Written by Marian Tupy, a policy analyst, Center for the Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
According to Sir David Attenborough, the famous British broadcaster and naturalist, “humans are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world’s resources.” In a recent interview, Attenborough said that “the only way to save the planet from famine and species extinction is to limit human population growth.”
We are a plague on the Earth,” he continued. “It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now… We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia; that’s what’s happening. Too many people there.
In 2006, Sir David Attenborough was voted Britain’s greatest living icon. Popularity, however, is no substitute for wisdom. As I have explained in a previous blog post, “[The] rate of global population growth has slowed. And it’s expected to keep slowing. Indeed, according to experts’ best estimates, the total population of Earth will stop growing within the lifespan of people alive today. And then it will fall… the long-dreaded resource shortage may turn out not to be a problem at all.”
Have you been following the debate over the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST)? If you haven’t perhaps you should. This UN-backed treaty, which requires ratification by the United States, may not seem important since it deals with a rather mundane issue. However, it could become a vehicle for more nefarious propositions; including backdoor cap-and-trade, a policy that was defeated in Congress back in 2009.
LOST has some powerful supporters in the Senate and among special interests, for example, the United States Chamber of Commerce supports its ratification. However, a number of Republicans in the Senate are looking to derail it, permanently:
The Obama administration’s all-out push to join the United Nations international maritime treaty is just four votes short of being doomed after two more senators this week added their names to the list of lawmakers who have vowed to oppose it.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) are the two latest senators to sign on to the letter, The Hill has learned, bringing the total to 30. Treaties need a two-thirds majority to pass in the Senate, meaning 34 signatures would effectively kill it.
Accession to the treaty is championed by a powerful coalition that includes the U.S. Navy, the business community and the oil industry but that hasn’t been enough to assuage concerns that the convention would impinge on U.S. sovereignty.
For several years now there has been an ongoing debate regarding the impetus for President Obama’s economic policies. Were they the work of the smartest president in history, a man so intelligent that his wisdom could supplant the collective experience and choices of 300 million Americans, and in so doing restore our economy? Were they the well-intentioned but errant contemplations on an Ivy League egghead with lots of “book learnin’”, but without a shred of private sector experience that is the proving grounds for such ideas, being exposed to the unmerciful judgment of markets?
At this point I have come to the conclusion that it is an intentional effort to replace America’s free-enterprise system with a democratic-socialist style, centrally-planned, government run economy. Look at the evidence…the massive stimulus package which failed spectacularly, the auto union bailouts, government employee bailouts, Cash for Clunkers, Son of Stimulus, and myriad other economic “remedies”. Combine this with calls for increased taxes of “the rich”, more regulation and more government intervention in the market, and we end up with a long-term stagnant economy. One can no longer chalk it up to pure stupidity. If it were pure stupidity then the law of probabilities would dictate that Obama would have made the right decisions, even if only by accident, somewhat approaching fifty percent of the time.
Leftists Shouldn’t Complain about Corporate Rent-seeking when Leftists Encourage Corporate Rent-seeking
A notice in this morning’s Federal Register gives us insight about how regulatory capture begins.
The Department of Energy is looking to create a a regulatory subcommittee of vetted stakeholders to develop energy efficiency standards for electricity distribution transformers:
SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or the Department) is giving notice that it intends to establish a negotiated rulemaking subcommittee under ERAC in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and the Negotiated Rulemaking Act (NRA) to negotiate proposed Federal standards for the energy efficiency of low- voltage dry-type distribution transformers. The purpose of the subcommittee will be to discuss and, if possible, reach consensus on a proposed rule for the energy efficiency of distribution transformers, as authorized by the Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975, as amended. The subcommittee will consist of representatives of parties having a defined stake in the outcome of the proposed standards, and will consult as appropriate with a range of experts on technical issues. DATES: Written comments and requests to be appointed as members of the subcommittee are welcome and should be submitted by August 29, 2011.
So the government is looking for parties with “a defined stake” — meaning entities operating in distribution transformer space, from electricity companies and device manufacturers to green groups and (probably) well-heeled and connected Democratic donors — to appoint (not elect) to a committee responsible for promulgating efficiency criteria that will eventually have the force of law.
Amid more reports of Obama Administration-backed (ie. taxpayer-funded) green energy companies going under or facing severe financial problems, a new report shows that the $26 billion in so-called “investments” that have been made to prop up these companies average out to around $11 million per job:
According to the Institute for Energy Research, the Department of Energy has spent nearly $26 billion since 2009 on its Section 1703 and 1705 loan programs. However, these two programs only yielded 2,308 permanent jobs — meaning the cost to taxpayers was $11.25 million per job.
“Clearly, in terms of ‘bang for the buck,” government programs that coddle renewable energy are losers,” according to IER. “In terms of jobs, the losers are the American workers who would otherwise be gainfully employed but for the tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars on the administration’s obsession with “green energy.’”
The loans were part of the Obama Administration’s plans to create a “green economy” in the aftermath of the Great Recession. However, the loans have become symbolic of the cronyism and waste that has come with the policies it has pursued.
There’s a long list of failed “green energy” companies that have received taxpayer funding and/or tax breaks. In November, the Heritage Foundation released the names of 33 companies that received anywhere from $500,000 to $1.46 billion in taxpayer subsidies.
Last week, President Barack Obama met separately with House and Senate Republicans where he was asked about the future of the Keystone XL pipeline, which was stalled early last year despite a State Department report showing that it posed no substantial environmental threat. President Obama was ambiguous about the pipeline, which would create thousands of new jobs, both direct and indirect.
Not only does the White House have to deal with a recently released draft statement from the State Department finding that the Keystone XL pipeline poses no real environmental threat, a new poll out today shows that 70% of Americans are behind the project:
A new Fox News poll shows support for the project has reached a new high, with 70 percent supporting its construction and 23 percent opposing it. That 70 percent support figure is up from 67 percent a year ago. Other polls at the time showed slightly lower levels of support, though still huge majorities in favor.
The increase appears to be due to a rise in support among Democrats, who now support it with a clear majority — 57 percent.
Aaron Blake of the Washington Post notes that Obama’s climate change agenda — an issue that he discussed during both his inaugural address and the State of the Union — could be an indictation that Keystone and the thousands of jobs that could be created face an ominous future.
On Friday, the State Department issued a draft environmental impact statement on Keystone XL, the controversial oil pipeline proposed by TransCanada, which finds that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment:
The State Department issued a revised environmental impact statement for the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline on Friday that makes no recommendation about whether the project should be built but presents no conclusive environmental reason it should not be.
[I]t says that alternate means of transporting the oil — rail, truck and barge — also have significant environmental and economic impacts, including higher costs, noise, traffic, air pollution and the possibility of spills. The study does not say that one method is better for the environment than another. It does say that a spill is more likely for rail transport, although the report says that the volume of oil spilled from a pipeline is likely to be greater.
Kerri-Ann Jones, assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs, said the report was careful not to pre-empt policy decisions that Mr. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry will make on the pipeline. She said the report was designed to analyze technical issues and serve as the basis for public debate.
It appears environmentalism has officially gone insane. In Florida, a man released several heart shaped balloons into the air as an expression of love to his girlfriend. And for that, the guy was arrested:
Brasfield, 40, and his girlfriend, Shaquina Baxter, were in the parking lot of the Motel 6 on Dania Beach Boulevard when he released the shiny red and silver mylar balloons and watched them float away Sunday morning.
Also watching the romantic gesture: an FHP trooper, who instead noted probable cause for an environmental crime.
Brasfield was charged with polluting to harm humans, animals, plants, etc. under the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act.
Seriously? We’re going to arrest people now because they released balloons into the air? What sort of joyless soul-sucking Dementors are the people who push for this kind of legislation?
The story notes at the end that Brasfield, if convicted, faces up to five years in prison. Five years for releasing balloons into the air to show his love to his significant other. If that’s not liberty-trampeling, un-American, and just plain immoral, I don’t know what it is.
In his inaugural address on Monday, President Barack Obama touched on “climate change,” an issue that he unsuccessfully pushed during his first term.
“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity,” Obama said, adding, “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.” Obama, who even invoked God when addressing the topic, then criticized those of us “still deny the overwhelming judgment of science.”
Ironically, these comments came at the beginning of the coldest week in Washington, DC in nearly a decade. The low at Reagan National on Wednesday morning was a bone-chilling 15 degrees, according to The Weather Channel. My iPhone showed 14 degrees at Nationals Park — nevertheless, it has been pretty cold in the nation’s capitol this week.
But is climate change really a threat? A plurality of Americans agree with President Obama, according to a new CNN poll, though that number is down from recent years. Moreover, a Gallup poll from last summer showed that the issue ranked dead last on Americans’ list of concerns.