Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Climate change’ Category

I thought conservatives were the ones with an unseemly fixation on sex. They’re supposed to be the Puritans who, in the words of Mencken, have a “haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

Maybe that’s true in a few cases, but it also appears that some leftists also are bizarrely focused on sex. Only instead of worrying that someone may be having fun, they concoct novel claims that a statist agenda is necessary to stop prostitution.

Just the other day, for instance, some lawmakers actually asserted that “climate change” would force more women to become prostitutes.

Several House Democrats are calling on Congress to recognize that climate change is hurting women more than men, and could even drive poor women to “transactional sex” for survival. …Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and a dozen other Democrats, says the results of climate change include drought and reduced agricultural output. It says these changes can be particularly harmful for women. “[F]ood insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex.

Though these American politicians are behind the times. A Filipino bureaucrat at the United Nations proposed this laughable theory as early as 2009.

While the link between climate change and “transactional sex” is a bit of a stretch, to put it mildly, it’s not the only area where leftists make bizarre and unsubstantiated assertions about stopping prostitution with a statist agenda.

I thought I had dealt with every imaginable silly argument against tax havens, but I didn’t give my leftist friends enough credit. It seems that low-tax jurisdictions somehow facilitate sex slavery.

While battles over government budget deficits dominate the media coverage, tax havens pose a much bigger problem. They facilitate bribery, they enable sex slavery, and they foster terrorism. As Sachs notes, “the havens serve countless purposes, yet not one is for the social good.”

Not surprisingly, there’s not a single piece of evidence to support any of the assertions in this excerpt. We’re just supposed to believe that financial privacy laws enable bad things because of money laundering.

Yet actual real-world evidence – as opposed to ideologically motivated assertions – shows that tax havens are not money-laundering centers. Indeed, they generally have stronger laws against dirty money than “onshore” jurisdictions.

P.S. So why do leftists have this quirky fixation about prostitutes and public policy? Do they go to left-wing conferences and hear stories from Dominique Strauss-Kahn , the infamous former head of the IMF. Or do they get briefings from my one-time debating opponent Elliot Spitzer, who also was disgraced because of “transactional sex”?

Read Full Post »

If asked to name my least-favorite international bureaucracy, the easy answer would be the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

After all, it was only a few days ago that I outlined different ways that the Paris-based bureaucracy is seeking to expand statism and reduce freedom around the world.

Our tax money at the OECD, UN, and IMF

I’m particularly nauseated by the OECD’s support for value-added taxes and their ridiculous assertion that poverty is higher in America than Greece or Turkey.

But we can’t forget the United Nations, which pushes a plethora of bad policies, including a push for regulatory control over the Internet, support for global taxation, supranational gun control schemes, attacks on sovereignty of American states, and support for a “right” to taxpayer-financed birth control (though at least they had the good sense to invite me to speak at last year’s “High Level Thematic Debate on the State of the World Economy”).

For today, though, my least favorite bureaucracy is the International Monetary Fund. I recently listed many of the ways that this gold-plated institution of over-paid and un-taxed paper pushers supports bigger government, but this story from today’s Washington Post is the icing on the cake of statism.

The report on a new IMF study started on a very positive note.

Government subsidies of gasoline, electricity and other energy sources amount to about $1.9 trillion a year and should be ended.

I’m against subsidies, so what’s not to like about a proposal to end handouts?

Well, it turns out that the IMF has a very strange way of defining subsidies. For logical people, a subsidy occurs when the government takes money from Person A and gives it to Person B.

In the la-la land of the IMF, however, a “subsidy” occurs if the government doesn’t tax as much from Person A as the bureaucrats would like. I’m not joking.

In the developed world, the IMF says the subsidies are even larger but less overt, reflecting that government tax policies do not capture the costs of pollution and other externalities. Using economic models and other studies performed as part of the larger global warming debate, the IMF puts those indirect subsidies at $1.4 trillion — $25 for each ton of carbon dioxide produced — and suggests they be offset through an “efficient” tax that makes energy users pay the full cost of the product.

To be fair, private behavior can impose costs on other people (“externalities”), so there’s nothing automatically wrong with looking at these indirect costs.

The problem is that the IMF used discredited global warming ideology to concoct an absurd $1.4 trillion estimate of “subsidies.”

IMF Stick UpAnd guess what that means?

For the United States, the IMF estimated that would require a $1.40 levy per gallon of gas and other fees totaling more than $1,400 per person each year — around $500 billion in total.

Wow, that’s more than $5,500 for a family of four.

Remember that these bureaucrats get extremely generous tax-free salaries, yet they apparently don’t see any hypocrisy in recommending huge tax increases for the peasantry.

“It is time for subsidies to end and carbon taxation to be put in place,” IMF First Deputy Managing Director David Lipton said in an interview Tuesday.

Amazing. I’m sure this leech is driven around in a private limousine, flies around the world in first class, and enjoys the services of the private chefs in the IMF’s elite dining room – all at our expense. Yet he wants the rest of us to pay higher tax.

P.S. You’ll be happy to know that the IMF study deliberately “did not look at government support for the alternative energy industry.” So Obama’s corrupt “green energy” programs got a free pass. Gee, how convenient.

P.P.S. I realize that I forgot the mention the World Bank, the folks who put together a fiscal report card giving nations higher grades if they imposed harsher tax burdens.

Read Full Post »

Regular readers may remember last year when I shared some remarkably silly data from the “Happy Planet Index,” which supposedly showed the United States ranked below very poor nations such as Cuba, Albania, and Venezuela.

Red is unhappy

It turns out that nations got lower grades based on their energy consumption. And since energy usage is one of the key indicators of prosperity, that explains why the United States also trailed such global garden spots as Pakistan, Palestine, Iraq, Moldova, and Tajikistan.

Well, the authors of the Happy Planet Index are not the only ones who explicitly embrace stagnation and decline as a strategy to deal with so-called climate change. A leftist think tank in DC is now arguing that we should work less, which means we will produce less and consume less energy.

