The Fifteen Charts Obama Doesn’t Want You to See

Amy Payne from The Foundry writes, “Talking about Obamacare’s effects is one thing; seeing hard data is another. Heritage’s newly updated Obamacare in Pictures has 15 charts that show the law’s effects on Americans—from canceled insurance policies to new taxes, Medicare cuts, reduced choice for plans, and more.”

Higher Ed: Bubble, Toil and Trouble by SANDY IKEDA

Interest rates have been in the news again so for this week’s column I thought I’d do a little back-of-the-envelope economic analysis.

What Does this Sound Like to You?

The government artificially lowers interest rates for borrowers who want to invest in a particular sector of the economy. Other things equal, that will increase the demand for assets in that sector as borrowers are misled into believing they will be worth more in the future than they actually will be. The current price of those assets will climb as will the quantity supplied (i.e., the demand curve slides up the supply curve). Borrowers will then clamor to keep borrowing rates low (or even lower) so they can afford to complete their investments, although that would also attract new borrowers. So pressure on demand continues and investment costs soar as asset prices and output keep rising.

Now, because government has kept interest rates artificially low—below the rate that would accurately reflect the actual supply and demand in the loan market—there is too much investment in those assets in relation to the actual demand for it. That means when investors try to sell their assets they will find no market for them. At that point the bubble bursts, bringing complementary sectors down with it.

If the Shoe Fits

If you think this describes the housing market from 2001 to 2006, you’d be right. Just substitute housing/houses for asset/assets and “financial sector” for “complementary sectors” in the above narrative and you would get an accurate (though incomplete) summary of the recent housing boom and bust. (For an excellent discussion of this episode, see Peter Boettke and Steven Horwitz’s essay.)

But you could substitute “higher education” into the story as well.

As an author of the Economix blog over at The New York Times reports, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that “college tuition and fees today are 559 percent of their cost in 1985. In other words, they have nearly sextupled (while consumer prices have roughly doubled).” There’s a nice diagram in the post illustrating this. Tuition has been far outpacing price increases over time for consumer items, medical care, and gasoline.

Author Catherine Rampell argues, however, that “the main cause of tuition growth has been huge state funding cuts.” As an employee of a state university I can confirm that these cutbacks have indeed been taking place over the past couple of decades. The author offers some evidence to support her claim, but if you look closely, the dramatic rise in tuition still seems to outstrip the relative fall in state subsidies.

More importantly, if what she argues is true, why is it that college enrollment over the same period has been rising?

In basic economic terms, she is arguing that because the colleges are bearing more of the actual costs, the supply curve for college education has been shifting upward and to the left—causing tuition to rise and enrollment to fall. But the evidence points to a rightward shifting demand curve (like the narrative I sketched at the outset), which accounts for both the higher tuition and higher enrollment.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics,

Enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased by 11 percent between 1990 and 2000. Between 2000 and 2010, enrollment increased 37 percent, from 15.3 million to 21.0 million.

Between 2000 and 2010, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds increased from 27.3 million to 30.7 million, an increase of 12 percent, and the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college rose from 35 percent in 2000 to 41 percent in 2010.

The Stafford loan program, which subsidizes student loans, began in 1988.

If Rampell is right, then shouldn’t enrollment be falling? Instead it is rising disproportionately. Just as the housing bust left tracts of houses unused, a higher-education bust would create a small army of unemployed young people.

An Act of Independence?

But just as overbuilt housing can be used for some lower-valued purpose than it was intended for, investment in education—which is sometimes more accurately described as “spending on a credential”—often goes “underemployed.”  So growing underemployment of college grads is something we should keep an eye out for.

According to The Huffington Post, “half of recent grads are working jobs that don’t require a degree, according to research from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, released in January.”

The same article notes, “In 2000, before the economy fell into a recession, the share of recent college graduates who were either jobless or underemployed hit an 11 year low of 41 percent, according to the Associated Press.”

Now, as an article from The Washington Post makes clear, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: Some jobs don’t require a specific degree. Also, it’s unrealistic in a dynamic economy to expect the major you choose when you’re 20 to match what your comparative advantage will be later in life.

Still, it’s probably true that many young people who would otherwise get the training they need for productive jobs from trade schools and community colleges are applying to and getting into four-year colleges, as the lower rates tend to offer a higher subsidy to the latter. (Example: The savings from a lower rate on a $50,000 liberal arts college loan is greater than the savings on a $10,000 loan for community college.)

This week Congress takes a holiday to celebrate Independence Day. One of the things they’re leaving undone is negotiating a measure to keep the rates on Stafford loans from rising from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Given the very real possibility of a bubble in higher education, that may actually be a blessing.

The first step to avoiding a huge bust, though some kind of correction seems to be inevitable, would be to let the Stafford-loan rates rise to reflect the realities of the loan market. That could mean a significant break in the vicious boom-bust cycle in higher education.  The question is, does Congress have the will to do nothing?

ABOUT SANDY IKEDA

Sandy Ikeda is an associate professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism. He will be speaking at the FEE summer seminars “People Aren’t Pawns” and “Are Markets Just?

Louisiana: Foreign Operated Charter School State Legislation Introduced

Kenilworth Science and Technology School(1)

Gulen Science Academy Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Turkey’s Sunni Muslim Brotherhood Islamist leader, Premier Erdogan, this June could become the country’s first elected Executive President modeled on the US and France. It would give him enormous powers furthering his goal of creating a neo-Ottoman Caliphate.  Erdogan’s former ally, Sufi Sheik Muhammed Fethullah Gülen launched a major split in December 2013, after Erdogan banned non-state run preparatory school. This was, aimed squarely at the Gulen academies, a major source of the multi-billion dollar Gulen Movement (GM) global empire. The GM supplies Turkish nonimmigrant foreign workers to more than 1,000 private preparatory schools in over 100 countries, including more than 135 Charter schools in 20 states here in the US.

The expat Sheik Gulen, a resident alien, occupies a fortified compound in the Poconos Mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania. In retaliation, GM followers in Turkey’s public prosecutors and judiciary launched a series of investigations against Erdogan.  The investigations revealed extensive family involvement with funneling funds via Saudi global terrorist financier for Al Qaeda –backed militias in Syria, bribery payments on major construction projects, illicit gold for gas trades with Iran and muzzling free speech with shutdown of Twitter and You Tube.  Recent municipal election victories in Turkey in late March have paved the way for changes in the country’s basic Constitutional law enabling Erdogan to seek the new form of Presidency. That could have his AK party extend its power a decade beyond the current 11 year tenure of the Islamist party in Ankara’s parliament.

What we have in Turkey today is a contest between two Islamists. Erdogan, seeking to convert the country into a Caliphate with a one time election to an executive Presidency, versus, Gulen “the world’s most dangerous Islamist” slowly perfects the same goal.

The GM connection here in the US is of interest, because of the controversy over the movement’s control of dozens of Math and Science academies operating with US taxpayer funding as charter schools. According to one source there are more than 135 Gulen charter schools with an enrollment of 45,000 students in over 20 states in the US. The staffs of these US charter schools are manned by Turkish Gulenists who enter the US under the H-1B visa program. There have been expose’s on the US Gulen science academies in Texas and elsewhere published by the New York Times. The Gulen  Harmony Schools in Texas received  $30 million in  grants  from the US Department of Education “Race to the Top” program.

We posted on an FBI raid of a Gulen science academy in Louisiana. Because of the problems with the Gulen charter schools, many states have either passed or are considering legislation that would control the proportion of H-1B Visa staff employed at Gulen-sponsored charter schools. The Gulen movement charter school program has been supported by the Gates and Walton Family Foundations.  The Walton Family Foundation contributed more than $1 million for Gulen schools in California, alone. Former President Bill Clinton has gone on record supporting the GM interfaith dialogue and educational development program in 2008. GM members were alleged to have contributed to Hillary Clinton’s failed Presidential Campaign in 2008.

