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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.

Worst in Nation Hawaii Health Connector Looking for Another $28M by Andrew Walden

Good money after bad?

Ranked last year as “worst in the nation,” with sign-up costs estimated at $56,819 per enrollee, the Hawaii Health Connector is begging Legislators for another $28 million.  The sales pitch?  A financial plan which openly states the Connector will lose money for another eight years.

The Connector is set up as a State-mandated non-profit organization with insurance company representatives on the Board of Directors.  The unique setup allows the Connector to evade Hawaii’s public records laws, but Hawaii’s lone Republican Senator Sam Slom argues the “$28 million in ‘debentures’ … are in reality General Obligation bonds.  Their issue by a private non-profit is unconstitutional….” On March 25 the House Consumer Protection and Health Committees agreed, yanking the funding mechanism from the bill and leaving the details for the House Finance Committee to work out in a hearing now set for Wednesday April 8 at 2pm in room 308. UPDATE: FIN passed SB1028 un-amended–it is headed for a referral to Conference Committee.

At the February 15 deadline, the Health Connector touted 13,356 sign-ups in the three-month enrollment period–but as many as 7,700 are Micronesian immigrants forced off Medicaid and into plans provided by the Health Exchange.  Estimated to save the State $20 million per year, the move alarms Dr. David Derauf of the Kokua Kalihi Valley clinic.  In a February 26 column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Derauf points out:

“As a result of these changes, many will suffer serious consequences to their health. Some will die.

“For this particular group of lawfully present immigrants, the state under Medicaid currently pays 100 percent of the costs of the program, which ensures that low-income people have access to medically necessary care at no cost.

“By transferring them to a Connector plan, much of the state’s cost will shift to the federal government, which provides significant insurance subsidies for people near the poverty line.

“However, even with those subsidies, an individual will still have to pay up to $2,250 in copays and co-insurance in a single year — an impossible amount for someone working 40 hours a week at minimum wage and earning only $1,343 a month. At these income levels, seemingly insignificant copays can prevent people from getting the medications and treatment they need.”

Kelii Akina, President of the Grassroot Institute explains: “Before the Affordable Care Act, Hawaii had a workable public-private partnership that ensured 93% healthcare coverage for the population.  It was a model that other states were studying and planning to implement in some form without a federal mandate.  Now consumers as well as the state government are facing skyrocketing costs.”

Other populations are being suggested as forcible Obamacare converts.  A bill offering benefits to “innocent” ex-convicts includes lifetime health care “…provided that the claimant enrolls in the Hawaii health insurance exchange….”  With labor negotiations ongoing,Governor David Ige is suggesting putting the State’s 40,000 employees into the Connector.

While reaping the benefits of Micronesian misfortune, Connector officials talk up the State’s60,000 new Medicaid enrollees–signed up not by the Connector but by the State Department of Human Services.  While the Connector managed to waste $205 million on its failed enrollment software, the State DHS blew another $144 million on balky Medicaid signup systems leading to the February ouster of the State’s Medicaid Director.  Both efforts ended up relying on human enrollment workers to complete applications.

Says Slom: “I serve on the Connector Oversight Committee. When I seek fiscal answers I get double talk. The enrollment figures are bogus. The business plan is flawed. The Connector depends on endless subsidies and has lost millions of taxpayer dollars in questionable contracts. The Connector must be dis-connected now.”

Let the Budget Battles Begin

The announcement of a new fiscal budget for the U.S. government always sets the stage for struggles between the spenders and those trying to put some limits on the spending. The spenders usually win because politicians—particularly progressive ones—love to tap the national treasury in order to reward their supporters.

As the Speaker of the House John Boehner said on the occasion of the March 17 announcement, “For 53 of the last 60 years, the federal government has spent more than it has taken in. It is unacceptable.” Not so unacceptable that one Congress after another has not seen fit to ignore common sense and fiscal prudence.

Capitol with DollarsThe sheer enormity of the budget tends to overwhelm and I suspect that most voters pay little attention to it and the issues it represents except to want assurances that their benefit check arrives. Rarely mentioned or largely unknown is the size of the nation’s unfunded liabilities, long term obligations in Medicare and Social Security. In 2014 they reached nearly $49 trillion with a “T”.

Our annual Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) what the U.S. takes in for goods and services is about $14 trillion. Our current national debt is $18 trillion and growing. Regarding the unfunded liabilities, Romina Boccia of The Heritage Foundation noted last year that they were “nearly three times the size of the total national debt or more than $150,000 for every person in the U.S.” He predicted that “even the most vulnerable Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries would see their benefits drastically cut after 2030.”

Here’s another way of looking at our debt. When interest rates return to normal WE are going to be paying several hundred billion in interest on our current $18 trillion debt. In short, we have to desperately start cutting spending NOW to reduce that debt. Or else!

The 2016 budget announced by House Budget Chairman Tom Price represents Republican values. As the Wall Street Journal noted, it “would cut spending by $5.5 trillion relative to the status quo over the next decade, reducing federal spending to 18.2% of the economy by 2024. The share today is 20.3% and is headed toward 22.3% in a decade on present trend.” It’s useful to keep in mind that every dollar the government collects and spends is one less dollar that the private sector can spend on starting and expanding businesses large and small.

All that money represents opportunities for waste that are mind-boggling. A recent article in CNS News reported that “Medicare and Medicaid made a combined $77.4 billion in improper payments in fiscal 2014, a 20.4 percent increase from fiscal 2013, according to data published by the Government Accountability Office and the federal paymentaccuracy.gov website.” Twelve government programs that wasted money made the Government Accountability Office list including the school lunch and public housing/rental assistance programs.

The good news about the new fiscal budget is that it openly calls for repealing ObamaCare. It also outlines deregulating Medicaid to give governors more flexibility. It is a terrific fiscal burden. The budget took note of the fact that there are too many duplicative government programs such as 92 antipoverty programs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that consolidating such programs would increase real GDP per capita by 1.5% in 2015. Eliminating a whole bunch of them would save even more.

Jane M. Orient, M.D., the Executive Director of American Physicians and Surgeons, and a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, warned that “there seem to be some good first steps, such as block-granting Medicaid to the states. But even Republicans aren’t admitting that their budget also involves fighting over money that we don’t have, that the Federal Reserve will create out of faith and credit.”

“Also absent,” said Dr. Orient, “is recognition of the crushing burden of regulation, especially EPA rules to destroy a huge portion of our electrical generating capacity, with heavy subsidization of costly, unreliable, environmentally destructive wind and solar projects that can’t possibly replace coal, nuclear, or natural gas. Or recognition of the destructive impact of the Department of Education. How about devolving environmental protection and education back to the states, too, along with Medicaid?”

Heartland Tax & Budget News (1)“This new House budget,” said Peter Ferrara, a Heartland Senior Fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy, “shows the passing of the Age of Obama and the broad gulf of difference between today’s conservative Republicans and the modern, ultra-Left, extremist, neo-socialist Democrats. Reagan-life, the plan would balance the budget without tax increases, while modernizing our increasingly dangerously lagging military.”

The Wall Street Journal editorial pointed out that, “As important, failing to pass a budget would also deprive Republicans of the procedural tool known as reconciliation. This allows the GOP to pass a final budget with a simple majority in the House and Senate, and thus it will be crucial to putting larger reforms of ObamaCare or taxes on Mr. Obama’s desk. A vote against the budget is in that sense a vote for the ObamaCare status quo.”

In sum, the proposed budget represents a serious effort to enact reforms that are long overdue. These and other measures are needed to encourage economic growth, the heart’s blood of the nation.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo.

A Different Opinion on Smart Meter “Phobia”

Recently someone sent me James Tracy’s blog on an editorial written by the Palm Beach PostSmart Media Phobia Sad, But Don’t Cut Power” regarding FP&L’s smart meters. The Palm Beach Post circulation covers the area for which FP&L maintains its headquarters. Essentially the editors feel that the Internet is a blessing and a curse because people, other than them, don’t know how to interpret data and they are reading things other than the mainstream media and are being “misinformed”. We apparently repeat these misunderstandings until they sound like “fact”.

The editorial goes on to repeat industry propaganda about how one can be continually exposed to smart meters for 375 years and that would equate to a 15-minute cell phone call. Dr. Tracy, in his blog post, details all the science he has previously provided FP&L that refutes such nonsense. I decided to call out the Palm Beach Post on other false information in their Op-Ed. Most likely they won’t print it, but luckily we have alternative media to by-pass their censorship power.

My response sent to the Palm Beach Post editorial was as follows.

Editors of the Palm Beach Post:

I am the lead petitioner in the action against the Florida Power & Light (FP&L) smart meter opt out fees currently before the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC). I read your editorial published September 4, 2014 and shook my head, as it is nothing but another corporate propaganda piece that spreads misinformation.

First, I take exception to the insinuation that I suffer from “lack of training to parse data”. I am a CPA and trained auditor. I know how to research, source and interpret data. I also have a background in the regulatory process having worked 11 years for a telephone company. I have handled complicated transactions such as the AT&T divestiture to the planning and implementation of Sarbanes – Oxley regulations for a multi-billion dollar company. I have spent about 10 hours per day, 5 days a week for two years reading every governmental and industry report on the smart grid and smart meters. My computer is now overloaded with downloads.

Second, it is not a fact that “the vast majority of FP&L’s approximately 4.6 million customers have “adopted the new technology without a second thought”. The truth is the vast majorities don’t even know they have a smart meter or what it does differently. But what is true is that the claims of the smart meter giving people information to help manage their energy are a lie, as the current information provided to customers is useless. This can be supported by FP&L’s disclosure that the vast majority of customers have yet to even access their silly Energy Dashboard. But I am sure the editors of this paper do so every day, correct?

Third, the biggest lie in your is this statement “The facts are clear: Smart meters lower everyone’s utility bills by reducing the need for trucks, fuel, and meter readers. They reduce the length and extent of power outages. They pose no credible threat to health.”

Smart meters do not reduce the length and extent of power outages – smart technologies (sensors on equipment like transformers and substations and smart switches on feeders) do provide this benefit.

Regarding your statements of “credible threat to health”, where have we heard that phrase before? Ah, yes, the tobacco industry used that phrase for decades quite successfully, didn’t they? Now let’s look at the credibility of FP&L’s lead consultant on smart meter health, Dr. Peter Valberg. He claims that there is no “credible” science that shows RF harm. Your readers should know that he also testified on behalf of Phillip Morris in their light cigarettes deceptive marketing case. His testimony essentially stated that light cigarettes were just not being smoked properly, and also that the tobacco studies performed by Philip Morris were consistent” with what was known to the outside scientific community. No deception, right? How “credible” is this guy? Your readers can decide but they should also do an internet search on the BioInitiative Report before they make their decision.

But most importantly, smart meters have not lowered your bills – not one penny – they have actually increased them. Let me count the ways:

First, the old meters had a net book value (NBV) of $75 million and an estimated useful life of approximately 36 years. FP&L wrote off $101 million (includes cost of removal) when they threw the perfectly operational old meters in the garbage. The annual depreciation charges for these meters were around $7 million per year ($249 Million Gross value/36 yrs). The approximate annual return on investment FP&L received on the NBV of $75 million, using 9.48% pre-tax cost of capital was $7 million.

Contrast that to now. The smart meter project capital is $645 million with an estimated useful life of 20 years (and if you believe the 20 yr life, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you). This equates to depreciation charges of about $32 million per year ($645M/20yrs). The return on investment FP&L will earn on this new smart meter capital will be about $61 million per year ($645M at 9.48%), decreasing by about $3 million each year to reflect the lower NBV from depreciation.

Second, FP&L current rates are based on a 2013 test year and the 2012 rate case settlement agreement keeps the rates the same until at least 2017. The 2013 test year reflects an overall net Operations & Maintenance (O&M) cost of $3.4 million for the smart meter project. (Funny, in 2009 they estimated that the year 2013 would produce a net O&M savings of $20 million. I guess the project is overrunning its budget.) FP&L recently testified that once the project was completed in 2013 there would be about $40 million annual net savings in O&M.

When rate case settlements are made they are made for a period of time. Each party looks at that period of time to determine if anything needs to be considered and factored in before the final settlement is agreed to and finalized. FP&L raised its hand high, saying, look over here, I have new plants coming on line in these outer years and we need to raise rates to recover our investment and such was granted. But did FP&L raise their hand or did the FPSC insist that the smart meter savings of $40 million, which would start to be realized during that period, also be accounted for? No. FP&L was not required to reduce the rates in the outer years to reflect the savings.

Third, lets not forget to count all the new costs that are being incurred that did not exist with those old analog meters. Now you have communication costs to send the data wirelessly back to FP&L, cyber-security costs, software license and maintenance fees, data storage costs, big data consultants, settlements on fires and property damage, more equipment to be damaged in storms and the list goes on.

So Palm Beach Editorial Board, please disclose to your readers your facts to support your claim that smart meters have lowered our utility bills. The miscellaneous tariffs for all these activities – service connects/disconnects, reconnects for non-payment – are EXACTLY the same as they were when FP&L didn’t have smart meters. FP&L’s 2013 test year also included significant manual meter-reading costs as they still had over 800 thousand meters left to install in their assumptions and those costs are still baked into our current rates.

Your readers can decide for themselves, if FP&L, who made NO disclosure in their rate case settlement agreement that they planned to file these smart meter opt out tariffs (despite smart meters being an issue in the rate case), is deserving of an additional $2 million a year in revenue from these customers when they are keeping the $40 million in savings for three years and overcharging smart meter customers for truck rolls they are no longer performing. Is FP&L violating the rate case settlement agreement by trying to change rates for services already provided at the date of that agreement?

From my vantage point – if they are deserving of the $2 million in additional revenue because the project is over and we need to recognize a new ‘cost of service” – then it is only fair to re-price all activities affected by this fact and reduce the rates for all customers by $40-45 million.

There is no financial payback for me as I have sunk tens of thousand of dollars into this effort and countless unpaid hours of time. I do so for two reasons – 1) the many “Friedman’s out there who have no voice and are being harmed by this product and 2) to expose the illegal coordination and fraud/deception that took place between FP&L and FPSC as it pertains to this project.

The documented audit trail of deception is as long as the distance from my house in Venice to Tallahassee. Quite frankly, the conduct of our FPSC that I discovered on this journey is more disturbing than FP&L’s. I will take that item up with our state legislators when they return to Tallahassee for the next session.

Not Just the VA: Another example of government failure in healthcare by Terree P. Summer

Jay Littlewolf, a 54-year-old man, said inadequate healthcare at the government clinic compounded his problems with a diabetic ulcer on his right foot. He said that at one point he was told the remedy was to cut off his toes. Instead, he sought private medical treatment in Billings, Montana. “I don’t like those comments when the podiatrist says he just wants to cut your toes off,” Littlewolf said. “I know there are alternatives. Common sense says that.” To date, Jay has spent $3,000 out of pocket and expects his total bill to exceed $20,000. He wants to be reimbursed—and pay the balance of the bill—but the government agency has refused.

“We are trained and born not to challenge the system,” he said. “I’m not trying to challenge the system. I just want my bills paid. I wanted to save my toes, my foot, my leg, my life. All I want to do is mow my darn lawn.”

Littlewolf’s story is reminiscent of the stories of neglect and incompetency at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the agency charged with caring for American veterans. Last April, news broke that the VA had serious problems. They came to light in its Phoenix  facility, where more than 40 veterans died while waiting for care. An internal audit released June 9, 2014, revealed that more than 120,000 veterans nationwide were left waiting or never got care and that pressures were placed on schedulers to use unofficial lists or engage in inappropriate practices to make waiting times appear more favorable. On June 11, 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened a criminal investigation of the VA.

Littlewolf, however, isn’t a veteran, and he was not dealing with the VA. Jay is a Native American and a member of the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana. He’s talking about the Indian Health Service (IHS), another federal government-operated healthcare system. When the scandal broke about the VA, the media, pundits, and politicians quickly concluded that the remedy for the VA’s ills was reform: more funding, regulation, and accountability. But the occurrence of the same problems at the IHS suggests that these sorts of problems may be endemic to government-run systems. Unfortunately, few are stepping up to recommend a more permanent fix than to enact reforms to the existing systems. What is needed is the privatization of healthcare services for those who suffer under government-controlled programs.

The IHS is familiar to me, as my grandfather was an IHS physician in Arizona. There are 22 tribes in my home state, and growing up there, I saw the issues facing Native Americans up close. The IHS has problems with long waits, inferior care, rationing, and lack of access—just as with the VA and with nationalized healthcare systems abroad. And, like the VA, when healthcare is under government control, it becomes inefficient and ineffective. Just ask Littlewolf.

In 2004, a report of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights unsurprisingly blamed the substandard care in the IHS on the usual culprits: lack of funding, hiring the wrong people, retention and recruiting of qualified healthcare providers, and maintenance of aging facilities. As usual, the report didn’t point to the real problem: the program itself.

As with all government programs, inevitably most of the funding goes to pay bureaucrats and administrators, leaving little money for medical staff salaries and treatment. Low salaries contribute to unfilled vacancies, poor retention, and low morale among staff, causing waiting lists and inferior treatment for patients. The IHS has job vacancy rates for healthcare professionals ranging from 12 percent to 32 percent.

Bureaucrats cover up their mistakes with phony documents, like those found in the VA scandal, showing that patients are being promptly treated. Ultimately, supporters of government control lament that if only the right people could be found to run the program, everything would be fine.

In order to justify their salaries, government administrators promulgate endless regulations, bogging down the treatment process with red tape. Additionally, the IHS has a bloated bureaucracy, with over 14,000 employees, including eight assistant surgeon generals, 439 “Director Grade” bureaucrats, and 601 “Senior Grade” bureaucrats. Yet, in 2005, per capita federal spending on patients by the IHS was only $2,130—half the amount spent on federal prisoners’ care.

In a move in the right direction, in 2008, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), introduced an amendment to the Indian Health Care Improvement Act that would allow tribal members to choose from various healthcare coverage options, including the ability to purchase private health insurance. According to Senator Coburn, the IHS currently rations services on the basis of whether a particular service will save a “life or limb.” Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Coburn’s amendment was voted down, 28 to 67.

While Coburn’s attempt at reform was laudable—and would have, at a minimum, provided an option for Native Americans seeking better health care—it didn’t really address the root of the problem. The only lasting solution that would ensure improvements in care and health outcomes would be the privatization of services to Native American tribes. I’m not confident that such a change is likely in the near future—for the IHS or for the VA. And, unfortunately, the problems that have plagued the VA and the IHS are harbingers of a future under our increasingly socialized healthcare system.

ABOUT TERREE P. SUMMER

Terree P. Summer is an economist and author specializing in healthcare and the federal budget. She is the author of What Has Government Done to Our Health Care? published by the Cato Institute (1992).

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

Florida Solar Power: Free electricity? Not so much!

We  have all heard the line “if it sounds too good to be true…” Well solar power is one of those ideas that is too good to be true. Another favorite if it sounds too good to be true are the often repeated statements of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry claiming renewable energy will lower our electric bills and create millions of jobs that can’t be sent overseas.

For an example of “too good to be true” close to home in the sunshine state, consider Hillsborough County, where the courthouse in 2010 was outfitted with rooftop solar panels, designed to produce 40% of the facility’s electricity, save $60,000 annually in electricity costs, and pay for themselves. The initial cost was $1.2 million, so by saving $60,000 per year, they would pay for themselves in 20 years – a nice, round number. Oh, and by the way, they were going to produce jobs. As part of the Obama Stimulus.

You believe this, right? Sounds good, right?

Well, not exactly. According to the WFTS News article “Solar Panels on Tampa Courthouse Fail to Meet Promises“, the panels are reducing electricity need by 15 – 18%, a savings of less than $2000 per month. At that rate, it will take 45 years for the panels to pay for their cost – if they last that long. As far as I know, there is no hard data yet on solar cell lifetime duration. Estimates range between 15 and 20 years. Solar panels deteriorate over their lifetime, so the $2000/month savings will be going down.

The cruelest blow in all this? Jobs: 12 of them, for four months.

Who brought this too good to be true miracle to pass? Well, you remember who brought us the Obama Stimulus Bill, as well as ObamaCare, the Democratic Party, which controlled Congress and the White House in 2010. They thought it was wonderful:

It is so wonderful to see the Recovery Act at work in our community, creating jobs and saving money” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa).

This is a nice initiative that will allow the county to put a little money back into the pockets of taxpayers at a time that they need it most, and to create jobs,” said Castor.

These, by the way, were advanced solar cells, touted as being able to produce electricity even by moonlight. If this pie-in-the-sky Obama engineering doesn’t work in Florida, it bodes ill for other, more Northerly locations.

Obama came to Denver to sign the Stimulus Bill, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science – which, like Hillsborough County Courthouse, was fitted with solar cells. Denver’s system (200 kilowatts, DC) cost $720,000, and was estimated to cover 1 to 2 % of DMNS use. The chief technology officer, Dave Noel, tried to sell the idea to the board, but admitted, without the Stimulus incentive, 110 years would be required to amortize the cost. Colorado is a pretty sunny state, with over 300 sunny days per year, but it also gets a little cold and Winter days are short. DMNS has an online graph of their solar power generation; over the last 74 months, they’ve generated 16,448 kWh per month. At $0.10/kWh, that’s worth $1645/month. Compared to the initial cost of $720,000, we’re paying off the investment over a period of only 37 years. Less than 110 years, but still twice the expected life of the solar cells.

This defiance of science, engineering and good sense has been going on all over the world, furthered by faddish green enthusiasts. Thankfully, it’s htting the wall of reality. Germany is retreating, both in the face of economic reality and their dependence on Russian natural gas. Germany has 28 electrical generating plants under construction, powered by….coal. In some cases, it’s lignite (brown) coal, the most CO2-intensive variety.

Reality means nothing to the Obama administration, however. Monday’s Wall Street Journal carries an article on the Obama plan to help Africa, specifically Kenya….wait, is this ironic? Doesn’t Obama have some connection with Kenya? The article, headlined “Kenyan Wind Project Reveals Challenges to Obama Aid Plans” reveals that Kenyan farmers are reluctant to give up their land and homes for a wind farm. Perhaps they’ve heard that no electricity flows when the wind doesn’t blow – as the Germans have learned, the hard way.

al gore statement on icecapsLaugh of the Week:

The EPA was in Denver last week, taking comments from citizens on the new regulations to diminish CO2 emissions from coal and save us all from asthma, heart attacks, and other health hazards. Apparently, Al Gore has a fleet of ice cream trucks that he sends to occasions like this to hand out free ice cream to people suffering from the heat – omnipresent because of global warming. Hey, who doesn’t like ice cream, even from The Goreacle, on a hot Summer day?

The temperature in Denver was 58F, in a steady (cold) rain. Even free ice cream wasn’t a big hit. The Gore Effect strikes again. God really does have a sense of humor.

Fraud in the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

According to Jesse Panuccio, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), “A core principle of the state’s economic development incentive program is that businesses are paid based on verified performance, meaning no tax dollars are paid until job creation or capital investment numbers are audited and confirmed to protect taxpayer investment.”

Since 2011 Department of Economic Opportunity has awarded $269,114,050 in incentives. In 2011 Florida businesses were paid $32,901,728 and created 2,292 confirmed jobs. That is at a cost of $14,355 per job created. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Florida employs 7,453,230 people, with a mean hourly wage of $19.78 and an annual wage of$41,140. For the cost (taxation) of three incentives one average wage job could have been created by Florida businesses.

But are incentives paid based upon verified performance? Is using Florida’s tax payer dollars to create jobs a role for government?

Director Panuccio is working to stem the bleeding in a lawsuit involving John Textor the former CEO of Digital Domain. Senator Christopher L. (Chris) Smith (D-FL District 31) is asking questions about the role played by the department and the Economic Development Council in funding Textor and Digital Domain. But is Senator Smith asking the right questions?

Senator Smith wrote to Governor Rick Scott about Digital Domain. Director Panuccio, replying to Senator Smith on behalf of the Governor, wrote:

As for the specific concerns in your letter, first, please allow me to address the forthcoming lawsuit against those associated with the Digital Domain Media Group. In 2009, the Office of Tourism, Trade, & Economic Development (“OTTED”) – predecessor agency to the Department of Economic Opportunity (“DEO”) – distributed tens of millions of taxpayer funds to Digital Domain. As noted in the 2013 Inspector General Report (Report Number 2013-11), the usual state regulatory processes governing the award of such funds were circumvented. In 2012, Digital Domain filed bankruptcy and laid off all of its employees – thereby breaching the grant fund agreement. DEO has filed a notice of claim against Digital Domain in the bankruptcy proceeding. DEO has also hired outside counsel to identify any and all legal action available against the principals of Digital Domain and any other individuals or entities involved in wrongdoing related to this deal. DEO is committed to recouping all monies owed to the state, including approximately $20 million in incentive funding.

Panuccio concludes with, “In short, Florida’s economic development system is working better today than at anytime in the past – an opinion shared by economic-development professionals across the state and nation.  We follow the law, we protect taxpayer money, and we get results.  Florida’s economy has turned around thanks to Governor Scott’s leadership.  We appreciate your support of our efforts. ”

What is missing from this entire conversation between Senator Smith and Director Panuccio: Is there a role for government in economic development and if so, what is it?

Many believe government has no role in funding, via incentive programs, business. These “incentive programs” are described as “crony capitalism” and “corporate welfare” by Main street Americans. In April U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) gave a thoughtful speech (watch the below video) warning of “America’s crisis of crony capitalism, corporate welfare, and political privilege.”  The victims are every day folks, “the poor and middle class” excluded by government “from earning their success on a level playing field.” Senator Lee noted, ““Big government isn’t just inefficient, it’s fundamentally unfair.”

Mark Shousen, writes, “In his classic work, The Spirit of the Laws (1748), Montesquieu expressed the novel view that the business of moneymaking serves as a countervailing bridle against the violent passions of war and abusive political power. ‘Commerce cures destructive prejudices,’ he declared. ‘It polishes and softens barbarous mores . . . . The natural effect of commerce is to lead to peace.’ Commerce improves society: ‘The spirit of commerce brings with it the spirit of frugality, of economy, of moderation, of work, of wisdom, of tranquility, of order, and of regularity.’”

Government does just the opposite. Digital Domain is a prime example of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity creating “destructive prejudices.”

Perhaps it is time to rethink the need for this Florida Department? For you see the only thing that creates a job is profit. Government does not create wealth, it takes it and redistributes it. Corporations are at their best when they cater to their customers, and at their worst when they lie in bed with government. Can you say corporate prostituting themselves to government?

Adam Smith wrote, “Every man, as long as he does not violate the laws of justice, is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest his own way, and to bring both his industry and capital into competition with those of any other man, or order of men.”

Check out these satirical (but on-point) U.S. Senate Campaign Political Ads

Hat tip to Tom Tillison from BizPac Review for putting us on to these fake (but are they reality?) campaign videos by Represent.US. According to their YouTube site:

What would an honest politician actually sound like? Old Gil is running for Senate against Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes. Follow his campaign at: http://igg.me/at/HonestGil

Honest Political Ads – Gil Fulbright for U.S. Senate

 Honest Political Ads – Healthcare Costs

Refreshing aren’t they?

A Heartbreaking Unspoken Consequence of Obama

Decades of socialist/progressive indoctrination in our schools, media and culture, plus six years of Obama, has yielded a devastating unspoken consequence. It is the loss of who we use to be as Americans.

In his 1961 Inaugural Address, President John F. Kennedy said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Democrats have perverted Kennedy’s inspiring challenge. Their dispiriting goal is to have as many Americans as possible controlled by and dependent on government, even for life itself, which is at the root of Obamacare.

I mourn the loss of the independent self-reliant mindset which made our parents great; and the pride and dignity it generated within them. Welfare (government assistance) was a last resort and for the truly needy.

Today, far too many Americans see no shame in living on government assistance or scamming the system. The Left’s campaign led by the Obama Administration to instill an entitlement mindset in many has proven successful. The Administration even campaigned targeting minorities, discouraging their instinct to be self-reliant. Even worse, the Administration portrays getting on welfare as the honorable thing to do. Dear Lord, what kind of nation are we becoming?

An unprecedented 47 million Americans are on food stamps which is riddled with fraud. The Obama Administration has added over 10,000 new oppressive job-killing regulations. Consequently, 90 million are unemployed and on unemployment which is also riddled with fraud. Here’s another first for America, over 11 million are receiving disability benefits; riddled with fraud. Clearly, many believe working is for suckers when the government is handing out freebies.

In his War on Achievers, Obama used his bully pulpit to deflate business owners by saying, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” Obama and his operatives use compassionate sounding terms such as “social justice” and “income inequality” to justify the government confiscating the earnings of achievers and redistributing it to non-achievers to win their votes. Despicable.

My heart aches for my America when character, excellence and hard work were rewarded, celebrated and respected.

At 9 or 10 years old, I worked part-time for my neighbor Mr Buddy Roy. I pulled the copper out of old motors for him to sell. I still remember the pride I felt making my own money.

In the early 1950s, blacks were allowed to take the entrance test for the Baltimore City Fire Dept. My dad applied and mom helped. My parents sought opportunity not handouts. Talk about a strong black woman, though compassionate and loving, mom could be a tough no nonsense person.

I remember my parents sitting at the kitchen table, a glass turned upside down between them with mom tapping on the glass with a spoon. She was simulating the different bell sounds which alerted the firefighters to various situations. She would yell at my dad, “No, that’s wrong, stupid! Listen and get it right!” Thanks to my drill sergeant mom, dad was among a hand full of blacks who became Baltimore City’s first black firefighters.

Being a pioneer is never easy. Dad endured humiliating work conditions and blatant racism. Still, dad relished the opportunity. Thanks to his Christian faith, dad won admiration and respect by fighting racism and hate with excellence. He won “Firefighter of the Year” two times.

That mindset of putting ones best foot forward and striving for loftier standards is what I fear we are rapidly losing as Americans. Apparently, character is no longer expected in our leaders. President Obama is caught repeatedly lying to the American people and the response is ho-hum, let’s move on.

The trend is to celebrate deadbeats, entitlement junkies, haters of achievers and assorted low life. For example. The Democrats and mainstream media loved the Occupy Wall Street mobs. People were assaulted and even raped at their angry mob gatherings. Severely infected with an entitlement mindset, Occupiers dumped feces in a public building demanding the government redistribute wealth to them.

Meanwhile, the Left continues their shameful relentless demonizing and slandering the Tea Party with unfounded allegations of racism. The Obama Administration has plotted to criminalize free speech (the Tea Party). Folks, we are talking decent hard-working Americans who are simply pushing back against Obama’s shock and awe assault on our freedoms, liberty and culture.

Tax cheat Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel compared the Tea Party to Hamas terrorists. Either Mr Rangel is a loudmouth clueless idiot or a despicable evil human being. Leftists like Rangel who throw unfounded irresponsible “hate” grenades at millions of Americans should be called on it. Inciting racial division is extremely serious.

Amidst the unbelievably long list of scandals, crimes and misdemeanors of the Obama regime, the damage that this evil man and his minions have done to the internal make-up of many Americans is extremely disturbing and heartbreaking.

Please view me performing my song, “We Are Americans” which I wrote to remind us of who we use to be and I believe a majority still are as Americans. I have faith that the liberal’s, socialist’s and progressive’s toxic disease of entitlement thinking has not reached critical mass.

My fellow Americans, we are exceptional, a chosen people. We are Americans!

Former CIA Officer — Its the National Debt Stupid! Beware of the Bail-in!

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” – Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President

berntsen_gary

Gary Berntsen

Decorated former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) career officer who served in the Directorate of Operations between October 1982 and June 2005, Gary Berntsen was in Sarasota, Florida to talk about the greatest threat to the national security of the United States of America. Speaking at an event hosted by the Concerned Veterans for America, Berntsen said that the greatest national security threat to the U.S. is not the Russian incursion into Ukraine, the Chinese expansion into SE Asia, the threats from Middle Eastern terrorists, its the growing national debt.

Berntsen went on to say that the debt bubble is about to burst. It is when, not if, ordinary Americans will feel the impact of a weakened dollar and the failure of Congress to deal with the national debt and spending.

Berntsen quoted a number of recent books warning about the coming fiscal crisis, including The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System by James Rickards. Berntsen said that after reading Rickards book he understood how vulnerable Americans are to two fiscal bubbles – the dollar bubble and national debt bubble. Berntsen said that the pins that will burst these bubbles are: inflation and China stopping to buy U.S. Treasury Bonds.

Berntsen raised the specter of a new financial global paradigm called the “bail-in“. The Financial Times defines “bail-in” as, “[A] desire to make bondholders – who after all helped lend the money that allowed banks to lend imprudently – share the burden in future by making them forfeit part of their investment to “bail in” a bank before taxpayers are called up on to bail it out. In theory, this will force them to be more careful with their investments and protect the taxpayer from a re-run of the recent crisis.”

Berntsen noted that the bail-in paradigm was used in Cypress. In his article Bail-in vs. Bailout, David Kotok writes:

In the aftermath of the bungled Cyprus affair, we are now observing a major transition underway with regard to bank-deposit safety.

In the Eurozone and in Europe generally, the sacredness of an insured deposit was bludgeoned by the finance ministers in their botched attempt to impose a cost on insured deposits in Cyprus. The finance ministers were taken to task decisively by their political constituents. Imagine: it was the parliament of Cyprus that stood between the insured depositors in Eurozone banks and the outrageous attempt to breech the sacred promise that insurance entails.

One has to be thankful for the democratic political process that elects parliaments, even in Cyprus.

Now we are seeing a different form of attack on depositors. We are transitioning from a system of bank bailouts to “bail-ins.”

Read more.

Berntsen said that Alan Greenspan in his book The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature and the Future of Forecasting alluded to the new paradigm of the bail-in. The bail-in is available to President Obama and Congress as it was included in H.R. 4173: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The Financial Times in the definition of bail-in uses the Example of Dodd-Frank stating, “The US has already put in place bail-in-like powers as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act passed last year [2010]. The law includes a resolution scheme that gives regulators the ability to impose losses on bondholders while ensuring the critical parts of the bank can keep running. Employees would be paid, the lights would stay on and derivatives contracts would not have to be instantly unwound, one of the areas that caused market confusion when Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008.” [Emphasis added]

The danger is clear and present. The media is not covering this existential threat. Rather the news outlets are more interested in any issue other than the one most important to Main Street America.

Time will tell and time is running short according to Berntsen.

RELATED VIDEO:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/QTSvz__if2s[/youtube]

Is Lying About Climate Change Okay?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Among its findings:

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

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

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

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

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

© Alan Caruba, 2014

A History of the Disastrous Global Warming Hoax

“It is the greatest deception in history and the extent of the damage has yet to be exposed and measured,” says Dr. Tim Ball in his new book, “The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science”.

Dr. Ball has been a climatologist for more than forty years and was one of the earliest critics of the global warming hoax that was initiated by the United Nations environmental program that was established in 1972 and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established in 1988.

Several UN conferences set in motion the hoax that is based on the assertion that carbon dioxide (CO2) was causing a dramatic surge in heating the Earth. IPCC reports have continued to spread this lie through their summaries for policy makers that influenced policies that have caused nations worldwide to spend billions to reduce and restrict CO2 emissions. Manmade climate change—called anthropogenic global warming—continues to be the message though mankind plays no role whatever

There is no scientific support for the UN theory.

CO2, despite being a minor element of the Earth’s atmosphere, is essential for all life on Earth because it is the food that nourishes all vegetation. The Earth has passed through many periods of high levels of CO2 and many cycles of warming and cooling that are part of the life of the planet.

“Science works by creating theories based on assumptions,” Dr. Ball notes, “then other scientists—performing their skeptical role—test them. The structure and mandate of the IPCC was in direct contradiction of this scientific method. They set out to prove the theory rather than disprove it.”

Cover - Deliberate Corruption“The atmosphere,” Dr. Ball notes, “is three-dimensional and dynamic, so building a computer model that even approximates reality requires far more data than exists and much greater understanding of an extremely turbulent and complex system.” No computer model put forth by the IPCC in support of global warming has been accurate, nor ever could be.

Most of the reports were created by a small group of men working within the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia and all were members of the IPCC. The result was “a totally false picture supposedly based on science.”

The revelations of emails between the members of the CRU were made available in 2009 by an unknown source. Dr. Ball quotes Phil Jones, the Director of the CRU at the time of the leaks, and Tom Wigley, a former director addressing other CRU members admiting that “Many of the uncertainties surrounding the cause of climate change will never be resolved because the necessary data are lacking.”

The IPCC depended upon the public’s lack of knowledge regarding the science involved and the global warming hoax was greatly aided because the “mainstream media bought into and promoted the unproven theory. Scientists who challenged were denied funding and marginalized. National environmental policies were introduced based on the misleading information” of the IPCC summaries of their reports.

“By the time of the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report, the politics and hysteria about climate change had risen to a level that demanded clear evidence of a human signal,” notes Dr. Ball. “An entire industry had developed around massive funding from government. A large number of academic, political, and bureaucratic careers had evolved and depended on expansion of the evidence. Environmentalists were increasing pressure on the public and thereby politicians.”

The growing problem for the CRU and the entire global warming hoax was that no clear evidence existed to blame mankind for changes in the climate and still largely unknown to the public was the fact that the Earth has passed through many natural cycles of warmth and cooling. If humans were responsible, how could the CRU explain a succession of ice ages over millions of years?

The CRU emails revealed their growing concerns regarding a cooling cycle that had begun in the late 1990s and now, some seventeen years later, the Earth is in a widely recognized cooling cycle.

Moreover, the hoax was aimed at vast reductions in the use of coal, oil, and natural gas, as well as nuclear power to produce the electricity on which all modern life depends. There was advocacy of solar and wind power to replace them and nations undertook costly programs to bring about the reduction of the CO2 “fossil fuels” produced and spent billions on the “green” energy. That program is being abandoned.

At the heart of the hoax is a contempt for mankind and a belief that population worldwide should be reduced. The science advisor to President Obama, John Holdren, has advocated forced abortions, sterilization by introducing infertility drugs into the nation’s drinking water and food, and other totalitarian measures. “Overpopulation is still central to the use of climate change as a political vehicle,” warns Dr. Ball.

Given that the environmental movement has been around since the 1960s, it has taken decades for the public to grasp its intent and the torrents of lies that have been used to advance it. “More people,” notes Dr. Ball, “are starting to understand that what they’re told about climate change by academia, the mass media, and the government is wrong, especially the propaganda coming from the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

“Ridiculous claims—like the science is settled or the debate is over—triggered a growing realization that something was wrong.” When the global warming advocates began to tell people that cooling is caused by warming, the public has realized how absurd the entire UN climate change argument has been.

Worse, however, has been “the deliberate deceptions, misinformation, manipulation of records and misapplying scientific method and research” to pursue a political objective. Much of this is clearly unlawful, but it is unlikely that any of those who perpetrated the hoax will ever be punished and, in the case of Al Gore and the IPCC, they shared a Nobel Peace Prize!

We are all in debt to Dr. Ball and a score of his fellow scientists who exposed the lies and debunked the hoax; their numbers are growing with thousands of scientists signing petitions and participating in international conferences to expose this massive global deception.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Integrity Florida calls for Investigation of Enterprise Florida

Dan Krassner, Co-Founder and Executive Director Integrity Florida, and Ben Wilcox, Research Director Integrity Florida, in an email state, “The lavish travel and wasteful government purchasing practices of Enterprise Florida, a taxpayer supported entity serving as the privatized commerce department for the State of Florida, was detailed in an investigative report by Michael Buczyner, WPEC/CBS 12 titled ‘State-run agency accused of abusing taxpayers dollars‘ on February 25.  The Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is responsible for the state’s contract with Enterprise Florida, but it has clearly turned a blind eye to this waste and abuse of the taxpayers’ money.”

“Enterprise Florida travel guidelines do not comply with official state travel restrictions, even though the entity is using taxpayer funds allocated by the state legislature.  According to an internal audit prepared on March 15, 2012 by McGladrey, only three Enterprise Florida executives, Secretary of Commerce Gray Swoope, Chief Operating Officer Griff Salmon and Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Medley, all former employees of the Mississippi Development Authority, gained ‘unlimited signing authority’ on February 7, 2012, to execute contracts and make significant purchases of non-economic development goods and services,” note Krassner and Wilcox.

Since the new authority was granted to these top three executives at Enterprise Florida, here is a sampling of the organization’s questionable expenses:

  • Nearly $22,000 spent on New York Yankee Luxury Suites and related purchases.
  • More than $13,000 spent at the San Diego Zoo.
  • $12,000 spent on Texas Rangers baseball.
  • More than $7,000 spent at Cowboys Stadium.
  • More than $4,000 spent on Atlanta Braves baseball.
  • More than $4,000 spent on limousine services.
  • Nearly $3,300 spent at Truluck’s Seafood Steak & Crab House in Austin, Texas.
  • More than $2,500 spent at the 21 Club.
  • More than $2,000 spent at 4Rivers Smokehouse.
  • More than $1,300 spent on a charter fishing boat.
  • Roughly another $30,000 per month spent on American Express credit cards for unknown expenditures.
  • Thousands more on airfare, luxury resorts and hotels, expensive meals and limousine services.

The people of Florida deserve accountability and transparency within every aspect of our government.  Given the appearance of impropriety, an inspector general report is needed to determine whether the taxpayer resources that support Enterprise Florida are properly protected and whether corrective action is needed.  A company this large, supported by hard-working Florida families, must be held to the highest ethical standards.

Additional Resources:

Integrity Florida letter to Governor Rick Scott “Eliminate government waste at Enterprise Florida, investigation needed” (read more)

“State-run agency accused of abusing taxpayer dollars” Story by Michael Buczyner / CBS 12 NEWS (read more) (watch video)

Enterprise Florida Internal Audit by McGladrey – March 15, 2012 (read more)

Enterprise Florida, Inc. Vendor Payments – January 1, 2012 to August 28, 2013 (read more)

Enterprise Florida receives more than 97% of its funding from taxpayers (read more on page 24) (watch video starting at 1:00:20 about an hour into the video)

  • $57.4 million total 2012-13 budget for Enterprise Florida
  • $56 million (97.6%) in government/public/taxpayer-funded sources
  • $1.4 million (2.4%) from the private sector

Bipartisan efforts to hold Enterprise Florida accountable with bills filed for the 2014 legislative session:

  • Applies state ethics code to Enterprise Florida staff – CS/SB 846: Governmental Ethics GENERAL BILL by Senate Ethics and Elections Commission; Senator Jack Latvala (read more)
  • Strengthening Enterprise Florida disclosure practices and fiscal accountability SB 1270: Economic Incentive Programs GENERAL BILL by Senator Eleanor Sobel (read more)
  • Strengthening Enterprise Florida disclosure practices and fiscal accountability HB 1103: Economic Incentive Programs GENERAL BILL by Representative Jose Javier Rodriguez (read more)