Sunday, May 1, 2016

This Legislation Will Curb the Power of Unaccountable Bureaucracy

James Gattuso / / /

The Constitution could not be clearer: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” However, it seems that someone forgot to tell federal regulators about that. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, tried this week to change some of that this week, proposing to limit the Energy Department’s power to make rules without Congress’ consent.

Each year, regulators impose thousands of rules on the American people—over 20,000 during the Obama administration’s tenure alone. The cost is staggering: According to an upcoming Heritage study, the cost of Obama’s new rules alone is over $100 billion each year, and that only counts the biggest regulations.

There is a solution: make Congress approve new regulations before they become effective. That would shift responsibility back to where it belongs—in Congress. Regulators would no longer be able to legislate though rule-making without congressional action, and Congress would no longer be able to evade accountability for the rules that are imposed.

The REINS (“Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny”) Act would implement just such a system, requiring congressional approval for the hundred or so “major” rules each year that cost $100 million or more. Yet, that bill—first introduced seven years ago—has been stalled in Congress. While approved by the House multiple times, it failed to gain any traction in the Senate......To Read More.....

Big Business Helps Squash Voters on Religious Liberty Debate

Katrina Trinko / / /

When it comes to religious liberty debates, big businesses don’t want the people to decide.
Or at least they don’t want the people of Missouri to decide.  While the more explosive battles in Georgia, Mississippi, and North Carolina about bills regarding religious liberty and LGBT accommodations have gained national attention, Missouri has flown mostly under the radar.

Perhaps it was because Missouri was debating a bill that, if passed, would have gone to the people to vote on, not the governor’s desk. Since the Supreme Court handed down its decision mandating all states recognize same-sex marriages as legal—a decision that directly went against what Americans in 31 states voted for in the years before, namely that marriage should exist solely between a man and a woman—there has been no statewide vote on religious liberty, at least that I’m aware of.....To Read More

My Take - Let's try and get some clarity on this issue.  Big business isn't conservative, liberal or anything other that greedy....and that's ok with me.   Just so long as we know and understand as allies these people are are leaky vessels at best!  At worst they will sell you down the road just as pesticide producing companies have done to the structural pest control industry over the years.  Big business is run by bean counters, not visionaries.  Visionaries started these companies and then retired or died - then Harvard Economics Whiz Kids take over.  They can tell you the bottom line on anything, but they don't understand anything.  These Rehoboams think because they understand the numbers they understand the industries they're running.  It's the old Robert McNamara - Lee Iacocca story.  McNamara was called the "The Father of the Ford Falcon".  He looked over the American automobile scene and decided America needed a good medium sized inexpensive car.   When asked: “Do you want a soft car, a hot, sexy car, a comfortable car, a car for the young, or a car for the middle class? Whose car is it, what does it feel like?” "McNamara had not considered that factor."

New we have to understand in one aspect he was right - Ford sold a ton of Falcons - but people hated them! The handling was only ok and the design was stinko - eventually dooming the Falcon.  On the other hand -  Lee Iacocca, who actually understood America's love for the automobile, created the Mustang - which was nothing more than a Falcon with different styling - and it's still being produced. McNamara understood numbers.  Iacocca understood automobiles. That's the pattern in Big Business - Too many Whiz Kids - Too few visionaries. 

Feds: Schools must violate 1st Amendment

Activists push back against 'national speech code' – 'verbal conduct' rules simply not constitutional
 
The federal government has ruled that in order to meet its demands under Title IX, the law regulating equal access to educational opportunities at colleges and universities, the schools must violate the First Amendment, an activist organization has charged.  “The Department of Justice now interprets Title IX to require colleges and universities to violate the First Amendment,” a report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education confirmed this week.

It cited a recent letter from the agency to the University of New Mexico that “found the university improperly defined sexual harassment. DOJ flatly declared that ‘[u]nwelcome conduct of a sexual nature’ – including ‘verbal conduct’ – is sexual harassment ‘regardless of whether it causes a hostile environment or is quid pro quo.'”

“The Department of Justice has put universities in an impossible position: violate the Constitution or risk losing federal funding,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “The federal government’s push for a national speech code is at odds with decades of legal precedent. University presidents must find the courage to stand up to this federal overreach.”  At issue is how colleges and universities handle complaints of sexual assault and more.

Read more

Election official: Proposed voter ID information campaign ‘complete waste of money’

By  April 28, 2016 News @ Wisconsin Watchdog.org 25 Comments

The left-wing, Chicken Little crowd insists democracy is falling in Wisconsin thanks to the state’s voter ID law.

With little hope of winning their legal challenges, liberals are appealing to the state Government Accountability Board to ask the Legislature for hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to pump up a voter information campaign.

“For the most part, we are stuck with this legislation,” said state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, Tuesday at the GAB’s monthly meeting. “My goal is to make sure people know what to bring to the polls.” Taylor’s bill to spend $500,000 on GAB-led advertising campaigns failed to move in the Legislature this past session.

The idea is that untold numbers of voters were locked out of the polling booth during Wisconsin’s presidential primary election earlier this month because they did not have appropriate identification. They didn’t have proper ID because they just didn’t understand the “convoluted, confusing” law, according to advocates of the voter education campaign. Voter ID opponents assert the state’s urban areas were hit particularly hard by voter disenfranchisement.

That running narrative couldn’t be further from the truth, according to a top Milwaukee elections official.

‘No problems’

Bob Spindell, a member of the Milwaukee Election Commission, said he spoke to about 60 election chiefs on election night.

“I asked, ‘What about voter ID? How did it work?’ Without exception, every chief said there was no problems with voter ID,” Spindell said in testimony before the Government Accountability Board.

He estimated 10 or 12 voters refused to show their photo IDs at the polling stations in question. When they were told about the law, that they must show an ID or they wouldn’t be able to vote, they complied. Spindell estimated that approximately 10 would-be voters said they left their photo IDs at home. Some went home and returned with identification, some didn’t.

In the city of Milwaukee, Spindell said there were eight provisional ballots provided to individuals who did not have proper ID. Those individuals are allowed to cast a temporary ballot which is recorded when they return with a valid photo ID.

That’s eight out of 160,000-plus votes cast in Milwaukee, Spindell said.

“That’s a pretty good percentage,” he said.

The long lines reported for an election that featured historically high turnout numbers was not the result of the voter ID law, but same-day voter registration.

‘Urgent need’

Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, said the organization trained “approximately 100 observers and placed them at polling sites in cities around the state. Preliminary figures from a League report expected to be released in a couple of weeks “demonstrate an urgent need for vigorous voter education and training of election workers” before the November election, Kaminski said.

She noted that 322 people were “not allowed to register to vote in 175 polling places” while the observers were present. Of those, 183 people were turned away because they did not have acceptable proof of residence, and 24 individuals did not meet the 28-day state residency requirement, she said.

Then Kaminski summed up what the left feels is a failure, and voter ID advocates believe is the success of Wisconsin’s strengthened voter integrity laws.

“Many of these people would have been able to register to vote under the less restrictive laws a few years ago,” she said.

Another 76 people were registered but were unable to receive a regular ballot because they didn’t have acceptable IDs, Kaminski said. Of those, 33 cast provisional ballots and 22 were “offered provisional ballots but didn’t accept them.”

Is that because those would-be voters were not eligible to vote in that district or in that election? Was it because some of them may have been trying to illegally vote? Kaminski didn’t say.

Did the voter ID law in these cases do what is was created to do? Did it stop ineligible voters? Voter fraud?

Kaminski offered the GAB anecdotal stories of people she believes were disenfranchised.

Like a Minnesota transplant who provided proof of residence at an Eau Claire voting station, but didn’t have an acceptable photo ID. Or the disabled Vietnam vet from DeForest who had proof of residence but an expired driver’s license. The man, who is in a wheelchair, was given a provisional ballot, Kaminski said, but he “stated in tears at the polling place that there was no way he could arrange transportation” to go to the Division of Motor Vehicles to update his license and then back to the polling station to provide the proper ID.

It’s important to note that the man’s driver’s license expired in 2014.

What Kaminski and other breathless defenders of the “sacred right to vote” constantly fail to mention is a level of responsibility that goes along with it.

It’s ‘reasonable’

Now Kaminski, Taylor and others on the left are pleading for hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund a statewide voter education campaign.

Republican leadership might be on board with the idea.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, on Wednesday said he would like to review the GAB request “to ensure that the money will be well spent.”

“A photo ID is required for numerous purchases and government services; it’s reasonable to remind voters to remember their photo ID on Election Day,” Vos said in a statement. “It’s clear from the high turnout in the last election that the Voter ID law worked to protect the integrity of our elections while not inhibiting people from voting.”

“I also agree with Governor Walker’s sentiments on this issue. The state has had to utilize taxpayer resources to defend the law in frivolous lawsuits from liberal activist groups who are now asking for additional Voter ID education,” he added.

Spindell said he thinks the proposed voter education campaign is a “complete waste of money.”

“We must point out that this is hard-earned taxpayer money,” the Milwaukee election official said. “I would think this is not worthwhile to do.”

And there already has been an extensive efforts to inform voters about the changes.

Sending a message

Wisconsin’s voter ID law is five years in the making. It has, and continues to be, the subject of left-wing driven court challenges. The U.S. Supreme Court last year refused to hear the case, allowing the law to finally stand. Seventeen states have similar laws on the books.

The state and local governments rolled out a massive public information campaign to let voters know what they needed to vote and how they could access a voter ID. For those who can’t afford it, the state issues a voter ID card free of charge.

“Here at the county level we made a tremendous effort” to alert the public, Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki told Wisconsin Watchdog earlier this month. “We placed ads in all the community newspapers, on billboards, in bus shelters in the county reminding people of the photo ID law and the phone number of how to get an ID.”

Czarnezki said bus stops were particularly targeted because that’s where the highest concentrations of people without driver’s licenses are.

The county also launched targeted radio campaigns, reaching younger voters and the elderly where they listen. There were infomercials and ads in movie theaters. Basically everywhere a Milwaukee County voter would be.

“It is a concern so we tried to outreach to those people and make sure they are aware of the law,” the clerk said.

But the voter ID haters won’t take no for an answer.

‘Let’s say …’

Peg Lautenschlager, former state attorney general and the Democrats’ appointee to the state’s new Ethics Commission, grilled Spindell on his testimony – employing suspect numbers as she did so.
“In terms of the 300,000 or so people who did not have appropriate photo ID before, is it fair to say a greater percentage of them live in Milwaukee?” she asked.

“You are saying that 300,000 people don’t have a photo ID?” Spindell said.

“Approximately,” Lautenschlager shot back.

“That’s based on a Brennan (Center for Justice) study done years ago,” Spindell said. “They tried to apostatize on some statistics.”

Lautenschlager scaled back her figures.

“Let’s say it’s 100,000,” she said.

“I don’t think it’s anywhere near that. It’s almost nothing,” Spindell countered.
“Let’s just say it’s 40,000,” Lautenschlager kept on.

As the Heritage Foundation recently reported, the tactic of inflating the number of ID-less voters began years ago during the lawsuits that popped up after Indiana enacted its photo ID law. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld that law in 2008.

“Often, press reporting has not spoken accurately with respect to statistics. For example, even though both the data and reasoning used by a Wisconsin district court judge were later criticized as “questionable” by the Seventh Circuit, the statistics cited by that judge are still widely circulated by ID opponents and by media outlets such as MSNBC in reports about photo ID in Wisconsin,” the Heritage report stated.

Spindell pointed to the myriad publicity campaigns throughout Milwaukee.

“People in the city of Milwaukee know they must have voter ID, and believe me, they know how to get one,” the election official said.

 
 
is national First Amendment reporter at Watchdog.org. Contact him at mkittle@watchdog.org.

Philly charter schools are an open book

By   /   April 25, 2016  /   News  /   2 Comments

If you want to access a directory of Philadelphia charter schools, you just have to click here.
For a listing of information-packed charter school profiles, all parents need to do is click here.
And now, for the first time, Philly families curious about how public charters are performing just have to click here.

Wasn’t that easy?

The School District of Philadelphia is making it simple to scan and evaluate charter schools. In a two-week span, the district published sleek profiles and deep performance evaluations that will serve as a powerful tool for parents exploring school choice options.  “This significant addition to the public discourse on charter school performance will raise the degree of transparency for all Philadelphia charter schools,” said DawnLynne Kacer, executive director of the district’s Charter Schools Office. “We hope this transparency will empower the community at large to engage all charter schools and their stakeholders in moving towards best practice standards to benefit students.”.....To Read More....

Police hiring lags as violent crime rises in San Antonio

By   /   April 26, 2016  /   News  /   11 Comments
 
Short more than 200 officers, the San Antonio Police Department is ramping up recruiting. But barely one in 10 applicants makes the cut.  The police union says the thin blue line is fraying amid rising violent crime in America’s seventh largest city.  A new SAPD academy class began Monday with 51 cadets – the biggest since 2012. Another 38 candidates are in an ongoing class.  To get those 89 trainees, SAPD Lt. Steven Trujillo said the department vetted 728 applicants. “We’re reaching out to everyone statewide and nationwide,” Trujillo told Watchdog.org. SAPD’s recruiting website leads with the headline: “We’re Always Hiring.”.....To Read More...

Is “Capitalism” a Dirty Word and “Liberal” a Good Word?

April 30, 2016 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty

I’m a proud advocate and defender of capitalism for the simple reason that it is a system that is consistent with human freedom while also producing mass prosperity that was unimaginable for much of human history.

Jurisdictions that embrace capitalism enjoy great progress while nations that veer in the other direction suffer economic decline, as vividly demonstrated by comparisons such as the relative performance of Hong Kong and Argentina.

And, for what it’s worth, the Princess of the Levant even says capitalism is “a sexy word.”

But not everybody agrees.

A column by Greg Sargent in the Washington Post has some very depressing poll numbers.
…the Harvard Institute of Politics has released a new poll of young voters… One key finding in the poll, which surveyed over 3,000 people from ages 18-29, is that these young people see a robust role for government in guaranteeing a right to a basic standard of living, and majorities of them see a large or moderate federal role in regulating the economy and access to health care and higher education. …A narrow majority of respondents in Harvard’s poll said they did not support capitalism.
Writing for Mic, Marie Solis looks at these recent poll numbers and wonders if the real issue is whether “capitalism” is simply an unpalatable word.
A new Harvard University survey found 51% of the participants between the ages 18 and 29 said they do not support capitalism. …The university’s results echo recent findings from Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who surveyed 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 26 and found that 58% of respondents believed socialism to be the “more compassionate” political system when compared to capitalism. …the results may be more indicative of a shifting connotation for the word “capitalism” itself. “The word ‘capitalism’ doesn’t mean what it used to,” he said. “You don’t hear people on the right defending their economic policies using that word anymore.”
Not so fast. I still use “that word.”

But should I? James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute is sympathetic to the notion that there’s a perception problem. He speculates that the real problem is that capitalism now has a negative connotation.
America’s millennials are hardly some fifth column of communist sympathizers. Nor are they idiots. But they are at least a bit skeptical of “capitalism.” …Yet, oddly, many of those same capitalism skeptics also hold views similar to those of any Ayn Rand-loving free marketeer. For example: Less than a third believe government should play a large role in regulating the economy, reducing income inequality, or stimulating economic growth. Likewise, just a third said they supported socialism.
I fear Pethokoukis is being too optimistic in his reading of the polling data. When you review the questions in the poll and add together those who want a “large” role for government with those who favor a “moderate” role for government, they overwhelm the advocates of laissez-faire who say government should play “little to no role.”

Though maybe I’m just being a pessimist since the folks who want a “moderate” role may think the government today already is playing a “large” role and therefore would want to reduce the size and scope of Washington (though the fact that many people actually blame deregulation for the financial crisis, notwithstanding all the evidence to the contrary, makes me think that would be a Pollyannish interpretation of the polling data).

In any event, let’s return to the issue of whether capitalism is akin to a toxic brand.
Maybe one problem here is the word “capitalism” and what it evokes in the aftermath of the Great Recession and Wall Street bailout. Maybe “capitalism” really isn’t the right word for the free enterprise system, the deep magic that has made America the richest, most powerful nation on Earth. Indeed, wherever and whenever there’s been a bit of economic freedom, amazing things have happened — from Europe in the 1800s to China and India in the late 20th century. …Maybe millennials aren’t capitalists as much as they are “innovists” or “innovationists.” They believe the same dynamic economic system that created those amazing panes of internet-connected glass in their pockets will also create a better world.
It galls me that young people blame capitalism for the financial crisis. Have they ever heard of the Federal Reserve? Or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Blaming capitalism for the recent mess is like blaming the Red Cross for tornadoes. Sounds like millennials don’t know the difference between capitalism and cronyism.

But I’m digressing again. Time to get back to the central topic. Elizabeth Nolan Brown weighs in with a column for Reason.
…this new poll finds young people torn between “capitalism” and “socialism,” with perhaps little—or, to be more charitable, an ahistorical—understanding of what either means.
I definitely agree with her than millennials are confused about what these terms mean.
But grousing about their lack of knowledge doesn’t solve the problem. But maybe we can make progress if we learn why young people think the way they do.
…words—especially big, emotionally-laden words describing controversial or complicated concepts—connote different things to different people. When pollsters probe young people further about socialism and capitalism, they tend to find that respondents don’t have clear concepts of these economic philosophies. To many millennials, “socialism” doesn’t mean a government-managed economy but something like what we have now, only with more subsidized health care, student-loan forgiveness, and mandatory paid parental leave. …”Capitalism,” meanwhile, doesn’t simply mean private, for-profit enterprise. …Capitalism is Big Banks, Wall Street, “income inequality,” greed. It’s wealthy sociopaths screwing over the little guy, Bernie Madoff, and horrifying sweatshops in China. …However incomplete or caricatured, these are the narratives of capitalism that millennials have grown up with.
She basically comes to the same conclusion as Pethokoukis.
We certainly need to consider whether and how the word can be reclaimed, or if we’re better served talking about the “market economy,” “private enterprise,” “free trade,” or “entrepreneurship.” Millennials love the word entrepreneur… Unlike anti-capitalists of yore, young people today don’t seem to see a tension between turning a profit and living righteously. …As John Della Volpe, polling director at Harvard, puts it, millennials aren’t “rejecting the concept” of capitalism. “The way in which capitalism is practiced, in the minds of young people—that’s what they’re rejecting.”
Indeed, she shares some 2014 polling data that shows there is 2-1 support for free markets, which is significantly better than the level of support for capitalism.


This analysis is persuasive. If we can convince more people to support good policy by talking about “free markets” rather than “capitalism,” then I have no objection to using a more effective phrase or word.

For what it’s worth, opponents of economic liberty such as Karl Marx were among the first to use the term “capitalist” and they obviously meant it as a slur. Which is another reasons why advocates of economic liberty shouldn’t feel obliged to use that word.

That being said, I’m not sure whether using a different word or phrase will make a big difference. I remember when Social Security reform was a big issue between 1995-2005. Proponents were repeatedly told that “private” and “privatization” were words to avoid, so we all dutifully said we were for “personal retirement accounts.”

Which was fine, but it didn’t stop leftists from using “privatization.” Moreover, polling data showed considerable support for the idea, notwithstanding demagoguery from advocates of the status quo.
Now that we’ve discussed whether “capitalism” is a bad word, let’s shift gears and look at whether “liberal” should be a good word.

Professor Daniel Klein says the word has been hijacked by statists.
Here I make a plea, addressed to conservatives and libertarians, regarding the word liberal: please do not describe leftists, progressives, social democrats, or Democrats as “liberal.” …Words have deep-seated cognates and connotations; they have character and history. …The term liberal has always had an abundance of positive connotations: generous, open-minded, tolerant, big-hearted. …to oppose “liberals” almost seems tantamount to opposing modern, open civilization.
And “liberal” originally was linked to economic liberty and free markets.
The inception of liberal as a political term should be credited to the Scottish historian William Robertson, who published a book in 1769 that uses the term repeatedly to mean principles of liberty and commercial freedom. Adam Smith…used the term repeatedly in a signal way to refer to the sort of policy he advocated, a system that gives a strong presumption to individual liberty, and hence commercial and market freedom. …The principles of Adam Smith spread throughout Europe, as did the name he used for them, “liberal.” …so “liberal” political movements were born.
But then the statists began to call themselves liberals.
At the end of the nineteenth century, and thereafter, there came a dramatic shift. Collectivism or statism was on the rise. …Especially during the period 1880 to 1940, there came great changes in the meanings of words, changes in semantics. …people started using words in new ways, and often even announced and emphasized the newness of their usage and meaning. …the statists arrogated the term liberal to themselves… The literature of the so-called New Liberals declaimed openly against individual liberty and in favor of state collectivism and socialistic reform.
Interestingly, the bastardization of “liberal” has primarily occurred in the United States and Canada.
…when we step outside North America, we see that, by and large, liberal still means liberal…read and listen to European Parliament member Daniel Hannan, who often uses liberal proudly in its original sense, and who never calls leftists “liberal,” or to read the journal of the Institute of Economic Affairs (London)—Economic Affairs: A Journal of Liberal Political Economy. …In Prague, for example, the leading freedom-oriented organization is called the Liberal Institute. Where liberal still means liberal, such as in Europe and Latin America, leftists have no reluctance in calling their imaginary bogeyman “neoliberalism.”
I can vouch for that. I’m often accused of being a “liberal” or “neo-liberal” when speaking overseas. It took a while to get used to it, but now I smile and say “yup, that’s me.”

And I’ll sometimes use “classical liberal” and “libertarian” interchangeably when speaking in the United States. But given the way the meaning of the word has changed over time, I don’t think it would make sense to the average person if I referred to myself as “liberal.”

That being said, I fully agree with Professor Klein that we shouldn’t let leftists get away with using that term to describe themselves. I prefer to describe them as “statists.”

P.S. Tom Sowell has a more controversial, but technically accurate, term to describe modern leftists.

Inside climate propaganda

InsideClimate News excels at propagating environmentalist and Obama thinking and policies

Paul Driessen

Have you ever wondered how the LA Times, Associated Press, Weather Channel and your local media always seem to present similar one-sided stories on climate change, fossil fuels, renewable energy and other environmental issues? How their assertions become “common knowledge,” like the following?

Global temperatures are the hottest ever recorded. Melting ice caps are raising seas to dangerous levels. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts have never been more frequent or destructive. Planet Earth is at a tipping point because of carbon dioxide emissions. Fracking is poisoning our air, water and climate. 97% of scientists agree. A clean renewable energy future is just around the corner.

It’s as if a chain of command, carefully coordinated process or alliance of ideological compatriots was operating behind the scenes to propagate these fables. This time, conspiracy theorists have gotten it right.

A major player in this process and alliance is one that most citizens and even businessmen and politicians have never heard of .  InsideClimate News (ICN) has been called “highly influential,” a “pioneer of nonprofit advocacy journalism,” the recipient of “prestigious awards” for “high-impact investigative stories” on important environmental issues.

The Washington Free Beacon, National Review and Energy in Depth offer detailed and far less charitable assessments. Less friendly observers, they note, call ICN a “mouthpiece” for extreme environmentalist groups, because it is run by and out of a deep-green public relations consultancy (Science First) and is funded almost exclusively by wealthy foundations that share its and the PR firm’s anti-fossil fuel, pro-renewable energy, Bigger Government agenda. ICN was founded by David Sasoon, a true believer in catastrophic manmade climate change who wants to do all he can “to usher in the clean energy economy.”

Even praise from its supporters underscores the dark side of this “influential” force in eco-journalism. Its approach is “advocacy,” not fairness, accuracy or balance. Its goal is to drive a monolithic, hard-line, environmentalist narrative and political agenda, with little suggestion that other perspectives even exist.

Some of its awards come from an organization that has itself become politicized and too closely allied with Big Green views and organizations: the Society of Environmental Journalists. They increasingly operate too much as mutual admiration societies and support groups, say outside observers.

ICN and its Science First alter ego received their 2007 startup grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, where Sasoon once served as a consultant. They now derive the bulk of their funding from the RBF, NEO Philanthropy (aka, Public Interest Projects), Marlisa Foundation and Park Foundation. These and other sugar daddies are covered in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee staff report, which describes a “Billionaire’s Club” of “left-wing millionaires and billionaires [which] directs and controls the far-left [US] environmental movement.”

The same foundations also give major tax-exempt donations to the Sierra Club, Earthworks, NRDC, EarthJustice, the climate crisis coalition 350.org, and many other anti-coal, anti-drilling, anti-fracking, anti-Keystone pressure groups that together form the $10-billion-a-year US environmentalist industry.

ICN has active partnerships with the LA Times, Associated Press, Weather Channel, Bloomberg News and other media organizations that help coordinate and disperse stories. The Times promotes the “dangerous manmade climate change” meme and refuses to print letters that reflect skeptical views.

The Associated Press has likewise become a reliable purveyor of manmade climate chaos stories. The Weather Channel and ICN teamed up in 2014 on a series of “investigative reports” that claimed hydraulic fracturing was causing serious environmental and human health problems in Texas.

The partners team up and coordinate to “have one group write on an issue, another quote them or link to them, and so on,” Media Research Center VP Dan Gainor explains. “It keeps going until they create this perception that there’s real concern over an issue, and it bubbles up to top liberal sites like Huffington Post, and from there into the traditional media,” which itself is too predisposed to the green narrative.

The foundations “have incorporated ostensibly dispassionate news outlets into their grant-making portfolios,” says the Free Beacon’s Lachlan Markay, “creating what some describe as self-sustaining environmentalist echo chambers.”

They make it look like widespread public concern and spontaneous grassroots action – when in reality it is loud but small Astroturf activism, orchestrated by the ICN brigade and the foundations behind it.

InsideClimate News now brags about its involvement in the extensive collusion among the leftist foundations, environmental pressure groups and state attorneys general that are devising, coordinating and advancing AG prosecutions of ExxonMobil, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and other groups for alleged “racketeering” and “fraud,” to hold them “legally accountable for climate change denial.”

The efforts “stretch back at least to 2012,” ICN notes, when a meeting was held in California to develop legal strategies. In late 2015, letters from several Democrat members of Congress called for investigating and prosecuting climate skeptics; the letters cited independent journalism “investigations by the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News” to back up their request.

However, the intrepid Times and ICN investigators had conducted no investigation. They simply parroted and amplified “research” from a group of activist professors and students at the Columbia School of Journalism – without disclosing who had funded the CSJ studies. Transparency for thee, but not for me.

It was George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, along with the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Foundation, Energy Foundation, Lorana Sullivan Foundation and Tellus Mater Foundation – all of which virulently oppose hydrocarbon production and actively promote climate change alarmism.

Emails subpoenaed by the Energy & Environment Legal Institute later revealed that many of the same environmentalist groups and lawyers met again in January 2016 at a secret meeting in the Rockefeller Family Fund’s Manhattan offices. Yet another secret meeting was held in March 2016, between climate activists and state attorneys general – hours before the AGs announced that they were launching RICO and other prosecutions of “climate skeptic” companies and think tanks. .

The success of this campaign thus far, says ICN, has persuaded the activists to “step up efforts to pressure more attorneys general to investigate [more climate crisis skeptics] and sway public opinion, using op-eds, social media and rope-line questioning of [Republican] presidential candidates at campaign stops.”

This collusion among activists, foundations and attorneys general seeks to silence, bankrupt and defund organizations that challenge their catechism of climate cataclysm. These conspirators want to deprive us of our constitutional rights to speak out on the exaggerated and fabricated science, the coordinated echo- chamber news stories, and the pressure group-driven policies that impair our livelihoods, living standards, health, welfare and environmental quality. We will not be intimidated or silenced.

As CFACT’s new Climate Hustle film notes, manmade plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide has not replaced the powerful natural forces that have always driven Earth’s temperature, climate and weather.

The problem is not climate change. It is policies imposed in the name of preventing climate change.

That’s why Climate Crisis, Inc. wants to silence and jail us. Just imagine how much more they’ll be foaming at the mouth after throngs go to ClimateHustle.com and buy tickets for its May 2 one-night-only showing in hundreds of theaters across the United States.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( www.CFACT.org ) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death. .

Bill Nye Warns Film is 'Not in Our National Interest'

The Reviews Are in! ‘Climate Hustle’ is ‘the most dangerous documentary of year’ – ‘Wickedly effective use of slapstick humor’ – ‘Lays waste to Gore’ – ‘Brutal and Extremely Funny’ – May 2 - One Night Only

Craig Bannister | April 29, 2016 12:11am ET

Leading climate activists are warning moviegoers to shun the May 2nd nationwide one-day theater screening of “Climate Hustle,” a new film debunking climate alarmism and its big government solutions.

Bill Nye (not a real “science guy,” FYI), who entertains the idea of throwing climate skeptics in the slammer, warned the film’s producer, Climate Depot publisher Marc Morano, that “Climate Hustle’s” content endangers not just the nation, but also the world:

“I think it will expose your point of view as very much in the minority and very much not in our national interest and the world’s interest."

U.N. Climate Scientist Michael Oppenheimer has, likewise, condemned the film – without even viewing it - for daring to dispute climate alarmism. "Marc is a propagandist,” the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientist cautions viewers. ....To Read More

The Madness Continues: Pamela Geller's Atlas Shrugs

Devout Muslims HACK TO DEATH Hindu man for alleged Muhammad comments -
Bangladesh is awash in the blood of free thinkers, poets, secularists and non-Muslims. The slaughter is daily now. Devout Muslims tried to kill us here in America for perceived insults to Muhammad.
This is life in a Muslim country under Islamic law (sharia). Just a whisper that you offended or criticized Muhammad and you are marked for death. It’s just that simple. The world is looking away just as it did during the rise of the Third Reich. Deaf, dumb, blind is the world to the extermination of the millions in jihad wars. There is no excuse now. Echoing Dr. Ernst Janning from ‘Judgment at Nuremberg’, no one can pretend not to know. There are websites – mine, Jihad Watch, The Religion of Peace et al. “We..

VIDEO: Muslim prayer hall blown up in Russia after POLICE FIND EXPLOSIVES INSIDE -
Explosives in a Muslim prayer space? Shocking. Not. Obama’s most trusted ally, the President Erdogan of Turkey said,
“The minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks and the faithful our army.”
Boom. Literally.

Can you see the Obama administration blowing up a Muslim prayer hall here in America even if it were filled with explosives? Never. The Democrats, the party of treason, would wail about ‘religious freedom.’ This is why mosques must be monitored not just for explosives, arms and munitions. But be must require US mosques to institute transparent, inspectable programs teaching against the al-Qaeda & ISIS view of Islam. We must require that they teach against Islamic Jew-hatred...

ISIS recruiters arrested: sisters who worked at MOSCOW AIRPORT and for RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE - Do you think the U.S. is less infiltrated? Think again. 
“‘ISIS recruiters’ arrested – including sisters who worked at Moscow airport and for Russian intelligence – after raid on apartment uncovers grenades and explosives,” by Will Stewart, Mailonline, April 27, 2016 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
A Russian secret services operation has exposed a gang of alleged jihadist recruiters including a woman who is said to work for an intelligence agency and her sister who is believed to be employed at a Moscow airport.  Four people – the women and two men – were detained on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities, along with associates, it was reported today.  A Federal Security Service...
 UK: Saudis cut off funding for ex-Muslims after they refuse to back jihadi mosque - This should leave no doubt as to what the Saudis are up to when they send students to the West. But as far as Western authorities and university officials are concerned, the Saudis’ jihad and Islamization agenda doesn’t matter. All that matters is their money.   “Saudi family left destitute after having university funding cut off blame refusal to co-operate over building of a mosque,” by Kirsteen Paterson, The National, April 28, 2016:
A DESTITUTE family claiming political asylum in Scotland told yesterday of their fears of being sent home to Saudi Arabia in a row over a mosque.  Haifa Alshamrani came to the UK to study medicine but her visa was revoked when Saudi officials cut the funding for her Glasgow University...
 Pakistan’s ISI controlled Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound: Book - Pakistan is no ally of the United States. But Obama throughout his presidency has treated allies as enemies and enemies as allies, and so Pakistan is still officially on our side, when in reality it is a chief enabler of the global jihad.

Transgender 'Fact' and Fantasy

April 29, 2016

The liberal opinion site that calls itself PolitiFact insists it’s just a fact-checking website. When choosing to assess whether a politician’s claim is true or false, their “About Us” page says they ask: “Is the statement rooted in a fact that is verifiable? We don’t check opinions, and we recognize that in the world of speechmaking and political rhetoric, there is license for hyperbole.”
 
When it comes to humans, there is probably not a fact more verifiable than one’s gender. But guess what? On April 26, the website Mediaite carried the eye-grabbing headline: “PolitiFact Rules It’s Now Objectively False to Call Transgender Women Men.”......To Read More....

Lack of Milkweed Is Not Harming Monarch Butterfly Populations, New Research Suggests

April 29, 2016 by 1 Comment


People who attended the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America are likely to remember Dr. Anurag Agrawal, who talked about Dame Miriam Rothschild when he presented the Founders’ Memorial Award lecture. The ESA Founders’ Memorial Award is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon an entomologist.

Now Dr. Agrawal is talking again, but this time it’s about monarch butterflies.

Some groups have blamed herbicides and genetically modified crops for the decline of monarch populations, but new research by Dr. Agrawal and colleagues suggests that lack of milkweed is unlikely to be driving the monarch’s population decline.

Using years of data collected by the World Wildlife Fund and citizen scientists across North America, the researchers looked at monarch populations throughout North America during different times of the year. They found that monarch numbers begin declining at the end of the summer, when the butterflies begin their long migration to Mexico, and the numbers continue to decline as they travel. During this southern migration, adult monarchs do not feed on milkweed, so lack of milkweed is unlikely to be the problem, according to the researchers.......To Read More

Charter schools turn away thousands in Texas


Part 1 of 1 in the series Charter schools in Texas
 
Business is booming at Texas charter schools. The independently operated public campuses continue to grow — and so do the waiting lists to get in.

IDEA charters — with 44 schools in San Antonio, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley — conducted their annual admission lottery on Saturday. More than 26,000 children applied; 7,000 were accepted.
Overall, 129,589 children are on charter waiting lists in Texas, more than double the 56,000 reported in 2011. Total charter enrollment in the state hit 227,827 last year.

“It’s clear that parents want more options,” says Randan Steinhauser, director of the Texas School Choice Coalition. “We need to strengthen and replicate our high-performing charters.”

Charter proponents say leveling the financial playing field would open more doors.

For years, the Texas Charter Schools Association has lobbied to close the state funding gap between their campuses and traditional school districts. The Texas Supreme Court is currently reviewing the state’s education financing system.

Traditional public schools receive $5.5 billion in capital construction money annually from the state; charters get none. For operations, charters receive an average of $1,000 less per student statewide than their counterparts.

Charter operators, who are licensed to provide “free” public education, say they do more with less through flexible staffing schedules and other economies.

In the Rio Grande Valley, competition from high-performing IDEA schools has prodded their public counterparts to tighten programs and improve performance.

Charters have demonstrated a knack for niche marketing. In Houston, a new Arabic dual-language charter quickly attracted three times more applicants than it could accommodate. Spanish immersion charters are drawing increasing interest in San Antonio’s suburbs.

Lengthening wait lists show that demand is outstripping charters’ ability to expand and build out.
In San Antonio, 4,901 children were on waiting lists for KIPP, Harmony and Great Hearts charter schools this year. In Houston, the queue grew to 32,793 for Harmony, KIPP and YES Prep charters.
Those figures do not include backlogs at IDEA or any of the scores of smaller, community-based charters.

Matt Prewett, president of Texas Parents Union, said the state’s per-pupil allocation for charters doesn’t cover the expense of educating special-needs students, including those with severe disabilities, or transportation.

“The solution is to push the Texas Legislature to provide adequate funding,” Prewett said.
Colleen Dippel, who taught at a KIPP charter school in Houston, launched the nonprofit Families Empowered to advise parents with children on waiting lists.

Dippel’s group surveyed 2,500 wait-list families and found that 60 percent were seeking charter enrollment for a better academic environment than could be found at their assigned neighborhood school.

“We believe that every child should have access to an excellent education, regardless of income,” she says.

Pointing to the charter wait lists and long-odds lotteries, Dippel and Steinhauser are trying out a new slogan: “Luck shouldn’t determine my future.”

Kenric Ward writes for the Texas Bureau of Watchdog.org. Contact him at kward@watchdog.org. @Kenricward

Part 1 of 1 in the series Charter schools in Texas

  1. Charter schools turn away thousands in Texas
  2. See More...
  

 
 
 is a veteran journalist who has worked on three Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers. A California native, he received a BA from UCLA (Political Science/Phi Beta Kappa) and holds an MBA. He reported and edited at the San Jose Mercury News and the Las Vegas Sun before joining Watchdog.org in 2012 as Virginia Bureau Chief.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Quote of the Day!

"Resisting the fantasies of the self-blinded does not flow from ignorance: It is the product of digested experience dispersed by a “University of Hard Knocks” that is devoid of illusions."  - George Handlery

The Madness Continues: Pamela Geller's Atlas Shrugs

Paris jihad terrorist Salah Abdeslam BOOED by Muslim inmates at his prison – because he didn’t go through with his suicide bombing - The Muslim mastermind behind the Paris jihad terror attacks was booed by Muslim inmates after arriving in jail – because he failed to carry out his suicide bombing. Apparently, there wasn’t enough infidel blood shed. 130 kufar dead, 400 injured didn’t satiate the religious blood-lust of these devout savages.  Christians didn’t jeer or whistle. Jews didn’t jeer or whistle. Hindus didn’t jeer or whistle. Just Muslims. But we are admonished and viciously ‘corrected’ when we call these attacks Islamic.

Iraq SHUTS DOWN Hillary Clinton’s Favorite Channel AL JAZEERA for ‘Instigating VIOLENCE’ - Al Jazeera has repeatedly come under fire from the Iraqi authorities for coverage too friendly to ISIS. I have long warned of the terror network’s propaganda to incite to jihad. But the left in America embraced it. Al Gore sold his failed network to Al Jazeera (refusing to consider Glenn Beck’s offer). Hillary Clinton lauded these bloody propagandists.
NPR: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went out of her way to single out the Al Jazeera TV news network….. “You’ve got a global — a set of global networks — that Al Jazeera has been the leader in, that are literally changing people’s minds and attitudes,” Clinton told members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Muslim ‘Refugee’ Serial SEX ATTACKER – REPEATEDLY RAPES, Douses Woman with Lighter Fluid, NO DEPORTATION - This Muslim “refugee” made her walk on all fours like a dog, repeatedly raped and terrorized this young woman, and after he was through, doused her with lighter fluid, saying, “You can receive SEK 10,000 if you follow me home and I get to f*ck you all day.”  Sweden’s sex slave stipend. The 34-year-old Muslim “refugee” has previously been convicted of dozens of offenses in Sweden, including domestic violence. And yet he is not deported. Instead, he will be given three hot halals a day and daily prison dawah. Sweden under sharia, eh? Under Islam, this is permissible. The violent taking of this Infidel woman is sanctioned in Islam, for the Qur’an allows Muslim men to have sexual relations with the...

Refugee Kids Get More Than American Kids - America in free fall.   Who do those American kids think they are anyway? We all know that the first priority of our nation is not our children, but other people’s children.
Children born to refugees receive more government benefits like food stamps, cash assistance, and Supplemental Security Income than native-born children, according to a report from the Migration Policy Institute.
 “Islamophobic hate crime” is actually Muslims who MURDERED ‘deradicalization’ Imam -   It turns out, as it almost always does, that the murderer of UK imam Jalal Uddin was not an “Islamophobe,” as had originally been thought, but other Muslims (one with terror links) who had opposed his “efforts to turn youngsters away from radical Islam.” CAIR was unavailable for comment —The above tweet is typical of leftist apologists for Islam. Where’s Sarah’s follow up tweet? How glaring is their malevolent agenda. Islamic supremacists and Islamic apologists immediately cry “islamophobia” when a Muslim or mosque is attacked, and they are almost always wrong. The perps are usually Muslims. And yet, in the near constant news reports of jihad, Islamic supremacists and their apologists never blame...

Muslim Council Of Britain Appoints Pro ‘Death To Apostates’ Imam To Investigate ‘Death To Apostates’ Group - Herein lies the rub – death to apostates is Islamic law. It is absolute. Any imam who follows true Islam is going to support it maybe not publicly but the two faces of Islam (one for believers, one for non-believers) is regular Islamic practice.
“Muslim Council Of Britain Appoints Pro ‘Death To Apostates’ Imam To Investigate ‘Death To Apostates’ Group,” By by Liam Deacon, Breitbart, April 28, 2016: The UK’s largest Muslim organisation has appointed a panel to investigate a sectarian hate group making death threats against alleged “apostates”, led by a man who has supported the group and believes apostates should be killed. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is the, “largest national representative of...
Kansas DEFIES Obama on Syrian Refugees - We should all defy Obama on his invasion plot in order to “protect the safety and security interests of” all Americans.  Kansas Governor Brownback and several other governors asked the White House in November of last year to share vetting information as President Obama pledged to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees. The administration refused to do so, citing the privacy rights of the refugees.

Italy nabs four Muslims in ISIS plot to attack Israeli embassy, Vatican - But the Pope washed Muslim migrants’ feet and has scolded Europeans for opposing the migrant invasion — and this is the gratitude the Islamic State (which said in February 2015 that it was going to flood Europe with 500,000 refugees) shows him. No amount of appeasement and surrender will suffice: the invaders are after total conquest.......

Bangladesh: After Muslims massacre atheists, 2 Hindu teachers jailed for defaming Islam - In the wake of the massacres of several prominent atheists and secularists in Bangladesh, authorities there are clamping down on…the “defamation” of Islam. Everywhere in the world, authorities bow to savagery and give it sanction......

Australia: Muslim teen, 16, arrested over ‘Anzac Day terror plot’ was in deradicalisation program - “Deradicalisation programs” are a joke. They don’t deradicalize anyone. They gave this boy a gym membership and thought that would turn him away from jihad. This comes from authorities’ not admitting what the source and appeal of the jihad imperative is in the first place......

High and Mighty Amal Clooney Should Host THOUSANDS of Muslim Refugees on Her HUGE UK Estate

By Pam Geller,

There’s a new boss in town. The haughty Amal Clooney is shocked, shocked! I tell you, that Americans like what Trump is saying about immigration and Muslim refugees. She is so perplexed as to why we would be wary of unvetted Muslims from jihad regions. The British citizen then goes on to explain US values to us. It’s not enough that her country, the nation that gave the world the Magna Carta, is dead; these elitists are hell-bent on bringing America down, too.  Amal Clooney criticized GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump for comments he has made about Muslims, adding that she is “perplexed” about why he is leading in the polls.
“When you listen to what the leading candidate on the Republican side has been saying...To Read More.....

My Take - As you read this article take a look at her "HUGE UK Estate".  Now begin to realize just how out of touch these two are by taking notice of  what goes on at their estate in Italy, as shown in the article, Amal Clooney Slams Trump: ‘Building Walls’ Doesn’t Represent ‘U.S. Values’, with my comments. 

These two live in a bubble of wealth and privilege completely out of touch with reality.  They live in a world that provided the very best of everything, including security, by American capitalism and yet support every left wing socialist loon in the world, and every left wing socialist philosophical flavor of the day, including the idea that Islam is completely in harmony with western values and ideals.  I often wonder what people like these two members of the Club For The Galacticly Stupid talk about in private. 

The Fourth Amendment and the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

The USA Freedom Act provides cover for unconstitutional searches of citizens.

| April 28, 2016

Would all of our lives be safer if the government could break down all the doors itWikimedia Commons wishes, listen to all the conversations it could find and read whatever emails and text messages it could acquire? Perhaps. But who would want to live in such a society?

To prevent that from happening here, the Framers ratified the Fourth Amendment, which is the linchpin of privacy and was famously called by Justice Louis Brandeis "the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men." He wrote those words in his dissent in the first wiretapping case to reach the Supreme Court, Olmstead v. United States, in 1928.......Evidence procured that is the fruit of the poisonous tree has been inadmissible in federal criminal prosecutions in the United States for the past 100 years and in state criminal prosecutions for the past 50 years.

Until now.......To Read More

Millennials Hate Capitalism Almost as Much as They Hate Socialism

Seize the means of production? Meh. Millennials love private enterprise—as long as you don't call it "capitalism."

Forget Denmark, Venezuela is the Real Culmination of Bernie’s Socialist Dreams

For the Vermont senator who favors press censorship and sees bread lines as evidence of success, the Bolivarian regime would seem to embody his ideals.

| April 26, 2016

Last September, Independent-Socialist-turned-Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders got a bit pissy when supporters of Hillary Clinton tied him to Hugo Chavez, the late supreme leader of Venezuela. They "tried to link me to a dead communist dictator" his campaign complained of a super PAC mailing that pointed to Sanders working with Chavez in 2005 to bring oil subsidized by the Venezuelan government to Vermont as part of a mutual publicity ploy.

The harsh distancing may have been a step too far for lefty fans of the late Venezuelan strongman and his American comrade. A press release on the same incident preserved at BernieSanders.com refers instead to "the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez."

Apparently all is forgiven. Last month Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's hand-picked successor, praised Sanders as "an emerging candidate with a renovating and revolutionary message."
And why not? In addition to oil deals, Sanders and the Bolivarian regime in Caracas have much in common. Venezuela has people waiting for hours to buy strictly rationed quantities of basic foodstuffs, and the Vermont senator loves him some bread lines......To Read More

Germany’s Green Energy Fiasco

Wind Farms Paid €500 Million A Year To Stand Idle

Because of the boom of renewable energy, more and more wind turbines have to be switched off. The reason is power overloading. The network operators must turn down electricity generated from windmills when their power threatens to clog the network. For the grid operator Tennet alone, these costs added 329 million euros in 2015 – two and a half times as much as in the previous year. The other network operators 50Hertz, Amprion and EnBW had a combined cost of 150 million euros, according to a survey of Wirtschaftswoche among the four network operators in Germany. --Christian Schlesiger, Wirtschaftswoche, 28 April 2016

Because of the boom of renewable energy, more and more wind turbines have to be switched off. The reason is power overloading. The network operators must turn down electricity generated from windmills when their power threatens to clog the network. For the grid operator Tennet alone, these costs added 329 million euros in 2015 – two and a half times as much as in the previous year. The other network operators 50Hertz, Amprion and EnBW had a combined cost of 150 million euros, according to a survey of Wirtschaftswoche among the four network operators in Germany. --Christian Schlesiger, Wirtschaftswoche, 28 April 2016
 
The online German national daily Die Welt has a piece by business journalist Holger Zschäpitz on Germany’s sky-high, ever climbing electricity prices. Awhile ago it looked as if prices had finally stabilized. But now Zschäpitz writes that German electricity prices, already among the highest in the world, have jumped once again. Families today are paying 21% more for electricity than they did 5 years ago. So what is driving the rapid upward price spiral? Zschäpitz reports that it’s due mostly to the “Energiewende”. In the meantime, Germany’s CO2 emissions have been rising, and thus consumers are not really getting anything for the massive amounts of money. --Pierre Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, 29 April 2016
 
The boss of struggling steel giant Tata has blamed soaring energy costs and high business rates for crippling British industry. Tata chief executive Bimlendra Jha, whose UK operations are losing around £1million a week, said the firm’s energy charges are £40million more a year than those in Germany. His comments came as discussions continue over the future of the company’s plant in Port Talbot, South Wales, with thousands of jobs at risk. Mr Jha told members of the Business Select Committee today that high prices and a strong pound were hitting trade. --David Maddox, Daily Express, 28 April 2016
 
George Osborne risks killing off British manufacturing with sky-high green taxes and business rates – the Indian boss of the Port Talbot steelworks blasted today.  Tata Steel chief Bimlendra Jha said his UK business would be MAKING money if it had Germany’s electricity prices. And he told MPs that the Government’s existing policies – such as eco taxes which send energy costs through the roof – meant it was almost impossible for firms “bleeding money” to recover. He stormed: “We cannot be the ones who shut the door on the industrial revolution which began in this country.” --The Sun, 29 April 2016

The Paris Agreement not merely fails to ground the policy of mitigation of global warming, it ensures that the policy will fail. And the INDCs of China and India, which Lord Turner especially mentioned, are statements of an intention massively to increase emissions. The Paris Agreement provides an explicitly legal permission for developing countries not to make any CO2 reductions and will be the legal basis of continued immense increase in China’s and India’s CO2 emissions. China’s extremely ambitious and apparently positive intensity targets actually represent a statement that the increase in its emissions will be vast. Everything Lord Turner said about the Paris Agreement and China’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions was wrong. That a person of his influence says things that will mislead the listening public is regrettable. That the BBC airs such statements without any challenges is a disgrace. --Professor David Campbell, Global Warming Policy Forum 28 April 2016

Brought to you by Benny Peiser's Global Warming Policy Forum

Global Warming and Climate Change: Time to Debunk the Nonsense.

Dr. Phil Taverna, on April 28th, 2016

The liberal media pushes at least 2 pieces a week on climate change. And they have certain reporters that know nothing but report on it constantly. But no matter how you look at the numbers, shall we say real numbers not the made-up numbers the facts are not there to prove there is global warming or climate change à la liberals. And basically it has never been about saving the planet. But about taxing you and giving your hard earned money to poor countries so they will create less carbon emissions. Really?......To Read More

Britain’s Choice

By George Handlery, on April 29th, 2016

Evidently, Britain’s decision about her continued EU membership (“Brexit”) is crucial. Obama’s threatening butting in on the debate underlines this assessment.

The consequences go beyond the “Europes”. (Yes, plural!) The term reflects that there are several Europes. One is the developed Atlantic West. Then there is the “South”; wobbly although it enjoyed the “north’s” opportunities and escaped Soviet rule. With local consent, it remained misgoverned. Lastly, there is the “new” Europe, of the “Visegrád Group” (Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary.) England’s special tag expresses her island-geography and tradition. Their combination enabled her to defy, Spanish domination, then French tutelage, and Nazi conquest.

Recently, a new threat arose. It aims to unify Europe through the bureaucratic centralism of an “ever closer union”. Peripheral Norway is not a member, and the encircled and extorted Swiss, continue to resist. The region’s highest GDP society is defiant because its federal government by plebiscite clashes with the EU’s system.

While the belt is tightened by “Brussels”, the pressure hurts. Additionally, the mismanagement of the € -the common currency- threatens an economic crisis. Add the mishandling of the migrant question and the rise of Islamic enclaves. This nurtures doubts –in the people but not the elite- about the union in its present form.......To Read More....

The Healthcare Exclusion Is the Tax Code’s Most Harmful Loophole

April 29, 2016 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
 
What’s the worst loophole (properly defined) in the cluttered internal revenue code?

I think the deduction for state and local taxes is very bad policy since it enables higher tax burdens in states such as California, New Jersey, and Illinois. The exemption for municipal bond interest is another misguided provision since it makes it easier for states to finance spending with debt.


Special favors in the tax code for ethanol also deserve scorn and disdain, and I’m also not a fan of the charitable deduction or the ways in which housing gets preferential treatment.

But if I had to pick just one tax preference to repeal, it would be the so-called healthcare exclusion. This is the policy that enables employers to deduct the cost of health insurance policies they buy for their employees.

You may think that deduction is reasonable. After all, employers also can deduct the wages and salaries they pay their employees. But here’s the catch. Employees pay tax on their wages and salaries, but they don’t have to pay tax on the value of their health insurance, even though such policies obviously are a form of compensation.

Moreover, since this type of compensation is shielded from both income taxes and payroll taxes, the playing field is therefore very tilted, which generates some very perverse results.

First, some background. As part of a broader analysis of the non-taxation of fringe benefits, Scott Greenberg of the Tax Foundation explains how government has created a big incentive to take income in the form of fringe benefits rather than wages and salaries.
…eighty years ago, it was relatively uncommon to offer workers compensation other than their regular wages and salaries. In 1929, only 1.9 percent of employee pay took the form of fringe benefits. By 2014, fringe benefits had risen to 19.2 percent of worker compensation.
Here’s a chart looking at the historical data.



Greenberg says this distortion in the tax code is unfair.
…the growing trend of unreported fringe benefits is “inequitable and inefficient.” This claim is spot on. For an illustration, imagine two employees, one of whom makes a salary of $100,000, and one of whom makes a salary of $80,000 and benefits worth $20,000, which largely go unreported. Although both workers receive the same overall compensation, the first employee is subject to a significantly higher tax burden than the second, which seems plainly unfair.
Moreover, the distortion lures people into making economically foolish choices.
Furthermore, this arrangement incentivizes companies to shift more compensation towards benefits, to help employees avoid taxes. This leads to an inefficient allocation of resources, towards services that employers might not have been willing to pay for in the absence of tax incentives.
He’s correct.

Writing for the Weekly Standards, Ike Brannon looks specifically at the biggest tax-free fringe benefit.
…allowing employers to provide health insurance tax-free to their workers is terrible policy, a truism that any honest economist—whether liberal, conservative, or otherwise—would agree with. …First, workers end up with more health insurance than they would ever purchase on their own (since tax-free health insurance is worth more than income that’s taxed at 30%-50%), which gives people less take-home pay to spend as they see fit. Second, more generous health insurance entails lower co-pays as well as other provisions that insulate the worker from the actual cost of their health care. As a result, people become less sensitive to prices when seeking health care, and they consume more of it—most of which does nothing to improve health outcomes, numerous studies have shown.
For further details on this unfortunate tax preference, A. Barton Hinkle looks at the evolution of the health exclusion in a column for Reason.
…the original sin of the American health-care marketplace…was committed back in World War 2, when inflation led workers to demand higher wages – which many employers could not afford to pay because of price controls. …With wages frozen, employers needed another way to compete for labor made scarce by the draft. So some began offering health coverage. The practice took root, spread, and outlasted the war. In 1949 the National Labor Relations Board ruled that health benefits counted as wages for the purpose of union negotiations. Five years later, the IRS ruled that health coverage was not taxable income. The result was a double incentive for employers to offer fatter health benefits in lieu of fatter paychecks. …The result: a skyrocketing, ultimately unsustainable increase in national outlays for health care. …In short, for decades the federal government has encouraged employers to provide gold-plated health-care plans.
Joe Antos of the American Enterprise Institute explains how the “healthcare exclusion” is bad fiscal policy, bad health policy, and bad economic policy.
If we hope to move to an efficient healthcare system that is fair to everyone, Congress will have to take on the largest subsidy in the tax code. …Premiums paid for employment-based health insurance are excluded from federal income and payroll taxes.
When describing provisions that allow people to keep more of their own money, I would prefer to say largest distortion rather than largest subsidy, but I realize I’m being pedantic. Regardless of word choice, the net effect of this preference is negative.
The tax exclusion…fuels the rapid growth of health spending, contributes to stagnating wage growth, and disadvantages low-wage workers. Because there is no limit on how much can be excluded from taxes, workers are encouraged to buy more expensive coverage than they would otherwise…makes consumers less sensitive to prices and promotes the use of medical services, including services that may not provide much value to the patient.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the problems associated with the exclusion.
The exclusion has caused a shift in compensation from taxable cash wages to greater health benefits which are not taxed. Between 1999 and 2015, the average employer contribution for family coverage nearly tripled while wage rates increased by only about half.
By the way, our leftists friends should oppose the exclusion for class-warfare reasons.
…workers in higher tax brackets benefit the most from the exclusion. The Joint Committee on Taxation found that the average savings for tax filers with incomes less than $30,000 was about $1,650 compared to about $4,580 for those with incomes over $200,000.
To deal with these negative effects, Antos proposes a modified version of the “Cadillac tax” from Obamacare combined with tax credits for consumers who purchase their own health insurance.
That’s better than the status quo, but the ideal solution is a flat tax, which would eliminate the deduction provided to employers for compensation in the form of fringe benefits.

In their book on tax reform, Professors Hall and Rabushka explain the obvious beneficial consequence of a level playing field for all forms of compensation.
The flat tax eliminates the distortion toward fringe benefits created by the fact that employers can deduct them, thereby receiving a subsidy that can be passed on to their employees. The best alternative, and one we expect your employer to select, is to offer you higher pay in exchange for lower fringes. You can then use the extra cash to buy whatever combination of benefits you desire.
This will make the healthcare marketplace much more efficient.

Here’s what I wrote about the healthcare exclusion way back in 2009, as part of a column on government-created inefficiency in the health sector.
…social engineering in the tax code created this mess. Specifically, most of us get some of our compensation in the form of health insurance policies from our employers. And because that type of income is exempt from taxation, this encourages so-called Cadillac health plans.  …our gold-plated health plans now mean we use insurance for routine medical costs. This means, of course, we have the paperwork issues discussed above, but that’s just a small part of the problem. Even more problematic, our pre-paid health care system is somewhat akin to going to an all-you-can-eat restaurant. We have an incentive to over-consume since we’ve already paid. Except this analogy is insufficient. When we go to all-you-can-eat restaurants, at least we know we’re paying a certain amount of money for an unlimited amount of food. Many Americans, by contrast, have no idea how much of their compensation is being diverted to purchase health plans. …this messed-up approach causes inefficiency and higher costs. We consumers don’t feel any need to be careful shoppers since we perceive that our health care is being paid by someone else. Should we be surprised, then, that normal market forces don’t seem to be working? (though it is worth noting that costs keep falling and quality keeps rising in the few areas – such as laser-eye surgery and cosmetic surgery – that are not covered by insurance) Imagine if auto insurance worked this way? Or homeowner’s insurance? Would it make sense to file insurance forms to get an oil change? Or to buy a new couch? That sounds crazy. The system would be needlessly bureaucratic, and costs would rise because we would act like we were spending other people’s money.  But that’s what would probably happen if government intervened in the same way it does in the health-care sector.
By the way, to make sure politicians don’t get a windfall of new revenue, the healthcare exclusion should only be repealed as part of a reform that also lowers tax rates.

Here’s a video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity that highlights how the healthcare exclusion is a major cause of the third-party payer problem.



And if you like videos, I strongly recommend this Reason TV explanation of how simple and affordable healthcare can be in the absence of government-created third-party payer.