Freedom Friday: Questioning Climate Change

climate change

For Freedom Friday, we were heartened to read about a recent victory for the First Amendment. The Wall Street Journal editorial “Climate Free Speech: Dissenters push back against political intimidation” explains how Senators Barbara Boxer, Ed Markey, and Sheldon Whitehouse sent out over 100 letters to organizations disagreeing with the President’s stance on climate change. The letters demanded information about these groups’ funding. Following a similar inquiry by House Democrat Raul Grijalva, these inquiries are clearly an attempt to intimidate and to silence rational debate on the issue of climate change.

We have long felt that the debate on climate change is not settled and should be kindled rather than silenced. Scientific inquiry requires a constant testing and retesting of hypotheses in order to confirm or disprove scientific “facts.”

There are simply too many variables in the climate change phenomena to jump to a weakly-supported conclusion that human activities are solely responsible for climate change—and that the only cure for this is government regulatory policies that are harmful to the US economy. There are too many factors yet to be examined, such as natural patterns in climate change (the Little Ice Age, for instance, happened before massive industrialization), solar activity, action and reaction of carbon and heat energy in the atmosphere, and the extreme impact of volcanic eruptions, which can negate our miniscule efforts to limit our own gaseous outputs.

But regardless of your opinion on climate change, the more important point is this: “’singling out’” scientists ‘based solely on their interpretations of scientific research’ is a threat to free inquiry.” That’s a statement from the American Geological Union, and we agree. One of the elements that makes this country great is free speech. Unlike other nations, we don’t have to be afraid of our government if we choose to express our opinion—or, at least, we shouldn’t be.

Because of the fear-mongering and intimidation, the climate change debate has once again seated itself largely on party lines—with one party adamantly accepting climate change and another adamantly arguing against it. As usual, such debate clouds the issue in question, causing emotion rather than reason to prevail. So we support any organization that stands up for the right to hold and express one’s opinion without fear of intimidation or reprisal.

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial staff puts it quite nicely:

“Democrats and their allies have failed to persuade Americans that climate change is so serious that it warrants sweeping new political controls on American energy and industry. So liberals are trying to silence those who are winning the argument. We’re glad to see the dissenters aren’t intimidated.”

Updating the Trillion Dollar Page

packs-163497When we first started Freedom Forge Press in 2012, the US government debt had topped $16 trillion, a number that is so large that it doesn’t have much meaning for people.

So we thought, why not use other things from the news, such as events, or items of interest that people could use as a visual for the volume of money that  government politicians are borrowing to pay for their spending schemes?

Items such as sporting events, dollar bridges to Mars, bottles of champagne, even iPhones and…Furbies!

But governments and politicians have been busy – doing what governments and politicians do – which is spending money they don’t have and adding record amounts of debt to our national balance sheet without regard for where the money is coming from or what burdens it will place on our children and grandchildren.

In January 2015, the US government owed $18 trillion dollars ($18,000,000,000,000.00), and so it is time to update our page.

Do you have an idea for an item or event that could be translated into national debt figures? Post your idea in the comments section for this post and give us a link to a page where we can find out what the item or event costs. (Even if you can’t find the page, give us your idea anyway, and we’ll try to figure it out.)

When you’re done, tell your elected officials that it is time to stop mortgaging our future and to get America’s spending and debt under control.

Then, tell a friend!

Freedom Friday: Congratulations Wisconsin!

Wisconsin-Break-Chain

Governor Scott Walker signed a bill into law in Wisconsin that prohibits unions from collecting mandatory union dues. We say “Congratulations, Wisconsin!” Wisconsin joins 24 other states, becoming the 25th in the Union to enact such a law.

Employees can still join unions. Employees can still pay union dues if they feel that their unions are providing a worthwhile service. Unions can no longer exact payments from members who don’t want to be part of the union.

President Obama was quick to condemn the new law as “anti-worker,” but what could be more anti-worker than taking someone’s wages against their will to support an organization that does not represent their workplace desires, and more often than not, makes contributions to political parties that may not represent their values.

At least one recent poll suggests the law is a pretty solid hit for the people of Wisconsin. They’d have voted for the law themselves by a margin of 62-32.

Suppose by virtue of living in a town, you were required to join the local gym and pay dues. What if the gym doesn’t have the newest equipment? Doesn’t have very good locker rooms? And management doesn’t much care to improve anything because, well, they’re guaranteed their mandatory dues whether they fix up the place or not.

All of a sudden a new mayor comes to town and says, you don’t have to join the local gym anymore – you are still free to stay if you want, but our guess is the gym management will have a new-found interest in providing value to members in exchange for voluntary, rather than mandatory, dues.

Employees own their labor, not unions. So an employee should have a right to sell his/her labor to the employer of his or her choosing without having to pay a cut to a union boss for the privilege of working. That’s un-American; that’s wrong.

So today on Freedom Friday, we salute YOU Wisconsin!

Government Power Springs Forward

Victory-Cigar-Congress-Passes-DST.jpegDaylight Savings Time (DST) is a great example of how the government is slow to deal with change (if it ever does), and pushes wasteful and ineffective policy solutions – sometimes even on a bipartisan basis.

Although DST has been with us since the dawn of the 20th Century – and traces its roots earlier in time – the current incarnation of DST began in 2007, following implementation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The law was passed in a largely bipartisan (85-12) vote in the Senate with more controversy arising in the House (249-183) from House Democrats who took an ideological stance that the proposed law did not go far enough to place mandates requiring energy producers to use more expensive but politically friendly renewable energy in their overall energy production mix by 2020.

