Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
I am a fan of Daniel Hannan and can’t wait to read his new book. Thought you might like to learn a bit about him too so passing this newsletter from Heritage on to my readers. BB
VIDEO: Daniel Hannan Explains Why the English-Speaking World Is the Most Committed to Individual Liberty
In his new book, Inventing Freedom, Daniel Hannan explains how liberty originated from the Anglosphere and why the English-speaking people of the world have created and fostered liberty throughout the world.
Speaking at a recent Heritage event, Hannan, member of the European Parliament representing South East England, said he believes the Anglosphere is, in fact, liberty’s strongest friend.
In 1968, Hannan and almost all of the Anglo-Peruvian community—amid mob attacks, seizures, and confiscations—fled the grasp of the leftist regime of Peruvian General Juan Velasco Alvarado.
“I am someone who has moved from the Hispanosphere to the Anglosphere,” Hannan said. “I can’t help noticing that the movement has been overwhelmingly one-way. It’s worth standing back and asking why that is.”
Hannan asked, “What made the Anglosphere miracle possible? That’s the question that I set out to answer in Inventing Freedom.”
Perhaps the most striking characteristic Hannan noted was “the miracle of common law.”
“The law came up from the people, not down from the regime,” he said. “It was an ally of freedom, not an instrument of state control. … That beautiful, anomalous system that John Adams recognized as the foundation of all Anglosphere freedoms [is] almost without precedent in the world.”
Hannan noted that visitors to North America and Great Britain found these countries to be remarkable. Voltaire, Montesquieu, Tocqueville, and others observed the emphasis on individual freedom, religious freedom, the plurality of religions, and free-market enterprise.
Heritage hosted Hannan on November 22. His discussion and the question-and-answer session run about 55 minutes.
The post VIDEO: Daniel Hannan Explains Why the English-Speaking World Is the Most Committed to Individual Liberty appeared first on The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation.
Jewish World Review Oct. 4, 2013/ 30 Tishrei, 5774Who Shut Down the Government?
By Thomas Sowell
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Even when it comes to something as basic, and apparently as simple and straightforward, as the question of who shut down the federal government, there are diametrically opposite answers, depending on whether you talk to Democrats or to Republicans.
There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going — except for ObamaCare.
This is not a matter of opinion. You can check the Congressional Record.
As for the House of Representatives’ right to grant or withhold money, that is not a matter of opinion either. You can check the Constitution of the United States. All spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives, which means that Congressmen there have a right to decide whether or not they want to spend money on a particular government activity.
Whether ObamaCare is good, bad or indifferent is a matter of opinion. But it is a matter of fact that members of the House of Representatives have a right to make spending decisions based on their opinion.
ObamaCare is indeed “the law of the land,” as its supporters keep saying, and the Supreme Court has upheld its Constitutionality.
But the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.
The hundreds of thousands of government workers who have been laid off are not idle because the House of Representatives did not vote enough money to pay their salaries or the other expenses of their agencies — unless they are in an agency that would administer ObamaCare.
Since we cannot read minds, we cannot say who — if anybody — “wants to shut down the government.” But we do know who had the option to keep the government running and chose not to. The money voted by the House of Representatives covered everything that the government does, except for ObamaCare.
The Senate chose not to vote to authorize that money to be spent, because it did not include money for ObamaCare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he wants a “clean” bill from the House of Representatives, and some in the media keep repeating the word “clean” like a mantra. But what is unclean about not giving Harry Reid everything he wants?
If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.
You cannot blame other people for not giving you everything you want. And it is a fraud to blame them when you refuse to use the money they did vote, even when it is ample to pay for everything else in the government.
When Barack Obama keeps claiming that it is some new outrage for those who control the money to try to change government policy by granting or withholding money, that is simply a bald-faced lie. You can check the history of other examples of “legislation by appropriation” as it used to be called.
Whether legislation by appropriation is a good idea or a bad idea is a matter of opinion. But whether it is both legal and not unprecedented is a matter of fact.
Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.
Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.
None of this is rocket science. But unless the Republicans get their side of the story out — and articulation has never been their strong suit — the lies will win. More important, the whole country will lose.
This from a friend via email. I simply had to pass it on to you. BB
LET’S SEE IF I GOT THIS
RE: 3 American Hikers Now In The NEWS
IF YOU CROSS THE NORTH KOREAN BORDER
ILLEGALLY YOU GET 12 YEARS HARD LABOR.
IF YOU CROSS THE IRANIAN BORDER
ILLEGALLY YOU ARE DETAINED INDEFINITELY.
IF YOU CROSS THE AFGHAN BORDER
ILLEGALLY, YOU GET SHOT.
IF YOU CROSS THE SAUDI ARABIAN BORDER
ILLEGALLY YOU WILL BE JAILED.
IF YOU CROSS THE CHINESE BORDER
ILLEGALLY YOU MAY NEVER BE HEARD FROM AGAIN.
IF YOU CROSS THE VENEZUELAN BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU
WILL BE BRANDED A SPY AND YOUR FATE WILL BE SEALED.
IF YOU CROSS THE CUBAN BORDER ILLEGALLY
YOU WILL BE THROWN INTO POLITICAL PRISON TO ROT.
IF YOU CROSS THE U.S. BORDER ILLEGALLY YOU GET !
A JOB, A DRIVERS LICENSE,
SOCIAL SECURITY CARD, WELFARE,
FOOD STAMPS, CREDIT CARDS,SUBSIDIZED RENT OR A LOAN TO BUY A HOUSE,FREE EDUCATION, FREE HEALTH CARE, A LOBBYIST IN WASHINGTON BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WORTH OF PUBLIC DOCUMENTS PRINTED IN YOUR LANGUAGETHE RIGHT TO CARRY YOUR COUNTRY’S FLAG WHILE YOU
PROTEST THAT YOU DON’T GET ENOUGH RESPECT
AND, IN MANY INSTANCES, YOU CAN VOTE.
I JUST WANTED TO MAKE SURE I HAD A FIRM GRASP ON THE “SITUATION”!PLEASE KEEP THIS GOING……FORWARD TO ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS & FAMILY
IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP AMERICA !
Several Republicans in both the House and the Senate are pushing hard to defund Obamacare as the last push to stop this monster in its tracks. They are planning to use it as a wedge issue in the continuing resolution to fund the government which is coming up. The Democrats are going to scream and cry that the Republicans are “shutting down the government”> No, they are not and will not. The essential government operations will continue, the only programs and department to be shut down will be those that are non essential. The entire government shuts down every weekend and the world does not go crashing to the ground. And if we need more proof that the Democrats yell a good game of Chicken Little then you need only remember what the “sequestration” was going to do to us. did any of it take place? NO! Oh, our President shut down visits to the White House in a temper tantrum fit but nothing else really took place. The news media reported that some people were going to get days lay offs but then a few days later we learned that these days and weeks were greatly exaggerated. So, what will happen is the Republicans refuse to give into the Democrats and raise the Debt limit again? No one damned thing! Except maybe the government won’t spend as much of your tax dollars as the President and the Democrats would like. So go for it Republicans if you lily livered Congressmen have the guts.
The following article is a fairly decent explanation of what defunding of Obamacare is all about and how it is probably the last chance to kill the monster. Read on. BB
Is it that time again already??
It’s not even August, and Members of Congress are starting to buzz about the upcoming budget and debt ceiling fight—which likely won’t happen until later this fall. But the posturing has begun, and the media are happy to oblige.
The thing is, a government shutdown isn’t necessary—and lawmakers aren’t proposing a government shutdown.
What some are proposing is that Congress fund normal government activities, but refuse to fund Obamacare. The upcoming budget legislation, called a continuing resolution, is a decision point for Obamacare funding.
“Under no circumstances will I vote for a continuing resolution that funds even one single penny of Obamacare,” says Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). He and fellow Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are urging their colleagues to do the same.
Heritage health care expert Chris Jacobs says that defunding is the best option to protect vulnerable Americans hit by Obamacare’s threats:
The list of Obamacare’s failures grows by the day. It is not that portions of the law are unworkable—the entire law is unworkable. Absent the law’s complete repeal, only full defunding would ensure that the American people are not subjected to any of these destructive policies.
What the shutdown fearmongers are talking about is Congress reaching a budget impasse—which could happen for a variety of reasons, including disagreement over Obamacare funding. If Congress doesn’t pass legislation to continue funding the government, then when the previous funding expires, it “shuts down.”
“Shutdown” actually sounds more dire than it is. The government services that shut down are the non-essential ones. As Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said at Heritage’s Bloggers Briefing yesterday, this is what happens…every weekend. Have you ever tried to call the Department of Agriculture on a Saturday?
A “shutdown” would temporarily impair some government activities, but deficit spending, growing debt, and the burden of Obamacare will harm the economy and Americans’ opportunities and incomepermanently.
The next logical step? Don’t feed the beast. Don’t invest more dollars into implementing, enforcing, or creating the architecture of Obamacare.
Posted July 15, 2013on:
Yes sirree Folks, just step right up and tell dear old Uncle Sam that you are eligible for healthcare handouts. Dear old uncle will ask no questions before signing a check made out to you. Hain’t he generous with the tax payers dollars? That is, the few tax payers left—–the minority left who are not on the government dole. The 97 million workers as opposed to the 101 million who are now eating off the government table! The 43 million of that 97 million who are actually still paying taxes! ( And no, you are NOT paying taxes if you get a tax return at the end of the year! You are paying Medicare and Social Security taxes but you are not paying income taxes. If you get a refund the chances are you are getting back every cent in actual income taxes that you have paid in during the year.)
Anyhow, that is what the Obama administrations latest moves for Obamacare are offering up to the American public. Just get the hordes to sign up for those freebees and the United States as we know and love it is totally destroyed. Freedom and liberty will be gone and the government will have its slaves all tied up and willing to do what ever the powers that be want all of us to do. People tend not to bite that hand that feeds them. That is until it all crumbles and the hand stops feeding because eventually the money runs out and then the greatest country the world has ever known will be no more. The Late Great United States of America will be prostrate and taking its last breath as its enemies rip out the spoils that once was our greatness. Obama and his evil will have won.
The following is a group of studies about current issues that may interest you. I haven’t been selective in presenting them to you but have presented them all and you choose what you want to know more about. I have however highlighted what I feel is the most important issue which is Obama’s latest, and probably most lethal, action to date in his journey towards total destruction of America. ( Just page down to my color coding 🙂 . ) Read on Dear Reader and know that only you can stop him and his evil agenda. Remember the words of Thomas Jefferson: The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
Sincerely, Brenda Bowers
Updated daily, InsiderOnline (insideronline.org) is a compilation of publication abstracts, how-to essays, events, news, and analysis from around the conservative movement. The current edition of The INSIDER quarterly magazine is also on the site.
July 13, 2013
Latest Studies: 39 new items, including a Pioneer Institute report on Common Core’s threat to math achievement, and a Philanthropy Roundtable report on the role of the charitable deduction
Notes on the Week: As ObamaCare fails, it’s taking democratic accountability down with it, democracy is more than elections, do regulators know the benefit of Scotch? and more
To Do: Figure out state success and state failure
Budget & Taxation
• Asking the Tax Code to Do Less – Cato Institute
• The Tax Collector vs. The Constitution – Hoover Institution
• Defeating Fiscal Distress: A State Responsibility – Manhattan Institute
• The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to Recapture It – Manhattan Institute
Economic and Political Thought
• American Exceptionalism: An Experiment in History – American Enterprise Institute
• Benjamin Franklin: The Sage of America – The Heritage Foundation
• Are We Freer Than We Were Ten Years Ago? – Hudson Institute
• 2013 Global Agenda for Economic Freedom – The Heritage Foundation
• Taking Charge: A State-Level Agenda for Higher Education Reform – American Enterprise Institute
• Common Core’s Cloudy Vision of College Readiness in Math – Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research
Foreign Policy/International Affairs
• Taiwan’s Crucial Role in the US Pivot to Asia – American Enterprise Institute
• Egypt: A Way Forward After a Step Back – The Heritage Foundation
• Winning Without Fighting: The Chinese Psychological Warfare Challenge – The Heritage Foundation
• Obama’s Bluster Pulpit – Hoover Institution
• Turkey Between Ataturk and Erdogan – Hoover Institution
• Religious Minorities in Syria: Caught in the Middle – Hudson Institute
• The War of Law: How New International Law Undermines Democratic Sovereignty – Hudson Institute
• US Missile Defense: Closing the Gap – Hudson Institute
• The Obama Administration’s Delay of the Employer Mandate – American Enterprise Institute
• How Much of Food Activism Is Nonsense? – Cato Institute
• A New Moral Treatment – Manhattan Institute
• Delaying the ACA Employer Mandate – Manhattan Institute
• ObamaCare Is the Problem, Health Savings Accounts Are the Solution – National Center for Policy Analysis
• The Trade and Economic Benefits of Enhanced Intellectual Property Protection for Pharmaceuticals in Canada – Fraser Institute
• Punitive Trade Sanctions on Bangladesh Not the Way to Improve Labor Conditions – The Heritage Foundation
• The Perils of Protection – Hoover Institution
• Afghanistan: Zero Troops Should Not Be an Option – The Heritage Foundation
• Disarm Now, Ask Questions Later: Obama’s Nuclear Weapons Policy – The Heritage Foundation
Natural Resources, Energy, Environment, & Science
• Reforming Texas Electricity Markets – Cato Institute
• It’s About Freedom, Not Finances – Philanthropy Roundtable
Regulation & Deregulation
• Benefit-Cost Analysis in the Chehalis Basin – Cato Institute
• Food Safety: A Market Solution? – Cato Institute
• Nashville’s Anti- Competitive ‘Black-Car’ Regulations – Cato Institute
• OMB’s Reported Benefits of Regulation: Too Good to Be True? – Cato Institute
• The Need for Retrospective Review of Regulations – Cato Institute
• Government Regulation of Nicotine Products Could Cost Lives – Institute of Economic Affairs
The Constitution/Civil Liberties
• United States v. Windsor and the Defense of Marriage Act – Alabama Policy Institute
As ObamaCare fails, it’s taking democratic accountability down with it. Last Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that the verification systems needed to determine eligibility for ObamaCare subsidies would not be ready by October 1, and that the program would instead rely on self-reported data to determine eligibility. Shorter version: If you lie to the government, the government will give you a tax credit.
This decision, as Michael Cannon observes, “effectively expanded the eligibility criteria for ObamaCare’s new entitlements without so much as consulting Congress.” [Cato-at-Liberty, July 9] And it follows the Department of Treasury’s announcement earlier last week that it was suspending the reporting requirements on which enforcement of the employer mandate depends, ostensibly because the reporting requirements were too complex for businesses to follow.
If employers don’t have to pay a penalty for not providing their workers qualifying health insurance, and individuals can get subsidized coverage—as well as avoid the tax penalty for not having qualifying health insurance—by fibbing about their incomes with no risk of getting caught, then more individuals are going to end up in the ObamaCare exchanges.
So was funneling more people into the exchanges the real purpose of these two decisions? Betsy McCaughey says it’s so: “The delay is the administration’s desperate strategy to prop up the health exchanges […] . The administration fears an under-enrollment crisis.” [Betsymccaughey.com, July 10]
If HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius isn’t desperate to figure out how to get people to sign up for the ObamaCare exchanges, she certainly seems concerned. The Secretary has been soliciting donations from private companies—in particular health insurers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and even tax preparer H&R Block—for the non-profit Enroll America, whose mission is to “fully address the ‘enrollment gap’.” (But who needs a tax preparer to get a health care tax credit now? Maybe H&R Block is rethinking its donation.) Sebelius also tried to recruit the National Basketball Association and the National Football League into a partnership to promote ObamaCare to the leagues’ younger fans.
Why wouldn’t everyone just want to sign up? By the lights of those who wrote the law, ObamaCare “fixes” health insurance by preventing insurers from charging different rates or turning people away based on health status, and by preventing insurers from offering inexpensive plans that provide limited coverage. The only way that set-up can happen without making premiums too high is to force the young and the healthy to participate, too. But, as Joseph Antos and Michael Strain explained back in July of last year, the ObamaCare individual mandate has no real teeth:
First, the tax (nee penalty) is too small to matter to the people who are its target. In 2014, the tax will be the larger of $95 or 1 percent of taxable income for an individual. By 2016 it rises to $695 or 2.5 percent of income. Young people would not want to pay a dollar if they could avoid it, but avoiding the tax means signing up for insurance that many do not think they need. That insurance is not free. Even with subsidies, they will pay at least 3 percent of their incomes for premiums and up to 6 percent of the cost of the insurance in deductibles and copayments. That adds up to a lot more than 95 bucks.
Second, the law counts on most of the scofflaws turning themselves in. If you do not have insurance and think you owe the tax, then you will be asked to check a box to that effect on your tax return. If you choose to ignore the mandate, you might also choose not to check the box. But even those who do confess that they do not have insurance may not be liable for the new tax. Illegal aliens, Native Americans, prisoners, those who are without insurance for less than 3 months, those who do not have to file an income tax return, anyone who faces a hardship or cannot find affordable coverage, and others are all exempt. […]
[E]ven if the IRS has determined that you owe the new tax, it has very limited ability to force you to pay it. Basically, the IRS has two options: To ask you for the money and to reduce the size of your tax refund. But the IRS cannot reduce your refund unless you overpay. Since taxpayers have great control over their withholding, a savvy taxpayer who does not want to buy insurance could easily work the system to ensure that the IRS could not hold back his refund to enforce the mandate tax. And half of American households do not owe any income tax to begin with, so good luck getting the money from them. [The American, July 17, 2012]
Betsy McCaughey calculates that the total cost to taxpayers of covering the additional workers who get health insurance from an ObamaCare exchange instead of their employers will be $60 billion in 2014—and that’s not counting the cost of covering individuals who will obtain the subsidies fraudulently because the verification system isn’t ready. [Betsymccaughey.com, July 10]
And the Wall Street Journal points out that if the ObamaCare subsidies suffer just the same error rate as that of the Earned Income Tax Credit (21 percent to 25 percent), then ObamaCare will spend $250 billion in improper benefits in the first decade.
So, if you don’t sign up, you’re just paying for somebody else’s insurance. The Obama administration, it seems, has created a system that makes you a sucker if you don’t lie. This set-up also insulates members of Congress from political accountability. Now they can all say: “That’s not the program we voted for.” And they would be telling the truth.
Suspending laws it dislikes isn’t a power that the executive branch has. The hurdle of standing would make it hard to challenge the Obama administration’s delay of the ObamaCare employer mandate in court. Nevertheless, “the president gets to do what he wants” isn’t really how government is supposed to work in a constitutional republic. As Michael McConnell points out, we elect a President, not a King:
Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution states that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This is a duty, not a discretionary power. While the president does have substantial discretion about how to enforce a law, he has no discretion about whether to do so.
This matter—the limits of executive power—has deep historical roots. During the period of royal absolutism, English monarchs asserted a right to dispense with parliamentary statutes they disliked. King James II’s use of the prerogative was a key grievance that lead to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The very first provision of the English Bill of Rights of 1689—the most important precursor to the U.S. Constitution—declared that “the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of parliament, is illegal.” […]
With the exception of Richard Nixon, whose refusals to spend money appropriated by Congress were struck down by the courts, no prior president has claimed the power to negate a law that is concededly constitutional.
In 1998, the Supreme Court struck down a congressional grant of line-item veto authority to the president to cancel spending items in appropriations. The reason? The only constitutional power the president has to suspend or repeal statutes is to veto a bill or propose new legislation. Writing for the court in Clinton v. City of New York, Justice John Paul Stevens noted: “There is no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the president to enact, to amend, or to repeal statutes.” […]
As the Supreme Court said long ago (Kendall v. United States, 1838), allowing the president to refuse to enforce statutes passed by Congress “would be clothing the president with a power to control the legislation of congress, and paralyze the administration of justice.” [Wall Street Journal, July 8]
What kind of compromise on immigration reform could be worth having, if President Obama can decide not to enforce the security provisions he does not like?
Gun rights spread. As of this week, Illinoisans can get a permit to carry a concealed firearm. The legislature overrode Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of legislation that had been passed to satisfy a court deadline to legalize gun ownership. That had been triggered by the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonald v. City of Chicago that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is an individual right that states must respect. From Jeff Dege at Radical Gun Nuttery (h/t: Volokh Conspiracy), here is what the spread of gun rights since 1986 looks like (click on image to see the map change year by year):
Eugene Volokh: “In the same era that the top mainstream media stories about gun laws have been about gun control, the most practically significant movement on gun law has been this movement of (limited) gun decontrol.”
They say “coup” as if that’s a bad thing. Last week’s military coup in Egypt is really an opportunity for democracy to work again in that country, writes Michael Rubin:
Last November, just five months into his presidency and with deliberations over a new constitution deadlocked, [Mohammed] Morsi seized dictatorial power. As guardian of the revolution, he argued, his power should trump the judiciary. If the Egyptian people wanted constitutional order, his allies suggested, they should approve the constitution the Muslim Brotherhood drafted in the absence of any quorum.
The Egyptian people — forced to choose between a one-man dictatorship or a flawed constitutional order — narrowly approved the constitution, ending Morsi’s brief autocracy but giving him what he wanted even more: Imposition of the Brotherhood’s religious agenda on a population that wanted jobs, not Islamic law. One article, for example, charged the state with protecting public morality, which Morsi interpreted in the most conservative, religious manner. […]
Morsi trampled human rights and denied women and minorities equality. The public did participate, but not in the way Morsi hoped: 20 million Egyptians signed petitions calling for the president’s ouster. […]
Rather than punish the perpetrators, Obama should offer two cheers for Egypt’s generals and help Egyptians write a more democratic constitution to provide a sounder foundation for true democracy. [New York Daily News, July 7]
Kim Holmes’s take:
According to Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act, the U.S. government is barred from giving “any assistance [to] the government of any country whose duly elected government is deposed by a military coup d’etat or decree.” That is pretty clear: If what happened in Cairo is a coup, then U.S. aid would eventually have to be cut off. It could be restored provided a new democratic government is elected. Mr. McCain is right: U.S. aid is in jeopardy.
But is he right that aid should be terminated now? I think not. It would be better to wait until the situation is clearer before making that decision. The president has no official waiver authority, but he does have discretion and therefore time to consider the right course of action. It may be that the army will not call elections; or it may use excessive force against its opponents. If this happens, it will be difficult if not impossible to continue aid.
On the other hand, elections may be called, in which case it could be some time before we know whether democracy is established.
These complexities show that our aid policy is much too simplistic. It’s not just about coups or elections, but about whether a society is mature enough to create a stable democratic order. What Egypt needs is a prolonged period of political peace in which to plant the values and build the institutions of a representative democracy. If a new election produces yet another authoritarian ruler, no matter whether the vote is free or not, we should not bless that outcome by calling it “democratic.” Instead we should cut off aid.
At the same time we should start insisting that Egyptian parties take up the cause of economic reform. No one — most assuredly not the army — is talking about the reforms needed to turn Egypt’s economy around. Unless they do, our aid will be wasted. [The Heritage Foundation, July 12]
Do regulators know the benefits of Scotch? It should surprise no one that the cost-benefit analyses produced by federal agencies always show their proposed regulations yield benefits that exceed costs. Writing in the latest issue of Cato’s Regulationmagazine, Susan Dudley observes that, in the hands of regulators, cost-benefit analysis is a process of quantifying “every conceivable good thing that they can attribute to a decision to issue new regulations,” while counting only “the most obvious direct and intended costs of complying with the regulation.”
Dudley should know a few things about regulation from her days running the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for President George W. Bush. From her article, here are a few facts about federal regulations that may surprise you:
• More than half of the calculated benefits of federal regulations counted in the Office of Management and Budget’s annual report on the costs and benefits of economically significant regulations come from reductions in a single pollutant: fine particulate matter.
• For many regulations, much of the calculated benefits come from reductions in fine particulate matter—even though reducing fine particulate matter was not the purpose of those regulations. For four such regulations in 2010, 100 percent of the claimed benefits came from reducing fine particular matter.
• Estimates of the benefits of reducing fine particulate matter rest on six key assumptions—including that there actually is a causal relationship between mortality and levels of fine particulate matter and that the relationship exists even at low levels. If any of those assumptions are false “the benefits of reducing [fine particulate matter] would be less than estimated and perhaps even zero.”
• The method of assigning a value to mortality risk reduction assumes every beneficiary is a healthy, working-age person with a long life ahead of him, which obviously is not true.
• Beyond reducing fine particulate matter, the source of most of the rest of the calculated benefits of economically significant federal regulations is saving consumers money. Those savings are achieved by regulations that force consumer products to be more energy-efficient than they would otherwise be. That is to say, regulators are actually counting restrictions on consumer choice as a benefit. But nowhere do they count as a cost the loss to consumers of product features for which they are willing to pay. [“OMB’s Reported Benefits of Regulation: Too Good to Be True?” by Susan Dudley, Regulation, Summer 2013.]
And that brings us to this bit of news: Environmental organizations such as the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the John Muir Trust have started a campaign to put Scotland’s peat off limits to commercial extraction by 2020. Peat, of course, isn’t just another fuel for heating your home. It’s what gives Scotch whisky its distinctive smoky character. [Brisbane Times, July 12]
Scottish literary historian David Daiches tells us: “The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed.”
So what is it to be? Continuity of culture or biodiversity? Toasting civilization or keeping a little more carbon in the ground? If you whisky drinkers aren’t sure about switching your habit for the sake of habitat, just wait till the regulators give you their numbers.
IMANI Center for Policy & Education: working for liberty in Ghana. The IMANI Center for Policy & Education was founded in 2004 in Ghana and is already one of the top think tanks in Africa. The University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program ranks it the eighth best think tank in sub-Saharan Africa (tops in Ghana), the 10th best think tank with an annual operating budget under $5 million, and 25th in think tanks with the most innovative policy ideas/proposals. We asked IMANI Founder and President Franklin Cudjoe a few questions about IMANI’s work:
InsiderOnline: When you first started up the IMANI Center for Policy & Education, how challenging was it to get policymakers to listen to your ideas?
Franklin Cudjoe: Very challenging. Getting noticed by policy makers happens when the media gives you a platform. Incidentally our media at the time could only help after a good run of publication of policy opinions. Another factor was the dominance of our competitors in the media space. Today IMANI’s “competitors” in Ghana are on average more than four times older, with extensive networks across governmental and corporate circles, and thus a pedigree borne of the privilege that such access endows. It is therefore quite fascinating that IMANI is frequently cited as being in the same league as the most prestigious of these institutions. Since May 2008, our media metrics have consistently shown IMANI to be number one among Ghanaian institutions for “web presence” and number two when it comes to citations in the print press. Its profile in the broadcast media has also improved dramatically in recent times.
IO: Nine years later, the Center, with only six full-time employees, is already ranked as one of the most influential think tanks in Africa. How did you manage to build the Center’s reputation so quickly?
FC: We knew we were not well endowed financially, so we focused on building expertise in designing specific and rigorous tools in applying free-market solutions to an array of complex social problems. Crisp, clear, compelling data—or what we also call evidence-based advocacy—we thought was the most useful tool to provide to any media outlet; and it’s easy for the media to use without interpretation.
IO: What are the three most important problems that Ghana needs to fix?
FC: 1. The presidency is too powerful. It has become the strategic hub for policy planning from a financial and technical point of view. Political accountability resides in the executive, and that is enough. For most strategic projects, the requisite expertise may be spread across multiple ministries, departments, and agencies. The Cabinet Office with professional staffers rather than political appointees should be strengthened and given powers that allow it to coordinate expertise across the civil service.
2. Education prospects have weakened: The Ghana Education Reform Project has now run for five years, but not without disruption. The change of government at the turn of 2009 saw the duration of the secondary education program reversed from four years to three years. Apart from this action no significant work has been done to review the trajectory of the reform. A good example of the dysfunction is the distribution of free computer hardware without a corresponding effort to develop and disseminate even more vital software learning tools and content.
3. Wasteful projects continue: Even though we all applauded the decision to go biometric in the 2012 election, every objective observer knew we have already collected biometric details of citizens for the following purposes: national passports, the e-Zwich payments platform, and the national identification system. It has been proposed that we do the same for voter ID cards, drivers’ licences, and National Health Insurance Scheme cards. A harmonised system means you may be able to use one card for multiple systems. We believe we can save $250 million harmonising these biometric ID systems.
• Find out which states are doing well and which are not—and why. The Heritage Foundation will host Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams to talk about the American Legislative Exchange Council’s latest Rich States, Poor States report. The talk begins at noon on July 18.
• Learn what went wrong in California and how to fix it. The Pacific Research Institute and the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal will host a panel discussion featuring Stephen Malanga author of The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How To Recapture It. The discussion begins at noon on July 18 at The City Club in San Francisco.
• Young professionals and interns, learn what you need to know about workplace etiquette. The America’s Future Foundation will host a panel on professional etiquette featuring Karin Agness of the Network of enlightened Women, Paul Teller of the Republican Study Committee, Peter Redpath of the Federalist Society, and Kristen Soltis Anderson of the Winston Group. The panel begins at 2 p.m. in 2322 Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.
• Nominate an outstanding publication for a $10,000 prize. The Atlas Foundation is now accepting nominations for the 2013 Sir Antony Fisher International Memorial Award, which will recognize “outstanding publications produced by independent public policy research institutes that have made the greatest contributions to the public understanding of a free society.” Works published in 2012 or 2013 are eligible for the prize. To nominate a publication, submit by August 15 five copies of the publication along with a nomination letter to Atlas Network, c/o Gonzalo Schwarz, 1201 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20005. If you have questions about the award, email Gonzalo.Schwarz@AtlasNetwork.org.
• Discover movies that have libertarian themes. The Cato Institute’s David Boaz reports that Miss Liberty’s Guide to Film: Movies for the Libertarian Millennium by Jon Osborne, which has been out of print for several years, is available again in e-book format.
I have ranted for years about the huge amounts of our tax dollars that go to people who are not in any way shape or form farmers. They are land owners and in some few cases a crop is raised on this land but in most cases they are being paid NOT to farm, Not to grow a crop.
The House took the bloated and pork laden Senate Farm Bill and did one thing to it: They separated out the food stamp money from that going to the so-called farmers. that was the extend of the House improvements and concern for your tax dollars. This action is of course a good move because it makes each program stand on its own and makes it more difficult for the farm representatives to get the votes of the city representatives——they have to go out in the corridor and make their deals that if you vote for mine I will vote for yours. Thieves have to trust other thieves to do what they promise! Other than that the same big wealthy campaign fund givers still get their pay off in both bills. Read the following article. BB
Farm Bill: You’ll Never Believe Where the House Wants to Spend Your Tax Dollars
July 11, 2013 at 10:46
The House split up farm-related programs and food stamps, but they didn’t make a single reform to farm programs — and House leadership is hoping America doesn’t notice.
The text of the farm-only bill was released late last night, and current plans are to vote on the bill as soon as midday today. Leadership may be rushing through the process so members don’t have time to properly review the bill, but Heritage experts have the facts.
Everything that was bloated and egregious in the bill remains in the bill and it still hands out taxpayer money to surprising recipients. We’ve highlighted just some of the ridiculous places Congress wants to send your tax dollars below.
I was so happy to read that Hobby Lobby has won the case for God loving people to stand against Obamacare’s mandate to force us to pay for abortions and abortion drugs..
Late this afternoon, a federal court granted a major victory to the Green family and Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., issuing the company a temporary restraining order to the coercive Obamacare mandate that requires employers to provide coverage of abortion-inducing drugs.
The ruling comes just one day after a lengthy opinion of the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit sent the case back to the district court to reconsider Hobby Lobby’s request for a temporary block to the mandate.
Hobby Lobby and the Green family faced the terrible choice of violating their faith or paying massive fines starting this Monday morning,” remarked Becket Fund for Religious Liberty General Counsel Kyle Duncan. “We are delighted that both the 10th Circuit and the district court have spared them from this unjust burden on their religious freedom.”
Hobby Lobby is a closely held family business, which the Green family seeks to operate in accordance with Christian principles. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, Hobby Lobby has grown from one 300-square-foot garage to over 500 stores in 41 states and employs more than 13,000 employees. The Green family is not only committed to serving their customers and employees but also to investing in communities through partnerships with numerous Christian ministries.
The Green family’s company, which closes all its locations on Sundays, seeks to operate in accordance with Christian principles, including offering an employee health care plan that aligns with those values. However, the Obamacare mandate would force Hobby Lobby to provide and pay for coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, despite the Green’s religious objections.
As the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals noted in its opinion yesterday, the Green family faced crippling fines unless it complied with the mandate. Absent the temporary halt to the mandate granted this afternoon, Hobby Lobby could have face fines of up to $1.3 million a day starting as early as next Monday. Even if the company had stopped offering health insurance altogether, harming their employees by taking away valuable benefits, Obamacare would still have hit Hobby Lobby with a fine of about $26 million per year after 2014.
The mandate’s offensively narrow religious exemption doesn’t apply to a large number of religious organizations, let alone family businesses such as Hobby Lobby. In fact, the Administration’s most recent rewrite of their “accommodation” explicitly excludes families who go into business to provide for themselves and their employees.
More than 200 plaintiffs are currently involved in more than 60 lawsuits against this HHS mandate. Of the 28 cases that have had rulings touching on the merits, 21 have received temporary halts to the mandate’s enforcement while their cases proceed. Most involve family businesses burdened by the coercive rule.
Employees and individuals should be able to choose health care that best fits the needs of their families and respects their freedom. Employers should be able to build and grow job-creating businesses in accordance with their values without threat of government penalties.
The first step on the road to regaining that freedom is rescinding the Obamacare anti-conscience mandate. Protecting Americans’ liberties more generally will require full repeal of Obamacare.