Gulen’s immigration status came into question in the same year, 2008, in actions brought by the US Department of Homeland Security. Note what the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) reported:

In 2008, negative U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service decisions threatened to deny Gulen’s application for permanent residency. A federal court reversed the rulings after receiving 29 letters on Gulen’s behalf. One of those letters came from [Prof. John] Esposito [of Georgetown University]… after his Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding received donations from the [GM] and sponsored a conference in [Gulen’s] honor.

We noted in a December 2013  Iconoclast post a report by Christopher Holton on the FBI investigations into Gulen  Louisiana charter schools and the efforts by a Texas-based GM charity to stop legislation controlling the influx of Turkish adherents under the H-1B visa program:

The story broke in Baton Rouge media that the Kenilworth Science & Technology School had been raided by the FBI.

The FBI indicated that the raid, which evidently was conducted to gather material evidence in the form of documents and computers, was not a matter of public safety. As a result, it probably was not related to a report earlier this year that a teacher at the school was accused of having inappropriate pictures of children on his cell phone.

Had those charges stuck, that would have been the second scandal of a sexual nature involving a Gulenist school in Louisiana. Abramson Science & Technology Charter School in New Orleans was shut down back in 2011 in the wake of a scandal that started as an investigation into sexual activity involving students at the school and evolved into a possible public bribery investigation. Abramson operated under the same charter organization that Kenilworth operates under: Pelican Educational Foundation.

During the course of the investigation into Abramson, Pelican’s ties to the Gulenist movement were revealed.

[ . . . ]

State Representative Cameron Henry in the 2013 legislative session … filed a bill that would have limited the number of employees hired by Louisiana state-funded charter schools who were in the country on H-1B visas. Henry’s legislation would have gotten right to the heart of the matter – with a very reasonable restriction that no more than 3.5 percent of the school’s employees be H-1B visa recipients (or 1 in 29), and that the people or groups submitting requests to start charter schools be American citizens.

Unfortunately, Henry’s bill hit hard where it hurt for some powerful, politically connected people in Louisiana. It seems that the number one donor to the Louisiana Republican Party in 2012 was none other than a Gulenist organization out of Texas. Kemal Oksuz, president of the Turquoise Council, a Texas-based group closely related to the Gulenist movement and the Harmony charter schools in that state, donated $83,000 to the state GOP, making him its largest donor during 2012.

Fast forward to the current 2014 legislative session in Baton Rouge and the re-introduction of restrictive legislation aimed at employment of nonimmigrant Turkish workers in Louisiana charter schools.

HB 1243 was introduced by Reps.  Hodges and Pope, in the Louisiana legislature in late March 2014. The bill’s purposes are to establish conditions for “approval of certain charter school proposals and provides relative to prohibitions on the employment of nonimmigrant foreign workers in charter schools, with exceptions.”  The bill denies” approval of charter school applications if  staff  positions  with  nonimmigrant  foreign  workers  unless the  charter  school  plans  to  take  affirmative  action  to  recruit,  select,  employ,  and  train nonimmigrant  foreign  workers  regardless  of race, color, religion, sex, national ancestry,  or  national  origin.”   The legislation defines a non immigrant foreign worker as ” as an individual  who  has  a  visa  pursuant  to  certain provisions  of  the  federal Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965’. Further it states that “non-immigrant foreign worker” shall not mean a teacher who spends more than half of his time providing instruction in or teaching a foreign language.”

Similar legislation was introduced in the 2014 Mississippi legislature.  HB510 contains similar bars against employment of nonimmigrant foreign workers.  Section 37-28-47 1. (b) of the, Mississippi Code of 1972, would be amended as follows:

 A charter school may not staff positions for teachers, administrators, ancillary support personnel or other employees by utilizing or otherwise relying on non-immigrant foreign worker visa programs.  However, a charter school may submit a request to the authorizer for an exception allowing the employment of a non-immigrant foreign worker before the worker is employed.  The authorizer may grant permission for the employment of the non-immigrant foreign worker only if the charter school makes a satisfactory showing of efforts to recruit lawful permanent residents of the United States to fill the position and a lack of qualified applicants to fill the position.

In May  2011, we were asked to prepare a presentation to brief the Tennessee House Speaker about the GM charter schools investigations at that time and the purported abuses of the H-1B visa program for nonimmigrant foreign workers, see here.  In May 2012, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam allowed the law restricting the employment of nonimmigrant foreign workers for Charter schools approved by the state despite his misgiving and those of the State’s attorney general in an October 2012 opinion indicated  that the provisions might be unlawful under the equal protection provisions of the US Fourteenth Amendment.   A  Knoxville News .com report on the 2012 Tennessee legislation noted its provisions vis vis foreign interests, including funding as well as restriction on employment of nonimmigrant foreign workers:

The governor announced on May 2, 2012, that the bill restricting foreign interests in charter schools would go into law without his signature.

Under the act, which takes effect July 1, 2012, a chartering authority may not approve an application if a school plans to rely on “non-immigrant foreign worker H-1B or J1 visa programs in excess of 3.5 percent of the total number of positions,”  if operators of the proposed school have been affiliated with other schools that have been “subjects of investigation by any government agencies for questionable use of non-immigrant foreign worker visa programs,” or if  the school is controlled by foreign nationals. Certain provisions of the law do not apply if the chartering authority is a local education agency and the agency itself uses foreign worker visa programs to fill more than 3.5 percent of its staff.

The law also states that charter school applications and renewals shall disclose all sources of private funds and all funds from foreign sources.

The emergence of restrictive employment of non-immigrant foreign workers will take a long time to be adopted by Louisiana and Mississippi, notwithstanding the relatively quick adoption in Tennessee.  Given the battles in Turkey between the AK party of Premier Erdogan and former ally Sheik Gulen there will doubtless be intense pressure to place GM Turkish adherents through its global private academy and charter school network.

There is a further compounding factor that should be considered. The attractiveness of investment in private run charter schools to so-called entrepreneurial immigrants under the EB-5 Visa system. In exchange for a $500,000 private investment, the investor receives an immediate green card.  Note this Reuters article, “The new US visa rush: Build a charter school, get a green card”:

Wealthy individuals from as far away as China, Nigeria, Russia and Australia are spending tens of millions of dollars to build classrooms, libraries, basketball courts and science labs for American charter schools.

In Buffalo, New York, foreign funds paid for the Health Sciences Charter School to renovate a 19th-century orphanage into modern classrooms and computer labs. In Florence, Arizona, overseas investment is expected to finance a sixth campus for the booming chain of American Leadership Academy charter schools.

And in Florida, state business development officials say foreign investment in charter schools is poised to triple next year, to $90 million.

The reason? Under a federal program known as EB-5, wealthy foreigners can in effect buy U.S. immigration visas for themselves and their families by investing at least $500,000 in certain development projects.

The GM has latched on to a good thing in the Charter School system here in the US. It provides a platform for indoctrinating American children in its form of Turkish Islamism supplying employment for GM adherents. The EB-5 system would bolster investment in Charter Schools not only by the GM but also by the Muslim Brotherhood perfecting its form of Da’wah to Somali émigré children. That occurred in Minneapolis with the Muslim American Society control of the Tarek Ibn Zayed Academy subjected to a suit by the Minnesota branch of the ACLU in violation of the establishment clause of the First Amendment.  Let’s see if these bills can make it through the Louisiana and Mississippi legislatures in the waning days of the 2014 sessions. Those legislative bills  and the Tennessee law are a work in process that other states with GM charter school problems might consider investigating as remedies.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Arne Duncan Plays the Common Core Distancing Game

On April 2, 2014, Louisiana has witnessed the lame demonstration of “Common Core distancing” from the governor (Bobby Jindal) who signed the state onto “the standards” (CCSS) in 2009– before they were written.

In 2010, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan accepted Louisiana’s CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding) despite the majority of Louisiana school districts rejecting the idea.

Like Jindal, Duncan has begun playing the CCSS Distancing Game. He first did so when when Indiana appeared to be the first state to drop CCSS, in March 2014.

On March 15, 2014, Duncan publicly stated that “states are free to completely discard Common Core.”

This is the same Duncan who told newspaper editors in June 2013 how to favorably report on CCSS.

This is the same Duncan who insulted “White suburban mothers” and blamed them for CCSS resistance in November 2013, then offered no apology.

Now, on April 8, 2014, Duncan has told the House Appropriations Subcommittee that he “just likes high standards”:

“I’m just a big proponent of high standards. Whether they’re common or not is secondary,” he told members of the House appropriations subcommittee that works on health, education, and other related issues. [Emphasis added.]

And at this point, Duncan falls back on the “or other common standards” clause included in the Race to the Top (RTTT) application. You see, the House Appropriations Committee questioned Duncan on the apparent requirement that states agree to CCSS in order to compete for RTTT money.

Duncan states that “zero” federal grant money is contingent upon CCSS since states could have chosen to form their own “common standards.”

Duncan is drawing on a clause in the 2010 Blueprint for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization:

States may either choose to upgrade their existing standards, working with their 4-year public university system to certify that mastery of the standards ensures that a student will not need to take remedial coursework upon admission to a postsecondary institution in the system, or work with other states to create state-developed common standards that build toward college- and career-readiness. 

Never mind that the federal government would still be controlling state standards by ultimately deciding if the evidence offered is “good enough” for state receipt of federal money.

The author of the April 8, 2014, EdWeek article, Michele McNeil, isn’t convinced of Duncan’s “zero” response:

But when it comes to competitive grants, the answer is more complicated than “zero.”The administration’s original $4 billion Race to the Top program awarded 40 points to states for developing and adopting common standards. All 12 of those winners have adopted the standards, and have not backed off. What’s more, a separate, $360 million Race to the Top contest to fund common tests was based on the premise that states needed help developing such assessments based on the common standards. But technically, aligning to the common core wasn’t required (you just probably weren’t going to win without it).

Duncan’s testimony, which didn’t contain such nuances, illustrates the fine line the department continues to walk between supporting states as they implement the common core, and not giving critics ammunition to cry “federal overreach.” [Emphasis added.]

Duncan (and Obama) will be crossing that “fine line” should they make CCSS a definitive component of the FY2015 ESEA reauthorization blueprint, a direction that the Cato Institute believes the Obama administration plans to follow.

Proponents of CCSS are fond of saying that “federal overreach” is an unsubstantiated complaint.

Not so, according to ESEA Subpart Two,Section 9527(c)(1):

(c) PROHIBITION ON REQUIRING FEDERAL APPROVAL OR CERTIFICATION OF STANDARDS-

(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal law, no State shall be required to have academic content or student academic achievement standards approved or certified by the Federal Government, in order to receive assistance under this Act. [Emphasis added.]

However, given the Obama/Duncan love of education privatization, I don’t think the ultimate goal is federal control of American “common,” public education.

I think the ultimate Obama/Duncan goal is for-profit education company control of American education– but no longer public.

For-profit control of American education can only lead to the end game of not educating all American children– just the “common” ones who might be exploited for profit.

The children of privilege– Obama’s children and Duncan’s children– will be exempt from “common” privatization betrayal.

Is Lying About Climate Change Okay?

Those of us who have chronicled the global warming hoax, now called “climate change”, know that it is based on decades of lies about carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gas” with predictions that the Earth will heat up and cause massive problems unless those emissions are drastically reduced by not using coal, oil and natural gas.

Two American think tanks, The Heartland Institute and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) have been among those exposing those lies for years. The lies have been generated and led by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“Despite the panel’s insistence that the Earth is getting hotter, five different datasets show that there have been no observable warming for 17 and a half years even as carbon dioxide levels have risen 12%,” notes Christopher Monckton, a science advisor to Britain’s former Prime Minister Thatcher. “The discrepancy between prediction and observation continues to grow.”

Recently, two Chinese assistant professors of economics, Fuhai Hong and Xiaojian Zhao, were published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. Their paper, “Information Manipulation and Climate Agreements”, openly advocated lying about global warming/climate change in order to get nations to sign on to the International Environmental Agreement.

“It appears that news media and some pro-environmental organizations,” they noted, “have the tendency to accentuate or even exaggerate the damage caused by climate change. This article provides a rationale for this tendency.”

Craig Rucker, CFACT’s Executive Director, responded to the Chinese authors saying “They’re shameless.” Theirs and others ends-justify-the-means tactics reflects the attitudes and actions of environmental organizations and serves as a warning to never accept anything they say on any aspect of this huge hoax.

CFACT’s President and co-founder, David Rothbard, noted that “Global warming skeptics have long charged that alarmists are over-hyping the dangers of climate change.” How long? Back in 1989, the late Stanford University professor, Stephen Schneider, said, “So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ which we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance between being effective and being honest.”

There is no “right balance” between telling lies and telling the truth when it comes to science or any other aspect of our lives. Suffice to say that thousands of scientists who participated in the IPCC reports over the years supported the lies, but many have since left and some have openly denounced the reports.

As the latest IPCC summary of its report has garnered the usual verbatim media coverage of its outlandish predictions, The Heartland Institute has released its own 1,062 page report from the “Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) called “Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts. An 18-page summary is available at http://ClimateChangeReconsidered.org.

Among its findings:

  • Atmospheric carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.
  • There is little or no risk of increasing food insecurity due to global warming or rising atmospheric CO2 levels.
  • Rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 levels do not pose a significant threat to aquatic life.
  • A modest warming of the planet will result in a net reduction of human mortality from temperature-related events.

Based on hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, the NIPCC report is free of the lies that are found in the IPCC report whose studies have been, at best, dubious, and at worst, deliberately deceptive.

In light of the natural cooling cycle the Earth has been in that is good news and it will be even better news when the planet emerges from the cycle that reflects the lower levels of radiation from the Sun.

On March 31, CNS News reported that “The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report estimates it will cost developed nations an additional $100 billion each year to help poorer nations adapt to the devastating effects of ‘unequivocal’ global warming, including food shortages, infrastructure breakdown, and civil violence. But that figure was deleted from the report’s executive summary after industrial nations, including the United States, objected to the high price tag.”

The price tag reveals the IPCC’s real agenda, the transfer of funds from industrial nations to those less developed. It’s about the money and always has been. It’s not global warming the planet needs to survive, it is the costly lies about it.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

The EPA’s Taking of Nevada 1-2-3

The Freedoms guaranteed individuals by the US Constitution continues to be eroded by the Obama administration.  When the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) took possession of millions of dollars in private property and cattle herds in violation of the provisions of the Bill of Rights and the Tenth Amendment, the Federal Government violated Nevada’s State Sovereignty, Nevada’s State Law and the Clark County Sheriff’s Law Enforcement authority.  The Environmental Protection Agency pushed for the confiscation of the land and confiscation of the ranch owner’s herd of 908 cattle, in order to protect the food source for the desert tortoise; yet there has always been plenty of food available to feed the grazing cattle and the desert tortoise for 144 years.

VIDEO: Protesters at the Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada take on the Feds and stand their ground. Bundy Ranch Protesters were tasered by federal agents and attacked by K9’s. WARNING STRONG LANGUAGE:

4-540x335The Bureau of Land Management, in support of the Environmental Protection Agency, imposed fines of $1 million on a rancher for allowing his cattle to graze on the open range, which is public land. The family owned ranch has had cattle grazing rights on the public land which is the open range, since 1870, for a period of 144 years.  Although the US Government’s action was opposed by the Governor of Nevada and the County Sheriff in whose jurisdiction the land grab occurred, 200 heavily armed federal agents ignored the State and County’s opposition and moved in on the rancher.

While the federal agents were taking possession of the ranch owner’s herd of 908 cattle, they were threatening the rancher’s family members, in order to prevent them from taking photos of the land and cattle grab (his son was arrested for taking photos). The federal agents also arrested the rancher and one of the federal agents ground the rancher’s head into the dirt with his boot on the rancher’s head.

2-e1396998819209Over the last 5 years, the Obama administration has had a great deal of experience oppressing American citizens, in the US Armed Forces, who did not have the freedom to object; the above action against the rancher seems to be a shift in the oppression of freedoms from military personnel to civilians. In the US Armed Forces, Chaplain’s Freedom of Speech in the pulpit has been curbed, Religious Freedom of military personnel who oppose homosexuality on religious grounds is restricted, refusal of the resident of the Oval Office to send a rescue force to save the lives of 4 Americans murdered in Benghazi has resulted in a loss in faith by military personnel of their leaders, the failure of the resident of the Oval Office to protect 14,000 straight military males from sexual assaults by new gay members entering the military has been covered up, and forcing new and dangerous Rules of Engagement (ROE) on military personnel in combat has resulted in an increase casualty rate of 358%.

The oppressive actions by the Obama administration over the last 5 years, toward personnel in the US Armed Forces, is negatively affecting “Combat Effectiveness” and/or has been in violation of the US Constitution; those restrictions of freedom in the military personnel, seems to be migrating toward civilians in the US as well, and if nothing is done to oppose the action in Nevada by the Obama administration, the restrictions of freedoms of American citizens, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights will continue to increase.

IMG_3144-e1396998660335The Obama administration has been employing government agencies to apply pressure on Obama’s political opponents, and those government agencies have been restricting the freedoms of Americans citizens in the Republic. Examples of how the Obama administration has been employing government agencies to oppress Obama’s opponents are as follows: the IRS scandal prevented hundreds of conservatives organization from participating in the 2012 Presidential election, the Fast & Furious gun running scandal executed by DOJ was designed to restrict gun rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment, the Socialist Obamacare Law was passed to take control of one-sixth of the US economy and replace The Free Enterprise System with a Socialist system.

Cancellation of the stockholders ownership of General Motors that they paid for, and giving control of General Motors to unions was unlawful. Directing the NSA to gather information on organizations and individuals that are opposed to the Obama administration has been opposed by conservative organizations, Obama’s refusal to enforce Federal Immigration Laws designed to protect American citizens from dangerous Illegal Criminal Immigrant resulted in Obama freeing 68,000 Illegal Criminal Immigrants into the general public, and the current assault on the rancher in Nevada by the BLM is in violation of Nevada State Laws, the Tenth Amendment and The Bill of Rights; if the BLM and the Environmental protection agency is allowed to get away with the illegal confiscation of personal property, more of those actions in violation of the US Constitution will be perpetrated by the Obama administration.

Will the Republican leadership in the House take action to protect the individual Freedoms of American citizens guaranteed by the US Constitution—they have the power of the purse to put pressure on all government agencies?

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Climate Consensus: Do Little for Now by DANIEL SUTTER

The 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projects that continued emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG) will raise the earth’s temperature by 1.8°C (3.2°F) and sea level by one foot by 2100. Projected climate changes, if they come to pass, will have a number of effects on society, though not all of those effects will be negative.

Although debate over the IPCC’s projections continues, less attention has been focused on the ultimately more important result: Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) implies we should do very little to prevent climate change. Instead, we should create wealth. Expanding the productive capacity of the economy will compensate future generations better than reductions in GHG will. A richer world in 2100, after all, will be able to afford to do things like relocating people affected by rising sea levels and constructing new port facilities and seawalls.

report by the liberal Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University observes, “Economists frequently . . . calculate the optimal policy response [to climate change]. This calculation often leads to the conclusion that relatively little should be done for now.”

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Businesses operate under the discipline of profit and loss based on market prices. Profit signals that an action generates benefits for the economy. Government does not face the discipline of profit and loss, but CBA, performed honestly, offers guidance about whether government actions benefit society.

Measures to reduce GHG emissions today typically fail a cost-benefit test due to the discounting of benefits. Discounting refers to applying a real interest rate to future values. Two arguments support discounting in CBA. The first is impatience, or what economists call time preference: $100 is worth more today than it is one year from now, even without inflation. The second is the return on savings and investment, or the opportunity cost of capital. Money spent now to reduce GHG could be saved and invested instead. The interest rate equates impatience and the return on investment on the margin, as investors must be compensated for delaying consumption.

Discounting

The mathematics of discounting makes values more than about 50 years in the future worth little today. The federal government makes cost-benefit calculations using 3 percent and 7 percent annual real (or adjusted for inflation) interest rates, approximating the historical risk-free interest rate and the annual real return on stocks. The present value of $1 million 100 years from now is $52,000 at a 3 percent discount rate, and $1,150 at a 7 percent discount rate. To see how this affects climate change economics, suppose that spending $100 billion annually—starting right now—we could prevent $1 trillion in annual damage, beginning in 100 years. The ratio of $10 in benefits to every $1 in costs appears favorable, but this fails a benefit-cost test at either a 7 percent or 3 percent real discount rate.

Some observers respond to this math by arguing against discounting in climate change economics. Time preference is a questionable argument in intergenerational settings because future beneficiaries will not have to wait 100 years to realize climate benefits. But the opportunity cost argument remains. The Stern Commission in the U.K. applied an implausibly low discount rate to its calculations. Others imagine current benefits from GHG reductions rendering discounting irrelevant. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) included private benefits in a CBA of higher fuel economy standards to reduce GHG emissions, arguing that making people purchase higher-mileage cars than they prefer makes car buyers better off. Creating benefits today effectively makes reducing GHG a free lunch.

Wealthier is Healthier

Resources put into reducing GHG can’t be invested elsewhere, so the opportunity cost of GHG reduction amounts to the returns that could have been expected, based on historical rates. Maintaining opportunities to invest and create wealth for future generations requires the institutions of a market economy, or a high level of economic freedom, as the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World: 2012 Annual Report demonstrates. Bequeathing a higher standard of living to future generations also requires preserving economic freedom. Discounting mathematics ultimately tells us that economic freedom addresses climate change more effectively than energy central planning through carbon taxes or cap-and-trade.

Compensating the “victims” of climate change with extra wealth does have a potential limit. Extra resources provide inadequate compensation if climate change dramatically alters the world. Money will not typically fully compensate for a catastrophic injury; a quadriplegic is unlikely to enjoy the same level of utility or satisfaction after his injury, even if his medical bills and care needs are paid. Wealth accumulation would not adequately compensate future generations if climate change produced a world like those depicted in Waterworld and The Day After Tomorrow. Future generations would not be adequately compensated if climate change destroyed the economy’s ability to produce goods and services. Fortunately Waterworld is the stuff of Hollywood fiction; the largest of the upper range of sea level rise in any 2007 IPCC climate scenario is about 2 feet. That will have serious consequences, but it will hardly flood the entire world. It can be offset by wealth accumulation.

A Hundred-Year Plan?

Property rights and prices lead basically self-interested people to worry about the future. For example, property rights and markets for existing homes provide owners with incentives to keep their houses livable long after they plan to own them. And yet the mathematics of discounting implies that events too far in the future should not affect decisions much today. Growth, progress, and creative destruction limit the horizon for detailed planning in a market economy. Imagine a business in 1900 trying to plan its operations in 2000. The plan could not have included automobiles, planes, television and radio, satellites, computers, and many other conveniences of modern life.

Now let’s project ahead and consider planning for climate change. A number of fundamental innovations could substantially reduce if not eliminate the threat from climate change, such as effective, low-cost carbon sequestration or effective weather modification to smooth out precipitation patterns. And the development of a radical new clean energy source like nuclear fusion could render remaining stocks of fossil fuels uneconomic at any price.

