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Decentralization: Why Dumb Networks Are Better

The smart choice is innovation at the edge by ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS…

“Every device employed to bolster individual freedom must have as its chief purpose the impairment of the absoluteness of power.” — Eric Hoffer

In computer and communications networks, decentralization leads to faster innovation, greater openness, and lower cost. Decentralization creates the conditions for competition and diversity in the services the network provides.

But how can you tell if a network is decentralized, and what makes it more likely to be decentralized? Network “intelligence” is the characteristic that differentiates centralized from decentralized networks — but in a way that is surprising and counterintuitive.

Some networks are “smart.” They offer sophisticated services that can be delivered to very simple end-user devices on the “edge” of the network. Other networks are “dumb” — they offer only a very basic service and require that the end-user devices are intelligent. What’s smart about dumb networks is that they push innovation to the edge, giving end-users control over the pace and direction of innovation. Simplicity at the center allows for complexity at the edge, which fosters the vast decentralization of services.

Surprisingly, then, “dumb” networks are the smart choice for innovation and freedom.

The telephone network used to be a smart network supporting dumb devices (telephones). All the intelligence in the telephone network and all the services were contained in the phone company’s switching buildings. The telephone on the consumer’s kitchen table was little more than a speaker and a microphone. Even the most advanced touch-tone telephones were still pretty simple devices, depending entirely on the network services they could “request” through beeping the right tones.

In a smart network like that, there is no room for innovation at the edge. Sure, you can make a phone look like a cheeseburger or a banana, but you can’t change the services it offers. The services depend entirely on the central switches owned by the phone company. Centralized innovation means slow innovation. It also means innovation directed by the goals of a single company. As a result, anything that doesn’t seem to fit the vision of the company that owns the network is rejected or even actively fought.

In fact, until 1968, AT&T restricted the devices allowed on the network to a handful of approved devices. In 1968, in a landmark decision, the FCC ruled in favor of the Carterfone, an acoustic coupler device for connecting two-way radios to telephones, opening the door for any consumer device that didn’t “cause harm to the system.”

That ruling paved the way for the answering machine, the fax machine, and the modem. But even with the ability to connect smarter devices to the edge, it wasn’t until the modem that innovation really accelerated. The modem represented a complete inversion of the architecture: all the intelligence was moved to the edge, and the phone network was used only as an underlying “dumb” network to carry the data.

Did the telecommunications companies welcome this development? Of course not! They fought it for nearly a decade, using regulation, lobbying, and legal threats against the new competition. In some countries, modem calls across international lines were automatically disconnected to prevent competition in the lucrative long-distance market. In the end, the Internet won. Now, almost the entire phone network runs as an app on top of the Internet.

The Internet is a dumb network, which is its defining and most valuable feature. The Internet’s protocol (transmission control protocol/Internet protocol, or TCP/IP) doesn’t offer “services.” It doesn’t make decisions about content. It doesn’t distinguish between photos and text, video and audio. It doesn’t have a list of approved applications. It doesn’t even distinguish between client and server, user and host, or individual versus corporation. Every IP address is an equal peer.

TCP/IP acts as an efficient pipeline, moving data from one point to another. Over time, it has had some minor adjustments to offer some differentiated “quality of service” capabilities, but other than that, it remains, for the most part, a dumb data pipeline. Almost all the intelligence is on the edge — all the services, all the applications are created on the edge-devices. Creating a new application does not involve changing the network. The Web, voice, video, and social media were all created as applications on the edge without any need to modify the Internet protocol.

So the dumb network becomes a platform for independent innovation, without permission, at the edge. The result is an incredible range of innovations, carried out at an even more incredible pace. People interested in even the tiniest of niche applications can create them on the edge. Applications that only have two participants only need two devices to support them, and they can run on the Internet. Contrast that to the telephone network where a new “service,” like caller ID, had to be built and deployed on every company switch, incurring maintenance cost for every subscriber. So only the most popular, profitable, and widely used services got deployed.

The financial services industry is built on top of many highly specialized and service-specific networks. Most of these are layered atop the Internet, but they are architected as closed, centralized, and “smart” networks with limited intelligence on the edge.

Take, for example, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), the international wire transfer network. The consortium behind SWIFT has built a closed network of member banks that offers specific services: secure messages, mostly payment orders. Only banks can be members, and the network services are highly centralized.

The SWIFT network is just one of dozens of single-purpose, tightly controlled, and closed networks offered to financial services companies such as banks, brokerage firms, and exchanges. All these networks mediate the services by interposing the service provider between the “users,” and they allow minimal innovation or differentiation at the edge — that is, they are smart networks serving mostly dumb devices.

Bitcoin is the Internet of money. It offers a basic dumb network that connects peers from anywhere in the world. The bitcoin network itself does not define any financial services or applications. It doesn’t require membership registration or identification. It doesn’t control the types of devices or applications that can live on its edge. Bitcoin offers one service: securely time-stamped scripted transactions. Everything else is built on the edge-devices as an application. Bitcoin allows any application to be developed independently, without permission, on the edge of the network. A developer can create a new application using the transactional service as a platform and deploy it on any device. Even niche applications with few users — applications never envisioned by the bitcoin protocol creator — can be built and deployed.

Almost any network architecture can be inverted. You can build a closed network on top of an open network or vice versa, although it is easier to centralize than to decentralize. The modem inverted the phone network, giving us the Internet. The banks have built closed network systems on top of the decentralized Internet. Now bitcoin provides an open network platform for financial services on top of the open and decentralized Internet. The financial services built on top of bitcoin are themselves open because they are not “services” delivered by the network; they are “apps” running on top of the network. This arrangement opens a market for applications, putting the end user in a position of power to choose the right application without restrictions.

What happens when an industry transitions from using one or more “smart” and centralized networks to using a common, decentralized, open, and dumb network? A tsunami of innovation that was pent up for decades is suddenly released. All the applications that could never get permission in the closed network can now be developed and deployed without permission. At first, this change involves reinventing the previously centralized services with new and open decentralized alternatives. We saw that with the Internet, as traditional telecommunications services were reinvented with email, instant messaging, and video calls.

This first wave is also characterized by disintermediation — the removal of entire layers of intermediaries who are no longer necessary. With the Internet, this meant replacing brokers, classified ads publishers, real estate agents, car salespeople, and many others with search engines and online direct markets. In the financial industry, bitcoin will create a similar wave of disintermediation by making clearinghouses, exchanges, and wire transfer services obsolete. The big difference is that some of these disintermediated layers are multibillion dollar industries that are no longer needed.

Beyond the first wave of innovation, which simply replaces existing services, is another wave that begins to build the applications that were impossible with the previous centralized network. The second wave doesn’t just create applications that compare to existing services; it spawns new industries on the basis of applications that were previously too expensive or too difficult to scale. By eliminating friction in payments, bitcoin doesn’t just make better payments; it introduces market mechanisms and price discovery to economic activities that were too small or inefficient under the previous cost structure.

We used to think “smart” networks would deliver the most value, but making the network “dumb” enabled a massive wave of innovation. Intelligence at the edge brings choice, freedom, and experimentation without permission. In networks, “dumb” is better.

ABOUT ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS

Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a technologist and serial entrepreneur who advises companies on the use of technology and decentralized digital currencies such as bitcoin.

Do You Have the Civil Disobedience App?

You might be downloading tomorrow’s law by MAX BORDERS…

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth — certainly the machine will wear out… but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn. 

 Henry David Thoreau

In the peer-to-peer revolution, the most important elections will happen outside the voting booth. And the most important laws won’t be written by lawmakers.

Consider this: The first time you hopped into a Lyft or an Uber, there was probably, at the very least, a legal gray area associated with that trip. And yet, in your bones, didn’t you think that what you were doing was just, even if it wasn’t yet clearly legal?

If you felt that way, I suspect you weren’t alone.

Today, ridesharing apps are operating in most major cities around the country. And municipalities are having to play catch-up because the people have built massive constituencies around these new services.

This is just one example of what Princeton political scientist James C. Scott calls “Irish democracy,” where people simply stop paying attention to some rule (or ruler) because it has outlived its usefulness.

One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called “Irish Democracy,” the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.

Now, let’s be clear: the right rules are good things. Laws are like our social operating system, and we need them. But we don’t need all of them, much less all of them to stick around forever. And like our operating systems, our laws need updating. Shouldn’t legal updates happen not by waiting around on politicians but in real time?

“But Max,” you might be thinking. “What about the rule of law? You have to change the law through legitimate processes.”

And that’s not unreasonable. After all, we don’t want mob rule, and we don’t want just anyone to be able to change the law willy-nilly — especially those laws that cover our basic rights and freedoms. There is an important distinction, however, between justice and law, one that’s never easy to unpack. But Henry David Thoreau said it well, when he wrote,

Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?

Today’s peer-to-peer civil disobedience is tomorrow’s emergent law.

In other words, the way the best law has always come about is not through a few wise rulers getting together and writing up statutes; rather, it emerges among people interacting with each other and wanting to avoid conflict. When peaceful people are engaging in peaceful activity, they want to keep it that way. And when people find new and creative ways to interact peacefully, old laws can be obstructions.

So as we engage in peer-to-peer civil disobedience, we are making choices that are leading to the emergence of new law, however slowly and clumsily it follows on. This is a beautiful process, because it requires not the permission of rulers, but rather the assent of peer communities. It is rather like democracy on steroids, except we don’t have to send our prayers up through the voting booth in November.

Legal theorist Bruce Benson calls this future law the “Law Merchant.” He describes matters thus:

A Law Merchant evolves whenever commerce emerges. Practices that facilitated emergence of commerce in medieval Europe were replayed in colonial America, and they are being replayed in Eastern Europe, Eastern Asia, Latin America, and cyberspace. Law Merchant arrangements also support “underground” economic activity when states constrain above-ground market development.

It might be a while before we evolve away from our outmoded system of sending politicians to capitals to make statutes. And the issue of lawmakers playing catch-up with emergent systems may be awkward and kludgy for a while. But when we think that the purpose of law is to help people interact peacefully, peer-to-peer civil disobedience might be a necessary ingredient in reweaving the law for the sake of human flourishing.

ABOUT MAX BORDERS

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

The Garage That Couldn’t Be Boarded Up Uber and the jitney … everything old is new again by SARAH SKWIRE

August Wilson. Jitney. 1979.

Last December, I used Uber for the first time. I downloaded the app onto my phone, entered my name, location, and credit card number, and told them where my daughters and I needed to go. The driver picked us up at my home five minutes later. I was able to access reviews that other riders had written for the same driver, to see a photograph of him and of the car that he would be using to pick me up, and to pay and tip him without juggling cash and credit cards and my two kids. Like nearly everyone else I know, I instantly became a fan of this fantastic new invention.

In January, I read Thomas Sowell’s Knowledge and Decisions for the first time. In chapter 8, Sowell discusses the early 20th-century rise of “owner operated bus or taxi services costing five cents and therefore called ‘jitneys,’ the current slang for nickels.” Sowell takes his fuller description of jitneys from transportation economist George W. Hilton’s “American Transportation Planning.”

The jitneys … essentially provided a competitive market in urban transportation with the usual characteristics of rapid entry and exit, quick adaptation to changes in demand, and, in particular,  excellent adaptation to peak load demands. Some 60 percent of the jitneymen were part-time operators, many of whom simply carried passengers for a nickel on trips between home and work.

It sounded strangely familiar.

In February, I read August Wilson’s play, Jitney, written in 1979, about a jitney car service operating in Pittsburgh in the 1970s. As we watch the individual drivers deal with their often tumultuous personal relationships, we also hear about their passengers. The jitney drivers take people to work, to the grocery store, to the pawnshop, to the bus station, and on a host of other unspecified errands. They are an integral part of the community. Like the drivers in Sean Malone’s documentary No Van’s Land, they provide targeted transportation services to a neighborhood under served by public transportation. We see the drivers in Jitney take pride in the way they fit into and take care of their community.

If we gonna be running jitneys out of here we gonna do it right.… I want all the cars inspected. The people got a right if you hauling them around in your car to expect the brakes to work. Clean out your trunk. Clean out the interior of your car. Keep your car clean. The people want to ride in a clean car. We providing a service to the community. We ain’t just giving rides to people. We providing a service.

That service is threatened when the urban planners and improvers at the Pittsburgh Renewal Council decide to board up the garage out of which the jitney service operates and much of the surrounding neighborhood. The drivers are skeptical that the improvements will ever really happen.

Turnbo: They supposed to build a new hospital down there on Logan Street. They been talking about that for the longest while. They supposed to build another part of the Irene Kaufman Settlement House to replace the part they tore down. They supposed to build some houses down on Dinwidee.

Becker: Turnbo’s right. They supposed to build some houses but you ain’t gonna see that. You ain’t gonna see nothing but the tear-down. That’s all I ever seen.

The drivers resolve, in the end, to call a lawyer and refuse to be boarded up. “We gonna run jitneys out of here till the day before the bulldozer come. Ain’t gonna be no boarding up around here! We gonna fight them on that.” They know that continuing to operate will allow other neighborhood businesses to stay open as well. They know that the choice they are offered is not between an improved neighborhood and an unimproved one, but between an unimproved neighborhood and no neighborhood at all. They know that their jitney service keeps their neighborhood running and that it improves the lives of their friends and neighbors in a way that boarded up buildings and perpetually incomplete urban planning projects never will.

Reading Sowell’s book and Wilson’s play in such close proximity got me thinking. Uber isn’t a fantastic new idea. It’s a fantastic old idea that has returned because the omnipresence of smartphones has made running a jitney service easier and more effective. Uber drivers and other ride-sharing services, as we have all read and as No Van’s Land demonstrates so effectively, are subject to protests and interference by competitors, to punitive regulation from local governments, and to a host of other challenges to their enterprise. This push back is nothing new. Sowell notes, “The jitneys were put down in every American city to protect the street railways and, in particular, to perpetuate the cross-subsidization of the street railways’ city-wide fare structures.”

Despite these common problems, Uber and other 21st-century jitney drivers do not face the major challenge that the drivers in Jitney do. They do not need to operate from a centralized location with a phone. Now that we all have phones in our pockets, the Uber “garage” is everywhere. It can’t be boarded up.

ABOUT SARAH SKWIRE

 Sarah Skwire is a fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc. She is a poet and author of the writing textbook Writing with a Thesis.

The Force That Liberated Women

The innovations and opportunities of modern markets freed women more than men by STEPHEN DAVIES:

Everyone in the world today has cause to be thankful that they live in a world and a time shaped by modern capitalism. However, women have particular cause to be thankful above and beyond the gains in material well-being that they share with men.

The contrast between the great majority of human history and the world that has grown up since the mid-18th century, most notably the enormous and unprecedented increase in wealth and physical comfort that has taken place since then, even for those who count as poor today, means that everyone alive today is very fortunate compared to their ancestors.

This huge and measurable increase in well-being is mainly due to modern capitalism and its central feature, sustained innovation, along with the crucial supporting institutions that make that possible: the rule of law, free exchange and inquiry, and individual liberty.

The condition and prospects of women have changed profoundly for the better in the modern world, and this is due centrally to capitalism as an economic and social system. Ideas and thinking have also played an enormous part, but this is one of those cases where the material circumstances and relations of human beings are fundamental. Women have gained a capacity of self-direction and a range of opportunities and options that were denied to their predecessors.

We may truly say that capitalism has liberated women.

Liberated from what, exactly?

The short answer is that capitalism liberated women from material constraints arising from the reality of living in a world of little innovation, slow or nonexistent growth, and chronic material deprivation. This was also true for men of course, but for reasons both natural and social, the conditions of premodern life affected women much more severely and stringently than they did men.

Physical strength

In traditional society, hard physical labor was the lot of everyone except a very small and privileged minority; the alternative was to starve. At the same time, the threat of violence played a much larger part. Innovation of any kind was seen as dangerous at best, blasphemous at worst.

Given the natural contrasts in physical strength between men and women, this was a world with a very clear sexual division of labor. Women did all kinds of productive work, but many tasks — including many that were more highly rewarded — were monopolized by men. Even more significantly, institutions that wielded power were dominated by men because of their ultimate basis in physical force, which men could exercise more readily. Individual women might enjoy power and influence, but women in general did not.

Fertility

Most importantly, women had little control over their fertility. Unless they chose a life of chastity, they were almost certain to have children.

This huge biological fact had extensive social consequences. On the one hand, it gave women great social influence by virtue of their maternal role. This influence was outweighed by the way that their maternal role led to stringent regulation of their behavior and options. Men faced many restrictions as well, but nothing so severe.

Women had even less in the way of choices about what to do in their lives than the majority of men did. Even women from the elite had a much more constrained set of possible roles than their male counterparts. This arrangement was rationalized and supported by an ideology of female subordination, a sexual double standard, and an array of ideas about women’s ultimately inferior and limited function.

New economic opportunities

The advent and development of capitalist modernity steadily undermined the constrained and limited world of women. A range of new economic opportunities arose for them, even before the advent of machinery and the factory but massively accelerated by them. Increasingly, women could earn an independent income and support themselves, something that was practically (as well as legally) difficult in traditional society. This meant that not being married, but rather being independent, was no longer an utter disaster nor tantamount to a death sentence.

Technology

Later on, modern capitalism produced a suite of devices and innovations that physically freed women from the demands and limitations of domestic labor. To take one example, the modern washing machine freed women from the need to spend one or often two entire days of each week doing laundry. Other domestic appliances had similar effects.

The automobile gave women personal mobility and freedom of movement in a way that they had not often had before. The advent of cheap books, newspapers, and magazines created opportunities for many more women to become writers and to communicate their ideas and experiences. It also brought about a level of contact with the wider world and with other women than had ever been feasible.

Eventually, the innovation at the heart of modern capitalism brought about cheap, reliable, and effective contraception and liberated women from the constraints of a central aspect of their biology. None of this would or could have happened without modern capitalism.

The steady decline in the importance of physical strength meant that the variety of life paths open to women expanded even more than it did for men. All of these material changes were matched by intellectual ones that again would not have amounted to more than a jeu d’esprit in the absence of the material conditions created by modern capitalism.

Starting with early figures such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Olympe de Gouges, a succession of women attacked traditional ideas of the nature and role of women and made the case for women’s autonomy and independence.

The ladies of laissez-faire

One thing that is little known but should be pointed out is that almost all of these pioneer feminists were ardent laissez-faire liberals and supporters of capitalist industry. They were well aware of the connection between the autonomy and freedom of choice that they advocated for women and the economic transformations that had made freedom possible as a lived reality.

All women today should reflect on how the scope of their agency and self-determination has increased far more than that of their fathers, husbands, and brothers in the last 200 years.

Modern capitalism and its innovations have disproportionately benefited women and changed the material conditions of humanity. To be a woman is no longer to be in a state of natural and inevitable disadvantage in the course of life.

ABOUT STEPHEN DAVIES

Stephen Davies is a program officer at the Institute for Humane Studies and the education director at the Institute for Economics Affairs in London.

Bitcoin Technology: A Festival of the Commons

Open-source currencies create new property paradigms by ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS:

Open-source technologies such as bitcoin are a combination of open-source software, common technology standards, and a participatory decentralized network. These layers create a three-tiered commons where innovation contributed by users adds to the common platform, which makes it better for everyone.

But for the last few hundred years, we have generally thought of goods as best belonging to the private domain. Consider that, in economic terms, the “tragedy of the commons” is a market-failure scenario where a shared public good is overexploited. In this scenario, each user has an incentive to maximize his or her own use until the good is depleted.

The example used to illustrate this economic theory is a grassland (a “village commons” in British English) that is unregulated and overgrazed by cattle until it deteriorates to a muddy field. The tragedy of the commons occurs when individual self-interest combined with a large economic externality (the cost to the commons) create a market failure for all.

The opposite of the tragedy of the commons is called a “comedy of the commons,” but I prefer to use the term “festival of the commons,” which conjures a better visual example: a grassland used to hold a community festival that benefits everyone. The comedy of the commons was first stipulated as an economic theory governing public goods such as knowledge, where individual use of the common good does not deplete the good but instead adds to it.

The sharing economy, which consists of open-source software (for example, Linux), participatory publishing (Wikipedia), and participatory networks (BitTorrent), creates conditions where increased participation adds to the good’s underlying value and benefits all participants. In such cases, the underlying good is knowledge, software, or a network, and its availability is not depleted by individual use.

Software applications are themselves open-sourced and add to the commons, offering new capabilities for all subsequent innovators. Enhancements to the protocol bring new features across the entire network, allowing the ecosystem to build new services around them. Finally, as more users adopt the technology and add their resources to the P2P network, the scalability and security of the entire network increases.

Open-source currencies have another layer that multiplies these underlying effects: the currency itself. Not only is the investment in infrastructure and innovation shared by all, but the shared benefit may also manifest in increased value for the common currency. Currency is the quintessential shared good, because its value correlates strongly to the economic activity that it enables. In simple terms, a currency is valuable because many people use it, and the more who use it, the more valuable it becomes. Unlike national currencies, which are generally restricted to use within a country’s borders, digital currencies like bitcoin are global and can therefore be readily adopted and used by almost any user who is part of the networked global society.

The underlying festival-of-the-commons effect created by open-source software, shared protocols, and P2P networks feeds into the value of the overlaid shared currency. While this effect may be obscured in the early stages of adoption by speculation and high volatility, in the long run, it may create a virtuous cycle of adoption and value that become a true festival of the commons.

The festival is now open. Who will join it?

ABOUT ANDREAS ANTONOPOULOS

Andreas M. Antonopoulos is a technologist and serial entrepreneur who advises companies on the use of technology and decentralized digital currencies such as bitcoin.

The EPA’s Agenda: Undermine Capitalism and America

The Environmental Protection Agency has been in a full assault on the U.S. economy since the 1980s when the global warming hoax was initiated. It has been assisted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

To put it in other terms, our own government has engaged in lying to Americans and the result has been the expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars on something that was not happening and is not happening.

On January 22, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the deposition transcript of former senior EPA official John Beale. After defrauding the agency of nearly $900,000 and spending weeks and months away from his office by claiming he was on assignment for the CIA, the transcript contained a bombshell.

Discussing his job, at the time as a close associate of Gina McCarthy, the new EPA administrator, Beale revealed that he was there to come up with “specific proposals that could have been proposed either legislatively or things which could have been done administratively to kind of modify the capitalist system…”

EPA - BustedDan Kish, senior vice president of the Institute for Energy Research, responded to the revelation saying “In his testimony under oath, Beale, perhaps unwittingly, has laid bare the administration’s end goal. The President’s policies are not about carbon, they are not about coal, and they are not even about energy and the environment. They are about fundamentally altering the DNA of the capitalist system. These policies are not about energy, but power.”

When the new EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, in testimony before a congressional committee in mid-January was asked by Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL-R) to confirm a statement made by President Obama last year that global temperatures were increasing faster in the last five or ten years than climate scientists had predicted.

She said, “I can’t answer that question.”

“You’re asking us to impose billions of dollars of cost on this economy and you won’t answer the simple question of whether (temperature around the world is increasing faster than predicted) is accurate or not?” Sessions responded.

“I just look at what the climate scientists tell me,” said McCarthy.

The Earth is in a cooling cycle that has lasted seventeen years at this point, but the EPA administrator was not inclined to accept this fact, nor question the climate scientists who provided the data based on computer models that have been consistently wrong now for decades.

We owe the Heartland Institute, a free market think tank a debt of gratitude for the eight international conferences it has held to debunk global warming. Joseph Bast, its president and CEO, has said, “The toll our EPA is taking on the country is staggering, putting hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work at a time when millions of people are unemployed and our reliance on foreign sources of energy threatens to compromise our nation’s security.” Heartland’s science director points out that “EPA’s budget could safely be cut by 80 percent or more without endangering the environment or human health, Most of what EPA does today could be done better by state government agencies…” I serve as an advisor to Heartland.

This is the same EPA that proposed restrictions for new wood stoves in early January. The reason given was to reduce the maximum amount of fine particulate emissions (soot) allowed for new stoves sold in 2015 and 2019. The soot is made up of solid particles and liquid droplets that measure 2.5 micrometers or less. The EPA claims, as it does for virtually all its regulations, that it is linked to heart attacks, decreased lung function, and premature death in people with heart and lung disease. This is worse than junk science. It represents no science whatever, being an invention of EPA employees who specialize in such nonsense. The Earth produces soot every day and circulates it globally.

The only way Americans will be protected against the EPA’s attack on our economy will be a Congress controlled by the Republican Party and a Republican President that will support the oversight that is needed and the reversal of its vast output of regulations. It will have to do this as well for NOAA, NASA, and other governmental departments and agencies that, until recently, spewed forth all manner of “data” supporting the global warming hoax.

At the heart of the global warming hoax, now called climate change, is the assertion that carbon dioxide (CO2) and other “greenhouse gases” have been dangerously warming the Earth by trapping heat, but you don’t have to be a scientist to know that the current cold spell, comparable to the 1500-1850 mini-ice age, is the result of lower solar emissions by a sun. CO2 is a minor (0.038) element of the Earth’s atmosphere, but the second most vital gas for all life on Earth because it is the “food” that maintains all vegetation.

Little wonder, during the government shutdown, more than 93% of EPA employees were furloughed when designated as “non-essential.” That was more than nine out of every ten employees!

In September 2013, the Republican members of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee issued a report that EPA officials had, from the beginning of President Obama’s tenure had “pursued a path of obfuscation, operating in the shadows, and out of the sunlight.” It detailed violations of the Freedom of Information Act and other federal laws and regulations intended to encourage transparency and accountability in the government.

In mid-January, the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute revealed that emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the EPA used official events to help environmental groups gather signatures for petitions on agency rulemaking. “The level of coordination in these documents is shocking” said an EELI spokesman. The EPA has a long history of this, including a policy of “sue and settle” working with environmental groups to bring a suit to advance regulations and settling the suit to enable it to implement those regulations.

In an April 2013 article in Investor’s Business Daily, John Merline reported that “Overall air pollution levels dropped 62% from 1990 to 2012, while GDP grew 69% and population climbed 26%.” The pollution the EPA keeps claiming is rising includes carbon monoxide, soot, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and others, all well below the EPA’s safety threshold. Water quality, too, has also improved over several decades.

In May 2013, Paul Driessen, a senior policy advisor for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) noted that the EPA, since Obama’s inauguration in 2009, had generated 1,920 new regulations. “The EPA’s actions are forcing us to expend vast financial, human and technological resources to achieve minimal or even zero health benefits.”

This is the same EPA leading the effort to shut down coal-fired plants that produce electricity. It is the same EPA seeking to stop the Pebble Mine, described as “a natural resource project in Alaska that could yield more copper than has ever been found in one place anywhere in the world.”

The EPA is the instrument of those who want to undermine capitalism in any way it can. Only that can explain why entire books have been written about its impact on the economy of the nation and the deceptive way it has imposed regulations responsible for it.

President Obama called for “hope and change” when he first ran for office. We can only hope that a new Congress and President will bring about the change we need to shut down the EPA and return control over the nation’s environment to its 50 sovereign states.

© Alan Caruba, 2014