The arguments we often hear in favor of DST are that it saves energy. And of course the federal government knows best how to direct the activities of individuals from a national level. Have no fear, Department of Energy (DOE) “experts” conducted a study which estimates that the policy results in a savings of 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours.

The government produces the most optimistic case for DST resulting in actual (albeit scarce) energy savings. Multiple sources across the ideological spectrum cast doubt on the effectiveness of the government’s DST policy for saving energy.DOE sheepishly acknowledges, “this might not sound like a lot.” And at least it is right on this point. The US produces more than 4,000 billion kilowatt-hours of energy on an annual basis. Meaning the nation’s DST policy puts everyone on edge for a net savings of about 0.03% of total energy produced in a year’s time. This doesn’t even amount to finding a penny on the sidewalk; it is finding about 3 hundredths of one.
DOE DST Savings
But despite the Department of Energy’s optimism produced by their “experts”, the litany of scientific studies and arguments against the effectiveness of DST changes are overwhelming.

Let us Google that for you!

Virtually all sources from the resulting search screen show no support for the widely held belief that DST results in energy savings. In fact, contrary to the DOE’s experts, another 2008 scientific study suggests that the government’s manipulation of our clocks may actually increase energy use when compared to doing nothing. The National Bureau of Economic Research issued a report demonstrating that “contrary to the policy’s intent — DST increases residential electricity demand. Estimates of the overall increase are approximately 1 percent.”

Rather than a savings of 0.03%, there appears to be a cost of about 1 percent of energy consumption. Not surprisingly, this follows another pattern from government “experts” who claimed that government control of health insurance would result in $2,500 in annual savings to the average family, when in fact, the opposite has taken place, and the average family has experienced a net cost increase of $7,500.

Apart from energy savings, the DST-imposed time changes have been associated literally with killing people. One study associates the loss of an hour sleep with additional risk for heart attacks. Another links DST to increased street crime. And another study attributes driving fatalities to drivers having to re-acclimate themselves to darker driving conditions.

Other studies have determined other, harder to quantify costs and impacts such as the expense of changing software, managing transit schedules, even hindered agricultural production. One of our favorite articles from the list we perused was by Tom Zeller at Forbes.com. His summary of the critics’ positions says it best:

“But critics of DST also argue that most energy-use analyses fail to account for a variety of potential costs associated with routine time changes. These would include everything from impacts on human health and crime rates to the costs of adjusting mass transit schedules, hindering agricultural work, and, well, putting a large segment of the population into a foul mood.”

If energy savings was the stated goal of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the government failed miserably in its attempt. So why was the Energy Policy Act of 2005 necessary? It must have done something worthwhile. The text of the legislation tops 550 pages, so surely there is something in there that was beneficial for the public good. Right?

Of course not.

As we leaf through the legislation and associated analysis, we find that like many other laws the federal government produces, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 does little more than spend money we don’t have for questionable purposes. Questionable, but profitable – from the point of view of politicians and their lobbyist allies.

Public Citizen offers a succinct summary of the law’s winners, and what it cost in terms of political contributions to receive such generosity from the treasury.

Oil and Gas Subsidies: $6 Billion
Coal Subsidies: $9 Billion
Nuclear Power Subsidies: $12 Billion
Electric Power Company Subsidies: $1.7 Billion

All told, the estimated value of subsidies and special tax deals totals $28.7 billion from 2007 to 2015. Not a bad return on investment considering that energy industry lobbyists contributed approximately $115 million in campaign contributions from 2001 to 2005 with about 75 percent of that cash going to the political party in power at the time – Republicans.

Once again, the public was sold a bill of goods, citing a national urgency to curb energy consumption and be responsible stewards of the environment. Studies have demonstrated that rather than decreasing energy demand, DST actually increases energy usage. Additionally, the policy has been linked to inefficiency, higher costs of doing business, higher crime, even death. While many people continue to believe that they’re doing their civic duty to this end in the twice-per-annum ceremony of adjusting clocks, the only real accomplishment appears to be the government giving away money it does not have to energy producers that had already been adequately incentivized by the free market – considering the high prices of energy during this time.

Americans should take away two things from their semi-annual Daylight Savings Time ritual. First, both political parties, even one claiming to be for limited government, are more interested in growing their own power and collecting political tribute than they are in effective policy-making. The second, following from the first, is the fewer things the government is in charge of, the better off we all will be.

Photo Credit: “Victory-Cigar-Congress-Passes-DST” by United Cigar Stores Company (sponsor); artist unknown – Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, WWI Posters, LC-USZC4-10663

Freedom Friday: The DC Sled-In

Capitol SleddingWhile we were stuck at home yesterday for a heavy DC-area snowstorm, we couldn’t help but smile to learn that DC-area children and their parents were staging a “sled-in,” protesting a law that prohibited them from sledding on United States Capitol Grounds.

Though efforts were made to seek an exception to the rule, the bureaucrats would not cave. However, we were pleased to see that despite the numerous children caught breaking the law, no one was arrested for doing so—or even prevented from having fun.

While we don’t encourage lawlessness, we do love a common-sense approach to making and enforcing laws, and it seems that even though these young’uns had a day off from school, they still got to learn a lesson in civil disobedience, common sense, and freedom.

You can read more here:

Photo Credit: Associated Press