s been 25 years since she shared that and she has probably passed, but there’s no doubt in my mind that America will pay a horrible price for the foolish game it is playing with Hamas v Israel and failing to support the only country in the region where Christians are welcome and can travel without fear.

Why can’t we get past the paralysis of the analysis regarding an admitted Muslim whose birth certificate is a fraud, as stated by experts, and who promised change that we could believe it. Do we really believe America should go down like this—so much is beyond the Constitution by leaders and politicians who are untrue to their oath of office.

We are like the frog in water that is slowly heating, never knowing when to jump, but when we feel the heat, we will be too weak to move.

When Ferguson, MO becomes Yourtown, USA, and the U.S. military or National Guard visit your home, it will be over.

The Bible refers to an “overflowing scourge” when a time of judgment comes and “a refuge of lies” is swept away, Isaiah 28:17,18. No Agnes, the Bible is not a book of myths. It’s ahead of the evening news, and we will be in agony if we don’t understand the truths for our time.

Crony Phony Drug War by Wendy McElroy

The Feds attack FedEx on behalf of Big Pharma and expand the police state.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the FedEx Corp. pleaded not guilty in a San Francisco federal court “on 15 charges related to transporting painkillers and other prescription drugs that had been sold illegally.”

The “illegal drugs” do not refer to cocaine or meth but to generic medications people can buy from online pharmacies for far less than brand name ones produced by pharmaceutical corporations (Big Pharma). As part of a crackdown on prescription drug abuse, a number of companies—including competitor UPS—agreed to pay civil fines over claims that they sold or delivered medications they knew were not for legitimate medical use. FedEx refused and the Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeking a massive punitive settlement. Prosecutors claim FedEx earned “at least $820 million, and if the company is found guilty, it faces a potential maximum fine of twice that, or about $1.6 billion.”

People arguably have the right to determine their own medical treatments, including what drugs they use. And one can argue about whether a parcel delivery company should be responsible for what gets delivered. But the criminal case against FedEx raises a separate issue: crony capitalism.

Beyond the legality of drugs

Crony capitalism refers to the political dynamic in which commercial success depends upon the relationship a business has with government. Businesses that support a political faction, perhaps through campaign donations, receive favors such as tax exemptions or laws restricting their competitors.

Pharma contributed nearly $10 million to various political campaigns during the 2011–2012 presidential elections. Hedging their bets, the major manufacturers funded both Democrat incumbent Barack Obama (just over $1 million) and Republican challenger Mitt Romney (approx. $699,000). So far, in 2014, the top two contributors in Big Pharma have made political donations of $1,242,991 and $1,031,695, respectively; there are at least 18 other contributors from the industry. The total expended in lobbying during 2014 is $8,870,000.

Politically speaking, the money is a good investment. On May 5, 2013, a Forbes headline announced, “Obamacare Will Bring Drug Industry $35 Billion In Profits.” The article explained that “the U.S. pharmaceutical industry’s market value will mushroom by 33 percent to $476 billion in 2020 from $359 billion last year.” The increase comes despite “expiring patents on blockbuster drugs” such as Lipitor.

Profits-on-paper (rents) can be secured and increased if Big Pharma drives its competitors out of business. This is particularly important as online and foreign competitors offer dramatically lower prices and the convenience of home delivery.

Crony capitalism on the sly

The federal government began pressuring FedEx in 2012. At about the same time, Big Pharma’s price inflation became public, causing a scandal. ABC News reported on an Arizona woman who received an anti-venom drug for a scorpion sting. “The bill that arrived … came out to $83,046, or $39,652” per vial, or “about 10 times what the hospital paid for each vial.” Even the $4,000 per vial charged to the hospital is outrageous. The article went on to note that the drug “costs about $100 per dose” in Mexico and the woman would have saved “$39,552 a dose if she had ordered the drug from a licensed Mexican pharmacy.” No wonder the federal government moved quickly to protect Big Pharma. Every time someone buys from an online source, they lose their monopoly rents.

The Obama administration excels at imposing agendas on the sly. For example, the DOJ initiative called Operation Choke Point pressures banks to refuse financial transactions from businesses that are allegedly a “high risk” for fraud. They are actually businesses of which the government disapproves. The list includes ammunition and firearms companies as well as online pharmaceutical retailers. Rather than take the controversial step of banning these legal businesses, the federal government makes it ever more difficult for them to function. The lawsuit against FedEx continues this federal strategy, as a bit of background illustrates.