Conclusion

A dynamic market economy will feature too much creative destruction to allow detailed planning for the distant future. Nothing is sure in a market economy 10 years from now, much less 100 years, and discounting in cost-benefit analysis simply reflects this reality. The economic future becomes more predictable when government controls economic activity, but then stagnation results. Discounting in climate change economics tells us to create wealth to protect future generations. Economic freedom and the institutions of the market economy, not central planning of energy use, are the prudent policy approaches to a changing climate.

ABOUT DANIEL SUTTER

Daniel Sutter is the Charles Koch Professor of Economics at the Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University.

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

Petroleum exports: good for consumers, coffers, companies by Paul Driessen

Eliminating prohibition on exporting US oil and gas will help families, security, allies.

America’s crude petroleum export ban is an antiquated byproduct of the 1973 Arab oil embargo. Repeal is long overdue.

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has sent U.S. oil, natural gas, and propane production soaring. Natural gas output is up 36% since 2005. Oil output is expected to increase another 780,000 barrels per day (BOPD) in 2014 and reach 9.6 million BOPD by 2019. The United States is now importing half of what it did in 2005.

All this activity has created millions of oil patch and downstream jobs. Royalty and tax revenues have skyrocketed, and cheaper natural gas fuels and feed stocks have fostered a manufacturing and petrochemical renaissance.

Expanding natural gas use has also reduced carbon dioxide emissions, which should encourage people who still worry about “dangerous manmade climate change.”

petroleumbyproducts

For a larger view click on the pie chart.

Increased production has also enabled companies to export more gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, lubricants, and other finished products, since refined product exports were never prohibited. Indeed, U.S. refining capacity is at record levels.

However, because they were designed to process heavier crude oils, refineries are limited in how much domestic sweet crude they can handle. Exports would provide an important outlet for excess crude supplies. That in turn would encourage additional exploration and production, protecting jobs, further revitalizing our economy, and multiplying royalty and tax revenues.

That exploration and production must go beyond state and private lands, though. Opening more federal onshore and offshore lands to leasing and drilling is essential and would magnify these benefits many times over. These resources belong to all Americans, not only to those who oppose fossil fuel use.

In many cases, adding fracking to the equation would expand supplies even further, by making otherwise marginal plays more economic to produce, reinvigorating old oil and gas fields, prolonging oil field life, and leaving fewer energy resources behind in rock formations.

Asia needs the energy to fuel its growing economy and support its still inadequate petroleum production infrastructure. Most of Europe’s natural gas comes from Russia, which charges high prices, engages in energy blackmail, and is rattling sabers in Crimea, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Right now, many European countries prohibit fracking, and EU climate and renewable energy policies have sent business and family energy prices into the stratosphere, killing jobs and preventing families from heating their homes properly.

Expanding domestic U.S. oil and gas production and exports would aid EU workers and families, while also improving America’s gross domestic product, balance of trade, national security, job growth, and prestige. Contrary to what some have argued, American consumers would also benefit, because exports would help stabilize global supplies and prices, keep OPEC and Russian price hikers at bay, and make the United States less reliant on imports and less vulnerable to supply disruptions.

What actually hurts consumers are government and environmentalist opposition to leasing, drilling, fracking, pipelines, and hydrocarbons – and their support for expensive, land-intensive, water-hungry, lower-energy-content ethanol and biofuel “alternatives.”

It is possible that the current $9 per barrel difference between U.S. and global oil prices could shrink slightly if some oil is exported. Barclays Bank says eliminating the export ban could add $10 billion a year to overall national gasoline costs.

However, this potential increase is just 3% of an average household’s annual $2,912 gasoline outlay. That’s $87 a year or $1.68 a week – half the price of pumpinggasone Starbucks Latte Grande.

The consumer impact of America’s massive land and petroleum resource lockdowns is much higher.

Of course, realizing these benefits requires producing more, ending the export ban, and building more pipelines, natural gas liquefaction plants, and shipping facilities. That can and should be expedited.

Europe can and should produce more of its own oil and gas. It has vast petroleum potential waiting to be tapped via fracking. Opposition to producing this petroleum is no more ethical than environmentalist demands that the United States keep its own enormous untapped petroleum supplies locked up, while we deplete other countries’ assets and put their wildlife habitats at risk from production-related accidents.

Nor is it ethical or sensible for President Obama to ask Saudi Arabia to send us more oil, rather than telling his energy and environment regulators to foster more production here at home.

In short, America should produce more here at home, export both crude and refined petroleum to Europe and Asia, and support companies that want to take their fracking technology and expertise overseas.

These actions will benefit American companies, workers, families, consumers, balance of trade, environmental quality, and government revenues. We must not let anti-hydrocarbon ideologies or misinformed policy positions perpetuate this antiquated ban.

NOTE: This article first appeared in Investor’s Business Daily.

About Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power – Black Death.

The Truth About the Minimum Wage

People don’t like to think that anyone’s labor is worth less than the minimum wage. Someone might end up flipping burgers for $5.00 an hour. You might think the minimum wage is a way of paying some sort of dignity premium–hence language like “living wage.” People with such good intentions look at the direct beneficiaries of these policies, say, burger flippers now making $7.50 an hour. They pat themselves on the back. But they rarely count the invisible costs: willing human beings who never get hired in the first place.

“But $5.00 an hour is not enough to live on!,” they’ll say. For whom? A teenager living at home with his parents? An elderly person who wants simply to stay active? A single mom with three kids? A single woman sharing an apartment with 2 roommates? Of course, not all of these people could live off of $5.00 an hour. But some of them could given the opportunity. Concerns about those who couldn’t don’t justify minimum wages even if we ignored the invisible costs of the policy, which include reduced margins to businesses that might otherwise grow (and hire more people).

In other words, if you take off the bottom two rungs of the income ladder, many will never climb it. That’s the effect of the minimum wage. The more cynical side of me says that’s how many politicians and the overpaid teamsters want it.

Enjoy this great video and some timeless pieces on the minimum wage by some of FEE’s excellent scholars.

– The Editors

The Truth About the Minimum Wage

[youtube]http://youtu.be/siW0YAAfX6I[/youtube]

 

Further Reading:

Minimum Wage, Maximum Folly by Walter Williams

“While there is a debate over the magnitude of the effects, the weight of research by academic scholars points to the conclusion that unemployment for some population groups is directly related to legal minimum wages. The unemployment effects of the minimum-wage law are felt disproportionately by nonwhites. A 1976 survey by the American Economic Association found that 90 percent of its members agreed that increasing the minimum wage raises unemployment among young and unskilled workers. It was followed by another survey, in 1990, which found that 80 percent of econo­mists agreed with the statement that increases in the minimum wage cause unemployment among the youth and low-skilled. Furthermore,­­ whenever one wants to find a broad consensus in almost any science, one should investigate what is said in its introductory and intermediate college textbooks.­ By this standard, in economics there is broad agreement that the minimum wage causes unemployment among low-skilled workers.”

Raising the Minimum Wage Will Do No Harm? It Just Ain’t So! by Richard McKenzie

“With the money-wage hike and the reduced benefits, workers can be left worse off since the fringes and slack work demands taken away were provided in the first place because workers valued them more highly than the wages forgone for those benefits. Given the findings of his own as well as other researchers’ studies, Wessels deduces that every 10 percent increase in the hourly minimum wage will make workers 2 percent worse off.”

The Minimum Wage: An Unfair Advantage for Employers by Donald Boudreaux

“Minimum-wage legislation prohibits wages from falling low enough to equate the number of people seeking jobs with the number of jobs being offered. As a result, the supply of unskilled labor permanently exceeds the demand for unskilled labor at the government-mandated minimum wage.
Minimum-wage legislation thus creates a buyers’ market for unskilled labor. And as in all buyers’ markets, buyers (employers) have an unequal bargaining advantage over sellers (unskilled workers).”
“There are three principal effects of this general increase in wage compensation:
1. Employers will tend to reduce non-wage compensation in an effort to minimize their overall production costs. That is, employer-provided benefits are a casualty of increases in the minimum wage.
2. As labor costs (generally) rise, producers will hire less labor and more capital. There is no worse time for labor generally (and unskilled labor specifically) to contemplate an increase in the minimum wage than when technological advances are reducing the cost of capital. The high cost of middle-management labor combined with rapid reductions in the cost of computer-processed information was the driving force behind the corporate restructuring of the late 1980s and early 1990s that put hundreds of thousands of white-collar workers in the unemployment lines.
3. Although it may appear that ratcheted-up wages benefit lower-wage employees, the appearance is deceptive. In the long run, less-skilled workers are disproportionately harmed by artificially induced increases in wages.”

All Those Obamacare Stories You Told Us Were Untrue

“There’s plenty of horror stories being told. All of them are untrue.” – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

“Many of the tall tales that have been told about this law have been debunked.” – President Barack Obama

Amy Payne from Heritage writes, “Last week was ‘victory lap‘ week for liberals on Obamacare. After years of telling the American people that we just don’t understand the health law enough to love it properly, the president and his allies are now crowing that all debate should be over. Our readers have told us about Obamacare’s effects in their lives—hiking their insurance costs and canceling many of their plans. I guess Harry Reid thinks you guys made these up.”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/UNeHvIJ1CmU[/youtube]

Payne notes:

But he didn’t stop with insulting everyday Americans. Reid took a dig last week at Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), himself a doctor who is resigning from the Senate to continue cancer treatment.

Coburn initially lost his cancer specialist when he was forced into the Obamacare system. But when Coburn voiced concern—from experience—about the lack of cancer treatment centers covered under Obamacare, Reid said he was just “getting into the weeds” and that “I think we need to look at the overall context of this bill.”

The editorial board of Investor’s Business Daily marveled :

We recently called Senate Majority Leader Reid “delusional” on another topic, but to that we can now add “callous” and “insensitive” — in his disregard of cancer sufferers and the hardships imposed on them by administration politics and ObamaCare.

… Reid coldly dismisses people such as Edie Sundby, a stage four cancer patient, who was told that the plan that had paid out $1.2 million and helped her survive all these years was substandard and would be canceled because it didn’t contain the one-size-fits-all coverage mandates of ObamaCare.

Meanwhile, President Obama exulted in claiming that the “tall tales” about Obamacare “have been debunked.” Was he talking about Obamacare’s job-killing effects? Its limiting of patient choices? Its forcing all Americans into a one-size-fits-all health care model?

Thankfully, this isn’t the end of the story. In the same week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) released a blueprint for health care reform. Heritage experts have been working on patient-centered solutions for years. Americans know that the horror stories are real, and that there has to be a better way to go.

Hawaii: First State to Dump Obamacare Health Exchange? by Andrew Walden

Obamacare is an expansion of Medicaid plus an individual mandate to buy insurance.  But in a state like Hawaii, which starts out with one of the nation’s highest percentages of insured individuals, Obamacare is mostly an expansion of Medicaid—backed by 906 pages of law and tens of thousands of pages of federal regulations.

Now, after wasting $205M federal tax dollars, and signing up only 7,861 people, Hawaii is stuck with a Health Connector costing $15M per year to operate and a client base which Rep Colleen Hanabusa estimates at a paltry 33,000.  The National Review called it, “Fixing What Wasn’t Broken,” explaining:

In Hawaii, Obamacare has disrupted a health-coverage system that had seen 98 percent of the population insured before the recession. Now lawmakers are scrambling to fix the state’s health-insurance exchange, which is fast on its way to insolvency. But the financial fix is likely to result in even higher health-coverage costs for Hawaiians.

Now the people who so eagerly created this mess are seeking an exemption for the state—and pointing fingers at each other.  HNN April 1, 2014 reports:

On Tuesday, Governor Neil Abercrombie told Hawaii News Now that execution was fundamentally flawed by a Legislature decision to set up a nonprofit.

The governor said, “I never thought having a nonprofit corporation was an efficient way to do it.”…

The governor said, “They don’t have the same capacity as we do, say to determine Medicaid eligibility and follow through with it. He added that, “The existing non-profit corporation probably needs to morph into an extension of what we already do very, very well.”

The governor plans to push for a waiver, that could, for instance, give the departments of Health, and Human Services broader range to facilitate insurance for residents. He said, “I think in retrospect if we simply allowed the Department of Health and Department of Human Services to run it through Medicaid, and added personnel I think we probably could have registered more.”

Has Abercrombie forgotten his October, 2010 call to dump the Prepaid Health Care Act?  No.  Abercrombie remains committed to destroying Prepaid and replacing it with a single-payer monopoly government insurance system, so that medical care can be provided with the same smiling efficiency as all other State services.  The March 9, 2014 Star-Advertiser explains:

The stumbling of the Hawaii Health Connector, the online health insurance marketplace, could open the door for the state to consider replacing it with a single-payer system for health insurance, an option Gov. Neil Abercrombie favors.

“A single-payer system is one of several options in achieving universal health care coverage, which is the ultimate goal,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. The single-payer option was the only one listed by Abercrombie when asked what might take the place of the Connector….

“There are a few states that have been thinking single-payer all along,” said Frances Miller, a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, who teaches health care regulation and finance at Boston University. “The more this whole thing gets to be a mess the exchange business the more it looks like an attractive option. You hear all the time that Abercrombie’s interested in single-payer.”…

A single-payer system would mean Hawaii’s 1974 Prepaid Health Care Act, which requires employers to provide insurance coverage to full-time workers, a practice that has worked to insure the bulk of the population, would no longer be needed.

“If we do go down the road of universal health care, whether it’s single-payer or some other form, you probably won’t need the Prepaid Health Care Act because we’ll find an alternative way to cover every single life,” said Blake Oshiro, the governor’s deputy chief of staff. “He (Abercrombie) really wants to see us moving down the road to universal coverage.”…

Abercrombie’s single payer comments drew a reaction from Beth Giesting, the Governor’s Coordinator for Healthcare transformation who complained to the March 30, 2014 Star-Advertiser that, “The concept of ‘universal coverage’ is often confused with the concept of a ‘single payer’ system.”  While diplomatically neglecting to point out that her boss was the source of the ‘confusion’, Giesting added her voice to the long list of perpetrators now calling for Hawaii to be exempted from Obamacare:

some of the requirements for the ACA insurance exchange which in our state is the nonprofit Hawaii Health Connector were not compatible with our small but advanced marketplace.

We are actively looking at the opportunities available to us through a waiver of some of the requirements in the ACA.

Starting in 2017, the law allows the state the flexibility to receive an innovation waiver to pursue alternate strategies….some of the requirements for the ACA insurance exchange which in our state is the nonprofit Hawaii Health Connector were not compatible with our small but advanced marketplace.

We are actively looking at the opportunities available to us through a waiver of some of the requirements in the ACA.

Starting in 2017, the law allows the state the flexibility to receive an innovation waiver to pursue alternate strategies to ensure all residents have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.

This would require Hawaii to devise a plan that ensures coverage is at least as good, affordable and available as it is under the ACA.

In addition, any waiver developed would have to be presented to the public for comment, and the state Legislature would have to explicitly approve all provisions.

Participating in the House Oversight Committee investigation into the failure of Hawaii’s state exchange, April 3, 2014, Tom Matsuda, Interim Director of the Health Connector and Rep Colleen Hanabusa both said they now want Hawaii exempted.  KHON reports:

Matsuda said during the hearing. “The issue for us, on the revenue side, is that because of the Prepaid Health Care Act, virtually all small businesses in the state already have insurance for their employees, so there’s very little incentive for them to leave a system that they’ve been accustomed to for almost 40 years. So I think it’s incumbent on us, looking at that marketplace reality, to try to reduce the cost of the operations of our system as much as possible.”

“I believe we need to look at other ways to immediately address the fundamental issue of how the Affordable Care Act can work with our Prepaid Health Care Act,” Rep. Hanabusa said. “I have long said that we need to make maximum use of the exemptions the ACA makes available to Hawaii. I do not believe the Hawaii Health Connector has pursued those exemptions effectively, and that is something I hope they will address immediately.”

Matsuda says he is looking to apply for an exemption from the ACA under Section 1332, which provides for State Innovation Waivers, but that will not be available until 2017.

“While it has been estimated that Hawaii has 100,000 residents without insurance, the expansion in Medicaid coverage will only leave about 33,000 eligible for coverage under the Connector,” Rep. Hanabusa said. “But even if every one of those residents signs up for insurance through the Connector, it cannot sustain itself, and Mr. Matsuda acknowledged today that the Hawaii Health Connector will never be financially sustainable under the current model.”

Not to be outdone by the politicians, Hawaii newspaper editorial boards are climbing on the exemption bandwagon almost as quickly as they climbed onto the Obamacare bandwagon.  A Maui News editorial, March 13, 2014, points out:

One could forcefully argue that Hawaii’s decades-old Prepaid Healthcare Act made the exchange unnecessary here. A tweak or two might have provided insurance for the 4,500 or so who have signed up for insurance through the Connector.

The Star-Advertiser March 2, 2014, opined, “Don’t spend state funds on Connector” and explained:

Last week’s candid presentation by the agency’s interim executive director, Tom Matsuda, laid bare an even more fundamental problem with the whole setup. Matsuda made official what many people long suspected: There is simply no way this private nonprofit can stay afloat financially without a major bailout by Hawaii taxpayers.

And that should not be allowed by state lawmakers, because it would merely be throwing good money after bad. That, Matsuda told legislators, is because Hawaii has a far lower percentage of people lacking health insurance than most other states. That’s an excellent condition, all thanks to our Prepaid Health Care Act.

As a result, he said, the islands simply lack the market of potential customers to make the Connector agency sustainable as it was originally planned, through small fees assessed on each enrollment processed through the exchange. And with only 4,467 people signed up, the revenue shortfall can’t be overcome.

The state Senate’s proposal, which would financially float the agency by assessing a fee on all insurance holders statewide, should be summarily rejected at the state Capitol. The problem with exchang-es in states that aren’t well served by them is one the federal government will have to solve….

» Hawaii’s senators and representatives should start networking with other states struggling with insurance exchanges. Together they should push hard for an amendment that would allow a limited opt-out as soon as possible.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) does include a provision for state waivers, but those don’t become an option before 2017. This date needs to be pushed up as early as possible. Even if the federal funds can be used past this year, Hawaii can’t keep this agency running as is beyond 2015.

» Whether Hawaii needs an exchange at all is in doubt, and congressional leaders need to collaborate with state lawmakers on ways to shrink the whole Connector footprint.

A revelation on Thursday makes this discussion pertinent. The ACA was designed to make insurance discounts available only on policies purchased through online exchanges, such as the Connector. However, the Obama administration last week quietly issued a fix by announcing that in states that have experienced technical problems with the websites, some consumers can get the discounts on plans purchased outside the exchange.

This is essentially an admission that elaborate online exchanges haven’t worked in many places — like Hawaii — and ultimately may not be needed at all. A simplified version of the Connector website, one that provides some information but relays shoppers to the carriers for purchasing, would certainly suffice.

Flashback 2010:

Health Insurance? No need: Abercrombie promises to dump Prepaid Health Care Act

Hawaii Obamacare leaders were warning: “We’re not Going to Have Any Health Care”

Email chain revealed Hawaii Obamacare leaders debating “Inevitable Failure”

Open Letter: Hawaii MDs Challenge “Severely Dysfunctional” Medicaid Program

The FairTax Means Freedom by Rep. Rob Woodall

The Nobel Prize-winning economist, Milton Friedman, once said, “Sloth and lack of enterprise flourish when hard work and the taking of risks are not rewarded.”

While I believe this statement to be true, I am grateful it has never characterized the American spirit. Hard work and risk taking are precisely what built our great nation, and it is through these traits in Americans across the nation that we will once again have a thriving economy.

To unleash the tremendous resource that is the American worker, entrepreneur and innovator, we need only to align the tax code with our core principles. That is what excites me about the FairTax.

The FairTax means freedom. Those of us who are fighting so hard for it understand this. It is freedom from a burdensome, manipulative tax code that penalizes the very things we need to grow our economy. The FairTax means freedom for business owners and entrepreneurs to make decisions based on their own resources and vision, not a convoluted, punitive compilation of regulations.

It is no small thing that the FairTax also returns to Americans the freedom of anonymity. No federal bureaucracy should ever know as much about us as the IRS knows, particularly a federal bureaucracy as powerful as the IRS. Our Founders never intended this level of personal intrusion, and the FairTax is a giant step in the direction of personal liberty.

Any proposal that shifts the balance of power from Washington back to the people in such a significant way as the FairTax is certain to encounter political inertia.  From its inception, we have all experienced the pushback of those with a vested interest in the status quo.

The current tax code is by far the most effective tool for politicians to manipulate the behavior of Americans, and the FairTax removes this very powerful weapon from their arsenal. The fact that there is a strong resistance to it can neither surprise, nor discourage us.

The immense dedication of those in the FairTax community across the country is directly responsible for the consistent and significant progress we are seeing in Washington. Members of Congress become a co-sponsor of this bill because their constituents demand it, and that is exactly how it should be.

With 84 co-sponsors, the FairTax has become the most popular fundamental tax reform bill in Congress, and its support continues to grow. Your commitment has led to more FairTax supporters on the Ways & Means Committee than ever before and a committee hearing specifically on H.R. 25 for the first time in a decade.

As the Ways & Means Committee discusses tax reform, the FairTax emerges as a powerful voice in the conversation that is impossible to ignore, try as Washington special interests might. Its strength, however, is not found in bearing the seal of approval from the political establishment, but rather in who fuels the movement: the American people.

If we continue to convince more and more of our neighbors of the benefits of the FairTax, the call to action in Washington will one day overcome the loud voices calling for more of the same. Make no mistake—you all are leading that effort to change hearts and minds across America.

I cannot thank you enough for your commitment to our success and your conviction that our great nation deserves nothing less than the FairTax.

Congressman Rob Woodall represents the 7th district of Georgia and is the sponsor of HR 25.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo was taken by Gage Skidmore. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Magic Words and False Gods Communicating Beyond Society, Market, and Hypostatization by GIAN PIERO DE BELLIS

Any productive action requires clear thinking on the part of the acting person. This is particularly true of communication. In The Ultimate Foundations of Economic Science (1962), Ludwig von Mises remarked that the “worst enemy of clear thinking is the propensity to hypostatize, i.e. to ascribe substance or real existence to mental constructs or concepts.”

In other words, there’s no such thing as “society.”

Mises continues:

Hypostatization is not merely an epistemological fallacy and not only misleads the search for knowledge. In the so-called social sciences, it more often than not serves definite political aspirations in claiming for the collective as such a higher dignity than for the individual or even ascribing real existence only to the collective and denying the existence of the individual, calling it a mere abstraction.

The fallacy of hypostatization, however, is not confined to people holding collectivist views. It is also practiced by people who stress the importance of individual liberty.

If the so-called collectivist falls into the hypostatization fallacy in using the magic word “society” (“it’s society’s fault”; “society will intervene”) the so-called individualist employs the same fallacy when he uses the magic word “market.”

Duotheism

When people use the terms “society” and “market,” it would seem there is an overarching almighty entity that has a life of its own. This entity is supposed to do everything, to redress any tort, to administer justice, to increase well-being on earth, and to lead us to the promised land.

In doing so, whether collectivists or individualists, they are not only betraying the basic tenets of science based on empirical realities (and not on fictional entities), but they are also ignoring the advice of those to whom they pretend to refer as the source of their ideas. As we have already seen, Mises condemns hypostatization. Libertarians should take notice.

As for the collectivist camp, it is worth mentioning what Karl Marx had to say about the term “society”: “It is above all necessary to avoid postulating ‘society’ once more as an abstraction confronting the individual” (Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844).

Hypostatization should therefore be carefully avoided, because the fallacy is unreal, ambiguous, and divisive. It’s unreal because it is devoid of a proper empirical foundation that could clarify, with a certain exactitude, the features and sphere of reference of the hypostatization. It’s ambiguous because it signifies different things to different people; conflicting meanings could be attributed to the same hypostatization. So clearly it is also divisive. It can be taken up by politicians and demagogues in order to invent fake agents and fake enemies that become the convenient scapegoats of those in power.

The continuous use of hypostatizations makes those who would like to exit State power look too much like those who worship government. In fact, it is exceedingly difficult to convince someone that replacing the almighty entity “society” with the almighty entity market” (or vice versa) will make any difference. Perceptive critical minds already see the almighty State behind society and almighty corporations behind the market. And the most perceptive among this group see that the corporate State is a particularly dangerous beast. They therefore remain aloof to such magic fallacies.

So what is one to do without magic words? Consider some solutions.

Concretize: The Orwell Proposal

In his Politics and the English Language (1946), George Orwell, after having dealt at length with the interconnection between sloppy language and sloppy thinking, remarks that “The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness.” Orwell suggests it would be “better to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning as clear as one can through pictures or sensations. Afterwards one can choose … the phrases that will best cover the meaning…. This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness generally.”

Before using any other fancy communications techniques, we should follow Orwell by starting with clarity, concision, and concreteness.

Operationalize: The Bridgman Proposal

In The Logic of Modern Physics, P. W. Bridgman suggests operationalizing scientific concepts—that is, describing the operations that transform them into empirical measures and actions. This eliminates ambiguities and possible misunderstandings, according to Bridgman, who wrote that “the true meaning of a term is to be found by observing what a man does with it, not by what he says about it.” The length of a person, for example, can be defined as the number of times a certain stick can be laid end to end alongside him or her.

So what does this mean for all of our markets talk?

One should: Replace sloppy uses of “the market” with the concrete expression “people engaged in free exchanges,” and then operationalize the expression by measuring the effective level of freedom (accessibility, universality, etc.) or the impediments to those concrete exchanges (tariffs, quotas, etc.), noting any corresponding growth or diminishment in wealth.

In the last decades, technology has been changing social relations in a much deeper way than what has been accomplished by well-intentioned social scientists and social activists of any era. I suspect the reason is that people involved in tech projects need to have clear ideas and clear communication tools for implementing those projects. It is high time for the individuals engaged in changing our social technologies to do the same.

ABOUT GIAN PIERO DE BELLIS

Gian Piero de Bellis is the webmaster of panarchy.org. He manages a Documentation Centre (World Wide Wisdom) in Saint Imier (Swiss Jura).

Shannon’s Story: How Obamacare is Destroying Middle Class Families

A kick in the gut. That’s what it felt like for Shannon Wendt, a Michigan mother of five, when she found out her health care plan was being cancelled because of ObamaCare. Now, Shannon and her husband are struggling and working harder than ever to pay for an unaffordable health care plan under ObamaCare.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/L2wPxdmBrco[/youtube]

Florida: Threat of Force to Stop Attackers PASSES

House Bill 89 by Representative Neil Combee and Senator Greg Evers is on its way to the Governor. On April 3rd, 2014, HB-89 passed the Florida Senate by a vote of 32-7. In the Senate, 6 Democrats and 1 Republican voted against the bill:

Republicans voting against the bill were:   John Legg (R-Lutz)

Democrats voting against the bill were:  Oscar Braynon (D-Miami Gardens), Dwight Bullard (D-Cutler Bay), Arthenia Joyner (D)-Tampa), Gwen Margolis (D_Miami), Jeremy Ring (D-Margate), Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale)

Having previously passed the Florida House by a vote of 93-24, the bill  is now making its way to the Governor’s desk.

According to Marion P. Hammer, USF Executive Director and NRA Past President, “HB-89 is a bill to stop abusive prosecutors from using 10-20-LIFE to prosecute people who, in self-defense, threaten to use deadly force against an attacker as a means to stop an attack. Some anti-gun, anti-self-defense prosecutors have been abusing the 10-20-LIFE law to prosecute average citizens who displayed a weapon or gun in self-defense to make an attacker back off. Average citizens who never would have been in the system if they had not been attacked and in fear for their own safety, are being persecuted and prosecuted for defending themselves.”

“Because citizens took responsibility for their own safety, some prosecutors treat them like criminals and make them victims of a judicial system. 10-20-Life was passed to stop prosecutors and judges from slapping gun-wielding criminals on the wrist so they could quickly clear cases. The 10-20-Life law was never intended to be used against citizens who, in an act of self-defense, threatened the use of force to stop an attacker, including the unwise use of a warning shot. Yet, that’s what some prosecutors are doing. They are willfully and knowingly violating the intent of the law,” notes Hammer

RELATED STORY:

It’s Not About Warning Shots — The 10-20-Life law is being misused By Marion P. Hammer December 7, 2013

Nothing in SB-448 and HB-89, the House Companion, allows warning shots nor do they promote or encourage warning shots.

Warning shots are not safe. Nonetheless, when people are in fear for their lives or the lives of loved ones, they might fire a warning shot rather than shoot someone. People make mistakes and do irrational things when in fear of death or injury. That doesn’t mean they should go to prison for 20 years when there was no injury or harm done.

Warning shots are an unsafe result of the glorification of such conduct in movies and on TV. No one is recommending warning shots.

Nonetheless, a father should not be prosecuted under 10-20-Life for firing a warning shot. No harm was done yet a father was sent to prison for 20 years for firing a warning shot to stop an attacker from harming his daughter.

A mother should not be charged under 10-20-Life for firing a warning shot to stop an attack by an abusive ex-husband. It caused no injury and no harm yet she was prosecuted and sent to prison for 20 years. These are not isolated cases.

The simple truth is the intent of the 10-20-Life law is being violated. The law was intended to be used to lock up criminals who use guns during the commission or attempted commission of crimes.

It was intended to stop prosecutors and judges from slapping gun-toting criminals on the wrist so they could quickly clear cases.

The 10-20-Life law was never intended to be used against citizens who, in an act of self-defense, threatened the use of force to stop an attacker, including the unwise use of a warning shot. Yet, that’s what some prosecutors are doing. They are willfully and knowingly violating the intent of the law.

The cold hard reality is that some prosecutors are treating law-abiding people like criminals. People who never would have been in the system had they not been attacked and in fear for their own safety are being prosecuted. Self-defense is not a crime, it is a right and prosecutors are trampling those rights.

The threat of force in self-defense should have the same protection as actually shooting someone in self-defense. You should not be required to shoot an attacker to have the protection of the law.

The issue is not warning shots, it’s about protecting people from the abuse of prosecutorial discretion.

Marion P. Hammer is a past president of the National Rifle Association and executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida.

The 10-20-LIFE Law is a Minimum Mandatory law that mandates specific penalties for criminals who use guns to commit crimes:

10 years in prison for pulling a gunduring the commission of a crime.

20 years in prison for shooting a gun during the commission of a crime.

25 years to Life in prison if you shoot someone during the commission of a crime.

For more information on Florida’s 10-20-Life go here:  10-20-Life – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia