Free Markets, Free People

Monthly Archives: January 2011

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FL Federal judge rules ObamaCare unconstitutional as a whole

I’m not a lawyer nor do I pretend to be, although I do enjoy discussing legal matters very much. 

Anyway, as you might imagine, Judge Vinson’s ruling has created a bit of a stir with the left, of course, accusing him of “extreme activism” and the right saying “right on”.   In reality, all it means is the future of the law depends on what Justice Kennedy is feeling like when the SCOTUS hears it because they are going to have to review it now.

So, back to me not being a lawyer, I’d like to turn to someone who is and who has followed this closely and, in fact, wrote amicus briefs for two of the governors involved in the lawsuits – Hans Bader who is a senior attorney with the Competitive Enterprise Institute.   Here’s his opinion of the ruling:

A judge in Florida just declared the health care law known as “Obamacare” unconstitutional, ruling it void in its entirety. Judge Vinson rightly declared the health care law’s individual mandate unconstitutional, since the inactivity of not buying health insurance is not an “economic activity” that Congress has the power to regulate under the Interstate Commerce Clause. (Under the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Morrison (2000), which I helped litigate, only “economic activity” can be regulated under the Commerce Clause, with the possible exception of those non-economic activities that harm instrumentalities of interstate commerce or cross state lines.)

Judge Vinson also rightly declared the law as a whole unconstitutional. The health care law lacks a severability clause. So if a major provision like the individual mandate is unconstitutional — as it indeed was — then the whole law must be struck down.

The absence of a severability clause meant that, at a minimum, the burden of proof shifted to the government to prove (among other things) that the law would have passed even without the individual-mandate provision that the court has just ruled unconstitutional. The government could not, and did not, meet that burden of proof, given the incredibly narrow margin by which the health care law passed in the House, and the fact that it circumvented a filibuster with no votes to spare in the Senate.

Earlier, a judge in Virginia declared Obamacare’s individual mandate unconstitutional, but declined to strike down the rest of the law.

As I noted earlier in The Washington Examiner, “To justify preserving the rest of the law, the judge” in the earlier Virginia case “cited a 2010 Supreme Court ruling [Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB] that invalidated part of a law — but kept the rest of it in force. But that case involved a law passed almost unanimously by Congress, which would have passed it even without the challenged provision. Obamacare is totally different. It was barely passed by a divided Congress, but only as a package. Supporters admitted that the unconstitutional part of it — the insurance mandate — was the law’s heart. Obamacare’s legion of special-interest giveaways that are ‘extraneous to health care’ does not alter that.” In short, Obamacare’s individual mandate is not “volitionally severable,” as case law requires.

The individual mandate provision also was not “functionally” severable from the rest of the law, since the very Congress that passed deemed it absolutely “essential” to the Act’s overarching goals (as Judge Vinson in Florida correctly noted).

(In our amicus brief in the Florida case for Governors Tim Pawlenty and Donald L. Carcieri, we also argue that Obamacare violates the Tenth Amendment by exceeding Congress’s power under the Spending Clause, a so-called Pennhurst argument.)

Cato legal scholar Ilya Shapiro, who filed briefs against the law in both Virginia and Florida, comments on today’s decision here, calling it a “victory for federalism and individual liberty.”

In footnote 27, the judge cited with approval the thoughtful brief of legal scholar Ken Klukowski explaining why Obamacare should be struck down in its entirety under settled principles of severability.

So there it is with all the links.  I’m hoping that’s how the SCOTUS sees it as well.  So for the lawyers among us – have at it guys.

~McQ

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Bubble-headed nonsense from the left about income inequality

I

’m not sure what else to call it but it does indeed seem a fitting example of a discussion we recently had here about colleges failing to teach critical thinking.

Think Progress (of course) has a blog post headlined with “Income inequality in US worse than Egypt”.  Never let a crisis go to waste, huh?

First you are asked to believe that it is “income inequality” which is leading the pack of reasons the country wants Mubarak gone.  If not, what’s the purpose of the headline?

Secondly, there’s the equivalence this writer makes between the US and Egypt.   My guess Pat Garafalo has never been to Egypt (or perhaps even out of the US to a nation in which “poor” actually means poor) so he has no frame of reference in his comparison.  Its all about income inequality, that’s always "bad" and that is the leading reason for unrest, or so the reasoning, such that it is, seems to conclude.

Usually “income inequality” isn’t even on the radar screen when these sorts of things happen.  The grievances are more focused more generally on “freedom”, “liberty”, “oppression” and/or “democracy”.  You may, as you have in the case of Egypt, even hear “economic opportunity” as a reason.

No, “income inequality” is one of those terms the left likes to use as a sort of euphemism for “capitalist exploiters” – a part of their perpetual war on business.  “Capitalist exploiters” include any corporation and most business owners.  Of course they can’t use “capitalist exploiters” without revealing their game (and being dismissed out of hand), so “income inequality” has to do.   The implication, of course, is if we just took the money from those capitalist exploiters and spread it around (because, you know, those folks collect it and bury it in a coffee can in the back yard or stuff their mattress with it), all would be lovely.  

The fact remains that economic opportunity is lacking in Egypt not because of “capitalist exploiters” but because of government oppression and favoritism. 

Somehow though, and certainly there are problems with government intrusion here, what has gone on in Egypt is relevant to what is going on here and the proof is “income inequality”.  Make the connection for heaven sake – what’s wrong with you?

Garafalo takes a wave at trying to sound fair about his point, but remember, to swallow this whole you have to believe two things – one, that economics is a zero-sum game, so if the rich are getting richer the poor must get poorer and two, there is no opportunity for the poor to better their condition.  The rich are just making it worse and worse for the poor by earning taking more than their “fair share”.

Anyway, Garafalo says:

The Gini coefficient is used to measure inequality: the lower a country’s score, the more equal it is. Obviously, there are many things about the U.S. economy that make it far preferable to that in Egypt, including lower poverty rates, higher incomes, significantly better infrastructure, and a much higher standard of living overall. But income inequality in the U.S. is the worst it has been since the 1920′s, which is a real problem.

Using that, I’d have to guess that the former Soviet Union and it’s bloc of Eastern European satellites had very low Gini coefficient scores, wouldn’t you?

See, this is “equality” for equality’s sake.   It’s nonsense.  It is the turning of a concept from a positive to a negative.   We have all been promised something very profound in the country – equal protection under the law and equal opportunity to pursue “happiness”.  Yet it is something the left constantly and consistently pushes as a different message.  It doesn’t just want equality in opportunity – it want’s equality of outcome.

That’s why you continue to see long boring posts written about the subject of “income inequality”.  It is how the left justifies further intrusion by government and taking from those who “have” to give to those who “don’t have”.   It’s about time we made it clear that other than the leftist chorus, no one else is buying into their preaching.

Oh and the big finish to the Garafalo piece?

Yale economist Robert Shiller has said that income inequality “is potentially the big problem, which is bigger than this whole financial crisis.” “If these trends that we’ve seen for 30 years now in inequality continue for another 30 years…it’s going to create resentment and hostility,” he said. But tax and spending policies that provide adequate services and allow for economic mobility — along with a robust social safety net — can head off trouble that may come down the road.

“Bigger than this whole financial crisis”.  It will create “resentment and hostility”.  There may be “trouble … down the road”.

Really?

Have you freakin’ people looked around you and figured out yet how well everyone – in comparison with most of the rest of world – live here?   This constant refrain from the left is as tiresome as it is wrong.  It’s nonsense on a stick.  But you will continue to hear them whine about it for the foreseeable future because it is a way for them to justify taking your money for their purposes and sounding noble about it.

~McQ

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As Egypt burns: has the administration picked a side? And some on the left are still in “moon pony” land about the Muslim Brotherhood and the potential for a Muslim state emerging

I’m not sure how you might interpret this, but it seems to me, given what Secretary Hillary Clinton has been saying, that we’ve picked a side in Egypt.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Sunday for “an orderly transition” to a more politically open Egypt, stopping short of telling its embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, to step down but clearly laying the groundwork for his departure.

Granted it doesn’t tell Mubarak to give it up, it certainly doesn’t openly support the protesters, but make no mistake, in diplo-speak, this is pretty close to doing both.  I’m not judging it one way or the other, I’m just sayin’.

Stipulating that, who does the administration think will lead the transition to that country having more “economic and political freedom?”

Well, she doesn’t say, but my guess is the administration would find Mohammad ElBaradei to be an acceptable choice.  The question is does he really have the support to actually take power or, as many worry, if Mubarak flies off to Saudi Arabia – the country of choice for ousted dictators – will ElBaradei suddenly find himself on the outside looking in as more powerful factions compete for control?

Of course, there are those on the left here who are pretty sure that the Muslim Brotherhood running some sort of anti-American Muslim state is just a myth and nothing to worry about.  Meanwhile, in the real world, Haarretz reports:

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest opposition group,is in talks with other anti-government figures to form a national unity government without President Hosni Mubarak, a group official told DPA on Sunday.

Gamal Nasser, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, told DPA that his group was in talks with Mohammed ElBaradei – the former UN nuclear watchdog chief – to form a national unity government without the National Democratic Party of Mubarak.

The group is also demanding an end to the draconian Emergency Laws, which grant police wide-ranging powers The laws have been used often to arrest and harass the Islamist group.

Nasser said his group would not accept any new government with Mubarak. On Saturday the Brotherhood called on President Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner following the resignation of the Egyptian cabinet.

So the moves within the opposition are beginning to become visible.  Meanwhile useful idiots like ElBaradei are necessary to calm the rest of the world to give the “revolution” an acceptable face until power can be consolidated.  And leave it to ElBaradei to cooperate fully, given the hubris of the man:

Speaking to CNN later Sunday, ElBaradei said he had a popular and political mandate to negotiate the creation of a national unity government.

"I have been authorized — mandated — by the people who organized these demonstrations and many other parties to agree on a national unity government," he told CNN.

A couple of things to remember – the Muslim Brotherhood has been the opposition in Egypt, not ElBaradei.  The MB is closely identified with the revolutionary nationalism that is now evident, ElBaradei has been in “exile”.  The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned from having seats in the Egyptian Parliament, yet they’ve still successfully run candidates as “independents” to capture a portion of seats.

Also remember that Egyptian prisons have been the incubators of Islamic jihad and that the MB has been well represented in those prisons.

Or, to put it more succinctly, look for the MB to make its moves when Mubarak is safely out of the country and the consolidation of power is near complete (and one way they will do that is by refusing Mubarak’s party any part in a new government).  At that point, Mr. Useful, ElBaradei, may not be useful enough to keep around as the MB will be powerful enough to control Egypt without caring much how acceptable they seem to the rest of the world.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 30 Jan 11

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the situation in Egypt.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2010, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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Misplaced optimism in the media and inaction by the White House’s characterize their respective reactions to the situation in Egypt

I’ve been reading everything I can about the fluid situation in Egypt (as I’m sure you have), and have come to the same conclusion about one thing as has Barry Rubin:

Experts and news media seem to be overwhelmingly optimistic, just as they generally were in Iran’s case. Wishful thinking is to some extent replacing serious analysis. Indeed, the alternative outcome is barely presented: This could lead to an Islamist Egypt, if not now in several years.

“Oh, now”, you say, “you’re just scaremongering”.  Well, let’s put it this way, the chances of a Islamist Egypt are, in my opinion, much more likely than it was believed to be possible for Iran with its revolution that overthrew the Shah.  I mean, ask yourself, what has been the growing trend over the last 30 years in the Middle East?  Islamic extremism expanding and growing – nations put under its thrall.

So what’s the sense of the nation of Egypt.  What is it Egyptians prefer?  Well according to a Pew poll, not a secular or modern government:

What did Egyptians tell the Pew poll recently when asked whether they liked "modernizers" or "Islamists"? Islamists: 59%; Modernizers: 27%. Now maybe they will vote for a Westernized guy in a suit who promises a liberal democracy but do you want to bet the Middle East on it?

I certainly don’t.  And the pictures Dale posted below tell a pretty damning tale, don’t they?

As with all “revolutions” like the one in Egypt right now, any number of factions are joined in one mighty bit of resolve – remove Mubarak.  That’s it – that’s most likely all they agree upon.  So they’re allies of convenience right now.  But once the government falls, then what?

The Muslim Brotherhood has been a powerful dissenting voice in Egypt for decades.   And anyone who has followed the Middle East for a while knows that the MB has its tentacles in a lot of areas and associated with a lot of extremist jihadist groups.  Call the MB the non-fighting part of the extremist Islamic jihad that is presently underway.

What should the US do?  I’m not sure what the US can do, but it has chosen to essentially vote present on this one.  The President and his advisors are wary of the possibility that if they say anything it may be interpreted as the US meddling in Middle Eastern affairs (and in this case the internal affairs of a Muslim country).  Of course that’s much the same “strategy” that was employed in the Iranian situation recently and that turned out exceptionally well, didn’t it?

It is clear that the US will not take sides in this and it should also be clear that neither side will forget it – and one of them is going to win this confrontation.

The administration did indeed inherit this problem, but then, in foreign policy, that’s true of every administration.   And the policies the US has followed there have been essentially amoral because of the huge weight Egypt carries in the region and the importance of the peace-treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1979.  One of the obvious fears is that if the new government ends up being a radical Islamic government they may void that treaty.  Obviously then, what Obama and the US have to hope for is a more moderate government that will live up to its treaty obligations.  But there is no way to insure that and I think it is genuinely questionable as to whether that type of a government will actually emerge given the population’s apparent approval of a Muslim centered government.  However, one way not to insure it is to sit idly by, refuse to take sides and expect the best and sunniest of outcomes.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

This is an important event – possibly the biggest foreign policy problem the administration could face.   I’m not sure they understand that or that inaction is just as dangerous and the wrong action.

~McQ

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Internet “kill switch” legislation back–and no judicial review authorized

What was one of the first thing done by the Egyptian government when protests started to seriously build into threatening government’s further existence?  It turned off the internet.  That is, it abruptly ordered it be shut down along with cell phones in order to hamstring the protesters ability to communicate and coordinate and to not allow tweets, emails and liveblogs from recording the situation for the rest of the world.

It couldn’t happen here, though, could it?

A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a "national cyberemergency," and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.

Yes, it’s back.  And the same sponsors who tried to get it through Congress the last time around are sponsoring it again.

Internet companies should not be alarmed by the legislation, first introduced last summer by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), a Senate aide said last week. Lieberman, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

"We’re not trying to mandate any requirements for the entire Internet, the entire Internet backbone," said Brandon Milhorn, Republican staff director and counsel for the committee.

Instead, Milhorn said at a conference in Washington, D.C., the point of the proposal is to assert governmental control only over those "crucial components that form our nation’s critical infrastructure."

Uh, yeah – that’s those are the same “crucial components” that Egypt used to cut its people off from the rest of the world.   And somehow we’re supposed to trust government not to use its power in ways not yet imagined and certainly not wanted?

I don’t think so.

Portions of the Lieberman-Collins bill, which was not uniformly well-received when it became public in June 2010, became even more restrictive when a Senate committee approved a modified version on December 15. The full Senate did not act on the measure.

The revised version includes new language saying that the federal government’s designation of vital Internet or other computer systems "shall not be subject to judicial review." Another addition expanded the definition of critical infrastructure to include "provider of information technology," and a third authorized the submission of "classified" reports on security vulnerabilities.

I don’t know about you but given government overreach in the last two years, I see nothing about this that gives me a warm fuzzy.  And I certainly don’t want anything to do with a bill which gives the executive or legislative branch power not subject to judicial review.   That’s how rights get trampled.

And yes, friends, it’s all about protecting you from, well, something:

"For all of its ‘user-friendly’ allure, the Internet can also be a dangerous place with electronic pipelines that run directly into everything from our personal bank accounts to key infrastructure to government and industrial secrets," he said.

Hey Joe, I’m a big boy – I’ll take care of myself… hands off the Internet, m’kay?

But they won’t.  You know it and they know it.   Its there and since it is there it must be taxed, regulated and controlled by government.

Here’s the initial criteria for the supposed “vital internet or other computer systems”:

Under the revised legislation, the definition of critical infrastructure has been tightened. DHS is only supposed to place a computer system (including a server, Web site, router, and so on) on the list if it meets three requirements. First, the disruption of the system could cause "severe economic consequences" or worse. Second, that the system "is a component of the national information infrastructure." Third, that the "national information infrastructure is essential to the reliable operation of the system."

At last week’s event, Milhorn, the Senate aide, used the example of computers at a nuclear power plant or the Hoover Dam but acknowledged that "the legislation does not foreclose additional requirements, or additional additions to the list."

Yeah, “just give us this little bit – no more”.  Uh huh.  The proverbial camel’s nose under the tent that is not subject to judicial review.  Let me stress that for the third time  – none of this, if passed into law, is reviewable by the judiciary. And, of course, once passed, they won’t decide other parts of the infrastructure belong on there, will they? Oh, no.

As Berin Szoka of TechFreedom says, “blocking judicial review of this … essentially says that the rule of law goes out the window if a major crisis occurs.”

Well, yeah … and guess who gets to decide what is a “major crisis”?  Without judicial review. 

Sound good to you?

~McQ

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After Mubarak

It’s difficult to have any sympathy for Hosni Mubarak, or any other member of Egypt’s current ruling elite. Egypt has been ruled by a succession of authoritarian dictators since 1954, when Gamal Abdel Nasser took control of the Government in 1954, a dictatorship continued by Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, in turn. One always hopes that a popular movement to overthrow a dictaror will be followed by a flowering of democracy, but, sadly, that rarely happens, historically, and is even less likely to happen if Mubarak is toppled.

In all probability what will follow Mubarak in Egypt will be a government run by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and their allies.  This means that Egypt’s most likely post-Mubarak government will be an Islamist, radical government, similar in many respects the Islamic Republic of Iran.

As Lawrence Wright points out in The Looming Tower, Mubarak’s jails have been an incubator for Islamist radicals. And why should we expect otherwise? The liberal, Western, Democratic states have been fairly supportive of Mubarak, and Sadat before him, ever since Sadat disavowed warfare as a method of destroying “the Zionist entity”, as Israel is generally known by the Arab states. Even among proponents of democratic reform inside Egypt, the support that the West has given Mubarak has made the West appear to be, at best, amoral, and, at worst, positively duplicitous. This has undercut the influence in the popular culture of Egyptian proponents of Western-style democracy.

As a result, it has been the Islamists who have seen their influence rise among the general population in recent years.  Indeed, the Islamist influence on Egyptian culture is immediately noticeable by looking at the following pictures posted a year ago by Pajamas Media. The pictures are of the graduating classes of Cairo University in 1978 and 2004.  Notice how the women are dressed.

Cairo University Graduating Class, 1978

Cairo University Graduating Class, 1978

Cairo University Graduating Class, 2004

Cairo University Graduating Class, 2004

The devolution from the modern era to a more conservative past is obvious.

The upshot of all this is that a post-Mubarak regime is likely to be undemocratic, Islamist, and hostile to the West in general, and the US–and, of course, Israel– in particular.  With Egypt having such a large population and corresponding cultural influence on the rest of the Arab world, there is much reason to believe that that a post-Mubarak Egypt will be the cause of a significantly less stable, and more troublesome environment in the Middle East.

Our policy failures in Egypt have been bi-partisan, and made for ostensibly the best of reasons, but their results seem likely to be disturbing. Still, it’s difficult to see what other choices were available to us.  Had we imposed too much pressure on the Mubarak regime to democratize, the end result would likely have been either a) much the same as we are facing now, or b) simply caused Mubarak to turn to China to replace the security and stabilization support provided by the West.  Sadly, the policy options we faced were those presented by the real world, and not the idealized world we might wish for. Although, one notes, had we forced Mubarak into the arms of the Chinese, we might have more acceptable moral support to offer the proponents of Egyptian democracy at the present moment.

Now, we don’t even have that.  The Egyptians are going to do whatever they’re going to do, and we have little choice but to sit by as passive observers.

Welcome to "Backwardland" – political elite get it wrong … again

You’ve heard of "Flatland"? Well in Davos, we have "Backwardland", where elite politicians are talking about what ails the world. And you’re probably not going to be too surprised by this, but they’ve got it entirely backward.

Poverty and unemployment reared their heads at the World Economic Forum on Thursday, with speakers urging the elite audience to bridge a growing gap between booming multinationals and the jobless poor.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who also chairs the Socialist International group of center-left parties, said the global crisis had led to an "unsustainable" race to the bottom in labor standards and social protection in developed nations.

"Politically, I believe we are at a turning point where… there are signs in Europe of more nationalism, more racism, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitism, fundamentalisms of all types," he said. "We need to look to a different model."

Maurice Levy, chairman and chief executive of French advertising giant Publicis, said there was "a huge suspicion about CEOs, bankers, corporations."

"People do not understand that these large corporations are doing extremely well, while their lives have not improved and without the support of the people, there is no way we will be able to grow," he told a panel discussion.

"We have been led by greed. We have been led by only the bottom line, the profit and we have sacrificed the workers in order to please the stockholders."

If you’ve wondered why Greece is in the shape it’s in and France isn’t far behind, read this nonsense.  Greece didn’t get in the shape it is in because of corporations.  It is there because the government overspent on generous benefits such as early retirement and the like.   The financial situation of nations isn’t the result of corporate greed or income inequality – it’s because they’ve spent more than they take in, entitlements are out of control, and they’ve provided decades of disincentives to work.

And the nonsense wasn’t confined to Europeans:

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said tackling income inequalities was essential to future growth and needed to be part of the core of doing business in the 21st century.

The core of doing business in the 21st century is no different than it was in the 17th century.  Good product, affordable price, satisfied customers.  What Clinton is really saying is that the left intends to use the excuse of “income inequalities” to clamp down on corporations, extort more in taxes (we’ve already discussed who really pays those taxes and how regressive that is, not to mention the fact that at some point, when those taxes can’t be passed along, the corporation goes location shopping or dumps jobs) and generally kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

U.S. economist Nouriel Roubini predicted a backlash against budget cuts in Europe if there was no rapid return to economic growth.

Well yes, but again, with the plan that seems to be afoot, that’s almost assured, isn’t it?  What this is, again, is a different approach to collectivizing corporate earnings.  Terms like “income inequality” and “social justice” creep into the conversation.  And “share” – you remember “share” as in “share your toys, little Johnny”.  Well now it is time, say the elites, to “share” what hasn’t been earned by those receiving the “share”.

With unrest in Tunisia and Egypt a major talking point in Davos, Mthuli Ncube, the Tunis-based Chief Economist for the African Development Bank, predicted more trouble ahead if the fruits of growth were not shared more evenly:

"If you are not even creating jobs, not even sharing the economic growth that is coming through, then there will be push-back," he said. "It’s one thing to get good growth going. It is another to share that."

It is indeed – but here’s something that has worked throughout economic history: get good growth going, create jobs with profits and suddenly it is being “shared”.  Tax the crap out of anyone or anything that looks like it is making money and you won’t get growth, you won’t create jobs because the profits won’t be there to support either.

Of course what Mthuli Ncube is talking about is “sharing” through government – they’ll take it and dole it out.  Oh, and by the way, the unrest in Tunisia wasn’t driven by a backlash to “corporate greed”, it had to do with government greed and oppression.

This is the not so new approach by the left to use the financial crisis as an opportunity to loot corporations and support the welfare states that are in big trouble.  Demonization is right around the corner.  The real cause of the unrest among those the leftist elite like to use as their pawns has little if anything to do with corporations and a lot to do with the governments most of these boobs represent.

~McQ

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Another alarmist claim bites the dust

OK, perhaps not the perfect metaphor for this but another in a long line of claims made by the UN’s IPCC report has been found to be totally false.  In fact, in the case of this particular claim, there appears to be no foundation whatsoever for the claim and in reality it appears exactly the opposite of what was claimed appears to be true.

The claim?

Himalayan glaciers were melting because of global warming climate change.  The facts?

Researchers have discovered that contrary to popular belief half of the ice flows in the Karakoram range of the mountains are actually growing rather than shrinking.

You have to love that sentence – “contrary to popular belief”?  Is that what the so-called “science” of global warming climate change has been reduced too?

Even more damning:

The new study by scientists at the Universities of California and Potsdam has found that half of the glaciers in the Karakoram range, in the northwestern Himalaya, are in fact advancing and that global warming is not the deciding factor in whether a glacier survives or melts.

“Global warming” isn’t the deciding factor?  But, but there was “scientific  consensus” that global warming climate change was indeed causing the glaciers to melt.  And now scientists are saying that not only are the glaciers not melting – they’re instead growing – but that global warming climate change isn’t even the “deciding factor” in either case?

In fact, the study says, the real reason for advancing or retreating glaciers is much simpler than global warming climate change.  It has to do with debris fields:

Their report, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, found the key factor affecting their advance or retreat is the amount of debris – rocks and mud – strewn on their surface, not the general nature of climate change.

[…]

"Our study shows that there is no uniform response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change and highlights the importance of debris cover for understanding glacier retreat, an effect that has so far been neglected in predictions of future water availability or global sea level," the authors concluded.

Dr Bookhagen said their report had shown "there is no stereotypical Himalayan glacier" in contrast to the UN’s climate change report which, he said, "lumps all Himalayan glaciers together."

In fact, the science of global warming climate change lumps a whole bunch of things together it shouldn’t be lumping together, while it leaves off a whole mess of things it should be considering depending on the model such as clouds, sun, water vapor, etc.

By the way, a reminder of the base for the IPCC “scare-science”:

Dr Pachauri, head of the Nobel prize-winning UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has remained silent on the matter since he was forced to admit his report’s claim that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 was an error and had not been sourced from a peer-reviewed scientific journal. It came from a World Wildlife Fund report.

He angered India’s environment minister and the country’s leading glaciologist when he attacked those who questioned his claim as purveyors of "voodoo science".

Of course, now we know who the real purveyor of “voodoo science” is, don’t we?

~McQ

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Book Review: The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism

I regularly receive review copies of new books from Regnery Publishing. Occasionally, one stands out above the rest, such as Kevin D. Williamson’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism.

I am not a huge fan of many of the Politically Incorrect Guides.  While they are all relatively enjoyable reading, all to often they suffer from a shotgun approach to their subject, in that they try to bring too many threads together in a relatively brief book, rather than telling a single, compelling story.  Williamson’s Guide does not suffer from this problem, but rather sticks to a simple, powerful theme. From the democratic socialism of Sweden and India, to the authoritarian socialism of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, to the hard communism of the Soviet Union, Williamson exposes and explains the central problem of socialism: The futility of central planning.

The trouble with socialism is not that it redistributes income to create perverse incentives–although it does do that–but rather that it attempts to do something that is literally impossible, which is to centrally plan the economy.  Indeed, even planning relatively small parts of the economy are impossible. To illustrate this problem, Williamson uses the relatively simple problem of trying to plan for milk production:

There are 115 million households in the United States. If we imagine a weekly milk consumption budget for each of them, that’s 5.9 billion household weeks to plan for. Adding in a fairly restrictive list of variables–call it zero to twenty quarts a week, four levels of fat content, organic/non-organic, soy/dairy, and three flavor options, you end up with around 6 trillion options to choose from…

If they took just one second to consider each of these options, it would take them 190,128 years just to tun through the possibilities of one year’s milk consumption in the United States.

Ah, but if it were only that simple. Milk consumption is, alas, variable over time.  Some families may use more milk making ice cream in the summer months. Some families may decide to reduce consumption for health reasons.  The actual demand for milk–or any other good, for that matter–is essentially unknowable in any rational sense.

In country after country, covering a variety of issues, Williamson points out how, time after time, the record of socialism is one of utter failure. Whether it’s the provision of food, housing, education or medical care, Williamson demonstrates how central planning invariably produces worse outcomes than free markets.

Except, of course, for those who are planners or their associates.  Things always work well for them.

In addition to his central thesis, Williamson demonstrates, along the way, how the inability to use price signals further hampers the ability of socialism to rationally match supply with demand, because economic calculation is impossible in the absence of real price data. And, perhaps even more importantly, he inquires into why the central planning impusle is ultimately antithetical to liberty and democratic governance.

This is definitely a book for the layman. Williamson explains in clear, simple language, the fundamental economic and political principles that make socialism so damaging. He doesn’t delve deeply into abstruse theoretical arguments, but rather looks at the controversial policies of the last few years to detail their shortcomings with with clarity and simplicity that should strike a chord with even those who have a minimal understanding of economics or politics.

I highly recommend this book.

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