A 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal reported, “The Drug Enforcement Administration has been probing whether the companies [FedEx and UPS] aided and abetted illegal drug sales from online pharmacies for several years, according to company filings, although the investigation has gone largely unnoticed. Both companies were served with subpoenas starting more than four years ago.”

The aiding and abetting consisted of delivering orders to customers; without access to the two giant shipping companies, it is not clear how many online pharmacies could remain in business.

UPS quickly entered into discussions with the DOJ about paying fines and cooperating. Ultimately, in March 2013, UPS paid a $40 million fine for the privilege of signing a non-prosecution agreement with the DOJ. FedEx balked. There were several points of contention:

1. FedEx repeatedly requested a list of online pharmacies that the Drug Enforcement Administration considered illegal. In a written statement, Patrick Fitzgerald, senior vice president for marketing and communications, explained, “Whenever DEA provides us a list … we will turn off shipping for those companies immediately. So far the government has declined to provide such a list.”

2. The DOJ wanted all packages from online pharmacies to be opened and the contents noted, whether or not there was reason to suspect a package contained illegal goods. Fitzgerald countered, “sealed packages … are being sent by, as far as we can tell, licensed pharmacies. These are medicines with legal prescriptions written by licensed physicians.” Moreover, FedEx is “a transportation company that picks up and delivers close to 10 million packages every day. They are sealed packages, so we have no way of knowing specifically what’s inside and we have no interest in violating the privacy rights of our customers.”

3. FedEx refused to be “deputized” as a law enforcement agency and preferred to remain a private business.

Further implications

Big Pharma obviously benefits if online competitors are choked out, but turning FedEx into an arm of law enforcement has advantages for the federal government as well. If federal agents searched private mail without warrants or probable cause, people would cry “Fourth Amendment!” This is the constitutional guarantee that people will be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” by the federal government.

But private shippers are not bound by constitutional restraints. The “right” to check packages can be written into the business agreement that customers sign. If a customer objects, then he is free to go elsewhere. By controlling FedEx policy, the DOJ would be able to search packages in absentia and make targeted arrests if illegal contents are found.

FedEx is determined to fight the lawsuit. The criminal trial will test how much secondary responsibility shippers must legally assume for the contents of shipments. (You can read the full indictment here.)

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Larry Cote, a former chief counsel at the DEA, referred to the trial as an “unprecedented escalation of a federal crackdown on organizations and individuals” in order “to combat prescription drug abuse.” Making messengers liable for the messages transmitted has dangerous implications for all communications, including personal ones. As TechDirt observed, “We often talk about secondary liability on the internet, but it’s the same basic principal [sic] here. The company that’s merely acting as the conduit shouldn’t be liable for what’s traversing over its system. The implications of changing that, and holding a company liable are very serious. It’s going to create massive incentives for shipping companies to not just open up and look at what’s in our packages, but to also make on-the-fly determinations of whether or not they think it’s legal.”

If the federal government can order private shippers to open all packages in order to fight “illegal drugs,” how long will it be before all financial mailings are opened in order to fight tax evasion or money laundering? Privacy of email and telephone calls is already nonexistent in America. The criminal case against FedEx is an important step toward destroying what remains of mail privacy and expanding the police powers of the State.

ABOUT WENDY MCELROY

Contributing editor Wendy McElroy is an author and the editor of ifeminists.com.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Florida Comprehensive Planning: A Critical Analysis of the Sarasota County 2050 Plan

If you Google the words “comprehensive plan Florida” you will get 11.6 million hits. Florida cities and counties by law have produced comprehensive plans. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has an entire submission and process to review local comprehensive plans.

Section 163.3191 of  Florida Statutes requires “At least once every 7 years, each local government shall evaluate its comprehensive plan to determine if plan amendments are necessary to reflect changes in state requirements in this part since the last update of the comprehensive plan, and notify the state land planning agency as to its determination.”

What we have is state bureaucrats overseeing local bureaucrats comprehensive plans to meet their criteria for comprehensive planning. The planners are planning for the planners who are planning for every property owner in Florida. All of this is amounts to one thing – the control of dirt.

He who controls Florida’s dirt, controls all Floridians

The sole victim of comprehensive planning is you. Whether you live here year around, are a snow bird, business owner, visitor or just passing through the sunshine state you are impacted.

Supporters of comprehensive planning are not just bureaucrats. Bureaucrats do not live in a vacuum.  They need supporters, like minded people who are willing to support their ever expanding efforts to control dirt. They need elected officials who are willing to, on their recommendations, pass ever more stringent rules, policies and local ordinances to control the dirt.

