Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Is there a student loan bubble?

You might have read one of the increasingly frequent stories (like this solid essay in n+1) about a student loan bubble.  The basics:

  • College is widely believed to be the ticket to success.  Degree-holders are more likely to be employed and they make more income than non-holders.
  • Many people tried to take refuge from a lousy job market by going to college, and the recession also pinched state budgets, forcing schools to raise tuition.
  • Consequently, the amount of student loan debt has exploded toward $1 trillion, eclipsing even consumer credit.  Since student loan debt is impossible to discharge even in bankruptcy, it was widely considered safe for lenders, and was securitized much in the same fashion as mortgages.
  • As punishing as the rules for paying student loans are, those saddled with the debt have been unable to pay—many fresh graduates aren’t competitive candidates for still-scarce jobs.  Only 40% of student loans are being actively repaid.  So lenders are starting to pull out.

Over the longer term, the growth in college costs has far outpaced inflation for decades (“Since 1978, the price of tuition at US colleges has increased over 900 percent, 650 points above inflation”), while the added-income value of those degrees has not grown at nearly the same pace.  The oft-quoted statistic that college graduates make $1 million more over a lifetime is misleading (it doesn’t take into account years of foregone income, for one thing), and there’s reason to suspect that much of the real discrepancy is due to correlation: students who have what it takes to pass through the filter of college admissions and stick it out are likely the kind of people who would make more money over their lifetimes anyway.

But is that enough to call it a bubble?

First, no one can really walk away from student loan debt like they can walk away from a mortgage, so many currently nonperforming loans can be expected to perform again when employment picks up.

Second, even if many people lose faith that a college degree is worth the price, tens of millions of kids have been groomed for college from a young age, and it’s true that employers still use college degrees as a significant signal of value.

That faith is unlikely to collapse overnight, and even if it did, it would take time for businesses to adjust.  Employers would have to start signaling a greater interest in other factors that prospective employees could substitute for accredited colleges.

Even entry-level jobs have college-educated competition, so how is a young adult to invest his time and credit, other than jumping on the subsidized college bandwagon?

  • Take a risk on going unemployed for a stretch?
  • Work for free?  (He’d still have to compete with college students.)  Aside from internships, working for less than the minimum wage to establish one’s value as an employee is generally prohibited.
  • Try to convince employers that alternative forms of study are as valuable as college experience?

These are luxuries many can’t afford.  There are federal guarantees for college money, but the closest thing a young adult can get to a subsidy for entrepreneurship or job hunting is the welfare state safety net if he fails.  The college path is blazed, even if it is the scenic route.

So for now, the lack of alternatives will help ensure there’s no big “pop” but a few marginal shifts:

  • Young adults will try to attend cheaper schools, work through college, and take on less debt.
  • Creditors will be less generous with student loans while repayment rates remain low.
  • And colleges will get by on less money than they planned to have.

As much as we need greater competition in postsecondary education, and better alternatives for young adults to build and signal their value, no student loan “bubble” will do the job.  It isn’t a bubble if the air has nowhere to escape.

Obama finally figures it out–plans to fast track oil drilling in Alaska

The irony, of course, is inescapable.  Democrats, seeking answers to why gas prices were so high, spent the week grilling oil company CEOs and attempting to make “Big Oil” the scapegoat (btw, their “profits” are not the reason for high gas prices and cutting out their tax breaks won’t bring them down) … again.  And, we’ve had two years worth of the administration throwing roadblock after roadblock in front of oil companies trying to get permits to drill in the Gulf (so many months of delay, in fact, that most of the rigs idled have moved elsewhere in the world).

Now, suddenly, as November 2012 begins to creep inexorably closer, Barack Obama discovers the need for speed in exploiting oil and gas domestically – something we could be well into already if his administration hadn’t decided to essentially halt everything.

The broad energy plan, coming as gas prices continue to rise, would also fast-track environmental assessment of petroleum exploration elsewhere.

Yes, we now have an administration that, after two years of doing everything in its power to discourage oil companies, now claiming it suddenly “gets it?”  Sorry if I’m not buying yet.  After all,  with the other hand, it pursues removing tax breaks in a capital intensive and competitive business sector that would discourage many oil producers from working here.   More Hyde than Jekyll. To skip to another metaphor, how much of this is the usual smoke and mirrors show?

There are politics and there is reality, and one of the things I’ve learned since this administration has been in office is to take everything they say with a huge grain of salt and wait until you actually see something happening before you believe it.

I’m glad that’s the plan.  But until I see this administration walking the walk, not just talking the talk, I’ll reserve any approbation for that moment.  And then it will be muted given the “policy” the administration has pursued until now.

OK, I’m metaphored out – over to you.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt: “oops, we lied”

I’m sure you remember all the rhetoric about how benign the Muslim Brotherhood was and how it really didn’t have designs on the government of Egypt, right?  In fact, we were reassured (well, some of us weren’t) they only wanted a little representation in government and had absolutely no interest in or designs on the presidency.  Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader, makes the point back in early February:

We are mindful, however, as a nonviolent Islamic movement subjected to six decades of repression, that patent falsehoods, fear mongering and propaganda have been concocted against us in Mubarak’s palaces the past 30 years and by some of his patrons in Washington. Lest partisan interests in the United States succeed in aborting Egypt’s popular revolution, we are compelled to unequivocally deny any attempt to usurp the will of the people. Nor do we plan to surreptitiously dominate a post-Mubarak government. The brotherhood has already decided not to field a candidate for president in any forthcoming elections. We want to set the record straight so that any Middle East policy decisions made in Washington are based on facts and not the shameful – and racist — agendas of Islamophobes.

Well, apparently that was “then” (when it was important to keep the wool pulled over the West’s eyes, and particularly the eyes of Washington) and this is “now”:

Notwithstanding the official Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s promise not to seek the presidency or any other positions of power, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, 60, member of the MB’s Shura Council and head of the Egyptian Doctors’ Union, has announced he would run for president in Egypt’s coming election.

Who is that again?  Oh, yeah, the same MB member that assured us in February that, “The brotherhood has already decided not to field a candidate for president in any forthcoming elections” , the very same Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh.  An “independent”?

Good grief, there’s not even any plausible deniability here.

And that then puts this, something else Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh said, in the “laugh out-loud” column for believability:

Our track record of responsibility and moderation is a hallmark of our political credentials, and we will build on it. For instance, it is our position that any future government we may be a part of will respect all treaty obligations made in accordance with the interests of the Egyptian people.

Because:

A political leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood Thursday [Feb 3] called on any government that replaces Hosni Mubarak’s regime to withdraw from the 32-year-old peace treaty with Israel.

"After President Mubarak steps down and a provisional government is formed, there is a need to dissolve the peace treaty with Israel," Rashad al-Bayoumi, a deputy leader of the outlawed movement, said on Japan’s NHTV.

And he isn’t the only MB leader that’s been making that call.  So who should we believe?  I’d say probably not the MB guy who said the MB wouldn’t be putting up a presidential candidate but who is now a presidential candidate.  Agreed?

Yes, it’s pretty hard to find proof of democratic institutions beginning to flower in Egypt.  There’s obviously been a lot of fertilizer spread, but it isn’t the type that grows healthy plants, that’s for sure.

[HT: Legal Insurrection]

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Stunning court decision in Indiana–Hoosiers have no right to resist illegal police entry into their home

No, you read it right.  That’s what the Indiana Supreme Court decided in what would be a laughable finding if it wasn’t so serious:

Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.

The author of the story reporting this is right – somehow the ISC managed, in one fell swoop, to overturn almost 900 years of precedent, going back to the Magna Carta.

In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer’s entry. [emphasis mine]

Or said another way, your home is no longer your castle. 

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Bzzzzzt.

Wrong – in Indiana

"We believe … a right to resist an unlawful police entry into a home is against public policy and is incompatible with modern Fourth Amendment jurisprudence," David said. "We also find that allowing resistance unnecessarily escalates the level of violence and therefore the risk of injuries to all parties involved without preventing the arrest."

David said a person arrested following an unlawful entry by police still can be released on bail and has plenty of opportunities to protest the illegal entry through the court system.

What part of “unlawful” doesn’t Justice David understand?  What part of the right of the people to “be secure… shall not be violated” wasn’t taught to him in law school.

How secure is anyone in their “persons, houses, papers and effects” if, per David, a police officer can waltz in any home he wants to “for any reason or no reason at all?”

The given reason by the so-called Justice is resistance is “against public policy?”  What freakin’ policy is that?  I , for whatever reason, thought our public policy as regards our homes was set by the 4th amendment to the Constitution.  Since when does Indiana’s “public policy” abrogate the Constitutional right to be “secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects”?

And, from where I sit, it is the job of the police not to “escalate the level of violence”, not the homeowner.  You know, like maybe a polite knock on a door to attempt arrest instead of a battering ram and the violent entry of a full SWAT team to arrest a jaywalker.  Maybe a little pre-raid intelligence gathering, or snagging the alleged perp when he leaves the house to go to work, or walk the dog, or go to the store.

I swear, this sort of thing lights a fast fuse in me.

Now we’re to give up our rights because it might “elevate the violence” if we attempt to protect ourselves from unlawful activity.   And check out this pinhead’s “analysis”:

Professor Ivan Bodensteiner, of Valparaiso University School of Law, said the court’s decision is consistent with the idea of preventing violence.

"It’s not surprising that they would say there’s no right to beat the hell out of the officer," Bodensteiner said. "(The court is saying) we would rather opt on the side of saying if the police act wrongfully in entering your house your remedy is under law, to bring a civil action against the officer."

So we’ll just throw out your 4th amendment right to satisfy the court’s desire to “prevent violence?”

Screw you Justice David (and the other two Justices) and the horse you rode in on. 

I hope your decision is destroyed on appeal and if you’re in an elected office you become very “insecure” in your probability of staying there.

The two dissenting Justices got it mostly right:

Justice Robert Rucker, a Gary native, and Justice Brent Dickson, a Hobart native, dissented from the ruling, saying the court’s decision runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

"In my view the majority sweeps with far too broad a brush by essentially telling Indiana citizens that government agents may now enter their homes illegally — that is, without the necessity of a warrant, consent or exigent circumstances," Rucker said. "I disagree."

Rucker and Dickson suggested if the court had limited its permission for police entry to domestic violence situations they would have supported the ruling.

But Dickson said, "The wholesale abrogation of the historic right of a person to reasonably resist unlawful police entry into his dwelling is unwarranted and unnecessarily broad."

I say mostly right because they indicated that in the case of domestic violence, they too were willing to throw the 4th amendment under the bus. 

How in the freakin’ hell can you say “it runs afoul of the Fourth Amendment” and then agree to a partial abrogation of the 4th under certain circumstances?

Oh, and just to point out that this likely isn’t an outlier for this crew:

This is the second major Indiana Supreme Court ruling this week involving police entry into a home.

On Tuesday, the court said police serving a warrant may enter a home without knocking if officers decide circumstances justify it. Prior to that ruling, police serving a warrant would have to obtain a judge’s permission to enter without knocking.

Because, you know, it would be just asking too much to have to have the police actually justify a no-knock entrance to a judge, wouldn’t it?

Amazing.

And you wonder why you have to protect your rights daily from attacks within?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Why America is different

Richard Cohen wrote a nasty little piece the other day in which he essentially declared American exceptionalism a myth.  There is no such thing, according to Mr. Cohen.  We’re all really a bunch of dummies living in a dysfunctional society, because, you know, we were mean to the American Indians once upon a time and we had slaves, or something.  Oh, and too much religion.

Michael Moore, on the other hand, finds us to be just a bunch of hypocrites and blathers on about how killing Osama (even though Moore is obviously pleased he’s dead) was a forfeiture of our principles (something Ron Paul apparently agrees with Moore about).

"The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we’re not like them. We’re Americans. We roll different."

As I’ll explain later, Moore hasn’t a clue of what he’s talking about  – nor does Cohen. 

Interestingly, Moore makes this point when talking about the killing:

I know a number of Navy SEALs. In fact (and this is something I don’t like to talk about publicly, for all the obvious reasons), I hire only ex-SEALs and ex-Special Forces guys to handle my own security (I’ll let you pause a moment to appreciate that irony). These SEALs are trained to follow orders. I don’t know what their orders were that night in Abbottabad, but it certainly looks like a job (and this is backed up in a piece in the Atlantic) where they were told to not bring bin Laden back alive. The SEALs are pros at what they do and they instantly took out every adult male (every potential threat) within a few minutes – but they also took care to not harm a single one of the nine children who were present. Pretty amazing. This wasn’t some Rambo-style operation where they just went in guns blazing, spraying bullets. They acted swiftly and with expert precision. I’m telling you, these guys are so smart and so lethal, they could take you out with a piece of dental floss. (And in fact, one of my ex-SEAL guys showed me how to do that one night. Whoa.)

The raid, despite Moore’s blathering and Cohen’s nonsense actually points out why Americans are exceptional.  Here’s what CBS News had to say about the details of the raid:

The SEALs first saw bin Laden when he came out on the third floor landing. They fired, but missed. He retreated to his bedroom, and the first SEAL through the door grabbed bin Laden’s daughters and pulled them aside.

When the second SEAL entered, bin Laden’s wife rushed forward at him — or perhaps was pushed by bin Laden. The SEAL shoved her aside and shot bin Laden in the chest. A third seal shot him in the head.

Read that very carefully.  Very slowly.

“The first SEAL through the door” did what?

Risked his life to protect the daughters of a mass murderer we’re at war with plotting to kill even more Americans in the future.

And the second SEAL?  He didn’t spray and pray, he shoved aside a woman, saving her life, and went precisely after the target. 

I don’t dispute Moore’s point about what the SEALs were told to do.  I concluded that immediately (and I talk about that on our latest podcast).  Had they been told to capture him, he’d right now be cooling his heels in an “undisclosed location” and not enjoying his vacation at all.

Moore thinks we let our principles down when we killed him.  I can only say that comes from a very warped idea of what our principles are.  Justice isn’t a process – it is a result.

Moore puts this out there as an example of what we should have done:

Hideki Tojo killed my uncle and millions of Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos and a hundred thousand other Americans. He was the head of Japan, the Emperor’s henchman, the man who was the architect of Pearl Harbor. When the American soldiers went to arrest him, he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself in the chest. The soldiers immediately worked on stopping his bleeding and rushed him to an army hospital where he was saved by our army doctors. He then had his day in court. It was a powerful exercise for the world to see. And on December 23, 1948, after he was found guilty, we hanged him.

When he was captured, did anyone say “justice has been served?”  Nope, that happened when, after his show trial (anyone – was Tojo going to be exonerated or left to live?) -actually, a military tribunal -, he was hanged.

Then and only then was the the term “justice has been served” used.  Moore concludes:

A killer of millions was forced to stand trial. A killer of 4,000 (counting the African embassies and USS Cole bombings) got double-tapped in his pajamas. Assuming it was possible to take him alive, I think his victims, the future, and the restoration of the American Way deserved better. That’s all I’m saying.

The resulting justice was the same – both died.  However, here is the key point: One after a show trial and AFTER a war had ended (same with Nuremberg), the other at the hands of his enemies DURING a war which he started and was still fighting.  If you can’t figure out the difference in those situations, then you’re not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  That’s the part Moore and his ilk always forget.

As for American exceptionalism – well you saw a small example of it in the raid demonstrated by that first SEAL in the room.  Our armed forces demonstrate that exceptionalism daily as they fight the Taliban and terrorists.  It comes from the culture in which they were raised.

I’m reminded of the story Oliver North likes to tell about the young Navy Corpsman in the battle of Baghdad:

 

 

By God, if that’s not "exceptionalism" I don’t know what the hell is.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Quote of the day–just not true edition

In a townhall meeting, President Obama was confronted with a situation by a former federal worker.  I won’t say she was confronting him per se, but she was laying out a less than happy result, for her and her family, of the economic downturn and asking, rhetorically what the President would advise her to do:

Karin Gallo, who jokingly described her job at the National Zoo as "non-essential employee number seven," said she had taken a job in government "thinking it was a secure job" – but that now, she feared for her family’s future.

"I am seven months pregnant in a high-risk pregnancy, my first pregnancy," Gallo told Mr. Obama. "My husband and I are in the middle of building a house. We’re not sure if we’re gonna be completely approved. I’m not exactly in a position to waltz right in and do great on interviews, based on my timing with the birth."

"And so, I’m stressed, I’m worried," she continued. "I’m scared about what my future holds. I definitely need a job. And, I just wonder what would you do, if you were me?"

Obama essentially ignored the personal “what should I do” part of the question to spin an answer that Jim Geraghty at NRO calls “epically wrong”.

The reason for the spin is obvious – it’s a way to throw a scare into the voting population by pretending two things that haven’t happened are happening.  And here is the “epically wrong” quote:

"The reason the unemployment rate is still as high as it is, in part, is because there have been huge layoffs of government workers at the federal level, at the state level, at the local level," he said. "Teachers, police officers, firefighters, social workers– they have really taken it in the chin over the last several months. And so, what we’re trying to do is to see if we can stabilize the budget."

"I do want to make a larger point to people, though, that folks like Karin provide vital services," Mr. Obama continued. "And so, when we have discussions about how to cut our debt and our deficit in an intelligent way, we have to make sure that we understand this is not just a matter of numbers – these are people."

Well of course they’re people.  So are the 6+ million or so not working in the private sector right now.  But let’s get to the numbers shall we? Geraghty provides them:

First, let’s look at the numbers for private-sector employment. All figures come from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Recent peak of private-sector employment, June 2007: 116,603,000.

Total private-sector employment in the month Obama became president, January 2009: 109,084,000.

Recent low of private-sector employment, January 2010: 104,933,000.

Total private-sector employment, April 2011: 108,494,000 (Seasonally adjusted: 108,862,000).

So note, we are about 8 million away from the most recent peak in private-sector employment.

Now, let’s look at total government employment (at all levels) for those four months:

June 2007: 22,176,000.

January 2009: 22,471,000.

January 2010: 22,376,000.

April 2011: 22,594,000 (preliminary).

As you can see, in terms of total number of Americans employed in government, there has been no real discernible recession. In fact, the number has increased slightly.

Now let’s look at the number of people employed in state government during these months:

June 2007: 4,918,000.

January 2009: 5,116,000.

January 2010: 5,053,000.

April 2011: 5,253,000 (preliminary).

Again, not only pretty stable, but slowly climbing.

Now let’s look at employment in local government:

June 2007: 14,514,000.

January 2009: 14,583,000.

January 2010: 14,478,000.

April 2011:  14,492,000 (preliminary).

Geraghty updates his numbers when a commenter points out he used seasonally adjusted numbers in one place but not another.  It still doesn’t really change the picture or the point that Obama’s just wrong about this:

In the comments, Reno Dave notes that in one case I used seasonally-adjusted numbers instead of non-seasonally adjusted numbers. I have added the non-seasonally-adjusted number for consistency. He notes that using the seasonally adjusted numbers, the total government workforce has varied slightly differently in the selected months:

June 2007: 22,218,000.

January 2009: 22,582,000.

January 2010: 22,488,000.

April 2011: 22,166,000 (preliminary).

You end up with 300,000 or so fewer government workers in the past 16 months. (Notice that the Census hiring effects these numbers a bit; the number of Census employees went from 24,000 in January 2010 to 564,000 in May 2010 all the way down to 1,000 in October 2010. More details here.)

The fact is there has been no significant drop in government employment at all in the past 5 years – none. And of course, who did Obama cite as being the first out the door of these mythical “huge” layoffs? Why "teachers, police officers, firefighters, social workers", of course.

Bullsquat.

Where did Karin Gallo work?

"My main message to you is that the work you’ve done at the National Zoo’s important," he said. "Every child that you see who comes by and is amazed by those animals, you know, they’re benefiting from your work."

Really?  So does that make her a “teacher”?  This is the “vital work” Obama was trying to tout earlier?

No offense to Ms. Gallo, and my sympathies to her and her family about her loss of employment – honestly. (Remember that almost $900 billion “stimulus” the prez said would keep unemployment under 8%, Ms. Gallo?)  But you know, I went through the same thing last October.  I survived and am beginning to thrive.  I didn’t even apply to unemployment, although I was eligible. 

What Mr. Obama should have said was, “this is a great land and I’m sure you have many talents.  Why not look around, assess your strengths and weaknesses and then consider starting a business of your own?”

Instead he tries to sell big government as a huge necessity in which government employed zoo workers do “vital work”.

Yeesh.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Why Romney and Gingrich can never be President

Or perhaps I should caveat that by saying “should” never be President, given the current occupant who also “should” never have been President.

Romney gave his major health care speech yesterday in which he sounded like he was running as Obama’s VP.  It was totally unconvincing.  As Avik Roy says at NRO:

Mitt Romney just gave a more articulate defense of Obamacare than President Obama ever has. He continues to believe that the individual mandate is a good idea, despite the fact that the “free-rider” problem is a myth. His effort to make a distinction between Romneycare and Obamacare was not persuasive: If anything, he convincingly made the opposite case, that Romneycare and Obamacare are based on the same fundamental concept.

For him to have any credibility with the right and GOP voters, he had a simple mission: tell them why he signed RomneyCare into law in MA, why it was a mistake and why he was going to fight to repeal ObamaCare.

He did none of those things and thus became, at least in my eyes, an unviable candidate.  He obviously has absolutely no problem with the level of government interference in the health care market and certainly isn’t going to be a champion of backing government out of it if elected.  In fact, of all sources, the New York Times nails the problem (albeit coming at it from a different direction than me):

Tearing it down [RomneyCare] might help him politically, he said, but “it wouldn’t be honest.” He said he did what he “thought would be right for the people of my state.” A mandate to buy insurance, he said, makes sense to prevent people from becoming free riders, getting emergency care at enormous cost to everyone else.

Where he went off the rails, however, was in not acknowledging that that same logic applies to the nation. Mr. Romney tried desperately to pivot from praising his handiwork in Massachusetts to trashing the very same idea as adapted by Mr. Obama. His was an efficient and effective state policy; Mr. Obama’s was “a power grab by the federal government.”

He tried to justify this with a history lesson on federalism and state experimentation, but, in fact, he said nothing about what makes Massachusetts different from its neighbors or any other state. And why would he immediately repeal the Obama mandate if elected president? Because Mr. Obama wants a “government takeover of health care,” while all he wanted was to insure the uninsured.

That distinction makes no sense, and the disconnect undermines the foundation of Mr. Romney’s candidacy.

I absolutely agree.  In fact, the problem isn’t federalism and state experimentation, it is a principle – government, at any level, doesn’t have the right to compel a person to buy something if they choose not too.  One of the nasty little problems with big government types is that freedom allows too many choices and Romney is no different than those on the left who’d like to pare those choices down for their convenience and to extend the power and control of government (and their central planning efforts).

Newt Gingrich, who recently joined the run for the presidency, is no different than Romney as his record tells us and don’t let him try to fool you into thinking otherwise.  Huffington Post gives a partial list of the times Gingrich has touted health insurance mandates or attempted to argue in their favor from a moral perspective:

At an Alegent Health event in Omaha in 2008, Gingrich said it was "fundamentally immoral" for a person to go without coverage, show up at an emergency room and demand free care.

During the keynote address to the Greater Detroit Area Health Council’s annual Health Trends Conference in April 2006, Gingrich said he would require Americans earning above a certain income level to buy health insurance or post a bond, the Detroit Free Press reported.

In a June 2007 op-ed in the Des Moines Register, Gingrich wrote, "Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance, particularly when they can afford it, and expect others to pay for their care when they need it." An "individual mandate," he added, should be applied "when the larger health-care system has been fundamentally changed."

And in several of his many policy and politics-focused books, Gingrich offered much the same.

In 2008’s "Real Change," he wrote, "Finally, we should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond). Meanwhile, we should provide tax credits or subsidize private insurance for the poor."

In 2005’s "Winning the Future," he expanded on the idea in more detail: "You have the right to be part of the lowest-cost insurance pool and you have a responsibility to buy insurance. … We need some significant changes to ensure that every American is insured, but we should make it clear that a 21st Century Intelligent System requires everyone to participate in the insurance system."

"People whose income is too low should receive Medicaid vouchers and tax credits to buy insurance," he continued. "Large risk pools (association health plans are one model) should be established so low-income people can buy insurance as inexpensively as large corporations. Furthermore, it should be possible to buy your health insurance on-line to lower the cost as much as possible."

Show me the difference between Gingrich and Obama (or Romney) on their desire to use the power of government to mandate insurance coverage.  The fact that Gingrich draws a line at a particular level of income doesn’t change the fact that in principal he agrees that government should have that power.

Just as serious a problem, at least for me, is Gingrich’s stance on global warming.  Gingrich appeared in a commercial for the “We initiative” with Nancy Pelosi.  The We Initiative is sponsored by Al Gore’s “Alliance for Climate Protection”. 

This alone is reason enough, in my book, to totally dismiss a Gingrich run.

 

 

Add in his support for an individual mandate for health insurance and his candidacy is DOA as far as I’m concerned. And Romney? On life support with a poor prognosis for the future.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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As if on cue–AGW group doctors sea-level numbers

After the story this morning about the alarmist scientist turned skeptic  this story comes as the cherry on top of the AGW sundae:

Faced with the embarrassing fact that sea level is not rising nearly as much as has been predicted, the University of Colorado’s NASA-funded Sea Level Research Group has announced it will begin adding a nonexistent 0.3 millimeters per year to its Global Mean Sea Level Time Series. As a result, alarmists will be able to present sea level charts asserting an accelerating rise in sea level that is not occurring in the real world.

Human civilization readily adapted to the seven inches of sea level rise that occurred during the twentieth century. Alarmists, however, claim global warming will cause sea level to rise much more rapidly during the present century. United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) computer models project approximately 15 inches of sea level rise during the 21st century. That’s more than double the sea level rise that occurred during the twentieth century. A more “mainstream” prediction among alarmists is 3 feet of sea level rise this century. Some alarmists have even projected 20 feet of global sea level rise this century.

Satellite measurements, however, show global sea level rose merely 0.83 inches during the first decade of the 21st century (a pace of just 8 inches for the entire century), and has barely risen at all since 2006. This puts alarmists in the embarrassing position of defending predictions that are not coming true in the real world.

So, as with temperature and other data that has been used in this scam, they decided to doctor the numbers.

The NASA-funded group claims glacial melt is removing weight that had been pressing down on land masses, which in turn is causing land mass to rise. This welcome news mitigates sea-level rise from melting glacial ice, meaning sea level will rise less than previously thought. However, it is very inconvenient for alarmist sea level predictions. Therefore, instead of reporting the amount by which sea level is rising in the real world, the Sea Level Research Group has begun adding 0.3 millimeters per year of fictitious sea level rise to “compensate” for rising land mass.

The extra 0.3 millimeters of fictitious sea level rise will add up to 1.2 inches over the course of the 21st century. While this is not monumental in and of itself, it will allow alarmists to paint a dramatically different picture of sea level rise than is occurring in the real world. For example, the current pace of 8 inches of sea level rise for the present century is essentially no different than the 7 inches of sea level rise that occurred last century. However, with an artificially enhanced 9.2 inches of sea level rise, alarmists can claim sea level is rising 31 percent faster than it did last century.

Ye gods.

All I hope is Guam doesn’t tip over because of all of this.

If there’s anyone out there that still believes the “science” involved here is valid much less settled, you might want to buy some ocean front property in Idaho.

It’s becoming laughable, isn’t it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Resetting history–the real history of the politics of race in the US

I’ve been an adamant myth buster all my life when it comes to the history of race and racism in our country trying, for years, to clarify which party it was that was on the side of racism and oppression.  If one just takes the time to research it, it is there for all to find. Instead, we ended up with a myth.

It appalls me that for years the myth of the right’s racism has gained such purchase in “conventional wisdom” and particularly among American blacks. The belief that it was the Republicans who were against civil rights legislation and were the roadblock to full equality for our black citizens, when in fact it was the Democrats, seems almost accepted as fact now.  But I lived and grew up in the South during that time. I know better.

The good news is this video helps to begin the process of dispelling the myth.  Pay close attention because it gives you the ground truth of the matter – something, unfortunately, that is very rare these days when it comes to this subject:

 

 

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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Anthropogenic Global Warming is false science former "alarmist" scientist says

David Evans is a scientist.  He also has worked in the heart of the AGW machine and consulted full-time for the Australian Greenhouse Office (now the Department of Climate Change) from 1999 to 2005, and part-time 2008 to 2010, modeling Australia’s carbon in plants, debris, mulch, soils, and forestry and agricultural products.  He has six university degrees, including a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.  The other day he said:

The debate about global warming has reached ridiculous proportions and is full of micro-thin half-truths and misunderstandings. I am a scientist who was on the carbon gravy train, understands the evidence, was once an alarmist, but am now a skeptic.

And with that he begins a demolition of the theories and methods by which the AGW scare has been foisted on the public.  The politics:

The whole idea that carbon dioxide is the main cause of the recent global warming is based on a guess that was proved false by empirical evidence during the 1990s. But the gravy train was too big, with too many jobs, industries, trading profits, political careers, and the possibility of world government and total control riding on the outcome. So rather than admit they were wrong, the governments, and their tame climate scientists, now outrageously maintain the fiction that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant.

He makes clear he understands that CO2 is indeed a "greenhouse gas", and makes the point that if all else was equal then yes, more CO2 in the air should and would mean a warmer planet. But that’s where the current "science" goes off the tracks.

The science:

But the issue is not whether carbon dioxide warms the planet, but how much.

Most scientists, on both sides, also agree on how much a given increase in the level of carbon dioxide raises the planet’s temperature, if just the extra carbon dioxide is considered. These calculations come from laboratory experiments; the basic physics have been well known for a century.

The disagreement comes about what happens next.

The planet reacts to that extra carbon dioxide, which changes everything. Most critically, the extra warmth causes more water to evaporate from the oceans. But does the water hang around and increase the height of moist air in the atmosphere, or does it simply create more clouds and rain? Back in 1980, when the carbon dioxide theory started, no one knew. The alarmists guessed that it would increase the height of moist air around the planet, which would warm the planet even further, because the moist air is also a greenhouse gas. [emphasis mine]

But it didn’t increase the height of the moist air around the planet as subsequent studies have shown since that time. However, that theory or premise became the heart of the modeling that was done by the alarmist crowd:

This is the core idea of every official climate model: For each bit of warming due to carbon dioxide, they claim it ends up causing three bits of warming due to the extra moist air. The climate models amplify the carbon dioxide warming by a factor of three — so two-thirds of their projected warming is due to extra moist air (and other factors); only one-third is due to extra carbon dioxide.

That’s the core of the issue. All the disagreements and misunderstandings spring from this. The alarmist case is based on this guess about moisture in the atmosphere, and there is simply no evidence for the amplification that is at the core of their alarmism.

What did they find when they tried to prove this theory?

Weather balloons had been measuring the atmosphere since the 1960s, many thousands of them every year. The climate models all predict that as the planet warms, a hot spot of moist air will develop over the tropics about 10 kilometres up, as the layer of moist air expands upwards into the cool dry air above. During the warming of the late 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, the weather balloons found no hot spot. None at all. Not even a small one. This evidence proves that the climate models are fundamentally flawed, that they greatly overestimate the temperature increases due to carbon dioxide.

This evidence first became clear around the mid-1990s.

Evans is not the first to come to these conclusions.  Earlier this year, in a post I highlighted, Richard Lindzen said the very same thing.

For warming since 1979, there is a further problem. The dominant role of cumulus convection in the tropics requires that temperature approximately follow what is called a moist adiabatic profile. This requires that warming in the tropical upper troposphere be 2-3 times greater than at the surface. Indeed, all models do show this, but the data doesn’t and this means that something is wrong with the data. It is well known that above about 2 km altitude, the tropical temperatures are pretty homogeneous in the horizontal so that sampling is not a problem. Below two km (roughly the height of what is referred to as the trade wind inversion), there is much more horizontal variability, and, therefore, there is a profound sampling problem. Under the circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that the problem resides in the surface data, and that the actual trend at the surface is about 60% too large. Even the claimed trend is larger than what models would have projected but for the inclusion of an arbitrary fudge factor due to aerosol cooling. The discrepancy was reported by Lindzen (2007) and by Douglass et al (2007). Inevitably in climate science, when data conflicts with models, a small coterie of scientists can be counted upon to modify the data.

Evans reaches the natural conclusion – the same conclusion Lindzen reached:

At this point, official “climate science” stopped being a science. In science, empirical evidence always trumps theory, no matter how much you are in love with the theory. If theory and evidence disagree, real scientists scrap the theory. But official climate science ignored the crucial weather balloon evidence, and other subsequent evidence that backs it up, and instead clung to their carbon dioxide theory — that just happens to keep them in well-paying jobs with lavish research grants, and gives great political power to their government masters.

And why will it continue?  Again, follow the money:

We are now at an extraordinary juncture. Official climate science, which is funded and directed entirely by government, promotes a theory that is based on a guess about moist air that is now a known falsehood. Governments gleefully accept their advice, because the only ways to curb emissions are to impose taxes and extend government control over all energy use. And to curb emissions on a world scale might even lead to world government — how exciting for the political class!

Indeed.  How extraordinarily unexciting for the proletariat who will be the ones stuck with the bill if these governments ever succeed in finding a way to pass the taxes they hope to impose and extend even more government’s control over energy.

While  you’re listening to the CEOs of American oil companies being grilled by Congress today, remember all of this.  They’re going to try to punish an industry that is vital to our economy and national security, and much of the desire to do that is based on this false “science” that has been ginned up by government itself as an excuse to control more of our energy sector and to pick winners and losers.  All based on something which is now demonstrably false.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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