Skeptical Climate Documentary Set to Rock UN Climate Summit in Paris

Sorbonne, Paris) – CFACT will hold the world premiere of its long-awaited Climate Hustle skeptical documentary film at an invitation-only red carpet event in Paris during the UN’s COP 21 international summit on climate change.

Featuring interviews and comments from more than 30 renowned scientists and climate experts, Climate Hustle lays out compelling evidence that devastates the global warming scare.  Film host Marc Morano, founder and publisher of CFACT’s award-winning Climate Depot news and information service, leads viewers on a fact-finding and often times hilarious journey through the propaganda-laced world of “climate change” claims.

The film is the first climate documentary to profile scientists who have reversed their views from supporting the so-called “consensus” position to a conversion to skepticism. The film also profiles politically left scientists who have now declared themselves skeptics of man-made global warming and United Nations scientists who have now turned against the UN for “distorting” climate science.

David Rothbard, CFACT president and executive producer of the film says, “Climate Hustle is the most important climate documentary since Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.  Gore’s film kicked off a decade of scaremongering junk science.  CFACT’s film debunks the scare and clears the way for a return to sound science and rational debate.”

Nationally syndicated columnist Cal Thomas calls Climate Hustle “tremendous” and says “anyone who still believes in ‘climate change’ after watching this film needs the type of reprogramming given to cult members.”

Noted climatologist Dr. Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, who is featured in the film, adds “Climate Hustle is a refreshing and entertaining antidote to the sillier and alarming claims about climate change and its impacts that people regularly hear from politicians and the media.”

“Climate Hustle” will premiere at the Cinéma du Panthéon, beside the Sorbonne, on Monday, December 7. A red-carpet ceremony and champagne reception will take place at 7:30 p.m. prior to the screening. The film is planned for theatrical and home video release in 2016.

Because of very limited space, credentialed media that wish to attend the event should RSVP in advance to Christina Norman of CFACT (cwilson@cfact.org or phone (651) 724-4228).   Climate Hustle’s host, Marc Morano, along with key scientists from the film, will be available for a short time on the red carpet prior to the event at 7 p.m. and are also available for interviews and comments upon request.

Climate Hustle, a production of CFACT, was fully funded by the support of roughly 1,500 citizen supporters.   More information is available at www.ClimateHustle.com/press.

Related Links:

The Time Has Come: ‘Climate Hustle’ Set To Rock Climate Debate – Film Set for Paris Red Carpet Premier on Dec. 7 – www.ClimateHustle.com: CFACT is also announcing the world premiere of its groundbreaking new documentary in Paris, “Climate Hustle,” hosted by Morano. “Climate Hustle” assembles an impressive group of experts in climate science and policy, many of whom worked on the UN’s climate assessments, but left after the UN ignored overwhelming evidence that contradicts its position. The film is planned for U.S. release in 2016. “Climate Hustle” will premiere at an invitation-only event at the Cinéma du Panthéon, beside the Sorbonne, on Monday, December 7, at 7:30 PM.  There will be a red-carpet ceremony and champagne reception prior to the screening.   Credentialed media that RSVP may be able to attend, but seating is very limited.

A Letter to the Next President

To: The 45th President of the United States
From: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Dear 45,

Welcome to the neighborhood! Well, not quite yet, but you’ll have to forgive us for being excited. A new administration represents a potential fresh start for America, and on behalf of the U.S. business community, we’re eager to work with you. After all, there’s a lot of important work ahead.

Dear 45 logo

Of course, we don’t yet know your name, nor do we know what party you represent. But that’s not what’s important. We’re interested in talking policy, not politics, and we hope you are, too. Because if we’ve learned anything over the past century, it’s that entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t think in terms of left and right, liberal and conservative; they’re too busy thinking about their next sale, their next client, their next hire – and they need policies that help them get there.With that in mind, we want to take the opportunity to introduce you to the issues that are most important to the employers, executives and entrepreneurs who will soon call you their president. So over the next year, as you traverse the campaign trail, we’ll be sending letters your way to get you up to speed on some of the most important issues, so that you’re ready to hit the ground running on Day One.

These ideas include bipartisan proposals for streamlining and improving our nation’s unruly regulatory system. This “fourth branch” of government has grown so massive and intrusive that it is driving jobs away, discouraging business investment and stifling small businesses. The good news is that there are ways we can cut through all that red tape without shortchanging the health and safety protections Americans need.

In addition, U.S. businesses will benefit from your leadership abroad. They need a president who is committed to building stronger ties with our partners overseas, paving the way for more exports of American goods around the world – including a portion of our vast energy resources. They also need a president who will stand up for their interests in foreign countries, helping to protect their investments andintellectual property.

On other important issues, you won’t be able to go it alone. You’ll have to work hand-in-hand with Congress, and, as we have seen in recent years, that can be easier said than done. That’s why it’s so important you arrive ready and willing to forge a cooperative relationship with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Only then can we break through the gridlock in Washington.

Working with Congress, it will be up to you to set an agenda that addresses our country’s most important unfinished business, including modernizing our immigration rules while protecting our borders, cementing a long-termtransportation and infrastructure plan, rewriting our tax code, and securing entitlement programs through reasonable, sustainable reforms. Business leaders also will be counting on you and lawmakers to address serious shortcomings in recent efforts to reform our health care and financial services sectors, as well as to promote changes to the U.S. education system that better prepare tomorrow’s workforce for tomorrow’s job market.

These are just a few of the many issues on which our nation’s businesses will look to you for leadership. It won’t be easy, but then, easy isn’t what you signed up for when you announced your candidacy. You signed up to lead the most free and most prosperous nation in the world – a country that celebrates risk, rewards hard work and embodies the spirit of free enterprise.

We may not always agree, but we’ll always be straightforward with our advice and we’ll always strive to work together.

But you’re not alone. We’ll be here to help, and we’re right across the street. We may not always agree, but we’ll always be straightforward with our advice and we’ll always strive to work together. No matter what problems our country may face, we hope you’ll remember that America’s businesses can be a big part of the solution.

So please keep an eye out for more correspondence from us. In the meantime, best of luck out there on the campaign trail. We’re ready to get to work, and we know you are, too.

Until next time,

U.S. Chamber of Commerce signature

 

Prominent Scientists Declare Climate Claims Ahead of UN Summit ‘Irrational’ – ‘Based On Nonsense’

AUSTIN, Texas – A team of prominent scientists gathered in Texas today at a climate summit to declare that fears of man-made global warming were “irrational” and “based on nonsense” that “had nothing to do with science.” They warned that “we are being led down a false path” by the upcoming UN climate summit in Paris.

The scientists appeared at a climate summit sponsored by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The summit in Austin was titled: “At the Crossroads: Energy & Climate Policy Summit.”

climate scientists

From Left to Right: Dr. Will Happer, Dr. Richard Lindzen & Dr. Patrick Moore.

Climate Scientist Dr. Richard Lindzen, an emeritus Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT, derided what he termed climate “catastrophism.”

“Demonization of CO2 is irrational at best and even modest warming is mostly beneficial,” Lindzen said.

Lindzen cautioned: “The most important thing to keep in mind is – when you ask ‘is it warming, is it cooling’, etc.  — is that we are talking about something tiny (temperature changes) and that is the crucial point.”

 

Lindzen also challenged the oft-repeated UN IPCC claim that most of warming over past 50 years was due to mankind.

“People get excited over this. Is this statement alarming? No,” Lindzen stated.

“We are speaking of small changes 0.25 Celcius would be about 51% of the recent warming and that strongly suggests a low and inconsequential climate sensitivity – meaning no problem at all,” Lindzen explained.

“I urge you when looking at a graph, check the scales! The uncertainty here is tenths of a degree,” he noted.

“When someone points to this and says this is the warmest temperature on record. What are they talking about? It’s just nonsense. This is a very tiny change period. And they are arguing over hundredths of a degree when it is uncertain in tenths of a degree,” Lindzen said.

“And the proof that the uncertainty is tenths of a degree are the adjustments that are being made. If you can adjust temperatures to 2/10ths of a degree, it means it wasn’t certain to 2/10ths of a degree,” he said. (Also See: Scientists balk at ‘hottest year’ claims: Ignores Satellites showing 18 Year ‘Pause’ – ‘We are arguing over the significance of hundredths of a degree’ – The ‘Pause’ continues)

“The UN IPCC wisely avoided making the claim that 51% of a small change in temperature constitutes a problem. They left this to the politicians and anyone who took the bait,” he said.

Lindzen noted that National Academy of Sciences president Dr. Ralph Cicerone has even admitted that there is no evidence for a catastrophic claims of man-made global warming. See: Backing away from climate alarm? NAS Pres. Ralph Cicerone says ‘we don’t have that kind of evidence’ to claim we are ‘going to fry’ from AGW

Lindzen also featured 2006 quotes from Scientist Dr. Miike Hulme, Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, and Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, admitting that claims of a climate catastrophe were not the “language of science.”

“The discourse of catastrophe is a campaigning device,” Hulme wrote to the BBC in 2006. “The language of catastrophe is not the language of science. To state that climate change will be ‘catastrophic’ hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions which do not emerge from empirical or theoretical science,” Hulme wrote.

“Is any amount of climate change catastrophic? Catastrophic for whom, for where, and by when? What index is being used to measure the catastrophe?” Hulme continued.

Lindzen singled out Secretary of State John Kerry for his ‘ignorance’ on science.

“John Kerry stands alone,” Lindzen said. “Kerry expresses his ignorance of what science is,” he added.

Lindzen also criticized EPA Chief Gina McCarthy’s education: “I don’t want to be snobbish, but U Mass Boston is not a very good school,” he said to laughter.

Lindzen concluded his talk by saying: “Learn how to identify claims that have no alarming implications and free to say ‘So what?’”

Princeton Physicist Dr. Will Happer, who has authored over 200 peer-reviewed papers, called policies to reduce CO2 “based on nonsense.”

“Policies to slow CO2 emissions are really based on nonsense. They are all based on computer models that do not work. We are being led down a false path.

“Our breath is not that different from a power plant,” he continued.

“To call carbon dioxide a pollutant is really Orwellian. You are calling something a pollutant that we all produce. Where does that lead us eventually?” he asked.

“Coal, formed from ancient CO2, is a benefit to the world. Coal is CO2 from ancient atmospheres. We are simply returning CO2 to the atmosphere from which it came when you burn coal. And it’s a good thing since it is at very low levels in the atmosphere. We are in a CO2 famine. It is very, very low,” Happer explained.

Happer continued: “CO2 will be beneficial and crop yields will increase.” “More CO2 will be a very significant benefit to agriculture,” he added.

Happer then showed a picture of polluted air in China with the caption: “Real pollution in Shanghai.”

“If you can see it, it’s not CO2,” Happer said.

“If plants could vote, they would vote for coal,” Happer declared.

Happer also rebutted the alleged 97% consensus.

“97% of scientists have often been wrong on many things,” he said.

Ecologist and Greenpeace founding member Dr. Patrick Moore discussed the benefits of rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Let’s celebrate CO2!” Moore declared.

Embedded image permalink

“We know for absolute certain that carbon dioxide is the stuff of life, the foundation for life on earth,” Moore said.

“We are dealing with pure political propaganda that has nothing to do with science,” he continued.

“The deserts are greening from rising CO2,” he added.

“Co2 has provided the basis of life for at least 3.5 billion years,” Moore said.

Note: CFACT’s new skeptical documentary, Climate Hustle, is set to rock the UN climate summit with red carpet’world premiere in Paris. 

Governments Are the Worst Polluters by Walter Olson

It’s a familiar libertarian insight that regulation often holds government itself to lower standards than it does private actors.

Pension funds for public employees are mostly immune from the federal solvency and funding requirements that apply to their private counterparts; Federal Trade Commission rules against false advertising by profit-seeking companies do not restrain false advertising by government actors on the same topics; the FTC can fine companies massively for data breaches even as the federal government itself suffers gigantic losses of sensitive data to foreign actors with few career consequences for many of those who had dozed; anticompetitive practices that are per se illegal under antitrust law become legal when states do them, and so forth and so on.

Now David Konisky of Indiana University and Manuel Teodoro of Texas A&M, in a study published by the American Journal of Political Science entitled “When Governments Regulate Governments,” have pulled together some data:

Our empirical subjects are public and private entities’ compliance with the U.S. Clean Air Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

We find that, compared with private firms, governments violate these laws significantly more frequently and are less likely to be penalized for violations.

More from an Indiana press release, via Tyler Cowen:

For the study, Konisky and Teodoro examined records from 2000 to 2011 for power plants and hospitals regulated under the Clean Air Act and from 2010 to 2013 for water utilities regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The study included over 3,000 power plants, over 1,000 hospitals and over 4,200 water utilities — some privately owned and others owned by public agencies.

* For power plants and hospitals, public facilities were on average 9 percent more likely to be out of compliance with Clean Air Act regulations and 20 percent more likely to have committed high-priority violations.

* For water utilities, public facilities had on average 14 percent more Safe Drinking Water Act health violations and were 29 percent more likely to commit monitoring violations.

* Public power plants and hospitals that violated the Clean Air Act were 1 percent less likely than private-sector violators to receive a punitive sanction and 20 percent less likely to be fined.

*Public water utilities that violated Safe Drinking Water Act standards were 3 percent less likely than investor-owned utilities to receive formal enforcement actions.

[After speculating that public operators may find it harder to raise funds promptly for needed facilities improvements:] Public entities also face lower costs for violating the regulations, the authors argue. There is evidence from other studies that they are able to delay or avoid paying fines when penalties are assessed. And officials with regulatory agencies may be sympathetic to violations by public entities, because they understand the difficulty of securing resources in the public sector.

Application of the principle to state-owned industry outside the United States can be left as an exercise for the reader.

This post first appeared at Overlawyered.

Walter Olson

Walter Olson

Walter Olson is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies.