One man who knows all about dirt and comprehensive planning is John C. Minder.  John is the founder of Minder & Associates Engineering Corporation. Minder & Associates are certified land surveyors and engineers. John’s company has offices in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. His clients have been the victims of comprehensive planning.

John has decided to enter the political arena by running for the Sarasota County Commission in District 4. His campaign is focused on eliminating the Sarasota County 2050 Plan. Doing away with it entirely. A needed move according to Minder to stop the government control of property and to insure individual property rights.

I had the opportunity to sit down with John for nearly three hours. He educated me on how the Sarasota County 2050 Plan was created and how it is not working to benefit landowners, citizens and Sarasota’s economy.

Why is the Sarasota County 2050 plan bad for Sarasota County?

As John would likely put it “let me count the ways.” From the concept of “fiscal neutrality” to “five acre lots” East of Interstate 75 to the building of “villages”, the 2050 Plan stops economic growth by controlling the dirt. The Sarasota County 2050 Policy states:

Adopted on July 10, 2002, Sarasota 2050 creates a set of policies overlaid on top of the Comprehensive Plan’s Future Land Use Map of Sarasota County. It establishes an optional policy framework to enhance the livability of the County by preserving its natural, cultural, physical, and other resources with an incentive-based system for managing growth.

The 2050 Plan is about “future land use” (controlling dirt) and “managing growth” (by controlling dirt). The justification is to create a Utopia in Sarasota County by controlling all “natural, cultural, physical and other resources.” Comprehensive planning is all about control, not economic development. It “enhances livability” by controlling people’s lives and ability to live free from government.

In an email exchange between Minder, Dan Lobeck, an anti-growth advocate, and Lourdes Ramirez, District 4 Republican primary candidate for County Commission, we get a stark view of how like minded people, Lobeck and Ramirez, support the control of dirt. Minder questions land use East of I-75 and fiscal neutrality. Minder believes that banks will not finance five acre lot developments as currently restricted by the Sarasota 2050 plan. The email thread begins with Minder taking exception to the Lourdes Ramirez threat  “CONA is petitioning Sarasota County to leave the fiscal neutrality policy as is to ensure, as you stated, that the developments under Sarasota 2050 does pay its own way.” Minder calls fiscal neutrality “a bunch of nonsense.”

Minder notes that “The 2050 Plan with its ‘Fiscal Neutrality Nonsense’ in its present state only allows 5 Acre Lots outside of ‘the Villages’ and 5 Acre Lots are selling at the present time for $500,000 and up and that is not affordable housing.”

Lobeck responds with:

“The financing excuse is not tenable for at least two reasons.  First, the large developers most likely to build under Sarasota 2050 have the resources to pay fiscal neutrality exactions without financing, such as Pat Neal or Schroeder-Manatee.  Second, and perhaps most significantly, fiscal neutrality is now typically reevaluated in phases, and it would seem likely that a Village or other Sarasota 2050 development would or easily could be financed in phases.  It is this requirement for a “true up” report at each phase that the developers want to eliminate.”

What Lobeck fails to understand is that any costs for land development are passed along to the home buyer and businesses.

Ramirez states:

It’s pretty simple but I could see why you’re confused. Here is a simple explanation.

Let’s take a development that has 1000 acres that currently is a open use estate district: 1 unit per 5 acres. That is what the developer owns and according to our local laws is entitled to build. That 1000 acres will yield a total number of 200 homes. Get it?

This 1000 aces development with the right for 200 homes will not need a lot of government services. There will be limited amount of roads but no schools, firehouses or parks since there are only 200 homes in the development

Say our local government decides to offer as a generous gift – an opportunity to get a huge increase in density. They offer 5 units per acre so now that same 1000 acres can get 5000 units.

What a great gift! The developer can keep what they have (200 units) or get a mini-city (5000) units. But with 5000 households the county must now offer a fire station, more sheriff patrols, additional water, sewer services, lots of roads etc.

So the county states the development must pay for these extra government services if the the developer chooses to accept the gift of increase density. That is fiscal neutrality.

Sounds like a fair deal.

No, it is not a fair deal for the new home buyer.

Ramirez wants to make the homes more expensive by limiting the number that can be built per acre. This means that affordable housing, which is a goal of Sarasota County government, cannot be built. The more homes per acre, the lower the cost per home, the lower the price per home and the more affordable the housing. And, the more people paying taxes for the services provided. Lobeck and Ramirez are driving up the price of homes, stopping affordable housing and raising the costs on all Sarasotans. It is a lose, lose, lose for economic development.

