Archive for October, 2013
October 21st, 2013 at 9:50 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Oversold Load
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 19th, 2013 at 10:54 am
Podcast: ObamaCare’s Privacy Threat
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Dan Epstein, Executive Director of Cause of Action, discusses the risks Americans face in disclosing their personal medical and financial information on the ObamaCare exchanges and the risk of waste, fraud and abuse of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars states are receiving to run their exchanges.

Listen to the interview here.

October 18th, 2013 at 7:46 pm
Obamacare Website’s Intentional Inconvenience
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Adding to the parade of horribles attending the Obamacare rollout that Ashton mentions below is this fact: the websites are inconvenient to consumers because — unlike virtually any other e-commerce transaction — you have to build an account and start submitting personal information before you are so much as allowed to browse your possible options. Reporting in the Washington Examiner, Philip Klein notes that this isn’t a design flaw; it’s an intentional barrier to sticker shock:

As originally envisioned, (which serves the residents of 36 states) was supposed to enable individuals to shop for health insurance starting Oct. 1, 2013, just as they would shop for airline tickets on Orbitz.

But unlike Orbitz, makes consumers seeking information on their available choices go through a multi-step process to create an account and then log in and enter personal information.

Administration officials imposed these extra steps because they didn’t want consumers to see the base price of the health insurance plans offered – which are inflated by new regulations – before the system could collect their income data and calculate what they’d pay in premiums after receiving government subsidies.

For a program that’s supposedly so benevolent, it’s interesting how often getting the public to accept Obamacare either requires legal compulsion or outright evasion.

October 18th, 2013 at 12:06 pm
Obamacare Fed Exchange Problems Run Deeper than Reported

Yuval Levin has a must-read summary of the problems crippling Obamacare’s federal health insurance exchange,

The summary is based on Levin’s interviews with sources in the Obama administration and in the health insurance industry.

Key problems include:

·    Overly Complex: A “late-in-the-game decision to require users to go through a complex account-creation process before even reaching any coverage options.” Not only does this block users from seeing prices up front, the slap-dash decision is the main reason people can’t access the site.

·    Inadequate Oversight: The Obama administration did not hire a general contractor to oversee the IT project, opting instead to keep oversight in-house. The inability of health policy people to adequately manage the technical details meant big problems were not understood until too late.

·    Erroneous Subsidy Calculations: So far, this hasn’t gotten much attention because only a few people have been able to complete the purchasing process. But as Levin points out, if the front-end log-in problems get resolved, the back-end problems regarding faulty subsidy calculations could severely undercut both consumers’ and providers’ confidence in the system. If millions of people buy insurance with a subsidy they don’t qualify for, that’s millions of angry voters who will owe a refund to the IRS come tax time.

Today, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) gives more detail into this burgeoning crisis.

“Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations,” reports the paper.

The reality is that the dissatisfaction with is likely to get much worse. With the shutdown saga behind us, perhaps some politically savvy conservatives in Washington can figure out a way to turn the growing frustration into a mandate for delay.

October 18th, 2013 at 11:59 am
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Ellis:  ObamaCare’s Higher Premiums, Deductibles Act as Massive Wealth Transfers
Lee:  “Affirmative” Action: Is Outlawing Discrimination Unconstitutional?
Senik:  ObamaCare Shatters Progressive Dreams

Video:  Political Correctness in the Classroom
Podcast:  Are Politicians Dumbing Down the Courts? Interview with John Lott
Jester’s Courtroom:  Millions, Billions, Trillions…Septillions

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

October 18th, 2013 at 9:42 am
Video: Political Correctness in the Classroom
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses political correctness run amok in our nation’s schools and how it distracts from the main goal of effectively educating our children.

October 17th, 2013 at 8:03 pm
Yale Law Prof: Tea Partiers Aren’t as Dumb as I Thought
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Dan Kahan, a law professor at Yale, recently decided to do a study examining the relationship  between political ideology and scientific literacy. Though Kahan has not admitted this publicly, it’s reasonable to assume that his intent was the same as most surveys of this stripe: proving that his opponents were idiots. He didn’t get his wish. As Politico reports:

… Kahan posted on his blog this week that he analyzed the responses of more than 2,000 American adults recruited for another study and found that, on average, people who leaned liberal were more science literate than those who leaned conservative.

However, those who identified as part of the tea party movement were actually better versed in science than those who didn’t, Kahan found. The findings met the conventional threshold of statistical significance, the professor said.

Kahan’s results are interesting, though not especially suprising. Anyone who’s spent any time around Tea Party types knows that they’re interested in ideas. You don’t pick up an affection for the Founding Fathers, after all, without cracking a book every now and then. Therein lies the problem, however. Kahan hasn’t spent any time with Tea Party types:

Kahan wrote that not only did the findings surprise him, they embarrassed him.

“I’ve got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension,” Kahan wrote.

“But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the tea party,” he continued. “All my impressions come from watching cable tv — & I don’t watch Fox News very often — and reading the ‘paper’ (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused Internet sites like Huffington Post and POLITICO). I’m a little embarrassed, but mainly, I’m just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.”

When Richard Nixon won the 1972 presidential election in a landslide, the New Yorker’s film critic, Pauline Kael, reportedly said that she was shocked because “no one I know voted for him.” That story’s been a metaphor for liberal insularity ever since, but let’s be fair to Kael — she was on an arts beat at a famously liberal magazine.

Professor Kahan, by contrast, is a member of the faculty at arguably the most prestigious law school in the country — a place where one should theoretically be able to develop an understanding of a major stream of American political thought deeper than what can be gleamed from the digital pages of the Huffington Post. The key word there is “theoretically.”

October 17th, 2013 at 3:13 pm
A Victory for Liberty as Monks Allowed to Sell Caskets

A group of Benedictine monks secured one of the biggest victories for economic liberty in recent memory this week.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the petition of the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors seeking to overturn a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision to strike down Louisiana’s law requiring a funeral director’s license to sell a casket, according to the Institute for Justice.

Saint Joseph Abbey, a century-old Benedictine monastery in Covington, La., hatched a plan to make and sell caskets in 2007 to support the monks’ educational and healthcare expenses. But before the monks sold a single casket, the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors informed them of a ridiculous state law allowing only licensed funeral directors to sell “funeral merchandise.”

The law actually required people who sold boxes to store dead folks to have comprehensive knowledge of embalming and running a funeral business.

The Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors shepherded the outlandish law through the state legislature knowing it would give the funeral industry a monopoly on casket sales, killing competition and allowing them to charge outrageous prices.

With representation from a team of attorneys from the Institute for Justice, the Saint Joseph Abbey monks won a series of court battles. In March, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the Louisiana law requiring a funeral director’s license to sell a casket, affirming “the constitutional right to earn an honest living without unreasonable government interference.”

After the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the law, declaring it an illegal state-enforced industry monopoly, the creeps at the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors attempted to bring the case to the Supreme Court. Fortunately, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, allowing the earlier court ruling to stand.

Finally, after a five-year fight, the monks at Saint Joseph Abbey are finally able to make and sell their hand-crafted coffins.

October 17th, 2013 at 1:32 pm
ObamaCare Failures Offer a Laugh – and a Glimmer of Hope

Software glitches and tepid interest in the program have famously plagued Obamacare signup efforts since open enrollment began on October 1.

Now, more than two weeks in, hard numbers are leaking out that prove the failures of Obamacare registration efforts are more humiliating than anyone ever imagined.

The Obama administration announced a goal of 7 million enrollees in the new exchanges by the end of March. Embarrassingly, just 36,000 people completed Obamacare applications during the first week.

At that rate, fewer than a million Americans will sign up for the scheme by the March goal. The Obamacare enrollment website is receiving a good number of hits – nearly 9.5 million unique visitors in the first week – but a laughable .004 percent of the people who have visited actually signed up for the service, according to Jeff Dunetz at “The Lid.”

State-specific Obamacare enrollment information is beginning to trickle in, as well, providing additional comic relief.

In the first two weeks, no one at all from Alaska enrolled in the Obamacare exchange. Zero out of 731,449 people. And that’s despite having one of the highest percentages of uninsured residents in the country.

What does that mean for Obamacare? It’s too early to say. But the more times the program can fall on its face in these early stages, the more likely it is that free market, limited government-minded lawmakers can eliminate the program – or at least gut the most reprehensible portions of the law – in years to come.

October 17th, 2013 at 11:19 am
Gov’t Before the Shutdown vs. Gov’t After the Shutdown
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

October 16th, 2013 at 4:11 pm
If I Were in the House of Reps…..

I would vote “no” on the Senate deal. I would insist that without a delay of at least six months in the ObamaCare individual mandate, I would not vote for it. In the end, it is the president who must make sure that the nation doesn’t go into default. He can only do so by meeting halfway with the House that holds the power of the purse. The failed ObamaCare rollout has proved that it makes no sense to require somebody to enroll in something they literally cannot enroll in, because the government isn’t ready to have them enroll. No, no, no.

October 16th, 2013 at 2:08 pm
More Employer Mandate Madness

Even though it’s been delayed for a year, Obamacare’s employer mandate is still giving business owners cold sweats.

North Georgia Staffing, a family-owned boutique staffing agency, currently employs 18 full-time workers and 400 temporary workers. Next year it plans to add another 200 temps.

The problem facing Debbie and Larry Underkoffler, the owners, is whether to extend the same insurance coverage to all workers or pay a $2,000 per employee fine, they told Fox News.

The projected fine would be $400,000, while giving all workers an Obamacare-approved plan would top $2 million.

The Underkofflers’ case is particularly galling because prior to any government mandate they already provide their workers – both full-timers and temps – with access to health insurance.

Yet under Obamacare’s system of mandates and penalties, it makes better financial sense for the Underkofflers to dump their temporary workers on Georgia’s federally-run exchange and pare back benefits for the full-timers. In both cases, workers are projected to pay more for health insurance and get less.

All this makes perfect sense, however, if you agree with Obamacare’s primary goal of increasing the number of people with health insurance by regulatory fiat.

North Georgia Staffing, supporters would argue, is laudable but an outlier. Most temporary workers don’t have health insurance. The way to (somewhat) pay for the cost of covering them is to either (1) make employers eat the price increase, or (2) use the fines when they refuse to (partially) fund the federal subsidies temps will use to buy insurance on an exchange. If that means that some owners and workers will pay more for less, it’s a worthy sacrifice to increase access to health insurance for others.

That’s the baseline policy argument for Obamacare’s employer mandate. No doubt it doesn’t poll as well as “If you like your doctor and insurance you can keep it,” but at least it’s the truth.

October 15th, 2013 at 12:20 pm
Was Obamacare Website a No-Bid Job?

If anyone is looking for another reason to criticize the Obamacare website rollout, here it is.

“Rather than open the contracting process to a competitive public solicitation with multiple bidders, officials in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid accepted a sole bidder, CGI Federal, the U.S. subsidiary of a Canadian company with an uneven record of IT pricing and contract performance,” reports the Washington Examiner.

An open, competitive process would have revealed that CGI was fired in 2011 by the Ontario government for failing to deliver on time “a new online medical registry for diabetes patients and treatment providers.”

In other words, CGI – the firm responsible for creating a health insurance portal to service 36 American states – couldn’t deliver a much less complicated system for 1 Canadian province. The service was so bad that the Ontario government still refuses to pay any outstanding fees it owes to CGI.

Remember when liberals screamed bloody murder about the no-bid contracts awarded by the George W. Bush administration to defense contractors?

Well, it’s time to mount their high horses again and demand accountability.

I’m looking at you in particular, Jon Stewart.

October 15th, 2013 at 11:13 am
The Stuff of Nightmares

My wife is not often prone to nightmares. Indeed, so rare and mild are her nightmares that she has asked me NOT to wake her up if I hear indications that she is having one, UNLESS she seems like she is in abject terror for an extended period of time (i.e., not just for three or four seconds).

Late last week, after more than 15 seconds of hearing her cry out in absolute misery in her sleep, I figured those rare conditions applied, so I woke her up — and she was grateful that I did. She then went back to sleep.

But here’s the rub: When I asked her the next morning if she remembered what she had been dreaming about, she answered as only a company Treasurer/Human Resources chief could (she basically fills both roles for a family business). Her nightmare, she said, was about ObamaCare. Literally. In her dream, she kept getting caught up in the bowels of the Affordable Care Act’s endless pages of regulations, so much so that somehow all of those regulations seemed to be closing in on her and entrapping her and drowning her.

It was the worst nightmare she had had in years.

And it hasn’t ended for her, or any of us, since she woke up.

True story.

October 14th, 2013 at 3:08 pm
CFIF Technotes
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(1)  A new study from the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) shows how American consumers continue to abandon old-fashioned wireline telephone service, but Federal Communications Commission (FCC) bureaucratic inaction in the transition to all Internet Protocol networks (the “IP Transition”) threatens harm to consumers, our economy and market competition:

To ensure that ILECs can continue to provide innovative solutions for consumers and compete effectively against other platforms, they must be free to make the best use of their capital. That, in turn, means dedicating their capital to IP – and fiber – based broadband networks, rather than tying it up in obsolete copper-based circuit-switched networks.  At the end of 2012, the ILECs’ share of the consumer voice, broadband-access, and video markets was 34%, 14%, and 10% respectively.  It is time to stop treating the ILECs as monopolies that must be hobbled and start treating them as useful assets whose health is important to this nation’s economy and global competitiveness.”

(2)  Similarly, Raymond J. Keating of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) summarizes how the FCC’s upcoming auction of low-frequency spectrum currently used by TV broadcasters over to wireless firms is fraught with bureaucratic overreach and market interference, citing a study by Duke University’s Leslie Marx:

This incentive auction would have the TV broadcasters getting a split of the proceeds from the auction.  But some, like the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division in a filing with the FCC, argue that the auction rules should be set to provide an advantage for smaller carriers – such as Sprint and T-Mobile – over the largest mobile service providers, i.e., AT&T and Verizon.  Unfortunately, some fail to understand the competitive market process and how businesses gain market share.  Others more cynically are attempting to use government to manipulate the rules of the game in their own favor.”

(3) reports on more positive news for the FCC, however, courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court:

The U.S. Supreme Court turned away a challenge by five power companies to new federal rules that lower the fees telecommunications companies must pay to attach lines to electric utility poles.”

(4)  Over at The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, Holman Jenkins puts on his usual must-read clinic.  In his latest piece, Jenkins details successful Internet service providers’ efforts to “tunnel under the regulatory morass that inhibits physical broadband deployment”:

All this renders even more quaint the scrap over ‘net neutrality.’  Verizon is battling in a U.S. appeals court the FCC’s effort to impose this regulatory conceit on the broadband industry – with certain bloggers insisting that if Verizon wins, it will represent “the end of the Internet,” because, you know, there’s not enough competition to make sure broadband operators don’t “censor” the Internet in their own interest by blocking access to websites that compete with their own services.  Uh huh.  The truth is, competition has been more than adequate so far to police the Internet, and now competition is getting jacked up a serious notch as the video explosion stimulates a deluge of new investment. Now if the regulatory establishment would just take ‘yes’ for an answer.”

(5)  USA Today highlights how mobile communications advances have improved natural disaster relief:

Natural disasters are on the rise.  Reported incidents have more than doubled since 1980, and in 2010 alone, the combined impact of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and other calamities forced 42 million people to flee their homes.  Thankfully, advances in mobile communications have spread to all corners of the globe, providing the victims of disasters much easier contact with relief workers, and each other.”

(6)  The Hill’s Technology Blog details House Energy and Commerce Committee Vice-Chairwoman Marsha Blackburn’s (R – Tennessee) comments on FCC interference with private telecom investment:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a ‘regulatory addiction and … penchant for picking winners and losers’ and the laws governing the agency need a ‘substantial overhaul,’ House Energy and Commerce Vice-Chairwoman Marsha Blackburn (R – Tenn.) said Wednesday.  The agency is hurting the telecommunications industry and crowding out private investment because it ‘is fixated on growing its jurisdictional footprint and expanding its influence in other areas,’ Blackburn said, speaking at a Telecommunications Industry Association event.”

(7) reports on the TIA 2013 tradeshow, where keynote speakers from AT&T and Verizon lamented the federal regulatory murkiness that inhibits the TDM-to-IP transition:

AT&T and Verizon envision a blended wireless and wireline service world, but regulatory executives from both telecos said during a policy keynote session at the TIA 2013 tradeshow that a lack of regulatory clarity in transitioning their legacy TDM networks to IP is a key barrier.

‘In 2009, the FCC set some very ambitious objectives, one of which was a complete shutdown of the TDM architecture and merge to IP by 2017,’ said James W. Cicconi, Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs for AT&T.  ‘We’re here in 2013, and no single thing that I can discern has been done to advance that objective.’  Cicconi said that he has gotten little, if any guidance from the FCC on the next step.

And Craig Sillman, Senior Vice President of Public Policy for Verizon, said that while the telco has benefitted from a ‘light touch’ regulatory approach for advancing its wireless business, legacy voice service regulations have hindered its wireline moves.”

(8)  Finally, Mobile World Live reports on a wide range of CEOs repeating their call for lighter regulation:

The opening keynote session at Mobile World Congress brought together the chief executives of AT&T, China Mobile, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Vodafone.  Under the theme of mobile operator strategies, talk of digital revolution and unprecedented industry transformation – spurred on by LTE and cloud-based technologies – was dominant…   But if the rapid development of networks and digital eco-systems is to continue, and help boost GDP in the process, much more investment will be required.”

The biggest takeaway from this week’s Technotes?  The FCC has its work cut out for it if it truly seeks to advance innovation and modernization.

October 11th, 2013 at 1:55 pm
Fire Sebelius?

Tom Bevan thinks so.

“Any corporation that allowed a COO to mismanage a new product line as important to its image as the Affordable Care Act is to Obama’s would be contemplating their severance package,” writes the Executive Editor of RealClearPolitics.

“The fact that Republicans haven’t called for Sebelius’ scalp should tell Democrats all they need to know about how much conservatives think she is hurting Obamacare’s cause. If the president cares about rescuing his signature policy initiative, he should consider putting it under new management right away.”

Though cathartic, I’m not sure Bevan’s idea helps the GOP all that much.

True, if Obama fired Sebelius it would touch off a huge confirmation battle over her successor as Secretary of Health and Human Services, the agency overseeing Obamacare’s implementation. But since Democrats control the Senate, confirmation would be won eventually.

Better, I think, to schedule a series of high-profile congressional hearings to grill Sebelius, her deputies and the contractors responsible for the glitch-heavy federal insurance exchange website. Sebelius is fast-becoming the bureaucratic face of Obamacare – let her try to defend it.

The tone coming from House GOP members should be sharp but measured. Already, Speaker John Boehner has used a line that would be devastating to repeat to every pro-Obamacare witness at every hearing:

“How can we tax people for not buying a product from a website that doesn’t work?”

Then there are the simple questions Sebelius couldn’t answer in a cringe-inducing appearance on The Daily Show.

Host Jon Stewart – an Obamacare supporter who thinks America deserves a single-payer system – got no good answers from Sebelius about why stinks and businesses get a one year mandate delay but individuals do not.

In response, Sebelius said – without a shred of evidence – that the site is getting better, and that individuals can delay the mandate, so long as they pay a fine.

If that’s the best she can do with a friendly host, imagine the possibilities under good cross-examination at a House hearing.

No, Obama shouldn’t fire Sebelius until House Republicans get a chance to turn up the heat.

October 10th, 2013 at 7:21 pm
Obama Can’t Get Out of His Own Way
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Watching President Obama blunder his way through the government shutdown and the debt ceiling fight has been jaw-dropping. The president can’t seem to score political points even when the other side is fumbling the ball in their own end zone.

Regardless of what you think of the GOP’s tactics going into the shutdown, the polling has been pretty clear that Republicans are shouldering more of the blame than Democrats. All Obama had to do to capitalize was get out of their way.

Instead, his OMB imposed a series of petty, penny ante shutdowns on locations like the open-air World War II Memorial. The resulting anger from the public has led to plans for a Million Vet March on the mall this weekend. To add insult to injury, police actually removed a man from the Lincoln Memorial grounds yesterday who was voluntarily mowing the grass so that it would look nice for America’s veterans. And this whole drama is playing out within a week or so of Harry Reid’s gaffe making it sound like Democrats weren’t interested in funding research to help children with cancer. When you’re offending World War II vets and terminally ill kids, you’re generally doing politics wrong.

The theatrics are little more than a sideshow, however — and that’s probably the reason they haven’t moved the polls any. We’re now coming to the point, though, when the two sides are negotiating over the real substance of these issues. Just a little while ago, the New York Times put up a story saying that the President had rejected a Republican offer to pass a six-week extension of the debt ceiling. In the time it’s taken me to draft this post, they’ve changed it to say only that they’ve “failed to reach agreement” and that both sides are still talking.

If Obama has any sense, he’ll take this deal. The Republican willingness to pass a short-term fix to the debt ceiling represents an acknowledgment that the consequences of not doing so are decidedly more dangerous that those attending a government shutdown (have you noticed that life hasn’t been much different while official Washington is on hiatus?). If the President shoots it down, he will begin to look like the absolutist and he will seem like the one who’s playing Russian roulette with the country in order to bolster his political standing. With any other president, it’d be unfathomable. Obama, however, has a special gift for unforced errors.

October 10th, 2013 at 4:21 pm
Cost of Obamacare Website Compared to Tech Giants, Obamacare’s federally-run, error-prone health insurance exchange, costs north of $500 million, according to the best information available.

To put this in perspective, compare that amount to the operating budgets of some of the tech industry’s biggest names:

·    Facebook operated for six years before passing the $500 million mark in 2010

·    Twitter operated for five years on $360.17 million in total funding

·    Instagram used $57.5 million before being bought by Facebook last year

·    LinkedIn has raised $200 million, while Spotify has raised $288 million

Despite the huge funding disparities, however, all of these private sector firms fielded much better online products than the glitch-filled, click-and-crash monstrosity offered by the Obama administration.

After more than a week of operation, is doing little more than waste people’s time.

Defunding never looked so good.

October 10th, 2013 at 12:23 pm
The Los Angeles Times Opinion Page Bars Opinions About Climate Change

In a chilling decision to silence discussion about climate change, the Los Angeles Times opinion page announced that letters to the editor that “deny global warming,” imply that “climate change is a hoax,” claim global warming is “a scheme by liberals to curtail personal freedom,” or dispute that “that human activity is indeed linked to climate change” are banned from its pages.

The choice by the hysterically hyper-environmentalist loons that run the LA Times opinion pages to restrict sincere debate and differences of opinion from a forum that is intended to challenge readers’ views is equal parts depressing, disgusting and alarming.

The LA Times opinion page points out that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently claimed “it was was 95 percent certain that we fossil-fuel-burning humans are driving global warming.” The problems with that statement are numerous. For one, that nagging 5 percent of doubt should be enough to keep the channels of discussion and debate open. Also, there remains a significant minority of members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change who disagree with the assertion that humans alter the Earth’s climate. Many others debate the extent to which human action is responsible for changes in the climate.  In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s majority rule structure, their voices are powerless.

Even if there were indisputable proof that human actions directly cause climate change, there would be the question of “how much?.” Solar activity appears to play a much larger role in climate change than humans ever could – and we can’t do anything about that.

That means the real debate should be: “If humans play a minute role in climate change, what reactions are actually justified?”

If human activity causes temperatures to rise or fall a tiny fraction of a degree over some long period of time, should we prevent developing countries from rising out of poverty? Should we stand in the way of economic growth that would lead to greater global stability, improved health and educational outcomes, and increased longevity? Should the poorest people in the world be left without food, medicines and clean drinking water in the name of stopping them from producing CO2?

Those are serious questions that must be raised, considered and debated in years to come. Sadly, it appears the LA Times is more than happy to keep such discussions out of its pages.

October 8th, 2013 at 4:24 pm
Federal Overregulation Is Killing U.S. Public Markets
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Recently, CFIF highlighted the threat to markets and the U.S. economy posed by Dodd-Frank and overzealous Obama Administration regulators.  Specifically, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed a new regulation last month requiring public companies to tediously calculate their employees’ income ratios for exploitation by political activists.  Current laws already require public companies to post executive compensation levels, and the proposed rule would only encourage more overseas outsourcing, since foreign employees would likely be excluded.

Importantly, we noted that the SEC’s proposed regulation would also push even more companies to go private rather than public, thus depriving everyday investors the opportunity to participate in markets.  In other words, this little class warfare tactic would paradoxically end up hurting middle-class and poorer Americans while benefiting wealthier Americans who are able to participate in private company investment.  On that topic, in today’s Wall Street Journal Edward S. Knight illustrates the problem we face:

The number of publicly traded companies listed on U.S. exchanges has steadily declined to 5,000 this year from around 8,000 in 1995.  There are a number of reasons, but no one doubts that going and staying public has become increasingly more expensive, time-consuming and distracting for management.  As a result, businesses have sought other ways to organize and finance themselves.

This is not a healthy trend.  Private companies that need to grow can raise capital efficiently in U.S. public markets.  And robust public markets provide wide opportunities for individual and institutional investors to grow wealth.”

Clearly, federal overregulation comes at great cost, whether via Sarbanes-Oxley, Dodd-Frank or SEC executive compensation micromanagement.  Until we put an end to it, those costs will only increase for American markets and citizens alike.