Election Fraud in Turkey: Erdogan’s Ballot Stuffing ‘Victory’

Turkish President Erdogan was handed an electoral defeat on June 1st, losing his AKP super majority in the Ankara parliament offset by seats won by the opposition, notably the 13 percent assumed by the Kurdish led-HDP.  The question was what he would do after he stiff armed opposition participation in a possible ruling coalition, opting instead for a care taker government. That and calling for a snap election on November 1st hoping that things would improve. In the interim Erdogan attacked the Kurdish PKK inside Turkey, bombed allied PKK forces in Iraq and Syria and declared virtual martial law in largely Kurdish southeastern Turkey. October 10th witnessed twin blasts at a peace rally in Ankara with HDP leadership killing over 102 and injuring several hundred. A rally notably without the usual heavy security details. PM Davutoglu declared it an act by ISIS; others suggested it may have been the work of Turkish intelligence.  The polls taking over the run up to the election showed that the opposition would possible block an AKP resurgence.  The answer came on November 1st with what some observed as a ‘surprise victory’ for this Islamist regime seeking to create a neo-Ottoman Caliphate. It was an apparent victory built on evident ballot fraud.

My usual astute European observer of things in Turkey sent me this comment in an email on Sunday, November 1st:

The election results were a shock to many and although the election authority was giving partial results for a while at about 19.30 Turkish time they closed the site and might have manipulated the outcome of the votes to bring out the actual results. Of course, this is a supposition among many others.

P.M. Davutoglu has already come out with a declaration that they have to change the constitution to a executive presidential one. Time will tell us how extremist the country will become.

istanbul vote count

Picture of Istanbul vote count November 1, 2015.

That was followed by an email from “Erdogan Failure” presenting evidence in the accompanying picture of what could be ballot stuffing in Erdogan’s stronghold of Istanbul:

It seems that by 1030 PM last night, each individual Turkish voter in Istanbul cast 1.66 votes. (Meaning: 10,316,871 voters cast 17,104,607 votes in Istanbul.)

How interesting!  Where did the additional 6,787,736 come from and from whom did they vote?  Maybe some dead people might have voted as well.

Or maybe just that our schools have flunked teaching math to our government’s employees.

Now, we are also attaching another image from the official Turkish government website.  It appears that the government realized it was caught lying and then wrote:

25. The election results website is temporarily out of service.

26. Once the election results are finalized, we will publish these results on this site.

How stupid does our government think our people and our foreign friends think we and they are?  Will our foreign friends realize that the published results were fraud? Or maybe this is what has happened to our democracy.  We have become like our neighbors to the south. God must not love us, because he is humiliating us with this disgrace.

Daniel Pipes posted this on National Review’s The Corner with the apt title, “Turkey’s Election Results Stink of Fraud

The AKP’s huge increase gave it back the parliamentary majority it had lost in the June 2015 elections, promising President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a semi-legal path to the dictatorial powers he aspires to. But, to me, the results stink of fraud. It defies reason, for example, that the AKP’s war on Kurds would prompt about a quarter of Turkey’s Kurds to abandon the pro-Kurdish party and switch their votes to the AKP. As news of irregularities comes in, Michael Rubin of AEI summed up the problems at Commentary, “Erdogan steals an Election:”

[Something’s rotten in Anatolia. While some Western journalists are describing as “a surprise landslide victory” the decisive win by President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Sunday’s election parliamentary election in Turkey, nothing in Turkey today happens by chance. Institutions are so thoroughly corrupted that anyone who considers the results to accurately represent the will of Turks is foolish.]

Back in March 2014 when the AKP appeared to dominate local election results, Rubin wrote, “Did Fraud Sway the Turkish Election:”

Turkish political analysts attribute Erdo?an’s cheating quotient at around 5 percent — that takes into account stuffed ballots, shenanigans on the state-run Turkish Airlines as it transports ballots from abroad, disappeared ballot boxes from opposition-run towns and districts, and pretty much everything involving the mayor of Ankara. In the case of Sunday’s elections, it appears that Erdo?an’s AKP won the votes of hundreds of thousands of dead people.

Given the history of fraud in Turkey’s elections, that this one was rigged comes as no shock, especially as rumors swirled in advance about sophisticated efforts to manipulate the results. The citizens of Turkey now face the decisive question of whether to accept or reject the results of this election. Which will prevail — fear of Erdogan’s ruthlessness or anger at his swindle? Sadly, because his electoral coup d’état has blocked the path of democracy, should Turks resist, they are compelled to do so in non-democratic ways.

Foundation for Defense, non-resident Senior Fellow, a former CHP Republican Former Turkish Parliamentarian,  Aykan Erdemir wrote a Politico. EU analysis with the headline, “A defiant Erdogan rides back to power on a wave of violence.   Erdemir had six takeaways from Erdogan’s latest dictatorial grab for power:

  1. Violence wins – a reference to Erodgan’s war against the PKK internally, in Iraq and Syria. Then there is the yet to be  disclosed who were behind the October 10th twin blasts in Ankara that killed over 102 and injured more than 400 hundred  with no security present at the peace rally led by the Kurdish HDP and trade union allies.
  2. Turkey descends further into competitive authoritarianism – a score settling crackdown by Erdogan looms against media, businesses and NGO’s denying democratic rights.
  3. The Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) is here to stay – HDP claimed slightly over 10 percent of the 550 parliamentary seats, despite AKP stuffing 1 million ballots switch in Kurdish districts.
  4. Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP) has committed suicide – “they lost a quarter of their votes. This, however, was a disaster in the making. Since the June elections, the MHP refused to enter into any coalition, failed to undertake proactive policies and purged most of its competent members from candidate lists.”
  5. A Pyrrhic victory for the AKP – “If the elections end up highlighting Turkey’s image as a grudgingly democratic authoritarian regime, it could turn into a Pyrrhic victory for the AKP as it suffers the economic costs and political consequences of Turkey’s drift away from the transatlantic world.”
  6. This could be the beginning of the end for Davitoglu Erodogan duo –“These elections failed to provide Erdo?an with the super-majority he needed to bestow upon himself the executive presidential powers he covets. Prime minister Davuto?lu, however, has won a significant victory, proving his leadership skills and strengthening his credentials within the AKP. If the two fail to arrive at a modus vivendi about the future parameters of power sharing, election celebrations could soon lead to brutal infighting in the AKP ranks, adding further fuel to Turkey’s political chaos and conflict.”

Erdogan received a congratulatory phone call from Chancellor Angela Merkel hoping they can cut a deal for EU funding of Syrian refugee camps and get a sweet Visa deal for Turkish Nationals. The Turkish bourse and Lira foreign exchange may have had a brief spike.  However,  with a mountain of external debt and rampant inflation, Erdogan may find that foreign investors may not have an appetite for funding his growing autocracy after this election.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

The Enemy of Affordable Housing by Sandy Ikeda

Will restricting housing options for the wealthy benefit the poor? Is more regulation the solution to problems created by past regulations? And how can we avoid the interventionist cycle that Ludwig von Mises warned us about?

Critics of Airbnb are not asking these questions. In California, they have proposed stringent regulations to reign in the Internet-based, home-sharing business.

Aligning Interests

One of the marvels of the unhampered market is the way it aligns the interests of buyers and sellers. If the price is too high, a potential buyer is better off keeping her money; if the price is too low, a potential seller is better off keeping his product. When the price is right, trade happens because both expect it to make them better off.

Even when economists note possible exceptions to this harmony of interests — such as market power, asymmetric information, externalities, or behavioral “irrationalities” — most recognize that entrepreneurial competition in a free market will limit or even eliminate their negative effects over time.

In this case, which would be better? Having the government regulate the behavior you disapprove of, or getting rid of the bad rules that prevent people’s own choices from regulating it? When there is public outcry over certain entrepreneurial practices, the political reaction is to compel an outcome that those with political power approve of. In contrast, the scientific approach is to listen to the objections but then try to find the underlying source of the problem.

What Is Seen

From the economic point of view, Airbnb serves to significantly lower the costs of listing, finding, or renting lodging to the general public. Other things equal, it improves the well-being of those involved. In San Francisco, Proposition F would considerably tighten regulations on this popular service.

Among other things, as the ballot initiative reads, Prop F

would restrict all such private rentals to 75 nights per year and impose provisions designed to ensure such private rentals are paying hotel taxes and following city code. It would also require guest and revenue reports from rental hosts and “hosting platforms” every three months.

Prop F’s advocates argue that in San Francisco, wealthy, profit-hungry owners use Airbnb to charge high rents to short-term customers for their vacant residences. They contend that this practice takes much-needed units from an already extremely tight, long-term housing market. That, in turn, shrinks the pool of housing available to lower-income families who are already having trouble renting in one of the most expensive areas of the country. So it appears that the relatively wealthy are profiting at the expense of the relatively poor.

Similar disputes are happening in other cities, such as New York.

Those who support Prop F and call for regulation apparently believe they have the moral and intellectual high ground.

No reasonable and compassionate person likes to see low-income families struggle for housing. Unfortunately, if you question the effectiveness of some cherished public policy, there are too many people who reflexively question your motives, your intelligence, or both.

But a win-at-all-costs attitude in political debate is not conducive to rational and civil discourse.

What Is Unseen

Why don’t entrepreneurs in San Francisco respond to sky-high rents, as economics suggests, by increasing the supply of housing instead of using Airbnb? What’s hard to see in the heated, off-the-cuff political debates are the consequences of rent regulations in San Francisco. According to journalist Meagan McArdle, San Francisco’s rent regulations have meant that “a growing number of landlords don’t want to rent their places at all; it’s too much hassle for too little reward.” Under the circumstances, Airbnb brings at least some of that housing supply into a segment of the rental market.

Also, as Business Insider recently pointed out:

Since San Francisco is located on a peninsula, there’s pretty much only one way for the city to add new housing units: by growing vertically. With taller buildings, San Francisco would be able to fit more housing and thus lower rents. But as Y Combinator partner Garry Tan pointed out in a tweet this weekend, that’s not even an option under current city zoning regulations.

And there’s more.

The surrounding cities and suburbs of San Francisco are also subject to strict building codes. Those who might like to live on the outskirts of San Francisco, and redirect some of the high demand from the city, have fewer options because residents in outlying areas support building codes they think will protect the value of their homes.

Indeed, a housing advocacy group is trying to sue the East Bay town of Lafayette to force it to relax building restrictions on housing density. (See my February 2015 Freeman article, “Shut Out: How Land-Use Regulations Hurt the Poor,” on the regressive effects of building restrictions.)

The Political Economy of Housing Regulations

Passage of Prop F would mean a significant loss of business to Airbnb, which is why the company is reportedly spending millions of dollars to fight it. On the other side, concerned citizens and organizations have reportedly been getting help from the hotel industry, which is anxious to restrain the competition from the sharing economy.

Airbnb, Uber, and other “gap economy” businesses are themselves attempts to address markets that are underserved because of overregulation.

The great Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises described the cycle this way: profit-seeking entrepreneurs respond to the incentives created by bottlenecks and shortages that prior interventions have artificially created. Political activists in turn respond with more regulations. It’s an almost endless cycle that history teaches us usually doesn’t end well.

What’s the best way to improve housing options for low-income families? Taking time to scientifically question the wisdom of Prop F doesn’t make us bad people, and it’s not irrational to refrain from imposing political solutions on problems created by prior political “solutions.” Indeed, looking behind what is obvious and beyond the passions of the moment is the only way of breaking that vicious cycle.

Sandy Ikeda
Sandy Ikeda

Sandy Ikeda is a professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism.

No, the GI Bill Does Not Prove “Free” College Is a Good Deal by Neal McCluskey

As I’ve written before, the case for “free” college is decrepit, and Bernie Sanders’s op-ed in the Washington Post does nothing to bolster it. It sounds wonderful to say “everyone, go get a free education!” but of course it wouldn’t be free — taxpayers would have to foot the bill — and more importantly, it would spur even more wasteful over-consumption of higher ed than we have now.

Because I’ve rehearsed the broad argument against free college quite often, I’m not going to go over it again.

But Sen. Sanders’ op-ed does furnish some “evidence” worth looking at: the notion that the post-World War II GI Bill was a huge economic catalyst. Writes Sanders:

After World War II, the GI Bill gave free education to more than 2 million veterans, many of whom would otherwise never have been able to go to college. This benefited them, and it was good for the economy and the country, too.

In fact, scholars say that this investment was a major reason for the high productivity and economic growth our nation enjoyed during the postwar years.

I’ve seen this sort of argument before, as I’ve seen for government provision of education generally, and have always found it wanting, especially since we have good evidence that people will seek out the education they need in the absence of government provision, and will get it more efficiently. Since Sanders links to two sources that presumably support his GI Bill assertion, however, I figured I’d better give them a look.

Surprisingly, not only does neither illustrate that the GI Bill spurred economic growth, neither even contends it did. They say it spurred some collegeenrollment growth, and one says veterans ended up being better students than some high-profile college presidents expected them to be, but neither makes the Sanders’ growth claim.

Indeed, in line with what we’ve seen broadly in education, one says that at least 80 percent of veterans who went to college on the Bill would likely have gone anyway, and in seemingly direct opposition to what Sanders would like to see, the other notes that the Bill disproportionately helped the well-to-do, not the working class.

As the Stanley study says right in its abstract: “The impacts of both programs [the World War II and Korean War GI Bills] on college attainment were apparently concentrated among veterans from families in the upper half of the distribution of socioeconomic status.”

If we really want to do what’s best for the nation — not just what sounds or feels best — we need to ground our policies in reality. In education, as in Sanders’ op-ed, that often doesn’t happen.

This post first appeared at Cato @ Liberty.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) Votes for the Boehner-Obama Budget Busting Deal

Florida District 16 U.S. Representative Vern Buchanan was one of 79 Republicans to vote for the Boehner-Obama budget busting deal. It is now the Buchanan-Boehner-Obama budget.