The Sarasota 2050 plans benefits only bureaucrats whose jobs depend on finding new ways to control dirt. Lobeck and Ramirez are supporters of controlling dirt and thereby controlling the lives and life choices of current and future residents of Sarasota County. Want to know more? Have a chat with John Minder, he will explain it to you.

Why is Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL 16) worried about the West African black rhino?

U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan (R-FL District 16) sends out email alerts to his constituents to keep them informed on what is happening in Washington, D.C. and key issues facing Floridians. Buchanan co-chairs the Florida Congressional delegation and sits on the House Committee on Ways and Means.

One recent email caught my eye. The email had the powerful titled “Mass Extinction”. When I first opened it I thought it was about Hamas wanting to destroy Israel. Buchanan is a stalwart supporter of Israel and its security. However, this email was about recent changes to the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website:

The purpose of the ESA is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend…

Under the ESA, species may be listed as either endangered or threatened. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future. All species of plants and animals, except pest insects, are eligible for listing as endangered or threatened. For the purposes of the ESA, Congress defined species to include subspecies, varieties, and, for vertebrates, distinct population segments.

I thought it important to analyse Buchanan’s comments and give them some perspective. My analysis of Buchanan’s statements are indented in italics.

“Mass Extinction” by Rep. Vern Buchanan

Once a species is extinct, it’s gone forever.

Stating the obvious is interesting but not necessarily germane (relevant) to the issue. There have been many species, like the dinosaurs and most recently the West African black rhino, who have become extinct.

The majestic West African black rhino was declared extinct in 2011. The black rhino was killed off by poachers who sold its horns as an aphrodisiac. Here in the United States, the Endangered Species Act has saved an estimated 227 species from extinction, including the bald eagle, the humpback whale and the grey wolf.

The market demand for the aphrodisiac associated with rhino horns, including those of the black rhino Buchanan refers to, was created in the 1950s by Mao Zedong, the new leader of Communist China. John R. Platt from Scientific American reported, “Mao promoted so-called traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a tool for unifying the country he had recently come to lead. That’s when poachers descended on Africa. Between 1960 and 1995 an astonishing 98 percent of black rhinos were killed by poachers, either to feed the new and voracious demand for TCM or, to a lesser extent, for horns to be used as ceremonial knife handles in the Middle East.”

Platt reported, “In 1999 the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) published a report called “African Rhino: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan.” The authors wrote of the almost insurmountable challenge in preserving these final 10 western black rhinos. “Demographically and genetically the western black rhino seems doomed unless the discrete populations are captured and concentrated in one area of its range. Under current conditions, however, this would probably make the remaining animals more vulnerable to poaching.” The act of locating, catching and collecting these rhinos in one place would also be expensive and logistically next to impossible, as Cameroon at the time was plagued by corruption, civil unrest, currency devaluation and mistrust of the West. Even if that feat had been accomplished, the land in northern Cameroon was poorly suited for rhinos and provided very little food. Providing safe habitat for just 20 rhinos would require a fenced-in sanctuary 400 square kilometers in size.”

As the WWF noted government action would not have saved the West African black rhino as the costs of doing so were “insurmountable.” 

The Endangered Species Act is one of the most significant and successful environmental programs enacted in the past half century.

The National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) states, “The Endangered Species Act (ESA), passed in 1973, was designed to recover species to a level at which they are no longer considered endangered and therefore do not require the Act’s protection.  Unfortunately, the law has had the opposite effect on many species.  The ESA can severely penalize landowners for harboring species on their property, and as a result many landowners have rid their property of the species and habitat rather than suffer the consequences.” [Emphasis mine]

I wanted to let you know of an important – and unfortunate – vote that took place in the U.S. House of Representatives this week. Over my strong objections, the U.S. House voted to weaken the Endangered Species Act.

I was one of eight Republicans to oppose this misguided bill, which was soundly criticized by the Sierra Club, the U.S. Humane Society, the League of Conservation Voters and many other environmental groups.

On the Board of Directors of the League of Conservation, an environmental lobbying group, is Carol Browner, Chair Center for American Progress. Ms. Browner most recently served as Assistant to President Obama and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, where she oversaw the coordination of environmental, energy, climate, transport, and related policy across the federal government.

 The National Review’s Wesley J. Smith in his column “The Sierra Club’s War on Humans” writes, “Take a new book being promoted by the once sane Sierra Club that advocates cutting the work week in half so that we can all live less prosperous lives. From the promotion of the book Time on Our Side in Sierra magazine:

“There’s no such thing as sustainable growth, not in a country like the U.S.,” Worldwatch senior fellow Erik Assadourian says. “We have to de-grow our economy, which is obviously not a popular stance to take in a culture that celebrates growth in all forms.

But as the saying goes, if everyone consumed like Americans, we’d need four planets.” Whether you move to a smaller house or an apartment, downsize to one or no car, or simply have fewer lattes to-go, a smaller paycheck could reduce consumption overall…

Shorter workweeks could mean more time for psychologically gratifying pursuits such as gardening, reading, or biking.In other words, we should intentionally become poorer in order to save the planet. [Emphasis mine]

This bill will divert money away from saving wildlife for the purpose of creating a reporting database of highly questionable value. In fact, this new “transparency” actually could put endangered species at greater risk of poaching by publicizing the nesting sites and specific location of threatened wildlife. The bill also waters down the definition of “best available science” by requiring federal agencies to utilize all information submitted by cities, counties and tribes even if the data is unscientific, flawed and inaccurate.

The NCPA notes, “Over 1,900 species of plants and animals — 1,351 domestic and 570 foreign — are currently considered by the federal government to be in danger of extinction.  Once a species is listed, they are subject to a variety of conservation efforts, including federal recovery plans that can include a wide variety of measures including habitat protection.  However, these conservation efforts rarely, if ever, consider the total costs of species recovery to federal, state or local governments, and especially to private landowners. The greatest problem with the Act is its land-use control provisions.”

The Executive Director of the Endangered Species Coalition said the bill “makes a mockery of science” and “prevents species from getting critically needed safeguards.” It passed the House 233-190 and now heads to the U.S. Senate. Fortunately, it is not expected to gain any traction in the Senate.

The Endangered Species Coalition (ESC) is a political action group much in line with the Sierra Club and League of Conservation. Brock Evans joined ESC in 1997 as the Executive Director and President of the Endangered Species Coalition. Prior to assuming leadership of the ESC, Evans served as Vice President for National Issues for the National Audubon Society for 15 years. Earlier, he had served for eight years as Director (head lobbyist) of the Sierra Club’s Washington DC Office.

Member groups include the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Earth Action Network and  1000 Friends of Florida

Promoting the preservation of animal and plant species should be a bipartisan issue important to all of us. Since its enactment in 1973, the Endangered Species Act been so successful that 99 percent of the species placed under its protection have been saved from extinction.

The National Center for Policy Analysis disputes what Buchanan states. NCPA reports:

The ESA’s punitive nature also helps explain the Act’s sorry record conserving species.  Proponents of the ESA cite species that have recovered due to the Act.  Yet, almost invariably these claims are untrue or exaggerated.  For example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officially claims 46 delisted species — 19 due to recovery, 17 due to data error, 9 due to extinction and one due to partial recovery/data error.  In reality, the delistings were due to the following:

  • Twenty-seven species have been removed due to data error — including the American alligator, which was delisted soon after its initial listing because it was found to be abundant, clearly indicating it was never endangered and was improperly surveyed.
  • Nine species were determined to be extinct.
  • Five species were delisted due primarily to factors unrelated to the ESA, including the ban on the pesticide DDT.
  • Five species were delisted for a variety of other reasons including: private conservation; state, not federal, conservation efforts; and recovery despite harm done by the ESA.

Congress and others have offered cosmetic reforms to improve the ESA’s effectiveness — tacitly admitting that the Act’s punitive approach has failed and that new approaches are needed.  However, these reforms will do little to remove the penalties that undermine the ESA.

The key to future success for endangered species protection is to set a new course based on the recognition that landowners will be cooperative and even helpful when they benefit from, or are at least are not harmed by, conservation initiatives.  This means stripping the ESA of its land-use controls. [Emphasis mine]

Earlier this year, I was honored to receive the U.S. Humane Society’s Legislative Leader award for my record in Congress. I will continue to be a strong advocate for the Endangered Species Act and fight to preserve our wildlife and ecosystems now and in the future.

Steve Foley from the California Report writes, “In parts of New Mexico children have no choice but to wait for their school bus inside of cages. These ‘kid cages’ are the result of government agencies abuse of the Endangered Species Act. The United States Fish & Wildlife Service has placed wolves in populated areas where they have become an economic burden for small business owners, infringed upon private property rights, burdened taxpayers with management costs, and placed fear in the hearts of those who have to deal with them on a daily basis.”

Please let me know what you think,

Vern

If you would like to email Representative Buchanan on this issue please use his online contact form. You may also call or visit one of his offices located in Washington, D.C., Bradenton, FL and Sarasota, FL.

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Wolves in Government Clothing

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of two West African black rhinos is courtesy of StreamAfrica.com.

Which Strategy Really Ended the Great Depression? by Burton Folsom

“World War II got us out of the Great Depression.” Many people said that during the war, and some still do today. The quality of American life, however, was precarious during the war. Food was rationed, luxuries removed, taxes high, and work dangerous. A recovery that does not make—as Robert Higgs points out in Depression, War, and Cold War.

Franklin Roosevelt recognized that the war only provided a short-term fix for the economy—and a very costly one at that. What would happen after the war—when 12 million troops came home and the strong demand for guns, bullets, tanks, and ships ceased?

Roosevelt envisioned a New Deal revival. He had created the National Resources Planning Board (NRPB) in 1939 and urged it during the war to plan for peacetime. The NRPB leaders believed that government planning was necessary to promote economic development. They consciously (and sometimes unconsciously) followed ideas popularized in 1936 by John Maynard Keynes in his bestselling book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.

Capitalism was inherently unstable, Keynes argued, and would rarely provide full employment. Therefore government intervention was needed, especially in recessions, to spend massive amounts of money on public works, which would create new jobs, expand demand, and rebuild consumer confidence. Yes, government would need to run large deficits, but economic stability was society’s reward. If government planners could manage aggregate demand through public works, the boom-bust business cycle could be flattened and economic development could be managed in the national interest. No more Great Depressions. Man could indeed be master of his economic future.

Before and during the war Keynes’s ideas swept through the United States and first transformed the universities, then the political culture of the day. With statistics in hand and a near reverence for government, the Keynesians were the new generation of planners. They wanted to remake society. Not entrepreneurs, but economists were needed to gather data, plan government programs, and regulate economic development. Paul Samuelson, for example, a 21-year-old economics student, was cautious at first, but then euphoric after Keynes’s book was published. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven,” Samuelson wrote. Other economists soon accepted Keynes, and by the 1940s his ideas dominated the economics profession. In 1948, Samuelson would defend Keynes by writing the best-selling economics textbook of all time.

Planning for Peace

Those on the NRPB were among the excited disciples of Keynes and economic planning. The war itself seemed to be evidence that government jobs had pulled the U.S. economy out of the Depression. Now the economists and planners needed to take the nation’s helm to plan for peace.

According to Charles Merriam, vice president of the NRPB, “[I]t should be the declared policy of the United States government, supplementing the work of private agencies as a final guarantor if all else failed, to underwrite full employment for employables. . . .” That idea launched what Merriam and the NRPB dubbed “A New Bill of Rights.” FDR would call it his Economic Bill of Rights. Included was a right to a job “with fair pay and working conditions,” “equal access to education for all, equal access to health and nutrition for all, and wholesome housing conditions for all.”

New Bill of Rights

FDR viewed this Economic Bill of Rights as his tool for guaranteeing employment for veterans (and others) after World War II. But it was more than a mere jobs ploy; it had the potential to transform American society. The first Bill of Rights, which became part of the Constitution, emphasized free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion and assembly. They were freedoms from government interference. The right to speak freely imposes no obligation on anyone else to provide the means of communication. Moreover, others can listen or leave as they see fit.

But a right to a job, a house, or medical care imposes an obligation on others to pay for those things. The NRPB implied that the taxpayers as a group had a duty to provide the revenue to pay for the medical care, the houses, the education, and the jobs that millions of Americans would be demanding if the new bill of rights became law. In practical terms this meant that, say, a polio victim’s right to a wheelchair properly diminished all taxpayers’ rights to keep the income they had earned. In other words, the rights announced in the Economic Bill of Rights contradicted the property rights promised to Americans in their Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution.

FDR promoted his Economic Bill of Rights in his State of the Union message in 1944, but he died before the war ended. Shortly before his death, Senator James Murray (D-Mont.) introduced a full-employment bill into the Senate for discussion. The bill committed the government in a general way to provide jobs if unemployment became too high. Many leading Democrats and economists supported Murray’s bill. “In this session of Congress,” The New Republic reported, “one of the first bills to be introduced will no doubt be the full employment bill of 1945, designed to carry out item number one in the Economic Bill of Rights.” The Nation joined The New Republic in endorsing the full-employment bill. “Mr. Roosevelt’s program,” it concluded, “is squarely based on the best economic authority available. It is entirely consistent with the economic doctrines of the distinguished British economist Lord Keynes.”

On September 6, 1945, President Harry Truman gave a major speech in which he supported the Economic Bill of Rights, especially a full-employment bill. Most congressmen, however, rejected both. Rep. Harold Knutson (R-Minn.) said, “Nobody knows what the President’s full employment bill will cost American taxpayers, but the aggregate will be enormous.”

Instead, Knutson and many other congressmen favored cutting tax rates and slashing the size of government as the best measure to restore economic growth. Senator Albert Hawkes (R-N.J.) even argued that “the repeal of the excess-profits tax, in my opinion, may raise more revenue for the United States than would be raised if it were retained.” Hawkes proved to be prophetic. After vigorous debate Congress scrapped the Economic Bill of Rights and cut tax rates instead. American business then expanded, revenues to the Treasury increased to balance the federal budget, and unemployment was only 3.9 percent in 1946 and 1947. The Great Depression was over.

20121124_Folsom20121ABOUT BURTON FOLSOM

Burton Folsom, Jr. is a professor of history at Hillsdale College and author (with his wife, Anita) of FDR Goes to War.

10 Things You Need to Know About Boehner Suing Obama by Elizabeth Slattery

Last week, the House of Representatives voted to authorize Speaker John Boehner to file a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s failure to fully implement Obamacare. Specifically, the lawsuit will challenge the administration’s delay of the employer mandate—requiring many employers to provide health insurance or pay a fine—that was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1. It’s clear President Obama repeatedly has abused executive power to circumvent Congress and essentially rewrite the law, but this lawsuit still raises a host of questions.

Q: Can you sue the president?

Yes. Presidents enjoy immunity from lawsuits for civil damages resulting from their official acts, but they are not immune from all lawsuits. For example, the Supreme Court allowed Paula Jones’ suit for sexual harassment against President Clinton to proceed while he was in office. Further, members of Congress have filed dozens of lawsuits against presidents over the years. Most have been unsuccessful, usually because members fail to allege a sufficient injury. Since Boehner’s lawsuit will deal with implementing Obamacare, the suit likely will be brought against Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and other executive branch officials charged with carrying out the law. It’s possible Obama won’t actually be named in the lawsuit.

Q: Who will represent the House in court?

The House’s Office of General Counsel routinely represents the House in legal disputes, such as suits to enforce congressional subpoenas or the Speech and Debate Clause. In the past, the House also has hired outside counsel, such as when the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Committee hired former Solicitor General Paul Clement to handle the Defense of Marriage Act litigation.

Q: How will this lawsuit be funded?

As with past lawsuits, the House will appropriate funds to pay for the litigation. The Committee on House Administration will make public quarterly statements in the Congressional Record detailing expenses.

Q: Does the Senate have a role?

The Senate probably is not required to join in the lawsuit. Under the Supreme Court’s precedents, members of Congress have standing to assert personal injuries or direct and concrete institutional injuries. In Coleman v. Miller (1939), the Supreme Court found a group of state senators demonstrated a sufficient institutional injury even though the suit was brought by 26 members of one chamber.

Q: Why would the House sue when it has other remedies?

Boehner has determined filing a lawsuit will be the most effective way to rein in the executive branch. Other remedies do exist—mainly appropriations and impeachment—but they require the Senate’s involvement. The House could try to leverage appropriations to encourage the president to faithfully execute the law, but as Boehner has pointed out, the Democratic Senate could refuse to pass such an appropriations bill. Similarly, impeachment requires conviction by two-thirds of the Senate. Although Boehner’s lawsuit may face obstacles, it would not require Senate concurrence.

Q: What happens if Obama loses?

Courts routinely enforce statutory mandates, such as the express deadlines in Obamacare that the executive branch has “relaxed.” Concerns the president would ignore the courts likely are unfounded. Even though Obama has complained about his losses, “There is no case in which he completely refused to follow a Supreme Court ruling he lost,” said Todd Gaziano,executive director of the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Washington, D.C., center.

Q: What happens if Boehner loses?

Before a court considers the merits of Boehner’s lawsuit, it first must decide whether the House has standing to bring this suit. If a court determines Boehner failed to establish Article III standing (a constitutional requirement for all lawsuits), it would result in dismissal of the case, but it would not mean the court agrees the president acted properly. If the suit is dismissed, it’s possible a private party may file suit, although the lack of private parties is one reason Boehner says his lawsuit is necessary. After members of Congress failed in their challenge to the Line Item Veto Act in Raines v. Byrd in 1997, the Supreme Court struck down the law when the City of New York and a group of private parties challenged it the next year.

Q: Didn’t Bush issue more executive orders than Obama?

Yes, but that is irrelevant to Boehner’s lawsuit. Executive orders are directives issued by the president to run the various parts of the executive branch—ranging from George Washington’s proclamation calling on the militia to put down the Whiskey Rebellion to Harry Truman’s order desegregating the armed forces. Most executive orders throughout our nation’s history are perfectly appropriate and non-controversial. Boehner’s lawsuit does not address Obama’s use of executive orders per se. Instead, the suit will challenge his failure to faithfully execute the law. The American Presidency Project, which has cataloged every executive order, says Bush issued 291 executive orders, Obama has issued 183 to date, and Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the most with more than 3,500.

Q: Will this open the floodgates for Congress and the Executive Branch to turn to the courts to resolve their disputes?

No. There have been plenty of lawsuits brought by members of Congress against presidents and other executive branch officials in the past. The Supreme Court has been pretty clear that courts should not entertain “sore loser” suits where members of Congress sue over a vote they lost. This suit will not change the judiciary’s reluctance to get involved in political disputes between the other branches of government.

Q: Now that the House has authorized the suit, what happens next?

The Wall Street Journal reports the House “isn’t expected to bring the suit for at least another month.” The House Office of General Counsel and any outside lawyers that will be involved in the case likely are deciding which court would be most advantageous and drafting the complaint which will lay out specific allegations as well as the relief the House will seek in its lawsuit.

Peter Bigelow contributed to preparing this Q&A.

ABOUT ELIZABETH SLATTERY

Portrait of Elizabeth Slattery

Elizabeth Slattery @EHSlattery

Elizabeth Slattery writes about the rule of law, the proper role of the courts, civil rights and equal protection, and the scope of constitutional provisions such as the Commerce Clause and the Recess Appointments Clause as a legal fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read her research.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio gives defining pro-family, pro-straight and pro-American speech

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has taken on social issues in a major speech given at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Senator Rubio is taking the high ground on issues that are important to the majority of Americans.

In “Strong Values for a Strong America” Rubio states, “A strong America is not possible without strong Americans – a people formed by the values necessary for success, the values of education and hard work, strong marriages and empowered parents. These are values that made us the greatest nation ever, and these are the values that will lead us to a future even better than our past.”

Rubio notes, “No one is born with the values crucial to the success sequence. They have to be taught to us and they have to be reinforced. Strong families are the primary and most effective teachers of these values. As the social philosopher Michael Novak once said, the family is the original and best department of health, education and welfare. It is crucial in developing the character of the young. And those efforts can be reinforced in our schools, religious institutions, civic groups and our society.”

Rubio comes out strong as the pro-family, pro-straight and pro-American candidate for President in 2016. Immediately after his speech Rubio was attacked for the following statement:

Now, I know that given the current cultural debates in our country, many expect that a speech on values would necessarily touch upon issues like same sex marriage and abortion. These are important issues and they relate to deeply held beliefs and deeply divisive ideas.

We should acknowledge that our history is marred by discrimination against gays and lesbians. There was once a time when the federal government not only banned the hiring of gay employees, it required private contractors to identify and fire them. Some laws prohibited gays from being served in bars and restaurants. And many cities carried out law enforcement efforts targeting gay Americans.

Fortunately, we have come a long way since then. But many committed gay and lesbian couples feel humiliated by the law’s failure to recognize their relationship as a marriage. And supporters of same sex marriage argue that laws banning same sex marriage are discrimination.

I respect their arguments. And I would concede that they pose a legitimate question for lawmakers and for society.

But there is another side of debate. Thousands of years of human history have shown that the ideal setting for children to grow up is with a mother and a father committed to one another, living together, and sharing the responsibility of raising their children. And since traditional marriage has such an extraordinary record of success at raising children into strong and successful adults, states in our country have long elevated this institution and set it apart in our laws.

That is the definition of marriage that I personally support – not because I seek to discriminate against people who love someone of the same sex, but because I believe that the union of one man and one woman is a special relationship that has proven to be of great benefit to our society, our nation and our people, and therefore deserves to be elevated in our laws.

Watch the YouTube video of Rubio’s speech:

Read the full text of Rubio’s speech here.

In Florida 1 million Christians either did not register or did not vote in the 2010 general election. Obama won Florida by less than 80,000 votes. Perhaps Rubio is on to something?

When tolerance becomes a one-way street it leads to at best religious intolerance and at its worst social suicide. Rubio has taken the moral high ground.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of  M.Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO.