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Let’s Stop with the Carbon Con Already

The side that defines the vocabulary of a debate, wins the debate. So we could ask: as we fight the global-warming scam, why are we using the language of the scammers? It’s harder to combat “carbon” taxes, “carbon” credits and callow “carbon” appeals if we accept that at issue is “carbon.”

Calling CO2 “carbon” is like calling H2O “hydrogen.” Carbon is about as useful to a plant aspiring to photosynthesize as a tank of hydrogen is to a dehydrated man in a desert. Carbon dioxide and carbon are not the same thing any more than a fox and foxglove are the same thing.

If chemical formulas are meaningless and one element or atom between friends can be ignored, try inhaling copious amounts of CO. It’s also “carbon,” being in fact more “carboney” ratio-wise than CO2. But carbon monoxide is poisonous to fauna and flora while carbon dioxide is plant food, which is why botanists pump it into greenhouses.

Likewise, would you like some chlorine with your food, sir? Sodium is poisonous; chlorine is poisonous. Combine the two — NaCl — and you have table salt. Chemistry is our friend.

It would be nice to think that the carbon crew is just being friendly and familiar. But not only would calling CO2 Mr. Dioxide be just as inaccurate, there’s clearly an agenda here. Carbon, the primary element in coal, conjures up images of spewing sky-blackening soot into the air. It’s a dark brand of marketing.

In fact, I challenge those crafting “carbon tax” bills to call CO2 “carbon” in their legislation’s text. They won’t because I suspect it wouldn’t stand up in court, as factories don’t actually emit carbon. The alarmists will either specify carbon dioxide or define, tendentiously, what “carbon” means for the “purposes of the bill.”

Of course, carbon isn’t really a villain, either. It’s the fourth-most abundant element in the universe, and man is known as a “carbon-based life form.” Given the latter, if extra atoms and elements and how they react with each other can be ignored when formulating labels and definitions, we could say that Al Gore’s birth was a carbon emission.

Honest people should reclaim the language and reboot the debate by rejecting “carbon” talk. As for those knowingly using the term for propaganda purposes, they should have a huge carbon footprint placed firmly on their carbon-based posteriors.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

VIDEO: Why do Feminists Ignore the abuse of Muslim women?

Are women oppressed in Muslim countries?

What about in Islamic enclaves in the West?

Are these places violating or fulfilling the Quran and Islamic law?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an author and activist who was raised a devout Muslim, describes the human rights crisis of our time, asks why feminists in the West don’t seem to care, and explains why immigration to the West from the Middle East means this issue matters more than ever.

RELATED ARTICLES:

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EDITORS NOTE: Readers may support PragerU by clicking here: https://www.classy.org/checkout/donat….

Will America Ever Have A ‘Wise And Frugal Government’ Again

Sometimes it is said that a man cannot be trusted with the government of himself.  Can he then be trusted with the government of others?  Recent history has proven that to be very true.  No one of with any measure of moral conscience will deny the recent history of government being shepherded toward oblivion by proponents of evil.  ­I hate to bring it up, but the Obama administration is perhaps the premier example of a man that cannot be trusted and should not be have been granted the privilege of governing our republic.  But unfortunately therein lies another problem that must be addressed as we engage perhaps the most important election in our nation’s history.

As “We the People” prepare to choose who will lead our republic, perhaps we should take a closer look at ourselves and refine our vision of what kind of America do we want going forward.  To aid in our search let us consider what do we want to leave for our children.  History will answer that question loud and clear with the results of our decisions.  If we do not reconnect with the Christian based values that were the foundational building blocks of our America we shall witness the completion of the destructive mission of the progressive enemies from within our population ranks.  Let us as Americans with courage and confidence pursue our own federal and republican principles.

As part of his 1801 Inaugural address, President Thomas Jefferson stated: Enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter.  With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? (I couldn’t help but pause here and ask this question.  Have you noticed how the further Americans are indoctrinated against the principles and beliefs that made the United States the  envy of the world, she is actually both less happy and prosperous?)

Still one thing more, fellow citizens—a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned…You should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government…. Equal and exact justice to all men, of, whatever state or persuasion, religious or political…the arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of a person under the protection of the habeas corpus and trial by jury impartially selected…

Unfortunately, our nation has succumbed to the lowest common denominator when it comes to morality, government function, individual liberties, as well as the economy and other relevant concerns.

If our republic is to reemerge as a beacon of light and liberty, to the teeming masses that would want to come to America legally to become Americans, our nation will first have to return to being the actual America that good and decent people around the world would want to be a part of.  Think about it, as our nation has become increasingly immoral, she has also degenerated from a land of liberty into a semi big government police state over every aspect of our lives.  In other words, the government takes over a people that don’t use self-control.

Without any effort, immorality replaces under utilized or untaught morality.  That is why the immoral from around the world are the majority of individuals now filing illegally into our nation with the permission of a corrupt government that appeases our enemies who want to come in and wreak havoc at taxpayer expense, just to add insult to injury.  That is why the Obama administration was ready to take Arizona to court and put a hurting on Texas for daring to protect the border with Mexico since the immoral federal government has gone loco.

Despite all of the negative developments over the past several decades that have culminated in the worst administration in our nation’s history and could potentially harm our nation beyond repair.  (After all, Obama did say he wanted to fundamentally change America.)  Obviously, his interpretation of changes could not have even been enacted before the turn of the century.  I believe that I have witnessed the real beginning of renewal in our country.  Many people of faith are finally becoming interested enough to learn about and care what happens to the United States of America.  Remember, it was an active, brave and intelligent church that was an integral part of the fight for independence and later against slavery.

Remembering the wise words of orator, author statesman, and abolitionist Frederick Douglas: The Declaration of Independence is the ringbolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it.  The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles.  Stand by them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and whatever cost.  I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Douglas.  America, if you are to be great again, you must first seek to be good, for it is then you shall make better decisions and take right actions that will recalibrate our destiny from utter disaster to undeniable recovery and greatness.

Open Letter to Ottawa’s Mayor RE: ‘Hijab Day’

The Honorable Mayor Jim Watson
Ottawa City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue west
Ottawa  Ontario  K1P 1J1.
Canada

The Honorable Mayor, Jim Watson,

I hope you will take the time to listen to my concerns about “Ottawa Hijab Day” scheduled in Ottawa, Feb 25th, 2016 and that you will give serious consideration to my request outlined below.

I am someone who believes in information and education. What reasonable person could possibly object to an event which promotes “education, acceptance and tolerance”? Unless, of course, the “education” was disinformation; the “acceptance” was acceptance of a superordinate (according to Islamists) legal system (i.e. Sharia Law) that is contrary to our democratic values and human rights; the “tolerance” was tolerance of an extremist ideology that condones honour killings, FGM and treatment of women that is incompatible with Canadian values.

I would ask that you not discount me as a “racist” or an “Islamophobe”. I am a well-educated, patriotic Canadian, who is a strong proponent of diversity and freedom of religion. I am not anti-Muslim, but I do have serious concerns about extremist Islamic ideology that runs counter to the Canadian values I hold dear.  I have known and liked many Muslims, who share my Canadian values, and are what could be called secular Muslims. They or their parents may have immigrated here to escape Sharia Law and to embrace Canadian values. (Unfortunately, not all Muslims who immigrate here do so for those reasons.)

One of the ways in which Islam differs from other religions is that, in addition to the individual, religious component, it also has a political component and a judicial component.  As a politician, you are likely to have listened to presentations by political groups (or individuals representing those political groups), whose goal it is to present extremist Islamic ideology in a favourable light, for example, by saying that the hijab is just a sign of “modesty” and that it is worn voluntarily by Muslim women. (What Canadian could be against freedom of choice?)  Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. In fact, the hijab is a symbol of adherence to an extremist Islamic ideology and in Muslim countries women who wear it do not do so freely.  I am attaching a few links for you to videos, articles, etc., which will present you with an alternate view to that which you have likely been presented by members of activist organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, such as the National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Muslim Students Associations, and many more.  I would ask you to watch these videos – none of them are in any way “racist”. They are thoughtful, educational pieces intended to make people think.

First of all, the idea that the hijab or the niqab are in any way “traditional” Muslim dress is absolute hogwash!  They are relatively recent adoptions which are the result of Saudi Arabia having exported its extremist, Wahabbist/Salafist brand of Islam around the world. Along with the clothing come the extremist ideas!

Second, I am attaching a video of a speech by the so-called “Pope” of Sunni Islam (the most populous school of Islam and the school to which Saudi Wahabbism and Salafism belong) in which he argues for the wearing of the hijab. You will note that not once does he mention “modesty” as a reason to wear the hijab, but the reasons that he does give are not in keeping with integration into Canadian society.

I am also attaching a video by Bill Warner, Ph.D., entitled “The Political Side of Hijabs“, which I hope you will find interesting and enlightening.

Third, and related to whether or not the wearing of the hijab is voluntary for all Muslim women, even in Canada, I ask you to remember the unfortunate cases of Aqsa Parvez, a Toronto teen who was strangled by her father and/or brother for not wearing the hijab.  You will also remember, no doubt, the horrific case of the Montreal Shafia family “honour killings” of 3 daughters and a second wife by the father/husband and the brother, because they did not adhere to his extremist ideology, but, instead, adopted Canadian values.. These Muslim women were Canadian citizens and their killings were not only criminal; they were motivated by beliefs that are contrary to the values of equality of women and human rights.

Request:  I would like to request that you advise CAWI that, while they may continue to hold their hijab day as a privately-sponsored event, they may not call it “Ottawa Hijab Day”, as this gives the incorrect impression that it has been officially proclaimed by the City of Ottawa.  In future, events which encourage non-Muslim women to try on or wear the hijab may not be held at City Hall. You may wish to give them any or all of the following reasons:

“While City Council fully endorses activities which increase understanding between cultural and religious groups, so-called “Wear the Hijab” events are a sensitive issue and do not necessarily achieve the aim of increasing inter-faith or inter-cultural understanding.  Some women feel that wearing the hijab is their choice, while others see it as a religious obligation; still others see it as cultural, not religious.  Some feel strongly about the many Muslim women, including Canadian women, who have been killed for not wearing the hijab and believe that to celebrate the wearing of the hijab would be to do them a disservice. Some women believe that wearing the hijab is a private choice or a religious duty which identifies them as Muslim and find it offensive that non-Muslim women should wear the hijab, for any reason. Some view “Wear the Hijab” days as a form of proselytizing.  In closing, while people of all religious faiths are welcome to live and practice their faith in Ottawa, City Council will not proclaim individual days dedicated to the wearing of particular items of religious apparel or accouterments of any faith, nor will it approve the use of “Ottawa” as part of the name of any such private event, or the use of City property to celebrate such private events. ”

In closing, I would like to thank you for reading my letter. I hope you will think very carefully about the message that “Ottawa Hijab Day” sends to Canadians and internationally, particularly to those women who do not have a choice, who may be trying to escape a life of oppression, circumscribed by religious extremism, where their human rights are violated and possibly even their lives are at risk. Ottawa should be known as a city which promotes freedom of religion and equality of men and women.  Allowing a private group to advertise an “Ottawa Hijab Day” and to hold an associated event at City Hall may do damage to the City’s reputation by appearing to favour one religion over others (possibly even proselytizing on behalf of that religion) and by being seen to promote the wearing (even by non-Muslims) of a controversial item of clothing such as the hijab, which is associated in many countries with an extremist ideology that devalues women and curtails their human rights. Such events are better held at a mosque, without the assistance of public money, either directly or indirectly.

A better alternative would be to hold an Ottawa Women’s Day (for women of all faiths and cultures) or an Ottawa Human Rights Day or an Ottawa Equality Day, all of which are inclusive and promote the values that Canadians and Ottawans hold dear!

Sincerely,

Shabnam Assadollahi
Iranian Canadian human rights activist, Ottawa

RELATED ARTICLES:

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‘Le Grand Guignol’ Comes to Town – Political Corruption

By Wallace Bruschweiler and William Palumbo

Grand_Guignol_poster

Promotional poster for a Grand Guignol performance. Courtesy of Wikipedia.com.

Over the last several years, the American people have witnessed one perplexing political shenanigan after another – a never-ending story.  Instead of standing up for principles, for democracy itself, our elected leaders routinely sell-out the same country to which they swore an oath to protect.

The most recent enormous sell-out was the passage of a budget that served only the government, not the country.  It began with the election of a new Speaker, whom many hoped would serve the country better than his predecessor.  Instead of a political savior, we got yet another total political loser.

Once in power, the Speaker raised the curtain on a most appalling political horror, a true grand guignol: a budget that funds a government which is already standing on financial quicksand, and that has an abysmal, out-proportion debt.  So much for “we won’t get fooled again.”

Indeed, many of the men and women whom we once considered true patriots have, in recent years, months, and weeks, shown that their own personal agenda and banks accounts take priority over the safeguarding and destiny of our nation.  Their treachery – their betrayal­ – of the American people is forcing a major geopolitical realignment.  Under rule of the current political establishment, the United States is a leading contender in whatever Oscar equivalent is awarded to banana republics.

How and why did all this happen?  Without access to personal records, such as bank accounts domestically and on an international level, including tax shelters, it is impossible to say with certainty.  But, if past is prologue, then bribery facilitated by a government-entrenched mafia is what greases this political machinery.

Welcome to Our Real World: Today’s Ugly Reality

It is not pleasant at all to think that a mafia-type government runs Washington, D.C.   Yet it exactly explains why, despite widespread disapproval of Barack Hussein Obama and Congress, both parties continue working shamelessly against the interests and well-being of the American electorate.

Take, for example, the so-called Iranian nuclear deal.  By legitimizing Iran, the world’s preeminent sponsor of terrorism, Obama has opened the Iranian markets (especially oil and natural gas) to the western world.  In the long run, this deal has the potential to generate trillions of dollars in international trade.  Companies represented by extremely well-financed and influential lobbyists see Iran as the mother-of-all potential markets.

Despite the overwhelming dangers that emanate from enriching a brutal regime with not-so-veiled nuclear ambitions and a proven worldwide terrorist network, the Republican-led Congress refused to try anything which would have effectively postponed and/or killed the deal.

Again, how and why could this have happened?  The answer is unfortunately obvious: money (and, in the case of the Iranian nuclear deal, close family connections between the negotiating members from both sides).

There are other examples that come to mind: a multi-trillion dollar “stimulus” package, a $700 billion dollar bank bailout, countless “green” energy loans that have ended in bankruptcy, etc.

How likely is it that some of this money has been used to line pockets for political favors on both sides of the aisle?  All of this was paid and financed by the people’s tax dollars.

“A government of the mafia, by the mafia, and for the mafia” – that seems to be today’s motto

Mafia is non-ideological: it does not embrace political ideals.  It cynically espouses ideals from time to time, but ultimately it will not uphold virtues that interfere with the strict pursuit of money and power.  So, when (not if) necessary, ideals and decency are conveniently forgotten.

The public at large calls this process “a bipartisan compromise.”  However, in reality, there is only one party.  It is a political animal which puts your God-given rights on the auction block, to be sold to the highest willing and able bidder.

It’s also indisputably true that politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are taking bribes.  Wherever power accumulates, corruption immediately follows. Widespread corruption is the defining trait of Washington’s establishment today.  There is no principled leader among them.

Politicians, like everyone else, have a price.

Marijuana use up 12% nationwide during first year of legalization in Colorado, Washington

The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, released yesterday, shows regular marijuana use among Americans ages 12 and older jumped 12 percent nationwide during the first year legalization was implemented in Colorado and Washington. Regular use increased among all ages: click here or on image above to see increases among ages 12-17, ages 18-25, and ages 26 & older.

Better-Landscape-Photo-1024x576

Women and Pornography – update from Whole Women Weekend

I had the opportunity to speak at a women’s weekend retreat yesterday, Whole Women Weekend, and had some eye opening experiences that I wanted to share. Yesterday, I connected deeply with many women. My second workshop had only eight women, but they opened up and shared their raw, unfiltered experiences with pornography.

Lately, I have been so focused on the research. In the many news interviews I’m doing, they want to know the research. In the dozens of meetings on Capitol Hill, they want to know the research. In preparation for the major Summit we are planning for leaders next month in Orlando, I am trying to present the research to equip leaders with the “strongest” messaging arguments.

Gratefully, there is a lot of research today backing up our claims that there is a public health crisis from pornography.

We have incredible tools at our side. But, as I started my usual presentation spouting off these statistics — I saw deep pain in these women’s eyes. They knew what I was talking about because they have lived just what the research proves. I stopped my presentation and the eight of us were able to talk for the two-hour block. The experiences of all of them proved everything we argue.

Quick video sharing my thoughts after the event last night.

Women also struggle with addiction.

The reality of betrayal trauma is real.

Pornography destroys real intimacy in relationships and drives a wedge between husband and wife. It may seem to “spice” things up at first, but it is certain to lead to emptiness and disconnect.

It often leads to the user acting out – either with other women or by force and agression.

It is so closely a part of the story of those who are prostituted/trafficked.

It perpetuates feelings of shame, disappointment, depression, low self-esteem.

It leaves a huge open void in your spiritual life.

Each of these women pleaded for help, healing and understanding. My heart is full of both sorrow that we couldn’t just take it away, but also with gratitude that there is a movement swelling and saying NO MORE.

Thank you for being a part of these efforts. Thank you for not ignoring this public health crisis. Thank you for helping us oppose policies that facilitate exploitation. Thank you for supporting our efforts to bring the leaders together. Thank you for educating others around you.

I saw so much pain yesterday, but also witnessed powerful hope.

Sincerely,

Dawn Hawkins
Vice President & Executive Director | National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Places with More Marijuana Dispensaries Have More Marijuana-Related Hospitalizations

In a first analysis of the impact of marijuana dispensary locations on health, researchers mapped California hospital discharge data that had a primary or secondary code for marijuana dependence or abuse to patients’ zip codes. Then they cross-referenced the data to the number of dispensaries in those zip codes.

Hospital marijuana codes increased from 17,469 in 2001 to 68,408 in 2012 in the state. More than 85 percent were coded as abuse rather than dependence. Nearly all (99.2 percent) were secondary codes, meaning patients were hospitalized for something other than marijuana (like someone hospitalized with internal injuries after crashing while driving under the influence of alcohol.)

“Each additional dispensary per square mile in a zip code was associated with a 6.8 percent increase in hospitalizations linked to marijuana abuse and dependence.” The density and location of dispensaries paralleled the density and location of liquor stores, which tend to be located in areas with lower household income and lower educational attainment.

Read Science Daily summary of the study here.

Federal Student Loans Make College More Expensive and Income Inequality Worse by George C. Leef

One day, Bill Bennett may be best remembered for saying (in 1987, while he was President Reagan’s education secretary) that government student aid was largely responsible for the fact that the cost of going to college kept rising. What is called the “Bennett Hypothesis” has been heavily debated ever since.

A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York lends support to the Bennett Hypothesis.

Authors David Lucca, Taylor Nadauld, and Karen Shen employed sophisticated statistical techniques to analyze the effects of the increasing availability of federal aid to undergraduates between 2008 and 2010. They conclude the institutions that were most exposed to the increases “experienced disproportionate tuition increases.”

By the authors’ calculation, there is about a 65 percent pass-through effect on federal student loans. In other words, for every $3 increase in such loans, colleges and universities raise tuition by $2.

It is very good to have a study by so unimpeachable a source as the New York Fed supporting the conclusion that quite a few others have reached over the years: Increasing student aid to make college “more affordable” is something of an impossibility. The more “generous” the government becomes with grants and loans, the more schools raise their rates.

Other studies have reached the same conclusion.

In his 2009 paper Financial Aid in Theory and Practice, Andrew Gillen showed that the Bennett Hypothesis was true, although more so at some institutions than others. In their 2012 study, Stephanie Riegg Cellini and Claudia Goldin found that for-profit schools unquestionably raised tuitions to capture increases in federal aid.

Such analyses are amply supported by personal observations about the way college officials look at federal aid. Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars writes that when he was in the administration at Boston University:

The regnant phrase was “Don’t leave money sitting on the table.” The metaphoric table in question was the one on which the government had laid out a sumptuous banquet of increases of financial aid. Our job was to figure out how to consume as much of it as possible in tuition increases.

Similarly, Robert Iosue, former president of York College, writes in his book College Tuition: Four Decades of Financial Deception (co-authored with Frank Mussano), “Common sense dictates a connection between government largess to the buyer and higher prices from the seller. For me it began in 1974 when grants and loans were given to students based on the cost of college. Higher cost: more aid from our government.”

It has always been difficult to defend the position that federal student aid has nothing to do with the steady increase in the cost of attending college; the publication of this study makes it much more so.

Despite their conclusion that financial aid increases costs, the authors of the New York Fed report suggest that aid is beneficial on the whole. They wrote, “[T]o the extent that greater access to credit increases access to postsecondary education, student aid programs may help to lower wage inequality by boosting the supply of skilled workers.” Now, while that is not a finding of the paper, it aligns with one of the justifications commonly given for policies meant to “expand access” to college — that it ameliorates the presumed problem of growing income inequality.

In this speech in 2008, for example, former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said, “the best way to improve economic opportunity and reduce inequality is to increase the educational attainment and skills of American workers.”

That argument is grounded in basic economics: if college-educated workers are paid a lot and workers without college education are paid much less, then by increasing the supply of the former, we will lower their “price” and thereby reduce the earnings differential between the two groups.

That sounds plausible and egalitarians embrace the idea. In a recent paper published in the Cambridge journal Social Philosophy and Policy, however, Daniel Bennett and Richard Vedder argue that, after decades of government policy to “expand access,” we have reached the point where doing so now exacerbates income inequality.

“It has become an article of faith that higher education is a major vehicle for promoting a path to the middle class and income equality in America,” the authors write. The trouble, they argue, is that while policies to promote college enrollment had a tendency to do that in the past, we passed the point of diminishing returns.

Key to the Bennett/Vedder analysis is that fundamental economic concept — diminishing returns. As someone buys or enjoys more and more of something, the benefit from each marginal unit eventually starts to fall. That applies to education as well as other goods and services. It applies to individuals, since there is some point beyond which the benefit from additional time spent on education isn’t worth what it costs.

It also applies at the societal level. At first, Bennett and Vedder observe, the students drawn into college by government aid were overwhelmingly very able and ambitious. They benefited greatly from their postsecondary education. Society not only became more prosperous due to the heightened productivity of those individuals, but, the authors show, more equal. Measured by Gini coefficients, income became less dispersed in the early decades of federal policies to promote higher education.

But what was apparently a beneficial policy at first is producing increasingly bad results today. Not only is federal student aid making college more costly, it now leads to a growing income gap. “Additional increases in [college] attainment,” Bennett and Vedder write, “are associated with more income inequality.”

Why?

The reason is that subsidizing college has led to a glut of people holding college credentials. As a result, we have seen a huge displacement in the labor market — college-educated workers displacing those without degrees. I have often called that the “credentialitis”problem; workers who have the ability to do a job can’t get past the screening by educational credentials that is now widespread.

Consequently, the latter group — the working poor — now faces increasing difficulty finding jobs in fields that used to be open to them.

Federal student aid programs were expected to have nothing but good economic and social consequences for America. Instead, however, they are simultaneously making higher education more costly (that is, soaking up more of our limited resources) and, owing to credentialitis, making the distribution of income more unequal.

Of course, the politicians who started us on this path meant well. Most of those who keep pushing us further down the college for everyone path probably believe that they’re pursuing greater equality and productivity. The truth of the matter, as studies like the two I have discussed here show, is that continuing to push the “college access” agenda is making America worse off.

This post first appeared at the Pope Center.

George C. Leef

George Leef is the former book review editor of The Freeman. He is director of research at the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Why are refugee resettlement contracting agencies not being audited?

Dan Cadman, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies with 30 years of service at INS/ICE, asks a question I’ve asked and many are asking around the country:  Why are the federal resettlement contractors, which gobble-up millions of federal dollars every year, not being financially audited? 

Taxpayers of America have a right to know just exactly how the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for instance, is spending our money.

Years ago I was told by a senior State Department official that financial audits of contractors just aren’t done.  They are only audited with program audits I was told—you know, like that easy to manipulate accounting about how many refugees in their care got jobs.  Things like that.

bob_carey_large_photo_1

Dan Cadman, fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies.

According to Cadman, it is already the law that the contractors must be fiscally audited.  Any pro-bono lawyers out there?

Here is Cadman today at the Center for Immigration Studies (hat tip: Richard at Blue Ridge Forum):

The Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (DOJ OIG) has issued a report on its audit of two grants funded by DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) and Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) to a Georgia entity called Tapestri, Inc., which describes its mission as “end[ing] violence and oppression in refugee and immigrant communities”, according to the report.

Though required by law, audits of immigrant and refugee-related grants are rare.

He goes on to describe that particular audit finding, then this:

OMB Circular A-133, and its accompanying yearly compliance supplements, lay out specific requirements for fiscal audits of grantees and contractors receiving federal funds across the array of cabinet departments and agencies, such as the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the Department of Health and Human Services, whose Refugee and Entrant program is governed by CFDA 93.566 for the 2015 compliance supplement.

[….]

This is the third time of late that I’ve spoken to financial issues relating to awards granted to various organizations for sheltering and protection programs of refugees, alien entrants, and sundry migrants (including unaccompanied minors and families who have crossed the border illegally). These programs that receive huge amounts of taxpayer funding (see here and here) — and by huge, I mean billions of dollars.

Yet, with the exception of the DOJ OIG, I find little evidence of audits being undertaken, despite the vast dollar amounts or the clearly articulated OMB requirements. Certainly they are not readily to be found on public websites of the various OIG offices, nor those of the offices of primary responsibility within Homeland Security or Health and Human Services.

How could this be? Why has OMB not chastised the remiss agencies? Why has the Government Accountability Office not singled them out? Is the public not entitled to know who is receiving hundreds of millions in federal dollars, and how they are being spent?

I hope this is useful information for our growing number of ‘Pockets of Resistance.’

PRAVDA: U.S. Taxpayers pay $3.5M to Study Lesbian Obesity

Pravda.Ru reports:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has conducted a research to find out how the sexual orientation influences the body build.
The U.S. taxpayers have already paid $3.5 million for the ‘significant’ project, and it is to last till June 30.

Sexual Orientation and Obesity: A Test of a Gendered Biopsychosocial Model,” seeks to determine why there is a disparity in the obesity rates between straight women and lesbian women and straight men and gay men.

According to the study, “It is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic, with nearly three-quarters of adult lesbians overweight or obese, compared to half of heterosexual women. In stark contrast, among men, heterosexual males have nearly double the risk of obesity compared to gay males.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. government debt is going to beat ‘records’ of WWII.

Read the full article here.

Why is Adolescent Marijuana Use Higher in States That Legalize Medical Marijuana than in States That Don’t?

The June 17th issue of The Marijuana Report summarized a new study, published by Lancet, that finds marijuana use does not increase among high school students when a state legalizes medical marijuana. Researchers analyzed data from the Monitoring the Future Survey about past-month marijuana use among 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students between 1991 and 2014.

Although use does not increase after legalization, a key finding of the study—ignored by most of the press—is that use was already higher in states before such laws were passed than in states that have never legalized medical marijuana.

The question is why? What is different about these states from states that haven’t legalized medical pot?

“These states might differ from the others on common factors yet to be identified (eg. norms surrounding marijuana use or marijuana availability),” say the researchers. “Investigation of these factors is warranted.”

adolesent marijuana use

There is no doubt that nationally, taking all states together, marijuana use increased dramatically between 1991 and 2014. As shown in the above graphic, past-month use doubled among 8th graders, nearly doubled among 10th graders, and increased more than 50 percent among 12th graders.

The Marijuana Reports states, “We need to understand what drove these increases.”

At the same time, the perception that regular marijuana use is harmful decreased among 8th graders from 83.8 percent in 1991 to 58.9 percent in 2014, among 10th graders from 82.1 percent to 45.4 percent, and among 12th graders from 78.6 percent to 36.1 percent. Why so many high school students believe regular marijuana use is harmless also needs to be understood so that this misperception can be corrected.

Read Lancet study here.

See Monitoring the Future past 30-day marijuana use data here.

See Monitoring the Future perception of harm data (8th graders) here, (10th graders)here, and (12th graders) here.

Florida: Groupthink on the Sarasota County School Board

school board compositI am always fascinated by how politicians, once elected, don’t do what they promised in order to get elected. Rather they become part of “the system”. They become influenced by bureaucrats, forget they represent their constituents and pass laws, rules, and regulations which harm their very constituents. They in effect become group thinkers.

Groupthink is an oxymoron. You see it is not about thinking, rather it is about the group (collective). Wikipedia has this definition of Groupthink:

A psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.

The Sarasota County School Board members, with one exception, suffers from groupthink. Because of this it has resulted in irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcomes. One example is the misuse of tax dollars.

YourObserver.com staff in an op-ed stated:

It has been a month and a half, but many of you still will remember the cyclone that whirled about the Sarasota County School Board over its selection of a construction manager for the Suncoast Technical College’s North Port campus.

At the recommendation of Superintendent Lori White, the board voted 4-1 to bypass its selection committee and go with Willis Smith Construction.

The lone “no” vote came from Bridget Ziegler, the rookie board member who was elected last November.

The day after the vote, Ziegler, age 32, posted her rationale and comments on her Facebook page (see box).

Whoa.

At the April 21 School Board meeting, Ziegler’s fellow board members delivered to Ziegler what easily can be called a smackdown, chastising her for seven minutes for speaking out and not following the other members’ board protocol.

Talk about taking Ziegler to the woodshed. “Hey, missy, you need to learn a thing or two before you go spouting off.” That’s the way it comes across.

Among the disturbing comments came from board member Jane Goodwin: “I just hope in the future you’ll … consider that you have a loyalty to this board and … we represent the Sarasota County School Board …”

So what we have on the Sarasota County School Board is one thinker, Bridgette Ziegler, and four followers. The issue is that the Sarasota County School Board selected a vendor whose bid was $4.5 million higher than the lowest qualified vendor. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Shelby Web reported, “The board voted 4-1 to follow Superintendent Lori White’s advice to hire Willis A. Smith instead of A.D. Morgan Corp., which had said it could do the job for about $4.5 million less.”

Does this not appear to be a dysfunctional decision? Aren’t the board members supposed to be good stewards of the people’s property (tax dollars)?

Why do we see politicians at every level become group thinkers? 

Perhaps Frédéric Bastiat’s  who penned the seminal work The Law said it best. He pointed out that the relationship between the rulers and the ruled becomes distorted, and a sense of systemic injustice pervades the culture. Bastiat observed this in horror in his time, and it’s a good description of what happened at the Sarasota County School Board:

The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.

The collective must silence those who think – namely Bridgette Ziegler. However, I do not believe Ms. Ziegler will be silenced.

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Artsy Magazine.

Who Ignores the Principle of Scarcity? Progressives and Politicians by Sandy Ikeda

Everyone has a theory of the way the world works, a way of connecting cause and effect. Without it, we wouldn’t know how to start the day: “If I wake up at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow, I should make it to work on time. And then…”

Our theories, the rules and principles by which we interpret the world, help us to think and plan, but they also constrain our thinking and planning to some degree. That can be a good thing, as long as our theories conform reasonably well to the real world. We understand, for example, that the best way to exit the 10th floor of a building is not necessarily to step out of the nearest window.

For economists who study human action in the real world, one of the principles we cannot ignore is that scarcity exists — to get more of one valuable thing, you will have to give up some of another valuable thing. In fact, you could say that not understanding the nature and significance of scarcity is the hallmark of someone who isn’t an economist, or is a very bad one.

In everyday life, it’s usually impossible to ignore the existence of scarcity. For most of us, it’s pretty obvious that time and money aren’t unlimited, and that if we want a bigger house we’ll probably need to earn more by giving up some leisure time and working more. In a free market, one without arbitrary political power and aggression, the economic reality of scarcity is a “hard constraint” that’s always good to keep firmly in mind when making plans.

Economics versus politics

But tracing out the more subtle and far-reaching implications of scarcity in a given set of circumstances is a skill that takes a lot of training and practice, which of course not everyone has done or, really, needs to do.

As Murray Rothbard puts it,

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in the state of ignorance.

Unfortunately, politics sorely tempts us to act irresponsibly. Politics is essentially about acquiring and using political power  — the initiation of physical violence. If the first principle of economics is that “scarcity exists,” then far too often the first principle of politics is, “ignore the first principle of economics!”

In the absence of legal privilege or persecution, people in a free market have to deal with scarcity’s hard budget constraint. But in the world of politics, people can try to immunize themselves against scarcity by making others pay for the things they want for themselves or for their cronies. Politics is the realm of the “soft budget constraint,” which may have prompted Margaret Thatcher to say, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

Unfortunately, the same could easily be said for garden-variety politics almost everywhere today.

Principles versus consequences

This suggests perhaps another way of differentiating libertarians from the progressives of the left. For libertarians, economic principles constrain ourthinking. For progressives, economic reality constrains their outcomes.

What I mean is that when progressives, for instance, demand that people pay ever-higher minimum wages to those who work for them, they ignore the hard reality that someone, often unseen, must bear the cost of their “compassion,” and that those others are mostly young and unskilled workers that employers will now find too costly to employ. Or, an employer may cut back on nonwage payments they previously used to compensate their employees, making the employees worse off.

But because libertarians from the outset tend to be more mindful of economic principles, they are better able to shape their proposals, at a minimum, so as not to harm the very people that progressives aim to help. Libertarians are less likely to be disappointed when their policies confront economic reality. As someone once said, “Economics is the art of putting parameters on our utopias.” Scarcity is one of those parameters.

(Some may be reminded of Thomas Sowell’s distinction between “constrained vision” and “unconstrained vision,” which, however, I believe focuses more on one’s view of human nature: whether it is perfectible or not perfectible.)

Innovating within constraints

Faced with poverty, unhealthy working conditions, criminal violence, and a host of other persistent socioeconomic problems, we’re often admonished by the left to think beyond capitalism, to think creatively “outside the box.” Why not try to change those parameters or remove some of them altogether?

Well, even musical geniuses from traditions as different as classical, jazz, and rock must learn the rules of their genre before they can break through and go beyond them. Before he pioneered bebop, Charlie Parker had first to master the saxophone and the musical conventions of his day. Only then could he push outside mainstream jazz. To color outside the lines, you need to know where the lines are.

Moreover, scarcity is not a man-made thing that can be unmade purely by human willpower or by wishing it away. We have to account for it when we confront the real world. Otherwise, we risk personal failure or perhaps much worse. None of this means, though, that we can’t dramatically reduce scarcity and address those problems.

Sometimes there are free lunches. It’s possible to push that constraint outward and reduce scarcity through efficiency (getting more out of less) or, more importantly, through innovation (creating something of value that didn’t exist before). Henry Ford, Estee Lauder, and Norman Borlag significantly reduced the scarcity of cars, cosmetics, and food — to a world of ordinary people within the constraints of physics, chemistry, and economics.

We can get to where we want to go faster when we can see the road.


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.

The EPA Myth of “Clean Power”

There are many things I do not like about the Environmental Protection Agency, but what angers me most are the lies that stream forth from it to justify programs that have no basis in fact or science and which threaten the economy.

Currently, its “Clean Power” plan is generating its latest and most duplicitous Administer, Gina McCarthy, to go around saying that it will not be costly, nor cost jobs. “Clean Power” is the name given to the EPA policy to reduce overall U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 30% from 2005 levels by 2030. It is requiring each state to cut its emissions by varying amounts using a baseline established by the EPA.

Simply said, there is no need whatever to reduce CO2 emissions. Carbon dioxide is not “a pollutant” as the EPA claims. It is, along with oxygen for all living creatures, vital to the growth of all vegetation. The more CO2 the better crops yields will occur, healthier forests, and greener lawns. From a purely scientific point of view, it is absurd to reduce emissions.

Cartoon - EPA Torture ReportWriting in The Wall Street Journal on April 22, Kenneth C. Hill, Director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, said “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) set off a firestorm when he advised states not to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Yet that advice isn’t as radical as his detractors make it sound. As a state public utilities commissioner who deals with the effects of federal regulations on a regular basis, I also recommend that states not comply.”

Noting its final due date in June, that refusal would impose a Federal Implementation Plan on states “that risks even greater harm,” said Hill. “But the problem for the EPA is that the federal government lacks the legal authority under either the Constitution or the Clean Air Act to enforce most of the regulation’s ‘building blocks’ without states’ acquiescence.”

As this is being written there is are two joined cases before the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, State of West Virginia v EPA and Murray Energy v EPA. They are a challenge to President Obama’s “War on Coal” and the EPA efforts to regulate its use. Fifteen states, along with select coal companies, have sued for an “extraordinary whit” to prevent the EPA from promulgating the new carbon regulations found it the Clean Power plan.

Writing in The Hill, Richard O. Faulk, an attorney and senior director for Energy Natural Resources and the Environment for the Law and Economics Center at George Mason University, noted that “The EPA’s argument confidently hinges on convincing the courts that the Clean Air Act doesn’t mean what it says. By its plain language, the bill prohibits the EPA from regulating the power plants from which these emissions derive. Moreover, coal plants are already addressed under an entirely different section of the bill than the one EPA insists justifies its powers.”

The latest news as reported by Myron Ebell, the director for energy and environment of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, is that “Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) this week introduced a bill to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants. S. 1324, the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act, has 26 original co-sponsors, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Democrat Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).”

“Both Majority Leader McConnell and Chairman Inhofe have said that they are determined to stop EPA’s greenhouse gas rules, so I expect quick action to move Capito’s bill. In the House, a bill to block the rules, H. R. 2042, the Ratepayer Protection Act, was voted out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on 29th April and is awaiting floor action.”

It’s worth noting that, when Obama took office, fifty percent of America’s electrical energy was supplied by coal-fired plants and, just six years later, that has been reduced by ten percent. What kind of President would deliberately reduce American’s access to affordable power?

It’s the same kind of President that believes—or says he does—the pronouncements of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC’s “Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report” claims that world will face “severe, pervasive and irreversible damage” if coal-fired and other carbon-based—coal, oil, and natural gas—energy sources aren’t replaced with “renewable energy sources”—wind and solar—by 2050. It wants fossil-fueled power generation “phased out almost entirely by 2100.” Now this is just insanity, unless your agenda is to destroy the world’s economic system and kill millions. That would be the only outcome of the IPCC recommendations.

The columnist Larry Bell, a professor at the University of Houston, points out that “As for expecting renewables to fill in the power curve, European Union experiences offer a painful reality check. Approximately 7.8 percent of Germany’s electricity comes from wind, 4.5 percent from solar. Large as a result, German households already fork out for the second highest power costs in Europe—often as much as 30 percent above the levels seen in other European countries. Power interruptions add to buyer’s remorse.”

Heartland - Climate News (2)As reported in The Heartland Institute’s Environment & Climate News, “European governments, once at the vanguard of renewable energy mandates, appear to be having second thoughts about their reliance on giant wind farms…” There has been a sharp drop in such projects with installations plunging 90% in Denmark, 75% in Italy, and 84% in Spain.

What the EPA is attempting to impose on America is a drain on our production of electricity coupled with an increase in its price. It is an obscene attack on our economy.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Shutterstock.