I was one of the millions of people who had seen the footage of the “flaming water” supposedly caused by fracking in Pennsylvania, but had never seen Gasland or really studied the issue in depth. When the opportunity to attend the Los Angeles premiere of Frack Nation arose, I decided to see what the fuss was about. Cinematically and content-wise, Frack Nation did not disappoint.
Frack Nation starts with the same flaming water shot from Gasland that has alarmed environmentalists and the masses and describes the anti-fracking movement’s complaints. What was helpful for a newbie like me was to have the fracking process described in detail.
McAleer interviewed many of the farmers of Dimock, Pennsylvania, the “ground zero” of this issue. The farmers almost unanimously want the ability to lease their mineral rights to the gas companies for fracking. Many of them are dairy farmers whose land has been in the family for generations. They passionately tell McAleer that they need this money to be able to survive, as farming is a money-losing proposition these days. It is what they love to do, and leasing mineral rights will allow them to do that instead of joining the ranks of the unemployed.
Just as passionately, they state they would never allow anything on their land that harms the environment. Their homes are on this land. Their dairy cows graze on this land. They’ve tilled this land for a lifetime. They are believable – they would not allow any process that harms their asset, the land, just for money.
In an excellent piece urging that oral contraception become available over the counter that ran in this morning’s print edition of the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required), Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, whose résumé includes a litany of health policy wonkery, sounded the death knell of both big government’s dominion over one aspect of reproductive health, and the pharmaceutical industry’s influence over that policy. Further, Jindal’s position masterfully bridges the gap between social conservatives and libertarians, as it accounts for both market-based health care (vs. Obamacare) and the protection of religious liberty and conscience (also vs. Obamacare). Here’s an excerpt:
I think I may have finally found the most bothersome, noxious piece of information of all time, thanks to the editors at Townhall.com. The emphasis in the next quote is mine:
It’s official. Taxpayers are no longer simply helping the poor, they’re subsidizing the lives of welfare recipients at a better rate than their own. The Senate Budget Committee has released a report showing households living below the poverty line and receiving welfare payments are raking in the equivalent of $168 per day in benefits which come in the form of food stamps, housing, childcare, healthcare and more. The median household income in 2011 was $50,054, totaling $137.13 per day. The worst part? Welfare payments are equivalent to making $30 per hour for 40 hours a week. The median wage for non-welfare recipients is $25 per hour but because they pay taxes, unlike welfare recipients, the wage is bumped down to $21 per hour.
When I read this, I threw up a bit.
I’m going to be honest with you and tell you a little bit about my personal life, which I don’t typically do in the pages of United Liberty. And I certainly don’t want to start a pity party over me. But here’s the facts: I currently have a paying job, but not a great one. I’m an intern in DC. I make $30 a day. Let me repeat that: I make thirty dollars a day. Yet even though I work hard, create value, and do my damndest to support myself without forcing others to support me, the average welfare recipient receives 5.6 times what I make, paid for with my tax dollars.
President Obama is adored by many on the left for, among other things, his supposedly high-brow and rigorous reading tastes. The Daily Beast ran a story saying “Obama has thrilled the intellectual classes with his frequent book talk from the days of his campaign onward.”
Like everyone else, President Obama obviously thinks some authors are beneath his standard. This week, in a Rolling Stone interview, President Obama gave his thoughts on Ayn Rand. When asked whether he’d read Rand, he responded “Sure.”
Replying to a follow-up question, Obama said this.
Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision. It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a “you’re on your own” society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.
I know we’re focused pretty intensely on the elections, which are only two weeks away, but we always need to focus as well on underlying principles and concepts that drive our economy and our government. Elections come and go; this stuff is forever. In that vein, you really need to take a look at a new paper from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, by Randall Holcombe:
Crony capitalism describes an economic system in which the profitability of firms in a market economy is dependent on political connections. The term has been used in the popular press but rarely appears in academic literature. However, there has been a substantial amount of academic research on various components that, when aggregated, describe crony capitalism. This literature shows that crony capitalism exists only because those in government are in a position to target benefits to their cronies, and have an incentive to do so, because they get benefits in return. The ability to target those benefits is a result of the spending and regulatory power of government, so big government causes cronyism. One remedy often suggested for cronyism is more government regulation and oversight of the economy, but this remedy misunderstands the cause of cronyism. The substantial and well-established economic literature on the components of crony capitalism shows that big government is the cause of crony capitalism, not the solution.
By “crony capitalism,” of course, he refers to lobbyists, and big business using those lobbyists to get more power and take more wealth away from the public. It’s the reason we had Occupy Wall Street, and why many folks still cry out for “regulation” to “rein in” big business and the big banks.
My Twitter followers know that I’m a huge hockey fan and that I’m really upset that we have now entered the third work stoppage under NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s tenure. But the current lockout, like previous lockouts, has paved the way for the temporary flight of NHL talent to European countries so they can continue earning a paycheck and staying in game shape. That necessarily paves the way for a discussion of comparative politics and economics. Take, for example, the case of Swedish-born Nashville Predators forward Patric Hornqvist, who was going to sign with his former (pre-NHL career) team Djurgarden, even though they’re no longer in the Swedish Elite League:
Following in Roman Josi’s footsteps, the next Nashville Predator is heading overseas during NHL Lockout 2012, as Patric Hornqvist will reportedly play with Djurgarden, the team he played for before coming to North America. Djurgarden is currently in Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan, having been relegated last spring from the Swedish Elite League after a 35-year run.
A bit of controversy has been going around lately with the so-called “Poll Denialists.” These are Republicans and conservatives who believe that Romney’s current poll numbers, lagging Obama’s, are somehow false, a scheme by pollsters to deliberately skew the election towards an Obama victory, and are trying to explain it away with…well, I’m not sure what.
Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard mostly sums it up with “the polls are oversampling Democrats.” Robert Stacy McCain of The American Spectator just thinks it’s beyond any reason to believe that Obama is leading. And there is an entire website called “unskewedpolls.com” dedicated to finding the “true numbers” behind the polls.
This is pretty much balderdash, based on bad assumptions of how polling works and just plain fantasy. Stephen L. Taylor of Outside the Beltway focuses on the latter when he says:
Mayor Mia Love of Saratoga Springs, Utah is running for Congress in her state’s newly created 4th District. A graduate of the University of Hartford with a degree in fine arts, Mayor Love also spent two terms in city council.
As a staunch defender of the Constitution and supporter of limited government, Mayor Love’s principled message was heard throughout the country during her speech to the Republican Convention in Tampa, FL.
Matt Naugle: How did you become a conservative?
Mia Love: Our country was founded on the conservative principles of fiscal discipline and small government. I watched as my parents achieved the American dream through the power of those founding principles. I observed as these conservative practices played out in the lives of my parents and came to believe in them and to trust them.
These beliefs and conservative principles were reaffirmed as I married an incredibly self-sufficient, hard-working husband who took responsibility for himself and his family. I have continued to believe in those conservative principles and believe that they are what can bring us back to a strong America.
MN: Your parents were Haitian immigrants. What did you learn from your parents?
A few weeks ago we brought you a video from an Occupy meeting where the stated goal was to overthrow capitalism. A few commenters took issue with this, claiming it was an isolated statement and that Occupy is a loose-knit group.
I had the opportunity to be with the Occupy protesters at the RNC and the DNC over the past few weeks and I can assuredly tell you that it is not an isolated statement. True, there are many groups represented at the demonstrations, and maybe not all of them will outright say that they want to overthrow capitalism. But when you promote a socialist economy, by definition you are advocating the overthrow of capitalism.
I covered the “March on the RNC” in Tampa and was able to have a conversation with a socialist marcher about the economy:
A few of his comments deserve special attention.
“We need to tax the wealthiest people in the country, who aren’t paying their fair share - it’s not shared sacrifice for them.”
This is a common refrain among not only the Occupy movement but among liberals in general. Consider that the top 20 percent of earners - going way beyond the famed 1 percent - makes a little more than half the money yet pays two-thirds of the federal taxes. And once you hit $200,000 in adjusted gross income, your tax rate nearly doubles - going from an average of 11.9 percent to 19.6 percent.
Recently elected socialist French president François Hollande.
While I’m not sure I always buy whole-hog the amorphous concept of “regulatory uncertainty,” brought on by the administrative state, as a catch-all explanation for everything wrong with the private sector and our nation’s current unemployment crisis, a fascinating Bloomberg Businessweek Global Economics feature from May 2012 looks at French labor policy (emphasis mine):
[France] has 2.4 times as many companies with 49 employees as with 50. What difference does one employee make? Plenty, according to the French labor code. Once a company has at least 50 employees inside France, management must create three worker councils, introduce profit sharing, and submit restructuring plans to the councils if the company decides to fire workers for economic reasons.
French businesspeople often skirt these restraints by creating new companies rather than expanding existing ones.