But that means we will earn less, and therefore consume less. In other words, they are openly asserting that we should all endure lower living standards.

Here are some excerpts from U.S. News and World Report.

Working fewer hours might help slow global warming, according to a new study released Monday by the Center for Economic Policy and Research. A worldwide switch to a “more European” work schedule…could prevent as much as half of the expected global temperature rise by 2100, according to the analysis, which used a 2012 study that found shorter work hours could be associated with lower carbon emissions. The Center for Economic Policy and Research is a liberal think tank based in Washington. “…lowering levels of consumption, holding everything else constant, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” writes economist David Rosnick, author of the study.

Gee, maybe we should be like Haiti and Afghanistan, the nations that “won” the top two spots for smallest “ecological footprint” in the Happy Planet Index.

Small carbon footprints!

I suppose this is the point where I should freely acknowledge that I’m not an expert on environmental issues.

But I am a big fan of wilderness and nature and I recognize that – unless we figure out a way to extend property rights to water and air – there is a role for government intervention.

But I’m nonetheless quite skeptical of professional environmentalists. Why? Well, here are a few reasons.

This is what we get from the sane environmentalists. The nutty ones are even more bizarre.

Then there’s the super-nutty category.

So perhaps global warming is a real concern, but I think you can understand why I don’t trust environmentalists to be in charge of the issue. Though Al Gore has lots of followers, so I guess that’s all that matters.

Read Full Post »

I’ve written about the government’s war on light bulbs, its rule against working toilets, and its prohibition of washing machines that actually clean, so I sometimes cover environmental issues.

But I usually limit myself to examples of silly radicalism, such as the crazy claim that climate change causes AIDS, a reprehensible example of EPA thuggery, and a column about pointless recycling mandates.

Notwithstanding these criticisms, environmental protection is a legitimate role of government. Simply stated, we don’t want polluters to violate our property rights.

The challenge, of course, is how to conduct sensible cost-benefit analysis.

Where do we draw the line, for instance, on how much pollution cars should be allowed to emit? Or what are the best rules to ensure landfills don’t pollute groundwater?

These are important issues, but I will admit a bias. I am instinctively skeptical whenever self-proclaimed environmentalists start pontificating.

In part, this is because everyone has an incentive to exaggerate. The business community will always say that a new regulation imposes astronomically high costs, while environmentalists will claim minimal costs and say that thousands of premature deaths will be averted.

Since exaggeration is omnipresent in Washington, that’s not what really bothers me. My main problem with environmentalists is that they want to use so-called green issues to give government more power. And if you oppose them, you’re an evil person.

Consider the example of Professor Kari Norgaard of the University of Oregon. She thinks you’re mentally ill if you don’t agree with her.

Just in case you think I’m being unfair, here are some blurbs from a report in the UK-based Daily Mail.

Prof. Kari Norgaard

An Oregon University professor has controversially compared skepticism of global warming to racism. …The professor, who holds a B.S. in biology and a master’s and PhD in sociology, argued that ‘cultural resistance’ to accepting humans as being responsible for climate change ‘must be recognised and treated’ as an aberrant sociological behaviour. …Norgaard last week attended the annual four-day ‘Planet Under Pressure’ international conference in London, where she presented her controversial paper to delegates on Wednesday.

Professor Norgaard wasn’t the only oddball at the conference. The article also mentions that the attendees included a bunch of control freaks who want to force people to live in densely-populated cities.

The scientists behind the event recently put out a statement calling for humans to be packed into denser cities so that the rest of the planet can be surrendered to mother nature. And fellow attendee Yale University professor Karen Seto told MSNBC: ‘We certainly don’t want them (humans) strolling about the entire countryside. We want them to save land for nature by living closely [together].’

The folks at the Commentator sent a camera to the conference. Here’s a five-minute sample of what they saw.

Remarkable.

But the folks at the conference weren’t even the crazies, or at least the really bizarre environmentalists weren’t part of the video. For instance, I didn’t see the folks who don’t believe in bathing, the ones who sterilize themselves to avoid carbon-producing children, or the ones who produce (or use) hand-cranked environmentally-friendly vibrators.

Read Full Post »

I posted the other day about the federal government giving $10 million of our tax dollars to a private company for developing an “affordable” light bulb that costs $50.

Now, thanks to the pen of Alexander Hoffman (creator of this gem), we have an excellent cartoon to commemorate this achievement.

Since we’re on this topic, I want to atone for an admission in my previous post (as noted by Seth, Bill, Dan, and Talon’s Point).

If you believe the calculations cited in the article from the post, it’s possible that this light bulb might save money in the long run. I should have noted that there are two possible interpretations of that data.

a) It’s wrong, which is what you’d expect from the crowd that routinely trumpets misleading data on everything from global warming to job creation.

b) It’s right, in which case there’s no need for a $10 million taxpayer handout since consumers will figure out that the bulbs save money.

Which is why, in the absence of war, I’ll relentlessly publicize this poster showing that more government is not the answer.

Read Full Post »

I haven’t written much on the global-warming debate, other than to warn about how agenda-driven government funding is corrupting scientific inquiry and to mock nutjob extremists who assert climate change will cause catastrophes ranging from genocide to AIDS.

But I feel compelled to address the issue today because of a despicable move by the Australian government. In a step that one might expect from a thugocracy such as Russia or Argentina, Aussie politicians are criminalizing free speech, at least when it comes to businesses dealing with the burden of a new carbon tax.

Here are some excerpts from a column in Australia’s Daily Telegraph.

