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Marco Rubio’s Recent Climate Change of Heart ‘Disingenuous’

ken fieldsNEW YORK, NY /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In response to Marco Rubio’s recent campaign event in New Hampshire where the candidate appears to have made a climate change of heart and has called for America to be “number one in wind, and number one in solar, and number one in biofuels, and number one in renewables, number one in energy efficiency. Let’s lead in all of these things,” independent presidential candidate Ken Fields (pictured right) responded by saying:

“For someone who has so vehemently opposed any acknowledgement of the scientific consensus backing the evidence of human-caused climate change due to our planet’s reliance on fossil fuels, Rubio’s change of heart seems disingenuous at best. He has voted against energy efficiency and clean energy tax incentives. It’s hard to believe him.”

When pressed for further comment, Fields stated, “The recent and continued volatility in global oil markets should be evidence enough that energy security is not simply a matter of having and exploiting our own fossil fuel resources, but rather being completely independent of fossil fuels altogether.”

Fields officially launched his campaign last week on January 8th, 2016. His platform revolves around his slogan, “Greatness Must Be Earned” and to do great things, he has advocated the transition to 100% renewable energy for the country over the next 20 years. His policy plan includes, but is not limited to, creating the public and private mechanisms to encourage and nurture the financial markets to participate, a tax holiday for repatriated corporate capital that is invested in renewables and a carbon tax and dividend plan.

For further information on his policies and positions feel free to visit www.kenfields.net.

Katniss vs. Power: The Hunger Games Finale by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Now that the final movie in the series is out, we know that The Hunger Games is not just a pop movie series for young adults, a fantasy tale about about a young girl’s heroism. It is far more sophisticated than that: It is a political allegory, one of the best known of our time, about power and the complications of its displacement.

In this way, it covers the same intellectual terrain as Aristotle’s Politics, Machiavelli’s The Prince, and de Jouvenel’s On Power, but in a way that is more penetrating for readers and viewers, and particularly relevant for our times.

The final installment is a fitting and dramatic end to the tale. It deals with the greatest conflict in history, that between liberty and power. Those who have followed the story until the last movie might have supposed that the problem was rather stark. One man, President Snow, held all the power. He was a cruel man and he used every means to keep his power. He sat at the center of a capital city that pillaged the districts of resources and held power through fear.

If that is all there is to the problem, the solution would be clear: President Snow has to be killed. The source of the problem out of the way, all will be well.

The Plot Thickens

This was the thinking of heroine Katniss Everdeen for most of the series. And one can see why she would believe this. Snow was a ghastly figure, and he was personally responsible for vast cruelty and crimes. He deserved to be overthrown and for justice to prevail.

Plus, she supposed that everyone she knew shared her vision: a normal life without oppression, without violence, without pillaging, without rigid geographic and caste classifications, and without televised death matches orchestrated to instill fear in the population.

Previous installments had strong hints, however, that there was more going on beneath the surface. The capitol city Panem was an autocracy but also the center of a nation-state, which is to say that the bureaucracy, the administrative apparatus, a standing military, and its methods of rule could survive the death of the leader. This is the difference between a personal state and a nation state. The power apparatus of the nation state seeks immortality, a continuing life regardless who happens to head it.

The problem of creating a world without power, then, is more complicated than the overthrow of the existing autocrat. In every revolutionary situation, those who are most motivated to achieve the aim are those who seek to hold power themselves. So long as the machinery of legal violence exists, there will be those who seek to control it — and, as Hayek said, it is usually the worst who make it to the top. Therefore, it is not just those who rule but also those who seek to rule who constitute a threat to liberty. This is how the existence of powerful nation-states end up creating multiple layers of dangers.

Revolutionaries as Bad as the Regime?

Anyone who seeks to end oppression has to keep his or her eye out for those who would use the chaos and confusion of political upheavals to seize and exercise power in the future. This is what Katniss learns, as she gradually discovers that her one-time allies had become skilled in the conduct of war, appreciative of the status that comes with leadership, and lusty for exercising state power themselves.

She learned that great lesson of history: It is not just despots who need to be kept at bay but also those who most passionately seek to overthrow despots. In order to realize liberty, you need more than just loathing of those in charge; you need the ascendance of the love of true liberty itself.

Once Katniss catches on to what is happening around her, she has to make a decision. Does she comply with the dictate of the increasingly centralized revolutionary forces or take a different turn and go her own way? The urgency of this decision is what turns The Hunger Games from being a simple Manichean struggle between one good and one evil into a real-life version of a Massive Multiplayer Online game.

US Foreign Policy

Let us apply this principle.

In the 1980s, the US sought to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan by supporting Islamic fundamentalists, who were then called “freedom fighters,” and they were given weapons and massive logistical support. After the Soviets left, the rebellion gradually metastasized into the Taliban, who ruled with an iron hand, and were then overthrown after 9/11, leading to 15 years of US occupation, which has stirred resentment among the population.

This saga coincided with a similar situation in Iraq after 2003, following a decade of embargoes, intermittent bombing, and harsh sanctions. The overthrow of the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein brought to power not liberty-loving constitutionalists, but rather a Shiite majority that oppressed in turn on the Sunni minority that Hussein had represented.

The Sunni insurgency against the Iraqi state caused a bloody civil war in Iraq that eventually spilled over into the rebellion against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and mutated into the Islamic State. Over the course of 25 years, Iraq went from a defeated and relatively quiescent state to a seething hotbed of poverty, violence, and hatred.

Fast forward to the Libyan case where the overthrow of another evil dictator Muammar Gaddafi sparked a grim populist blowback. Combined with all the other interventions, and alongside a surreptitious attempt to boot the Syrian overlord, we’ve seen the spread of ISIS into a region-wide insurgency that truly intends to rule through bloodshed.

Such is politics. You think that getting the bad guy will end the problem. What this doesn’t consider is the possibly that something even worse is waiting in the wings. This is not a case for tolerating tyranny, but it is a case for a good dose of humility to go with revolutionary impulses.

The Problem of Democracy

And it’s not just about foreign regimes. A famous trait of democracy is that the urge to kick out one group of leaders is necessarily tied to bringing another group into power. The latter are often no better and sometimes worse than the former. This is one of the reasons for so much political nostalgia in US politics: a look back almost always provides a better picture than a look at the present.

I can’t count the number of times I heard people tell me how much they long for the good old days of Reagan or Clinton — people who loathed them at the time… until their replacements came along. Or think of the number of people who believed that getting rid of Bush and replacing him with Obama would lead to peace, prosperity, and understanding, only to find that the new regime continued the practices of the old. And heads up: it seems like this history is likely to repeat itself in the case of Obama.

The simple lesson of The Hunger Games is that powerful people can do terrible things. We must resist in order to stop them. The more complicated lesson is that powerful institutions themselves corrupt, and that there will always be those lacking in moral scruples who are willing to assume the mantle of power.

At the end of the movie, we see Katniss out of battle gear, sitting in the grass, at her home, being bathed by sunlight, tending to her own life, cultivating her own personal vision of freedom, out of the limelight. Ruling herself, not others. Perhaps that scene offers the best lesson of all.

Jeffrey A. TuckerJeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook.

“Green Banks” Will Drown in the Red by Jonathan Bydlak

Why does federal spending matter? There are many reasons, but perhaps the most fundamental is that free markets allocate resources better than governments because markets rely on price instead of politics. Many industries show this observation to be true, but the emerging field of “green banks” offers perhaps one of the clearest recent examples.

A green bank is a “public or quasi-public financing institution that provides low-cost, long-term financing support to clean, low-carbon projects by leveraging public funds…to attract private investment.” Right now, only a handful of green banks are scattered across Connecticut, California, New York, Rhode Island, and Hawaii.

Free marketers rightly doubt whether public funds should be used to finance private startups. But regardless of where one stands in that debate, the states’ struggles serve as a valuable testing ground for future investments.

The State of Connecticut operates under a fairly significant budget deficit. California has been calculating its budgets without taking unfunded pension liabilities into account, and it’s gambling with its ability to service its debt. New York continues to live beyond its means. Rhode Island’s newest budget does little to rehabilitate its deficit spending addiction, and, despite having a balanced budget clause in its state constitution, Hawaii has a pattern of operating at a deficit.

In fact, a state solvency report released by the Mercatus Center has each of these five states ranked in the bottom third of the country, with their solvency described as either “low” or “poor.”

This all raises the question of whether these governments are able to find sound investment opportunities in the first place. Rhode Island couldn’t even identify a bad investment when baseball legend Curt Schilling wanted $75 million to make video games about something other than baseball!

Recently, though, there have been calls to extend the struggling green banking system to the federal level. Mark Muro and Reed Hundt at the Brookings Institute argued in favor of federal action in support of green banks. Somewhat paradoxically, they assert that demand for green banking institutions and the types of companies they finance is so strong that the existing state-based green banks cannot muster enough capital to meet demand.

Wherever there is potential for profit and a sound business plan, lending institutions are likely to be found, willing to relinquish a little capital for a consistent and reasonable rate of return. So where are the private lenders and other investment firms who have taken notice and are competing for the opportunity to provide loans to such highly sought-after companies and products?

Even assuming that there is demand for green banking services, recent experience shows that a federally-subsidized system would likely lead to inefficiency, favor trading, and failure. For instance, the Department of Energy Loan Program is designed to facilitate and aid clean energy startup companies. Its portfolio exceeds $30 billion, but following a series of bad investments like Solyndra, Inc., new loan guarantees have been few and far between. The program has already lost over $700 million.

Even the rosiest measurements do not show particularly exciting returns from this system. The Department of Energy itself estimates that over the lifetime of the loans it’s guaranteed, there exists the potential to see $5 billion in profit. However, those estimates also depend on the peculiar accounting methods the DoE itself employs.

This problem is apparent in other government sectors. For instance, determining how much profit the federal government makes off of student loans depends on who is asked. Some say none, while others say it’s in the billions. Gauging the economic impact or solvency of government programs is notoriously difficult, and different methods can yield what look like very different results. Add to that the consistently uncertain nature of the energy market, and profits are hardly guaranteed.

Examples abound of wasteful federal spending, and the growing green technology and renewable energy industry is no exception. The DoE Loan Program has already faced issues that go well beyond Solyndra: Abound Solar, a Colorado-based solar panel manufacturer, was given a $400 million DoE loan guarantee, only to later file for bankruptcy, potentially costing taxpayers $60 million. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a 175,000 unit heliostat array in California, received a $1.6 billion federal loan and, because it failed to produce the amount of power estimated, was forced to later request more than$500 million in federal grants from the Treasury Department. A recent Taxpayers Protection Alliance study showed that risky investments in heavily subsidized solar energy could even lead to a bubble similar to the disastrous 2008 housing bubble.

Those who want to expand the government’s role in green banking likely want to see more clean and renewable energy reach the consumer market, and a lot of people probably applaud that goal — but the real question is whether the proposed means can reliably achieve that end. A wise manager with a solid business plan can find investors who will willingly take a chance. Considering the struggles of several states, trusting the federal government to build an even bigger system would exponentially increase that risk.

In contrast, the market offers opportunity to entrepreneurs in the green technology and renewable energy industries. For instance, GreatPoint Energy, a company specializing in clean coal, successfully went the route that other companies do: Design a product or service, find investors, and compete in the marketplace.

SolarCity, a California-based and publicly traded corporation of over 2,500 employees, entered the industry before many government loan programs were established. Thanks to a sound business model and subsequent horizontal and vertical expansion, it has become a leader in the industry. SolarCity’s success, however, cannot be touted by the Department of Energy’s Loan Program, which declined to invest in the company, leading SolarCity to try — and succeed — in finding private investment.

If GreatPoint or SolarCity had failed, only those who willingly participated in the startup would suffer the consequences. The issue with green banking — and indeed government “investments” more generally — is that taxpayers are not party to the negotiations but are the ones ultimately on the hook for failures.

In absolute terms, these billions of dollars are a lot of money. But in the grand scheme of government spending, the amount of money invested in green banks and renewable energy production is relatively small. If Social Security is the Atlantic Ocean, and wasteful defense appropriations are the Mediterranean, then green energy investments fall somewhere in the range of the Y-40 pool: easily measurable but certainly not insignificant.

Your odds of drowning may be smaller in the pool than the ocean, but that doesn’t make the drowning itself any more pleasant. The federal government is already under water; adding new liabilities on the hope that politicians can guess the future of energy is merely a step towards the deep end, not the ladder out.


Jonathan Bydlak

Jonathan Bydlak is the founder and president of the Institute to Reduce Spending and the Coalition to Reduce Spending.

The Love of Power versus the Power of Love

Today’s Love of Power Has Eroded Our Freedom by LAWRENCE W. REED.

December 29, 2014, is the 205th anniversary of the birth of William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898), quoted below. This article appeared in the May 2007 issue of The Freeman.

“We look forward to the time when the power of love will replace the love of power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace.”

So declared British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone more than a century ago. His audience surely responded then the same way audiences would today—with universal, nodding approval. But the world, perhaps more so now than when Gladstone spoke, seethes with hypocrisy. Though we say we prefer love over power, the way we behave in the political corner of our lives testifies all too often to the contrary.

Gladstone was eminently qualified to say what he did, and he sincerely meant it. He was a devout man of faith and character, lauded widely for impeccable integrity in his more than six decades of public life. Four times prime minister, he still ranks as one of the few politicians who really did “grow” in office. He came to Parliament in the early 1830s as an ardent protectionist, opponent of reform, and defender of the statist status quo. As he watched government operate from its highest levels, he evolved into a passionate defender of liberty. When he died in 1898 his admirers were proud of a Britain strengthened by his legacy of cutting taxes, bureaucracy, and intrusive regulation. The Irish loved him because he fought hard to restrain London ‘s heavy hand over Irish life. Biographer Philip Magnus believed that he “achieved unparalleled success in his policy of setting the individual free from a multitude of obsolete restrictions.”

Gladstone knew that love and power are two different things, often at odds with each other. Love is about affection and respect, power about control. Someone who pursues power over others for his own personal advancement is rightly deserving of opprobrium. Gladstone ‘s friend Lord Acton warned about how absolutely corrupting this can be. If love is a factor in such instances, it’s more likely love of oneself than love of others.

When real love is the motivator, people deal with each other peacefully. We use force only in self-defense. We respect each other’s rights and differences. Tolerance and cooperation govern our interactions.

Suppose we want to influence or change the behavior of another adult, or want to give him something we think he should have. This person has done us no harm and is in full command of his faculties. Love requires that we reason with him, entice him with an attractive offer, or otherwise engage him on a totally voluntary basis. He is free to accept or reject our overtures. If we don’t get our way, we don’t hire somebody to use force against him. “Live and let live,” as Americans used to say with more frequency than they do today.

When we initiate force (that is to say, when self-defense is not an issue), it’s usually because we want something without having to ask the owner’s permission for it. The nineteenth-century American social commentator William Graham Sumner lamented the prevalence of the less-noble motivators when he wrote, “All history is only one long story to this effect: Men have struggled for power over their fellow men in order that they might win the joys of earth at the expense of others, and might shift the burdens of life from their own shoulders upon those of others.”

Adults necessarily exert great power over infants, whose very existence requires nearly constant attention tempered by a strong and instinctive affection. By adolescence, the adult role is reduced to general supervision as the child makes more of his own choices and decisions. The child eventually becomes an adult empowered to live his life as he chooses and bear all the attendant risks and responsibilities.

In normal, healthy families during this nearly 20-year maturing process, a parent’s power over a child recedes but his love only grows. Indeed, most people understand that the more you love a child, the more you will desire him to be independent, self-reliant, and in charge of himself. It’s not a sign of love to treat another adult as if he were still an infant under your control.

A mature, responsible adult neither seeks undue power over other adults nor wishes to see others subjected to anyone’s controlling schemes and fantasies: This is the traditional meaning of liberty. It’s the rationale for limiting the force of government in our lives. In a free society the power of love, not the love of power, governs our behavior.

Consider what we do in our political lives these days—and an unfortunate erosion of freedom becomes painfully evident. It’s a commentary on the ascendancy of the love of power over the power of love. We have granted command of over 40 percent of our incomes to federal, state, and local governments, compared to 6 or 7 percent a century ago. And more than a few Americans seem to think that 40 percent still isn’t enough.

We don’t trust the choices parents might make in a free educational marketplace, so we force those who prefer private options to pay twice—once in tuition for the alternatives they choose and then again in taxes for a system they seek to escape.

Millions of Americans think government should impose an endless array of programs and expenses on their fellow citizens, from nationalized health insurance to child daycare to subsidized art and recreation. We’ve already burdened our children and grandchildren, whom we claim to love, with trillions in national debt—all so that the leaders we elected and reelected could spend more than we were willing to pay.

We claim to love our fellow citizens while we hand government ever more power over their lives, hopes, and pocketbooks. We’ve erected what Margaret Thatcher derisively termed the “nanny state,” in which we as adults are pushed around, dictated to, hemmed in, and smothered with good intentions as if we’re still children.

Resolutions for Liberty

If you think that these trends can go on indefinitely, or that power is the answer to our problems, or that loving others means diminishing their liberties, you’re part of the problem. If you want to be part of the solution, then consider adopting the following resolutions for this year and beyond:

  • I resolve to keep my hands in my own pockets, to leave others alone unless they threaten me harm, to take responsibility for my own actions and decisions, and to impose no burdens on others that stem from my own poor judgments.
  • I resolve to strengthen my own character so I can be the model of integrity that friends, family, and acquaintances will want to respect and emulate.
  • If I have a “good idea,” I resolve to elicit support for it through peaceful persuasion not force. I will not ask politicians to foist it on others just because I might think it’s good for them. I will work to free my fellow citizens by trusting them with more control over their own lives.
  • I resolve to offer help to others who genuinely need it by involving myself directly or by supporting those who are providing assistance through charitable institutions. I will not complain about a problem and then insist that government fix it at twice the cost and at half the effectiveness.
  • I resolve to learn more about the principles of love and liberty so that I can convincingly defend them against the encroachments of power. I resolve to make certain that how I behave and how I vote will be consistent with what I say. And I resolve to do whatever I can to replace the love of power with the power of love.

A tall order, to be sure. Let’s get started.

larry reed new thumbABOUT LAWRENCE W. REED

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

Florida Nuclear Plant Nearly Melts Down

Marimer Matos from Courthouse News Service reports, “Florida Power & Light fired a safety officer for shutting down a dangerously leaking nuclear reactor, because it cost $6 million to repair, the man claims in court.”

“Mark W. Hicks sued Florida Power & Light Co. in Port St. Lucie County Court, alleging whistleblower violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, libel and fraud,” according to Matos.

“It was clear to Hicks that there was great potential peril, as a reactor which loses too much nuclear reactor coolant has a potential of causing core damage, which could ultimately lead to a nuclear meltdown at the power plant, putting the entire civilian population, which would be in proximity to the reactor, in danger,” the complaint states.

Matos reports, “In fact, the same type of coolant leak that Hicks observed at the St. Lucie power plant [pictured above] was what caused the partial nuclear core meltdown on March 28, 1979, known as the Three Mile Island Accident, in Middletown, Pennsylvania, which was the worst nuclear accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history …”

“At the time of the incident, Hicks was following the plant safety procedures outlined in FPL’s Technical Specification § 6.8, and from his own general safety knowledge regarding the procedures required to reduce the safety concern.”

Hicks adds: “Following protocol, Hicks reported to the head of the Nuclear Power Division of FPL and the Executive Vice President of FPL Manoochehr Nazar, who then shockingly and recklessly insisted that Hicks start up the reactor.”

“Despite Hicks’ evaluation of the situation, the obvious safety concerns, and the clear legal requirements which dictated that Hicks and FPL shut down the reactor, Nazar ordered Hicks to sign off on starting up the reactor without repairing the valves,” reports Matos.

“Nazar took the position he did, to startup the reactor, strictly from a position of greed. The bottom line is that he was willing to risk the health, well being, and even the lives of the citizens of Florida to avoid the loss of revenue, while the reactor was being repaired,” states Hicks.

The Port St. Lucie  plant, pictured above, was built in 1976 and contains two nuclear reactors in separate containment buildings. St. Lucie Plant, Units 1 and 2 are located near Jensen Beach, FL (10 MI SE of Ft. Pierce, FL) in NRC Region II; Operator: Florida Power & Light Co.; More information on the NRC facility page link here and at this link.

Read more at Courthouse News Service.

RELATED COLUMNS:

St. Lucie Nuclear Plant not in danger of Japan-like meltdown, experts say

Man sues St. Lucie nuclear plant over job loss, claiming he was whistle-blower

Higher Gas Prices Add to Economic Slump

Courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

Unemployment is at 8.3 percent. The economy is sputtering at 1.5 percent growth. Food prices are rising due to drought conditions across the country. And gas prices are up again, pinching Americans’ summer budgets. It is past time for the President and Congress to pursue smart policies that would put us on a path to relief.

According to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report, the current national average for regular is $3.66 per gallon. That’s up 28 cents per gallon from a month ago, and July had its biggest price jump since AAA started tracking prices in 2000. To see the average for Florida click here.

There are many factors affecting prices that we cannot control—worldwide tensions, especially in the Middle East, can drive up oil prices. Global demand, especially from China and India’s rapidly growing economies, continues upward.

But after three years of adding regulatory hurdles and blocking exploratory access and development, President Obama’s policies are helping keep prices higher than necessary.

If the President truly wanted to lower gas prices, he would work to increase supply. But when given the opportunity, he has done the opposite. He turned down the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada. His Administration has made it even harder for companies to explore and extract domestic energy resources by canceling, delaying, or withdrawing a number of lease sales for exploration and development. Meanwhile, huge swaths of federal lands have been put off limits for energy exploration.

Domestic refinery outages have had a recent impact on gas prices. Two of the factors holding back domestic energy production are regulatory red tape and litigation—and these, we can do something about. As Heritage’s Nicolas Loris notes:

Environmental activists delay new energy projects by filing endless administrative appeals and lawsuits. Creating a manageable time frame for permitting and for groups or individuals to contest energy plans would keep potentially cost-effective ventures from being tied up for years in litigation while allowing the public and interested parties to voice opposition or support for these projects.

We don’t have to stand still. Congress could alleviate the energy crunch in 10 different ways by taking action on things we can control, like restrictions on oil shale development and offshore drilling.

One of the most common objections is that increasing domestic oil production takes too long and would not impact the market for at least a decade. The longer people make this argument, however, the longer it will take. The sooner we make investments in domestic energy, the sooner those benefits will be realized. And with some serious reforms, some of this oil can reach the market in much less than a decade.

Gas prices aren’t under the control of any one President. But Americans shouldn’t settle for policies that restrict oil exploration, refining, and production and artificially drive prices higher.

MORE FROM THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION:

High Gas Prices: Obama’s Half-Truths vs. Reality

President Obama’s 10 Worst Energy Policies