When Vern Buchanan first ran for Congress he vowed to reduce the federal budget deficits and called for a Constitutional balanced budget amendment. In a June 2015 press release Rep. Buchanan called balancing the budget “an urgent priority”. Buchanan stated:

[T]he United States can no longer afford to ignore its out-of-control spending problemWe’re going broke, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, unless we change what we’re doing. We need a standard and I think that standard is a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment– Florida balances the budget every year, we make the tough choices…

It’s immoral what we’re passing on to our kids and grandkids. I have a granddaughter and a grandson on the way and I feel horrible about what’s taking place up here. “

[Emphasis added]

Given all of his rhetoric he still voted, in his own words “immorally” and against the best interests of his children grandchildren and ours, for Obama’s budget.

Melissa Quinn from the Daily Signal reports:

Despite overwhelming opposition from the majority of Republicans, the House of Representatives voted to pass a two-year budget deal today that raises spending caps by $80 billion and suspends the debt limit through March 2017.

The deal passed, 266-167, with support from moderate Republicans and all but one of the Democrats. Just 79 Republicans supported it, and all of those opposing the fiscal agreement were Republicans.

[Emphasis added]

To find out how your Congressman voted on this budget deal click here.

Stephen Moore, in his op-ed column titled “This Is the Worst Budget Deal GOP Has Negotiated Since George H.W. Bush Violated No New Taxes Pledge
writes:

Halloween is looking especially scary this year. On Monday, Republican leaders in Congress declared an unconditional fiscal surrender to President Barack Obama and the  left, negotiating a dangerous budget deal that eliminates all of the checks on Washington’s spend-and-borrow binge by breaking the budget caps, ending the sequester and raising the debt ceiling by over $1 trillion.

It’s the worst budget deal to be negotiated by the GOP since George H.W. Bush violated his no new taxes pledge in 1990 at Andrews Air Force Base.

The result of that capitulation was to make Bush a one-term president and to split the Republican party right down the middle. This deal has the same catastrophic potential.

Read more.

Citizens Against Government Waste reports:

Forty-six cents!  That’s how much of your individual income tax dollar the government squanders on wasteful spending programs.

donate

Another 31 cents goes to pay the $433 billion in annual interest on the national debt!

That leaves just 23 cents – or not quite one quarter of your tax dollar – to pay for the services that you expect from government!

 

RELATED VIDEO: Rep. Vern Buchanan on balancing the federal budget:

RELATED ARTICLES:

Lame Ducks, Lame Deal: The Boehner-Obama Budget Plan

Boehner-Obama Budget Deal Uses Same Accounting Gimmick as Obamacare

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of John Boehner and President Obama is by Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Newscom.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) Joins Democrats to Clear Path for Vote Reviving Export-Import Bank

Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL District 16) was one of 62 Republicans to vote in favor of bringing to the House floor a bill funding the Export-Import Bank.

The Daily Signal reports:

The House of Representatives moved one step closer to bringing the Export-Import Bank back from the dead Monday after 62 Republicans teamed up with 184 House Democrats to force a vote to reauthorize the embattled agency.

Despite opposition from the vast majority of Republicans, the House passed a motion to discharge a bill reauthorizing Ex-Im from the Financial Services Committee, 246-177. (See how your member of Congress voted.)

The vote clears a path for the chamber to vote on the legislation sponsored by Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn. Under Fincher’s legislation, the 81-year-old bank would be reauthorized through 2019. Lawmakers are expected to vote on his bill tomorrow.

Read more.

Can you say bust the budget yet again?

Buchanan seems to say one thing and vote for the special interests.

Buchanan has repeatedly called for a Constitution balanced budget amendment but he has also consistently voted to raise the debt ceiling and keep wasteful spending programs – such as the Import-Export Bank – fully funded.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL 16) Busts the Budget — Votes for Amnesty and Obamacare

The Boehner-Obama Budget Deal Explained in One Chart

This [Budget] Deal Is Unacceptable. Congress Should Wait Until New Speaker Chosen

Find Out How Your Congressman Voted on Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank

Freedom Caucus Members Will Stick With Daniel Webster in Today’s Speaker Vote

Widespread Fraud in U.S. Somali Muslim Family Reunification Program

In an otherwise whining piece about how the feds are too slow to admit family members of refugees, at least this Frontline ‘news’ story admits that thousands of Somalis entered the U.S. fraudulently resulting in a 4-year closure (in 2008) of the so-called P-3 family reunification program of the US State Department.

You should read the whole long article, but here (below) is the segment on Somali fraud (btw, none of those who got in here by lying were ever deported).

For our thousands of new readers:  We covered the discovery and aftermath extensively, here.  The fraud was originally reported at the Wall Street Journal in August of 2008.

The nine major federal resettlement contractors fought tooth and nail to keep the State Department from requiring DNA testing.

Frontline on DNA testing:

Even if those restrictions are loosened, refugees applying for family reunification will face another hurdle to clear: DNA testing.

The inspiration for this requirement was born in East Africa, where more than 1 million Somalians have been displaced from their country by civil war and famine. In the mid-2000s, the U.S. was providing refuge to about 10,000 Somalians a year*** — many of whom went on to apply to the family reunification program to bring over relatives.

Immigration officials suspected that some were inventing “ghost children,” and filling out applications for children not related to them. There had even been some reports of brokers who sold the ghost children’s slots for profit, according to a U.S. Department of State official who spoke to FRONTLINE but asked not to be named.

So in early 2008, the State Department launched a pilot program to determine the extent of fraud by testing relationships using DNA.

In the initial pilot of 476 applicants in Nairobi, Kenya, only 16 percent were genetically related to every person they said was in their family. Another 39 percent tested false for at least one family member. In the remaining 45 percent of cases, applicants either refused to participate or didn’t show up for the test.

Officials interpreted these results as proof of widespread fraud. The P-3 program was suspended, and did not reopen for more than four years.

This stunned refugees around the world, many of whom had spent years waiting for P-3 applications to be approved. Most were told to apply for an alternate visa, but it was even more restrictive than P-3 and soon had a multi-year waiting list.

There is much more, read on.

We admitted 8,858 this past fiscal year, (9,000 the year before that!):

As the UNHCR is sending Somalis back to Somalia from its Kenyan camps we admitted 8,858 Somalis to the US in FY2015, here (many from the Kenyan camps!).  Somalis are the third largest ethnic group admitted to the US this past year.

Go here to see how many Somalis entered the U.S. through the Refugee Admissions Program since its inception.  Notice some of the biggest years are in the George W. Bush Administration.

Why are we still admitting Somali refugees after three decades?

RELATED ARTICLES:

Lutheran lobbyist says 100,000 Syrians is a responsible number for FY 2016

Think Progress has Rep. Brian Babin in its crosshairs….

Erie PA: Impoverished refugees to get special federal savings plan (you pay for it)

Colonizers on Greek island of Lesbos: Do you have wifi?

Gatestone: Sweden close to collapse

Is Europe being colonized? Yes! Let’s call it what it is!

As colonization of Europe continues, thousands of Germans take to the streets to fight the Islamic tide

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Somali refugees in Dadaab, a massive UN camp in Kenya. Photo courtesy of The Guardian. According to the FBI here is no way to thoroughly screen the refugees we accept from the UN any better here, than those we are accepting from UN camps in the Middle East.

Senate “oversight” hearing on Muslim Refugee Admissions Program set for October 1st, 2015

Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled that some Congressional committee is attempting to review the UN/US State Department Refugee Admissions Program and as far as I can tell, it will be the first time Congress takes seriously its “consultation” responsibility since before 911.  That said, as I review the list of those testifying, do the Senators really think they will get anything but a snow-job from two of those on the list of entrenched bureaucrats (Bartlett and Carey) who have every incentive to keep the monster going.

Bartlett with map

Do Senators really think that Asst. Sec. of State Anne Richard’s right hand man (Larry Bartlett pictured here) is going to tell the Senators anything negative about how refugees are resettled in America. By the way, see the newest version of that map behind him,

Just last week Lawrence Bartlett traveled to Twin Falls, Idaho to participate in a laughable demonstration of a stacked public “forum” to attempt to quell the citizen criticism of the program there in Magic Valley.  Watch Bartlett in action here.

I do need to comb through that entire video and pull out some Bartlett gems for you.  When I posted on the “forum” here I hadn’t watched the videotape, so to clarify: Bartlett didn’t say they don’t drop off refugees in unwelcoming towns, he actually (with a malevolent look) said “unsafe” towns implying that opponents of refugee resettlement might be violent people!  It is an outrage!

Also, when asked why local citizens don’t have more say in who and how many will be resettled, he made it clear that this was designed as a federal program administered from Washington (so tough luck to local communities, we call the shots).  He didn’t exactly say it that way, but that was the clear message he was sending.

***Update*** Jim sends this link for the segment of Bartlett’s remarks just mentioned. More great information on the Twin Falls “forum” from opponents, here.

The Refugee Act of 1980 (Kennedy, Biden, Carter) does require consultation with local elected officials, something that is done (if at all) in the most cursory fashion and with local ‘friendly’ officials first and foremost.

Anyway, back to the hearing for October 1 (the first day of the 2016 fiscal year where 10,000 or more Syrian, mostly Muslim, refugees will be on the way to these towns and more).

Will those testifying say anything more than all is well, every town is welcoming, Syrians will be screened, blah, blah, blah.

I would like to have seen a mayor*** with problems be among the witnesses.

I’m told if you go to the Judiciary Committee website at the time of the hearing you can watch it live.

Oversight of the Administration’s FY 2016 Refugee Resettlement Program: Fiscal and Security Implications

Immigration and the National Interest
Date: Thursday, October 1, 2015 Add to my Calendar
Time: 02:00 PM
Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building 226
Presiding: Chairman Sessions

Agenda
September 21, 2015

NOTICE OF COMMITTEE HEARING

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled a hearing of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest entitled “Oversight of the Administration’s FY 2016 Refugee Resettlement Program: Fiscal and Security Implications” for Thursday October 1, 2015 at 2:00 p.m., in Room 226 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

By order of the Chairman.

Witnesses

Mr. Larry Bartlett
Director Of Admissions
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration | United States Department of State
Washington , D.C.

Ms. Barbara Strack
Chief, Refugee Affairs Division
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services | United States Department of Homeland Security
Washington , D.C.

Mr. Matthew Emrich
Associate Director, Fraud Detection And National Security Directorate
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services | United States Department of Homeland Security
Washington , D.C.

Mr. Robert Carey
Director, Office Of Refugee Resettlement
United States Department of Health and Human Services
Washington , D.C.

Incidentally, Carey is one of the many in federal government who rotated in from a contractor’s job.  Think about it, now he is the dispenser of federal grants to the contractor he once worked for—the International Rescue Committee.

***In Twin Falls, Bartlett did mention some cities where they have problems with mayors, but implied they had been resolved. (He also whacked the citizens of Spartanburg).  He said they had pushback from mayors in Manchester, NH, Amarillo, TX, and Springfield, Massachusetts—all three of which we have covered extensively on these pages.  

RELATED ARTICLES:

Scottish first minister changes her mind about inviting Syrians to share her home

Connecticut elected officials welcome Syrian (Muslim) refugees

Carson favorability numbers jump dramatically after Muslim President comments last Sunday

Iraqi headed to Germany: “Inshallah, we hope to be rich there.”

Death by demography….

Border Arrests of Children, Families Surge 52% in August

Your Liberty Receipt

Here at Conservative Review we recently launched a new feature called the Taxpayer’s Monthly Government Receipt where we detail for you a receipt documenting the extraordinary financial burdens the cost of government is placing on your life. Whether taking the form of taxes paid, future taxes owed, government debts incurred, or future government obligations, these financial burdens are YOURS. There is no money fairy to rescue us. There are not enough wealthy people to pay a “fair share” high enough to get us out of this debt hole. These are our debts and they WILL be paid off by the sweat of your brow and the labor of your children and grandchildren.

After reading through the Taxpayer’s Monthly Government Receipt I decided to write this piece to call attention to the burden on your freedom, as well as your wallet.

The Liberty Receipt:

Healthcare 

Prior to the passing of Obamacare, using questionable legislative tactics, you were free to purchase health insurance or not, and to tailor it to your family’s needs. Many self-employed, or young and healthy individuals who felt it was more cost effective to pay their medical bills themselves took advantage of their freedom and liberty and didn’t purchase expensive health insurance. After Obamacare, you lost the ability to make those decisions for yourself. The government makes these decisions for you now, using the power of the IRS to ensure that you comply.

In short, liberty was lost.

The Economy

President Obama’s tax increases on income, capital gains, healthcare, payroll, and more, have taken record amounts of money from the wallets of hard working Americans, reducing their economic liberty with each additional dollar removed from their wallets. Your hard-earned money cannot belong to you and the government at the same time, and as the burden of government grows, your ability to economically support yourself and your family recedes. In short, liberty was lost.

Regulations

In 2014 alone, the Obama administration added over $180 billion in new regulations costing YOU over $500 per capita. This tidal wave of additional government red tape has not only stolen your economic liberty, it has also countermanded personal control of your private property, local control of your neighborhood and your business. Either way, decisions about your home, business and neighborhood which you were free to make prior to the Obama presidency, are no longer available to you. The government has already made those decisions for you. In short, liberty was lost.

Education

The Obama administration insists on standing in the way of educational liberty, and standing in the way of lower-income, minority children and a quality education. After suing, and then requesting a federal review of Louisiana’s school voucher program, followed by the administration’s refusal to fund the Washington D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, it’s clear that the Obama administration has stolen away the ability for struggling parents to freely choose where their children attend school. This life-changing decision was once just a school voucher away from changing the lives of lower income children just looking for a shot at the American Dream. That decision is no longer yours, the government made it for you. In short, liberty was lost.

Once liberty is lost it’s a difficult two-step process to get it back. First we have to raise awareness to what happened. President Obama has a gift for stealing your liberty and making you believe that he left you with a gift. We must all become Paul and Paulette Reveres and make every effort to sound the alarm as to what is going on. Second, we must elect and support fearless leaders who fear the loss of liberty and freedom more than the fear of losing an election. In short, liberty was lost and here’s your receipt. Use it to organize and fight back.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the Conservative Review. The featured image of the Twin Towers and Statue of Liberty is courtesy of the Associated Press.

Florida: Hillsborough County Schools Loses Both Gates Money and Financial Reserves

In November 2009, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the Hillsborough County (Florida) Public Schools a $100 million grant as part of its “Empowering Effective Teachers” effort:

Hillsborough County Public Schools

Date: November 2009
Purpose: to support Hillsborough County as part of a cohort of Intensive Partnership Sites to improve teacher effectiveness to transform outcomes for low-income, minority students
Amount: $100,000,000
Term: 80
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Tampa, Florida
Grantee Website: http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/

The grant was to be paid in 80 installments; if such installments were monthly, then the grant would be paid over roughly seven years, with the final payment made at the end of the 2015-16 school year.

Of course, Gates had some ideas about how this “teacher effectiveness” business should work. The report linked above has as its second sentence, “A teacher’s effectiveness has more impact on student learning than any other factor under the control of school systems, including class size, school size, and the quality of after-school programs.” When pro-corporate-reform organizations toss around such statements, they never seem to follow it with the fact that factors external to the classroom hold far more sway that does the teacher. (In analyzing the proportion of teacher influence captured via value-added modeling– VAM– the American Statistical Association notes that teacher influence accounts for between 1 and 14 percent of variance in student test scores. Thus, between 86 and 99 percent of a student’s test score is out of the teacher’s control.)

Nevertheless, ignoring that the teacher controls so little of student outcomes in the form of market-driven-reform-loving test scores, in its efforts to try to purchase higher student test scores, the Gates Foundation offered ten school districts nationwide the multi-million-dollar-funded opportunity to prove that teachers could indeed be cajoled into producing better “student achievement” (i.e., ever-higher test scores) when such teachers were measured by their students’ test scores and offered more money for “raising” said scores.

As a 2009 winner of an Empowering Effective Teachers grant, Hillsborough was thrilled (“We’ll be a national model!”). A December 21, 2015 archive of Hillsborough schools’ “Empowering Teachers” webpage includes a number of enthusiastic responses regarding the newly-acquired, $100 million Gates grant. Front and center in these celebratory public statements is then-Hillsborough superintendent, MaryEllen Elia (Then-Governor Charlie Crist: “I commend Superintendent MaryEllen Elia and the Hillsborough County School District for their enthusiasm and commitment to working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation during the next seven years to improve student academic performance through rewarding high quality teachers both professionally and monetarily. The foundation’s generous grant award of $100 million will greatly enhance the work the district has already done in this area.”)

However, part of the Hillsborough-Gates agreement involved Hillsborough’s ponying up money of its own– which ended up eating into the Hillsborough schools’ reserves and threatening its bond rating. As reported in the August 04, 2015, Tampa Bay Tribune, the Empowering Effective Teachers initiative is not the only financial stressor affecting the Hillsborough bond rating, but it is nevertheless noteworthy:

In 2013, the school district was heading into the fourth year of a seven-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help raise the bar among its teaching staff — a major factor, the foundation maintains, in student success.

Under its partnership with the foundation, the district needed a new salary schedule that tied raises more closely to a new system of evaluations — a change adopted statewide soon afterward.

Teachers in their first, second or third year on the job automatically switched to the new scale, which ties raises to evaluations, and those on their fourth year or higher chose whether to move to the new scale or stay on the old one. Because those changes were made mid-year, after the school board receives its yearly budget presentation, the school board never saw the financial effect of moving thousands of teachers to a new pay schedule, [new Superintendent Jeff] Eakins said.

About 10,000 school district employees moved to the new schedule, which meant their paychecks increased from $5,000 to $15,000 that year. The new scale averaged out to a 4 percent raise for each teacher. Last June, the school district used money in the reserve fund to make payroll several times near the end of the school year, Eakins said.

Yes, Hillsborough has a new superintendent. In January 2015, Elia was terminated via a school board vote of 4-3. The drain on Hillsborough’s reserves– down from $360 million to $152 million in about the past five years– happened on Elia’s watch– and allegedly without the knowledge (much less the approval) of the Hillsborough school board:

“The school board had no idea,” chairwoman Susan Valdes said. “We instructed the former superintendent not to touch the fund balance.”

Elia, selected by her peers as one of the top four superintendents in the country, was hired as commissioner of education for the state of New York. Her office said Tuesday she is traveling and could not be reached.

Elia is now in New York, where she runs the risk of jeopardizing her position with parents in New York’s growing opt-out movement. Elia publicly called opting out of standardized testing “unreasonable” and asserted that teacher encouragement of opting out is “unethical.”

But back to Hillsborough and its “Empowering Effective Teachers” Gates grant:

The August 04, 2015, Tampa Tribune article notes, “Next year is the final year of the $100 million Gates Foundation grant, called ‘Empowering Effective Teachers.’” Thus, it appears that Hillsborough believes Gates will follow through on its entire $100 million commitment during the full term of the grant.

Alas, it is not to be.

On September 21, 2015, the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Gates Foundation has only paid $80 million of the $100 million.

The Gates Foundation maintains that it did not agree for certain to fund the entire $100 million:

…Records indicate the relationship between Gates and the district has had some bumps.

Late in the process, the foundation rejected several of the district’s funding requests for Empowering Effective Teachers, which involves evaluating teachers using specially trained peers and bumping their pay with the idea that it would boost student performance.

“Each of the proposals were robustly outlined and presented,” a district report said.

But Gates officials responded by pointing to language in the original agreement saying the foundation had promised “up to” $100 million, not necessarily the whole amount, according to the report.

The district picked up the unpaid costs.

It is not unusual for a nonprofit like the Gates Foundation to require reports of how the grant project is proceeding in order to decide to continue to fund a project. However, a notable issue in this case appears to be “a change in Gates’ philosophy”:

Much of the disagreement [about funding the entire $100 million] amounted to a change in Gates’ philosophy, Brown said. “After a few years of research,” she said, “they believed there was not enough of a connection between performance bonuses and greater student achievement.” …

Gates spokeswoman Mary Beth Lambert said that while the decision on bonus pay is final, the two sides could agree on another funding opportunity later in the year. “It’s an ongoing conversation,” she said. “The door is still open.” [Emphasis added.]

So. The winds have changed. Gates no longer believes in a pay for performance. But there is another notable issue, and it concerns the original terms of the Hillsborough-Gates agreement– terms that Hillsborough schools did not follow through on: Mass firing of teachers, and no pay at all for seniority. As the September 21, 2015, Tampa Bay Times reports:

Since 2009, key components of the Gates program have changed.

The original proposal and a 2010 timeline called for the district to fire 5 percent of its teachers each year for poor performance. That would amount to more than 700 teachers. The thinking was they would be replaced by teachers who earned entry level wages, freeing up money to pay the bonuses for those at the top.

But the mass firings never happened. While an undetermined number of teachers resign out of dissatisfaction or fear that they will be fired, only a handful of terminations happen because of bad evaluations.

Also, while the initial proposal sought to pay teachers based on performance instead of seniority, the actual pay plan does both. Teachers receive pay bumps at three-year intervals and, if they score highly in the ratings system, they get bonus pay.

Evaluators were supposed to serve two-year stints, then cycle back to the classroom. Instead, many stay three and four years.

What strikes me is that Elia and others were so enthusiastic about a grant “opportunity” that would require firing five percent of teachers each year.  (Read Elia’s et al. enthusiastic May and August 2009 letters to all employees here.)

Elia’s cheerleading about a Gates grant requiring constant churn via teacher firings reminds me of something Shirley Jackson would have written in one of her short stories.

As Hillsborough faces the issue of $20 million less from Gates for a grant that initially agreed to fire five percent of teachers per year, Elia is in New York, where the cowering Board of Regents on September 16, 2015, approved Governor Andrew Cuomo’s push to increase teacher evaluation based on test scores to as much as 50 percent— and where numbers of students opting out could well serve as a catalyst for– dare I write it– *empowering* teachers.

However, it is not likely that Gates will take any interest in funding any parent, student, or teacher empowerment that works by defying standardized testing.

Go figure.

Minnesota: Somali Muslim Day Care Fraud Cases Piling Up

Again, not enough time to give you all the ins and outs of these cases, you need to read this story yourselves.  Thanks to a reader for sending it!

For those of you thinking that this is Minnesota’s problem, think again!

The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement is giving grants to some of the nine major federal contractors and subcontractors responsible for resettling refugees to help refugee women set up dare care facilities to provide “culturally appropriate” day care in towns where you live (see below)!  BTW, they are basically using your tax dollars to compete with American women who might want to become day care providers.   And, you might want to ask, well what about assimilating to America if they are placing Somali kids only in Somali run day care centers?  Where is the multiculturalism in this?

From Alphanews:

Since the Minnesota Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) fully-staffed their new child care fraud investigative unit in the spring of 2014, they’ve worked with the FBI to shutter daycare centers around the state. Of the cases that have hit the news since then, all have involved Somali-run businesses.

Khadra Hirsi

Khadra Hirsi

Khadra Abdisafad Hirsi, 47, was the director and co-owner of Ace Daycare Center in Eden Prairie. In February, Hirsi pleaded guilty to knowingly submitting fraudulent claims to the state of Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program. From November of 2011-May of 2013, Hirisi inflated the number of children using her daycare’s services and fraudulently obtained $300,000 in payments from the state of Minnesota and the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services.Earlier this month Hirsi was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison and ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution.

[….]

Deqo daycare center, which had three locations in Apple Valley, St. Paul, and Minneapolis was shut down in 2013 due to licensing violations and prosecutors charged husband and wife Ahmed Aden Mohamed and Yasmin Abdulle Ali for bilking the state out of nearly $3.7 million, $3.1 million of which was collected from April 2012-January 2013. The duo had recruited more than 100 parents to enroll their own children in the program.

There is much more here.

Now be sure to visit the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Microenterprise Development—Home Based Child Care program where your tax dollars are handed out in grants to help Somalis (and other refugees) become day care owners and operators.  Go here and be sick!

And, I suspect that the contractor administering the grant is not audited to determine where exactly this money is spent!  People ask me all the time how can a contractor make enough money simply by collecting the per-head payment for each refugee they resettle.  Well, it is grants like these that send more money into their coffers.

RELATED ARTICLE: Merkel blasts anti-immigrant rioters, Hollande wrings his hands

RELATED VIDEO: Day care fraud in Ohio

Europe Must Confront Its Financial Problems, Not Subdue Them

Permanent instability appears to be the order of the day in Europe. The announcement by the Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras that he is stepping down and calling new elections comes as a surprise to no one. The Tsipras era has been no less volatile than that of his recent predecessors.

The immediate cause of his resignation is the loss of confidence in him by members of his own party, specifically over the agreement Tsipras made on the latest bailout with Greece’s European creditors. A new party has already been formed by the former energy minister, Panagiotis Lafazanis. When they stand before the electorate they are likely to be offering the Greek people almost exactly what Syriza offered the people before the party came across the realities that Greece is facing and that any party in government there must recognise.

But the truth is that the Greek people – and the people of the EU in general – deserve better than this. Specifically they deserve better leadership. It is not enough that the Greek government continues to revert to the people every few months in order to request that they suggest new ways to reorganise the deck chairs. The Greek governing class continues to behave as though there is a way of averting the inevitable – which is that the country face up to its creditors. Instead of that, a substantial portion of the Greek political class prefers to pretend that they will one day succeed in facing those creditors down.

In some ways the stasis exemplified in this Greek political groundhog day finds expression in other parts of the continent’s politics as well. In Sweden new polls show that the Sweden Democrats – a party with historical far-right leanings – is polling above any other party in the country. The cause is not complex: immigration. All the other Swedish political parties keep putting off the growing problems of their current asylum, immigration and integration strategies. Only the Sweden Democrats have been addressing them and as they have addressed them the other parties have stepped away from the issue rather than into it. And so a matter of the utmost concern to the Swedish people becomes addressed only by people who should have remained on the margins.

These are testing times across the continent, from north to south. There are no simple solutions to any of the problems the continent faces, but unless the mainstream political class in each of our countries is honest with the people and addresses their concerns rather than trying to subdue them, permanent instability will be the least of our worries.


mendozahjsFROM THE DIRECTOR’S DESK 

This week’s revelation that over $1 billion in US military equipment has now flowed to the Lebanese Army in one sense counts as no surprise.

Lebanon has been seriously affected by the conflict in Syria and has been rocked by instability caused by massive refugee flows that have swollen the country’s population by 25% of its pre-war total. Sectarian tensions have simmered and occasionally flared into violence. With ISIS claiming sovereignty over the country and Iran’s Lebanese catspaw Hezbollah having been drafted in to defend President Assad’s faltering rule, Lebanon runs the constant risk of once again being torn apart by conflict within its region. It stands to reason that its army therefore needs bolstering.

Except that in Lebanon, nothing is ever straightforward. The careful internal balance within the country has meant that the army cannot enforce the state evenhandedly. Hezbollah has long acted with impunity for example, acting as an armed militia which cannot be controlled. Worse, the army’s links with Hezbollah have been scrutinised in the past, with the US Congress stopping military aid several times on account of fears that Hezbollah would get hold of US equipment and use it against US strategic interests.

Given this, what explains the US move? The answer, as with part of the rationale for the Iran nuclear deal, seems clear: President Obama has decided to gamble on Iran and its allies becoming a fully fledged part of the coalition against ISIS, and that this bet is worth the potential consequences of a strengthened Iran in the region

This is a strange decision to make. Hezbollah is no friend of the US. Commencing with its murder of US marines in Beirut in 1983, it has consistently targeted US interests in the country. It poses a direct threat to the US’s Israeli ally, and has engaged in terrorism overseas in other US allied countries. Its military support for the Assad regime keeps the murderous dictator in power, helping ISIS radicalise foreign Muslims to come and wage jihad against him.

This US decision once again therefore marks the triumph of blind optimism over experience as the guiding principle of US foreign policy today. We must hope it is not one that will return to haunt the US in years to come.

Dr Alan Mendoza is Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society
Follow Alan on Twitter: @AlanMendoza