Now that the carbon tax has passed through federal parliament, the government’s clean-up brigade is getting into the swing by trying to erase any dissent against the jobs-destroying legislation. On cue comes the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which this week issued warnings to businesses that they will face whopping fines of up to $1.1m if they blame the carbon tax for price rises. …Businesses are not even allowed to throw special carbon tax sales promotions before the tax arrives on July 1. “Beat the Carbon Tax – Buy Now” or “Buy now before the carbon tax bites” are sales pitches that are verboten. Or at least, as the ACCC puts it, “you should be very cautious about making these types of claims”. There will be 23 carbon cops roaming the streets doing snap audits of businesses that “choose to link your price increases to a carbon price”. Instead, the ACCC suggests you tell customers you’ve raised prices because “the overall cost of running (your) business has increased”. …But no matter how Orwellian the tactics, no matter how many carbon cops are sent into hairdressing salons to interrogate barbers on the precise nature of their price rises, the truth remains: Australia has gone out on a limb, imposing a carbon tax that will send businesses to the wall, cause undue hardship to families, and tether Australians more tightly to government handouts. And soon, we will send billions of dollars overseas to buy useless pieces of paper called carbon credits. Investment bankers, lawyers and carbon traders will get rich, as will all the usual spivs and scam artists ready to stick a bucket under the government spigot raining taxpayer cash.

As is often the case when I read something this grotesque, I hope the author is wrong, or at least wildly exaggerating. I don’t hold politicians in high regard, but I like to think we haven’t reached a stage where they are using government coercion to stifle dissent.

I’m especially chagrined that this soft form of fascism is happening in one of my favorite nations.

By the way, as those of us in the northern hemisphere prepare for winter, we also should prepare for more protests instigated by Al Gore. And if you like global-warming humor, this Hitler parody is a classic.

Read Full Post »

Al Gore really knows how to get a good turnout.

Read Full Post »

I’ve already commented here and here on the government forcing us to use inferior lightbulbs.

The bad news is becoming worse news. Here’s a story from England that was linked on Instapundit, showing how big business (which conspired with the politicians to get rid of high-quality incandescent bulbs) will now reap a windfall selling the new CFL bulbs at much higher prices. Here’s an excerpt from the Daily Mail.

The price of energy-saving light bulbs will treble as the final supplies of traditional bulbs dry up, industry experts have warned. The Government has ordered energy companies to scrap the subsidies that have kept the price of eco-bulbs artificially low for the last few years. At the same time, manufacturers are increasing wholesale prices to take advantage of the European ban on ‘energy guzzling’ old-style bulbs. Retailers also claim bulbs that currently cost only 33p are expected to sell for more than £1 within three months. Some will cost £3 or more. The move comes as Britain is gearing up to phase out the last incandescent light bulbs in an effort to meet climate change targets. The EU has already banned shops from buying stocks of 100watt bulbs and stopped them stocking up on any type of frosted incandescent bulbs.

The only silver lining to this dark cloud is that (at least I don’t think) CFLs are not subsidized in the United States. So while it is likely that prices will increase once there no longer is competition from incandescent bulbs, hopefully American consumers will not face the same big price hikes as their British cousins.

Read Full Post »

The mid-term elections were a rejection of President Obama’s big-government agenda, but those results don’t necessarily mean better policy. We should not forget, after all, that Democrats rammed through Obamacare even after losing the special election to replace Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts (much to my dismay, my prediction from last January was correct).

Similarly, GOP control of the House of Representatives does not automatically mean less government and more freedom. Heck, it doesn’t even guarantee that things won’t continue to move in the wrong direction. Here are five possible bad policies for 2011, most of which the Obama White House can implement by using executive power.

1. A back-door bailout of the states from the Federal Reserve – The new GOP Congress presumably wouldn’t be foolish enough to bail out profligate states such as California and Illinois, but that does not mean the battle is won. Ben Bernanke already has demonstrated that he is willing to curry favor with the White House by debasing the value of the dollar, so what’s to stop him from engineering a back-door bailout by having the Federal Reserve buy state bonds? The European Central Bank already is using this tactic to bail out Europe’s welfare states, so a precedent already exists for this type of misguided policy. To make matters worse, there’s nothing Congress can do – barring legislation that Obama presumably would veto – to stop the Fed from this awful policy.

2. A front-door bailout of Europe by the United States – Welfare states in Europe are teetering on the edge of insolvency. Decades of big government have crippled economic growth and generated mountains of debt. Ireland and Greece already have been bailed out, and Portugal and Spain are probably next on the list, to be followed by countries such as Italy and Belgium. So why should American taxpayers worry about European bailouts? The unfortunate answer is that American taxpayers will pick up a big chunk of the tab if the International Monetary Fund is involved. Indeed, this horse already has escaped the barn. The United States provides the largest amount of  subsidies to the International Monetary Fund, and the IMF took part in the bailouts of Greece and Ireland. The Senate did vote against having American taxpayers take part in the bailout of Greece, but that turned out to be a symbolic exercise. Sadly, that’s probably what we can expect if and when there are bailouts of the bigger European welfare states.

3. Republicans getting duped by Obama and supporting a VAT – The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Obama Administration is contemplating a reduction in the corporate income tax. This sounds like a great idea, particularly since America’s punitive corporate tax rate is undermining competitiveness and hindering job creation. But what happens if Obama demands that Congress approve a value-added tax to “pay for” the lower corporate tax rate? This would be a terrible deal, sort of like a football team trading a great young quarterback for a 35-year old lineman. The VAT would give statists a money machine that they need to turn the United States into a French-style welfare state. This type of national sales tax would only be acceptable if the personal and corporate income taxes were abolished – and the Constitution was amended to make sure the federal government never again could tax what we earn and produce. But that’s not the deal Obama would offer. My fingers are crossed that Obama doesn’t offer to swap a lower corporate income tax for a VAT, particularly since we already know that some Republicans are susceptible to the VAT.

4. Regulatory imposition of global warming policy – This actually is an issue we needed to start worrying about before this year. The Obama Administration already is in the process of trying to use regulatory edicts to impose Kyoto-style restrictions on energy use, and 2011 may be a pivotal year for this issue. This issue is troubling because of the potential impact on economic growth, but it also represents an assault on the rule of law since the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency are engaging in regulatory overreach because they did not have enough support to get so-called climate change legislation through Congress. The new GOP majority presumably will try to use the “power of the purse” to limit the EPA’s power grab, and the outcome of that fight could have dramatic implications for job creation and competitiveness.

5. U.N. control of the Internet – The Federal Communications Commission just engaged in an unprecedented power grab as part of its “Net Neutrality” initiative, so we already have bad news for both Internet consumers and America’s telecommunications industry. But it may get worse. The bureaucrats at the United Nations, conspiring with autocratic governments, have created an Internet Governance Forum in hopes of grabbing power over the online world. This has caused considerable angst, leading Vint Cerf, one of inventors of the Internet (sorry, Al Gore) to warn: “We don’t believe governments should be allowed to grant themselves a monopoly on Internet governance. The current bottoms-up, open approach works — protecting users from vested interests and enabling rapid innovation. Let’s fight to keep it that way.” International bureaucracies are very skilled at incrementally increasing their authority, so this won’t be a one-year fight. Stopping this power grab will require persistent oversight and a willingness to reject compromises that inevitably give bureaucracies more power and simply set the stage for further demands.

Read Full Post »

In a previous post, I gave Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana a verbal kick in the shins because the rumored-to-be presidential candidate said nice things about a value-added tax.

While the VAT is a despicable idea, I don’t want anybody to think I harbor a special animosity for Governor Daniels. I am very skeptical of all politicians.

So let’s kick someone else in the shins, and we’ll make Newt Gingrich today’s target. I’ve actually known Newt since 1978, when I was a weekend volunteer for his first winning campaign while a student at the University of Georgia. And I think Newt was a superb Minority Leader for the GOP and he deserves considerable credit for dethroning the Democrats in 1994.

But that doesn’t mean he would be a good President, particularly when (to my knowledge) has not recanted this nauseating commercial he made with Nancy Pelosi.

Read Full Post »

I’ve already posted about the nut who claimed that global warming was causing AIDS, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that a writer for the New Republic says global warming may lead to genocide.

But that may not be the silliest thing said by a left winger in the past couple of days. Hugo Chavez is blaming capitalism for heavy rains that have caused flooding in Venezuela.

So which statement is more laughable? After careful consideration, I give the excessive hyperbole prize to Timothy Snyder, the author of the New Republic article.

Yes, I despise the Venezuelan dictator, but I can understand why a thug politician would want to deflect blame for his personal incompetence and his  government’s inability to deal with bad weather. Heck, even non-thug politicians look for scapegoats when their policies are failing.

Snyder, by contrast, is much more on the cutting edge of left-wing absurdity. Congrats to Tim!

Read Full Post »

The old saying that “two wrongs don’t make a right” is especially true in the field of public policy. A good example is the crazy new proposal from the United Nations to collect billions of dollars by imposing global taxes on financial transactions and energy. That’s bad enough, but the international bureaucracy wants to impose these taxes in order to bribe developing nations into agreeing to cripple their economies with policies designed to fight global warming. So people in the real world would pay more money to support a misguided scheme, while a bunch of tax-free bureaucrats get more power. This is so absurd that even the Obama Administration is opposed – at least according to this Bloomberg story.

At least $65 billion might be raised by taxing foreign-exchange transactions and auctioning pollution permits, a United Nations panel said today in a report recommending ways to finance aid for fighting global warming. The panel, which includes billionaire investor George Soros and Larry Summers, director of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, said selling carbon-emissions permits would generate $38 billion and a financial transactions tax an additional $27 billion, according to the report released today. The findings are intended to guide envoys at UN climate talks that start this month in Mexico as they seek ways to pay for $100 billion in climate aid that was pledged by 2020 to poor nations at last year’s summit in Copenhagen. The report found that the goal is “challenging but feasible” to achieve. …Former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and labor groups including the U.K. Trades Union Congress have supported the idea. President Barack Obama’s administration opposes it. A tax of 0.05 percent on financial transactions may raise as much as $700 billion a year, according to WWF, a Washington-based global environmental activist group.

Read Full Post »

Last year, I commented on a handful of crazed environmentalists who were sterilizing themselves because children boost carbon emissions. I thought this was a wonderful form of natural selection since it meant at least some statists weren’t passing on their…um…peculiar genes.

We have a related story, which also comes from the United Kingdom. Some nutjobs have launched an anti-bathing campaign because it is bad (so we are told) to use water and emit carbon. Having traveled extensively in Europe, I can say from painful experience that there already are lots of people who are on board with this effort, though I doubt it’s because they are environmentally sensitive.

Since I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy, I’m looking at the bright side of this development. I suspect that dirty, smelly, and greasy people are less attractive to the opposite sex. This probably means they are less likely to reproduce, so we should look at this as an indirect form of natural selection. It’s not a sure-fire approach, like the story mentioned above, but one hopes that it will reduce the birth rates of oddball leftists. Here’s a blurb from the The Guardian.

In a bid to reduce his carbon footprint to the absolute minimum, environmentalist Donnachadh McCarthy, 51, limits his showers to about twice a week. “The rest of the time I have a sink wash,” he says. “I believe that I’m as clean as everyone else.” It has helped him to get his water consumption down to around 20 litres a day – well below the 100 to 150 average in the UK. As McCarthy points out, it’s only recently that we have expected people to bathe or shower every day. “When I was a kid,” he says, “the normal thing was to bathe once a week.” Head much further back into history, and we find Elizabeth I bathing once a month, and James I apparently only ever washing his fingers. In 1951, almost two-fifths of UK homes were without a bath, and in 1965, only half of British women wore deodorant. Now we have begun to fetishise extreme cleanliness, to create the kind of culture where, as McCarthy says, it’s not entirely unusual for people staying in hotels to churn through 1,000 litres of water a day – showering in the morning, after a sauna, after the swimming pool, before dinner, before bed. The international market for soaps of all kinds is now $24bn a year. And some dermatologists fear that this intense, regular washing is stripping our skin of germs that could actually be beneficial to us, that help our skin stay healthy, balanced and fresh.

Read Full Post »

I saw this on the Powerline blog. Here are some excerpts from Hal Lewis’ resignation letter from the America Physical Society. In a nutshell, he exposes how scientists have been corrupted by government money. Amazing. And powerful.

For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society. It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. …The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. …This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

Read Full Post »

There’s a wise old saying about “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.” But perhaps we need a new saying along the lines of “don’t subsidize the foot that kicks you.” Here’s a good example: American taxpayers finance the biggest share of the budget for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which is an international bureaucracy based in Paris. The OECD is not as costly as the United Nations, but it still soaks up about $100 million of American tax dollars each year. And what do we get in exchange for all this money? Sadly, the answer is lots of bad policy. The bureaucrats (who, by the way, get tax-free salaries) just released their “Economic Survey of the United States, 2010” and it contains a wide range of statist analysis and big-government recommendations.

The Survey endorses Obama’s failed Keynesian spending bill and the Fed’s easy-money policy, stating, “The substantial fiscal and monetary stimulus successfully turned the economy around.” If 9.6 percent unemployment and economic stagnation is the OECD’s idea of success, I’d hate to see what they consider a failure. Then again, the OECD is based in Paris, so even America’s anemic economy may seem vibrant from that perspective.

The Survey also targets some very prominent tax loopholes, asserting that, “The mortgage interest deduction should be reduced or eliminated” and “the government should reduce further this [health care exclusion] tax expenditure.” If the entire tax code was being ripped up and replaced with a simple and fair flat tax, these would be good policies. Unfortunately (but predictably), the OECD supports these policies as a means of increasing the overall tax burden and giving politicians more money to spend.

Speaking of tax increases, the OECD is in love with higher taxes. The Paris-based bureaucrats endorse Obama’s soak-the-rich tax agenda, including higher income tax rates, higher capital gains tax rates, more double taxation of dividends, and a reinstated death tax. Perhaps because they don’t pay tax and are clueless about how the real world operates, the bureaucrats state that “…the Administration’s fiscal plan is ambitious…and should therefore be implemented in full.”

But even that’s not enough. The OECD then puts together a menu of additional taxes and even gives political advice on how to get away with foisting these harsh burdens on innocent American taxpayers. According to the Survey, “A variety of options is available to raise tax revenue, some of which are discussed below. Combined, they have the potential to raise considerably more revenue… The advantage of relying on a package of measures is that the increase in taxation faced by individual groups is more limited than otherwise, reducing incentives to mobilise to oppose the tax increase.

The biggest kick in the teeth, though, is the OECD’s support for a value-added tax. The bureaucrats wrote that, “Raising consumption taxes, notably by introducing a federal value-added tax (VAT), could therefore be another approach… A national VAT would be easier to enforce than other taxes, as each firm in the production chain pays only a fraction of the tax and must report the sales of other firms.”

But just in case you think the OECD is myopically focused on tax increases, you’ll be happy to know it is a full-service generator of bad ideas. The Paris-based bureaucracy also is a rabid supporter of the global-warming/climate-change/whatever-they’re-calling-it-now agenda. There’s an entire chapter in the survey on the issue, but the key passages is, “The current Administration is endeavouring to establish a comprehensive climate-change policy, the main planks of which are pricing GHG emissions and supporting the development of innovative technologies to reduce GHG emissions. As discussed above and emphasized in the OECD (2009), this is the right approach… Congress should pass comprehensive climate-change legislation.”

You won’t be surprised to learn that the OECD’s reflexive support for higher taxes appears even in this section. The bureaucrats urge that “such regulation should be complemented by increases in gasoline and other fossil-fuel taxes.”

If you’re still not convinced the OECD is a giant waste of money for American taxpayers, I suggest you watch this video released by the Center for Freedom and Prosperity about two months ago. It’s a damning indictment of the OECD’s statist agenda (and this was before the bureaucrats released the horrid new “Economic Survey of the United States”).

 

Read Full Post »

Here’s one of those “not just no, but Hell No” issues. The United Nations has put together a group of global collectivists to concoct a plan of global taxes. These new levies, on things such as airfares and energy use, would be used to finance bribes (oops, I mean foreign aid) to lure developing nations into a global warming (oops, I mean climate change) regime. 
Carbon taxes, add-ons to international air fares and a levy on cross-border money movements are among ways being considered by a panel of the world’s leading economists to raise a staggering $100 billion a year to fight climate change. British economist Nicholas Stern told international climate negotiators Thursday that government regulation and public money also will be needed to create incentives for private investment in industries that emit fewer greenhouse gases. In short, a new industrial revolution is needed to move the world away from fossil fuels to low carbon growth, he said. “It will be extremely exciting, dynamic and productive,” said Stern, one of 18 experts in public finance on an advisory panel appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. A climate summit held in Copenhagen in December was determined to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt to climate change and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide trapping the sun’s heat. But the 120 world leaders who met in the Danish capital offered no ideas on how to raise that sum — $1 trillion every decade — prompting Ban to appoint his high-level advisory group. …The advisory panel is chaired by the prime ministers of Norway and Ethiopia and the president of Guyana. Its members include French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers, billionaire financier George Soros and public planners from China, India, Singapore and several international banks.

Read Full Post »

Thanks to Instapundit for drawing attention to this Financial Times report showing how ultra-rich elitists and politicians flew to South Africa on private jets, which meant both big carbon footprints and also resulted in ordinary people missing a key soccer match because the airport was too cluttered for many commercial planes to land. The Hypocrite-of-the-Year Award goes to Leonardo DiCaprio, who piously lectures ordinary people about how they should be good environmentalists (translation: pay higher energy taxes and reduce travel), but then engages in Al Gore-style global jet setting.
Hundreds of fans bound for Durban for the Germany-Spain World Cup semi final missed the game because their flights were unable to land, after air traffic authorities closed the city’s airport because of congestion on the runway caused by private aircraft. …Wire services reported that among the VIPs heading for the semi-final by jet were Spain’s King Juan Carlos, South African President Jacob Zuma, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and socialite Paris Hilton. The BA pilot, who held his plane for around 45 minutes above Durban in the vain hope of getting a landing slot, told passengers he had no choice but to take the plane to Johannesburg because the plane’s fuel was starting to run low. He announced that the problem was caused by the airport allowing too many private jets to land at Durban, leaving the runways clogged up and unable to accept scheduled flights. Confusion was heightened at OR Tambo airport by the lack of any senior officials to explain the problem. One junior official said she believed around 15 scheduled flights, mostly from Johannesburg, were unable to land in Durban.

Read Full Post »

I’m sitting in the offices of the Heartland Institute in Chicago, so it is appropriate that I share one of their videos criticizing the radical cap-and-trade plan being pushed on Capitol Hill.

Read Full Post »

Sleazy political behavior does not necessarily require a bag of money being handed to a politician in a deserted parking garage. Sometimes it is blatantly visible. A good example is the European version of “cap-and-trade” climate legislation. While the legislation produced lots of criminal activity, it also enabled big European companies to game the system, pocketing lots of unearned money thanks to their lobbying power. The House-passed version of the “cap-and-trade” bill in America makes many of the same mistakes, with favors to various campaign contributors and special interests. The Wall Street Journal editorial excerpted below is a good indication of the type of nonsense that will happen in the United States if the bill is approved by the Senate:

Democrats are promising to apply themselves to the task of imposing legislative curbs on carbon. So it’s a good time to see how a prototype cap-and-trade scheme, the European Union’s Emission Trading System, is faring. …Last week, spot trading on the ETS ground to a complete halt for three days after a scandal erupted over players gaming the system. In this case, the government of Hungary admitted to reselling “certified emission reduction” credits that companies had already relinquished, or “spent.” …This is just the latest in a string of embarrassments that have plagued the system almost from the beginning. European authorities admitted last year that in certain countries, 90% of the trading volume was taken up by value-added tax fraud. Sandbag, a British advocacy group, reported in February that metals firms ArcelorMittal, Salzgitter, U.S. Steel, and Corus were just a few of the companies that had been granted more emission permits than they needed. In ArcelorMittal’s case, according to Sandbag, those spare permits amounted to €202 million in asset value in 2008. Last year, Corus announced it was closing a steel plant in Britain and laying off 1,700 workers, for which the company reaped a windfall in carbon allowances. …the ETS is a cautionary tale in how quickly environmental policy engineering degrades into rent-seeking for the fortunate few.

Read Full Post »

When politicians talk about the human cost of global warming, we now know what they mean. According to the Daily Mail, an Argentinian couple killed themselves, one of their kids, and wounded another supposedly because of fears of climate change. Notwithstanding the title of this post, I don’t think Al Gore should be held responsible for the lunatic actions of this couple, but I can’t help but wonder whether this would have received more attention if a depressed taxpayer did the same thing and blamed Obama’s proposed tax hikes. My guess is that there would be front page stories about the irresponsible rhetoric of pro-taxpayer organizations:

A seven-month-old baby girl survived three days alone with a bullet in her chest beside the bodies of her parents and toddler brother. Argentines Francisco Lotero, 56, and Miriam Coletti, 23, shot their children before killing themselves after making an apparent suicide pact over fears about global warming. Their son Francisco, two, died instantly after being hit in the back.

Read Full Post »

The Taxpayers Alliance in London has an amusing video highlighting different ways the government has wasted money on global warming/climate change propaganda. Or maybe it’s only amusing because I’m American and my tax dollars weren’t being wasted on the projects in the video.

Read Full Post »

One of the many reprehensible features of Washington is how companies climb into bed with government. They do this either because they want legislation to get undeserved wealth by screwing consumers or competitors, or they do it because they think they the government is going to do something bad to them and they hope to reduce the pain by acting like cringing curs. This is a good description of the global-warming/climate-change/whatever-they’re-calling-it-now issue, where many big companies are part of a coalition to support the Administration’s statist agenda. The good news is that this coalition is now beginning to fall apart, as thee big companies have decided that having a “seat at the table” isn’t such a good idea if it’s Thanksgiving and you’re a turkey. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Three big companies quit an influential lobbying group that had focused on shaping climate-change legislation, in the latest sign that support for an ambitious bill is melting away. Oil giants BP PLC and Conoco-Phillips and heavy-equipment maker Caterpillar Inc. said Tuesday they won’t renew their membership in the three-year-old U.S. Climate Action Partnership… “We think there’s momentum to get [a climate bill] done,” USCAP spokesman Tad Segal said. “President [Barack] Obama’s State of the Union address made it clear the administration is behind us.” But experts said the companies’ decision to withdraw from USCAP is a sign the politics of climate change is shifting in Washington. When Mr. Obama took office, Congress appeared to have momentum for a climate bill that would push the economy toward lower-carbon alternatives. But as the economy soured, support waned.

Read Full Post »

Saw this linked on Instapundit. It’s poetic justice when scam artists and moochers get mocked.

Read Full Post »

It’s almost amusing to see the Securities and Exchange Commission jumping on the sinking ship of global warming alarmism. After all, only a government bureaucracy would take such a step at precisely the moment that the scam has been exposed. But I said it’s “almost amusing” because the added costs imposed on companies will be real, and this will hurt workers, shareholders, and consumers. But I will tip my proverbial hat to the Democrats. I remember several years ago trying to get the SEC to give shareholders more accurate information by having dividend checks show that corporate tax already was paid on the money. This would help people realize, of course, that declaring dividend income on personal tax returns was a punitive form of double taxation. Yet even though this was squarely in the SEC’s mission of supposedly serving investors, the Republicans in charge were politely dismissive. The moment Democrats get in charge, however, they move forward with a politically-motivated change that has nothing to do with helping investors. This is a good example of the old saying that Republicans are the stupid party and Democrats are the evil party:

A politically divided Securities and Exchange Commission voted on Wednesday to make clear when companies must provide information to investors about the business risks associated with climate change. The commission, in a 3 to 2 vote, decided to require that companies disclose in their public filings the impact of climate change on their businesses — from new regulations or legislation they may face domestically or abroad to potential changes in economic trends or physical risks to a company. Chairman Mary L. Schapiro and the two Democrats on the commission supported the new requirements, while the two Republicans vehemently opposed them. “I can only conclude that the purpose of this release is to place the imprimatur of the commission on the agenda of the social and environmental policy lobby, an agenda that falls outside of our expertise and beyond our fundamental mission of investor protection,” Republican commissioner Kathleen L. Casey said.

Read Full Post »

Proponents of sound science and economic growth certainly have many reasons to be happy. The global-warming crowd has been exposed as a bunch of fraudsters, the Copenhagen “climate change” summit collapsed in failure, and there now appears to be no chance that the US Senate will pass legislation to cripple the American economy. But while we are winning the battles, the war is far from over. As Walter Williams warns, there are many special interest groups who have invested money in the scam and they will not give up:

Mounting evidence of scientific fraud might make little difference in terms of the response to manmade global warming hysteria. Why? Vested economic and political interests have emerged where trillions of dollars and social control are at stake. Therefore, many people who recognize the scientific fraud underlying global warming claims are likely to defend it anyway. Automobile companies have invested billions in research and investment in producing “green cars.” General Electric and Phillips have spent millions lobbying Congress to outlaw incandescent bulbs so that they can force us to buy costly compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). Farmers and ethanol manufacturers have gotten Congress to enact laws mandating greater use of their product, not to mention massive subsidies. …Then there’s Chicago Climate Futures Exchange that plans to trade in billions of dollars of greenhouse gas emission allowances. Corporate America and labor unions, as well as their international counterparts have a huge multi-trillion dollar financial stake in the perpetuation of the global warming fraud. Federal, state and local agencies have spent billions of dollars and created millions of jobs to deal with one aspect or another of global warming.

Read Full Post »

When people ask me about global warming, or climate change, or whatever they’re calling it now, I freely admit that I’m not a climatologist and thus have no informed opinion on whether the planet is warming due to human activity (or whether this, on net, would be a bad thing). But I am somewhat familiar with how special interests like to obtain power and unearned wealth using the coercive power of government. So when I see people who have always favored statism suddenly say we need big government to fight global warming, I am inherently skeptical. My doubts become even larger when I see that some of the same people were playing Chicken Little a few decades ago saying we faced a coming ice age. And I get downright suspicious when these people (did someone say Al Gore?) directly line their own pockets as a result of the policies they promote. So I was not surprised when the climate-gate scandal broke. After all, these supposed scientists had every reason to behave dishonestly and unethically to keep the gravy train of government grants rolling. The latest scandal comes from a high-level con artist with the so-called Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the United Nations. First, we have a stunning confession that a major claim of the IPCC is fake, as noted by the Wall Street Journal:

…when it comes to unsubstantiated research it’s hard to beat the IPCC, whose 2007 report insisted that the glaciers—which feed the rivers that in turn feed much of South Asia—were very likely to nearly disappear by the year 2035. “The receding and thinning of Himalayan glaciers,” it wrote in its supposedly definitive report, “can be attributed primarily to the [sic] global warming due to increase in anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases.” It turns out that this widely publicized prediction was taken from a 2005 report from the World Wildlife Fund, which based it on a comment by Indian glacier expert Syed Hasnain from 1999. Mr. Hasnian now says he was “misquoted.” Even more interesting is that the IPCC was warned in 2006 by leading glaciologist Georg Kaser that the 2035 forecast was baseless. …Mr. Kaser told the Agence France-Presse. “It is so wrong that it is not even worth discussing.”

Then we have the revelation that the Chairman of the IPCC used (and almost certainly was aware that he was using) totally dishonest assertions to fleece donors – including gullible American foundations and oppressed European taxpayers. Chairman Pachauri already has been appropriate mocked for his giant “carbon footprint” due to his globe trotting (in first class, of course). Now he’s catching some much-deserved flak for lining his pockets while pimping for the IPCC hucksters. Here’s what the UK-based Times reported:

The chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has used bogus claims that Himalayan glaciers were melting to win grants worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Rajendra Pachauri’s Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), based in New Delhi, was awarded up to £310,000 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the lion’s share of a £2.5m EU grant funded by European taxpayers. It means that EU taxpayers are funding research into a scientific claim about glaciers that any ice researcher should immediately recognise as bogus. …In one presentation at last May’s launch, Anastasios Kentarchos, of the European Commission’s Climate Change and Environmental Risks Unit, specifically cited the bogus IPCC claims about glacier melt as a reason for pouring EU taxpayers’ money into the project. …questions remain. One of the most important is in connection with Pachauri’s earnings. In an interview with The Sunday Times he said his only income came from his salary at TERI. However TERI does not publish his salary and he refused to divulge it. In India questions are also being asked about Pachauri’s links with GloriOil, a Houston, Texas-based oil technology company that specialises in recovering extra oil from declining oil fields . Pachauri is listed as a founder and scientific advisor.

But you have to give the guy credit for cojones. An article in the Times of India reports that, “…while his credibility and that of the IPCC has taken a battering, Pachauri maintains his chutzpah in the face of growing skepticism, arguing that his acceptance that the research on glaciers had been dodgy had actually somehow enhanced the credibility of the body.”

Read Full Post »

An earlier post poked fun at green-friendly sex toys. In the same spirit, let’s now look at the enviro-fanatic campaign against soft toilet paper. For those of you who have had the pleasure of traveling abroad, you have probably had the less-than-satisfactory experience of…well, let’s just say the mixed experience of using inadequate bathroom paper products. It’s not quite as bad as using wax paper, but it definitely falls short of the comfort – and ultimate cleanliness – of an American bathroom. It definitely would be a step in the wrong direction if substandard products were imposed on Americans. Heck, that may just be the beginning. Limousine liberals such as Cheryl Crow want us to use just one square of toilet paper. And let’s not forget the toilet paper police that will be necessary to enforce this policy. So imagine a future world where we get to use one square of crummy toilet paper. Is it any surprise that we will be less likely to be attracted to a significant other, or for a significant other to be attracted to us. Give the left credit for thinking ahead. Sex toys will be far more popular in that world. Here’s a news report about the toilet paper fight:

The issue over tissue in the bathroom — the really super-soft stuff — is more like the fight about the big SUVs loved by many Americans. Anti-green, according to environmentalists. Politically incorrect. Why should Americans use luxurious toilet paper made from old-growth trees when much of the world gets by with a far more basic and often recycled product? …Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups have pushed manufacturers such as Kimberly-Clark (Cottonelle) and Procter & Gamble (Charmin) to stop using wood from virgin forests to make tissue products. Mountains of paper are dumped every day into recycling bins in homes, offices, factories and schools. Use that to make toilet paper, the activists said. …The problem, though, is that each time paper is shredded during the recycling process, its fibers get shorter. The shorter the fiber, the less soft the tissue. And Americans, though indicating in surveys that they embraced green initiatives, also said they don’t want to sacrifice comfort.

Read Full Post »

I’m not really sure what to say about this story. A company in Ireland has started to produce environmentally-friendly vibrators. My guess is that consumers won’t be…um, what’s the right word…satisfied with this product, but human ingenuity and the free market are a potent combination. If the company got some government subsidies, their product would be the ideal Christmas present for your leftist friends:

The global sex toy industry is worth an estimated annual $15 billion and uses up a mountain of batteries in the process, many of which end up as toxic waste. But now one Irish company reckons they’ve got the solution to shake up the market: a vibrator they are calling the world’s first-ever “green technology sex toy”. The Earth Angel, described as “eight inches (20 centimetres) with a sleek white finish”, is a wind-up vibrator which comes with a handle built into the bottom. “You just flip out the handle, grab a hold of it there, and you just wind it,” said Janice O’Connor, the co-founder of Earth Angel makers Caden Enterprises along with her husband Chris. …The vibrator is made of 100 per cent recyclable materials and the couple hope it will encourage sex toy fans around the globe to do their bit for the environment. …”We wanted to produce an environmentally-friendly sex toy that appealed to all consumers. …the O’Connors, both practicing Catholics, believe God is on their side. “In all fairness, wouldn’t God want something that’s green and that doesn’t do any damage to the environment?” asked Chris. An Earth Angel costs 70 euros (100 dollars) plus shipping costs and around 1,000 have already been sold to people seeking its special brand of “sustainable pleasure”.

Read Full Post »

Should your tax dollars be used to destroy American jobs and subsidize them being relocated to other nations? Sounds crazy, but it’s already happening in England thanks to global warming policies, as this Wall Street Journal column explains. Only politicians and bureaucrats would think this is a good idea:

The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 required signatories to reduce their carbon emissions, and the European Union in 2005 launched its own cap-and-trade system. The program sets a limit on carbon emissions, and companies are issued free carbon allowances that they can buy or sell based on their emissions needs. Fast forward to this month’s news that Corus, Europe’s second-largest steel producer, is shuttering a giant U.K. steelmaking plant at Redcar, cutting 1,700 jobs. …By closing Redcar’s annual capacity of three million tons of steel, Corus will produce six million fewer tons of CO2. That means more carbon allowances, which could translate into about $300 million a year if credits hit $50. Corus is essentially being paid to lay off British workers. …Were Corus to move production to a “clean” Indian factory, it could receive hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the Clean Development Fund. The kicker is that none of this results in fewer carbon emissions. …The Corus story also shows that cap and trade isn’t really a free market. Markets develop to efficiently allocate resources and capital. Carbon cap and trade is a government-rigged market, in which carbon allowances are dispensed based on political influence. Such a system is ripe for manipulation, and Corus is merely the latest example.

Read Full Post »

Let’s all be thankful this holiday season for our Founding Fathers, who wisely created a system based on separation of power. As such, when the Secretary of State blithely pontificates about fleecing American tapxayers to help finance $100 billion of added foreign aid, the good news is that this money can only be squandered if the House and Senate also agree. That’s a real possibility, of course, but at least there’s some hope that common sense will prevail since the fiscal burden of government already is far too large. Here’s a NY Daily News report on what’s happening in Copenhagen, including worrisome signs that politicians who don’t pay for their own travel are planning to make the rest of us pay more:

“The US is prepared to work with other countries toward a goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the climate change needs of developing countries,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. …While she would not disclose how much the U.S. would be contribution to the climate fund, Clinton said there would be a fair amount contributed to the pot that would be made available in 2020. The finances will reportedly be raised partially by taxing aviation and shipping, as proposed by the European Union.

Pat Buchanan, meanwhile, cuts to the heart of the issue, explaining for Townhall.com that global warming is a “racket” for the benefits of political elites:

“Zenawi said he would accept $30 billion in the short term, rising to $100 billion by 2020. … This was seen as a key concession by developing countries, which had previously spurned that figure … as too low.” There was a time when a U.S. diplomat would have burst out laughing after listening to a Third World con artist like this. But not the Obamaites. They are already ponying up. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack just pledged $1 billion at Copenhagen to developing countries who preserve their forests. Thus, America, $12 trillion in debt and facing a second straight $1.4 trillion deficit, will borrow another $1 billion from China to send to Brazil to bribe them to stop cutting down their trees. When you slice through the blather about marooned bears and melting ice caps, oceans rising and cities sinking, global warming is a racket and a crock. It is all about money and power. Copenhagen has always been about an endless transfer of wealth from America, Europe and Japan and creation of a global bureaucracy to control the pace of world economic and industrial development.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,285 other followers

%d bloggers like this: