Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: March 13, 2010

“Global” Warming?

I was reading through a piece over at the American Thinker where Bruce Thompson takes a run at trying to describe why the computer climate models are pretty bad.  And while I’ll admit to not really following all his points concerning modeling and the math, there was a graphic which just blew me away.  It was a plotting, world wide, of all the temperature substations available to the modelers and from which they took the temperatures from which they claimed a “global” phenomenon was taking place.

Remember, these are the same people that continue to claim the Medeival Warm Period was a “regional” event. 

Take a look at this map of the 7008 weather stations from which the data was taken prepared by Dr. Roy Spencer:

As you can see, the Southern Hemisphere is essentially ignored.  Thompson says:

Note that for practical purposes the continents of South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica are missing. And we haven’t even touched on the 70% of the earth’s surface covered by oceans.

Forget the fact that they only used about 6,000 of them and futher culled that down to 1,200. The lower right quadrant of that map, fully one quarter of the world, has 15 reporting stations by my count (there are some light yellow spots which are hard to see on the map I’ve copied). Forget that their models are crummy and the programming stinks.

Simple question: How do you claim something is a “global” phenomenon when your data essentially ignores 50% of the world, 70% of the oceans of the world and both poles?


The “right” to health care

One of the things I most admire about Walter Williams is his ability to succinctly state a point. In this case the point is about the false assertion that health care is a “right”. The primary argument against such a “right”:

True rights, such as those in our Constitution, or those considered to be natural or human rights, exist simultaneously among people. That means exercise of a right by one person does not diminish those held by another. In other words, my rights to speech or travel impose no obligations on another except those of non-interference. If we apply ideas behind rights to health care to my rights to speech or travel, my free speech rights would require government-imposed obligations on others to provide me with an auditorium, television studio or radio station. My right to travel freely would require government-imposed obligations on others to provide me with airfare and hotel accommodations.

This is the argument that the left tries to wave away. They do so on various grounds. “Well, it’s the humane thing to do”. Or, “we’re a better society than one which lets people go uninsured”. Or, ‘we owe it to the less fortunate”. Always the imperial “we” in which they decide to force an obligation on others using the power of government. And it all stems from a basic misunderstanding of “rights”.

No “right” as defined by the Constitution (a statement of law) or Declaration of Independence (a statement of philosophy undergirding our country’s law) impose obligations on others for their exercise. What they do impose is a responsibility of non-interference which allows others to exercise their rights. But, as Williams points out, the “right” to health care does impose an obigation on others for that person to exercise their “right”:

Say a person, let’s call him Harry, suffers from diabetes and he has no means to pay a laboratory for blood work, a doctor for treatment and a pharmacy for medication. Does Harry have a right to XYZ lab’s and Dr. Jones’ services and a prescription from a pharmacist? And, if those services are not provided without charge, should Harry be able to call for criminal sanctions against those persons for violating his rights to health care?

You say, “Williams, that would come very close to slavery if one person had the right to force someone to serve him without pay.” You’re right. Suppose instead of Harry being able to force a lab, doctor and pharmacy to provide services without pay, Congress uses its taxing power to take a couple of hundred dollars out of the paycheck of some American to give to Harry so that he could pay the lab, doctor and pharmacist. Would there be any difference in principle, namely forcibly using one person to serve the purposes of another? There would be one important strategic difference, that of concealment. Most Americans, I would hope, would be offended by the notion of directly and visibly forcing one person to serve the purposes of another. Congress’ use of the tax system to invisibly accomplish the same end is more palatable to the average American.

Disguising it doesn’t change the fact that an obligation is being forced on others for the exercise the “right” of health care. The point, of course, is calling something a “right” doesn’t make it a “right” simply because one wishes it to be – not if you understand what a right is and what it means. Instead of a “right” it should be called what it is – a coerced obligation imposed by government. Calling it a “right” is simply an artifice used to try to make the coercive use of force more palitable.