CEI Releases Suppressed EPA Report

The Competitive Enterprise Institute made public an internal study on climate science which was suppressed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Internal EPA email messages, released by CEI earlier in the week, indicate that the report was kept under wraps and its author silenced because of pressure to support the Administration’s agenda of passing the "Cap and Trade" bill regulating and taxing carbon dioxide emmissions.

The following are extracts from the Executive Summary of the draft EPA Report, Proposed NCEE Comments on Draft Technical Support Document for Endangerment Analysis for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Under the Clean Air Act, which the Obama Administration has been hiding from the public for months because the findings run counter to its prevailing metanarrative.

The current Draft TSD is based on the IPCC AR4 report, which is at best three years out of date in a rapidly changing field. There have been important developments in areas that deserve careful attention in this draft. The list includes the following five:

Global temperatures have declined--extending the current downtrend to eleven years, with a particularly rapid decline in 2007-8; in addition, the PDO went negative in September 2007 and the AMO in January 2009 respectively. At the same time, atmospheric CO2 levels have continued to increase and CO2 emissions have accelerated.

The consensus on past, present and future Atlantic hurricane behavior has changed. Initially, it tilted towards the idea that anthropogenic global warming is leading to (and will lead to) more frequent and intense storms. Now the consensus is much more neutral, arguing that future Atlantic tropical cyclones will be little different from those of the past.

The idea that warming temperatures will cause Greenland to rapidly shed its ice has been greatly diminished by new results indicating little evidence for the operation of such processes.

One of the worst economic recessions since World War II has greatly reduced GHG [Greenhouse Gas] emissions compared to assumptions made by the IPCC. To the extent that ambient GHG levels are relevant for future global temperatures, these emissions reductions should greatly influence the adverse effects of these emissions on public health and welfare. The current draft TSD does not reflect the changes that have already occurred nor those that are likely to occur in the future as the result of the recession. In fact, the topic is not even discussed to our knowledge.

A new 2009 paper finds the crucial assumptions in the GCM models used by the IPCC concerning strongly negative feedback from water vapor is not supported by empirical evidence, and that the feedback is actually negative.

• A new 2009 paper by Scafetta and West suggests that the IPCC used faulty solar data in dismissing the direct effects of solar variability on global temperatures. Their research suggests that solar variability could account for up to 68% of the increase in the world's global temperature.

These six developments alone should greatly influence any assessment of "vulnerability, risk and impacts" of climate change within the U.S. But these are just a few of the new developments since 2006. Therefore, extensive portions of the EPA's endangerment TSD which were based upon the old science are not longer appropriate and need to be revised before a new TSD is issued for comments.

Not only is the science of the TSD out of date, but there are a number of other disturbing inconsistencies between the temperature and other scientific data, and the GHG/CO2 hypothesis that need to be carefully explored and explained if the draft TSD is to be credible. Despite the complexity of the climate system, the following conclusions appear to be well supported by the available data:

A. By far the best single explanation for global temperature fluctuations is variation in the PDO/ENSO. ENSO appears to operate in a 3-5 year cycle. PDO/AMO appear to operate in about a 60-year cycle. This is not really explained in the draft TSD, but needs to be, or, at the very least, there needs to be an explanation of why OAR believes that these evidence cycles do not exist, or why they are much more unimportant than we believe them to be.

B. There appears to be a strong association between solar sunspots/irradiance and global temperature fluctuations. It is unclear how this operates, but it may be through indirect solar variability on cloud formation. This topic is not really explored in the draft TSD but needs to be, since otherwise the effects of solar variations may be misattributed to effects of changes in GHG levels.

C. Changes in GHG concentrations seem to have so little effect that it is difficult to find any effect in the satellite temperature record, which started in 1978.

D. The surface measurements (HADCRUT) are more ambiguous than the satellite measurements in that the increasing temperatures shown since the mid-1970s could either be due to the rabid growth of urbanization and the heat island effect, or by the increase in GHG levels. However, since no such increase is shown in the satellite record, it appears more likely that urbanization and the UHI effect are the most likely cause. If so, the increases may have little to do with GHGs and everything to do with the rapid urbanization during the period. Given the discrepancy between surface temperature records in 1940-75, and 1998-2008 and the increases in GHG levels during these periods, it appears even more unlikely that GHGs have much effect on measured surface temperatures either. These points need to be very carefully and fully discussed in the draft TSD if it is to be scientifically credible.

E. Hence, it is not reasonable to conclude that there is any endangerment from changes in GHG levels based on the satellite record, since almost all fluctuations appear to be due to natural causes and not human-caused pollution as defined by the Clean Air Act. The surface record is more equivocal but needs to be carefully discussed, which would require careful revision of the draft TSD.

F. There is a strong possibility that there are some other natural causes of global temperature fluctuations that we do not yet fully understand, and which may account for the 1998 temperature peak which appears on both the satellite and surface temperature records. This possibility needs to be fully explained and discussed in the draft TSD. Until and unless these and many other inconsistencies referenced in these comments are adequately explained it would appear to be premature to attribute all or even any of what warming has occurred to changes in the GHG/CO2 atmospheric levels.

These inconsistencies are so important sufficiently abstruse that in our view EPA needs to make an independent analysis of the science of global warming, rather than adopting the conclusions of the IPCC and CCSP without much more careful and independent EPA staff review than is evidenced by the draft TSP. Adopting the scientific conclusions of an outside group such as the IPCC or CCSP without thorough review by EPA is not in the EPA tradition, anyway, and there seems to be little reason to change the tradition in this case. If there conclusions should be incorrect and EPA acts on them, EPA will be blamed for inadequate research and understanding, and reaching a possibly inaccurate determination of endangerment. Given the downward trend in temperatures since 1998 (which some think will continue until at least 2030), there is no particular reason to rush into decisions based on a scientific hypothesis that does not appear to explain most of the available data.

Finally, there is an obvious logical problem posed by steadily increasing U.S. health and welfare measurements and the alleged endangerment of health and welfare discussed in this draft TSD during a period of rapid rise in at least CO2 ambient levels. This discontinuity either needs to be carefully explained in the draft TSD or the conclusions changed.

The Madness of Recycling

From Per Bylund at the Ludwig Von Mises Institute:

"Imagine a whole population spending time and money cleaning their garbage and driving it around the neighborhood rather than working or investing in a productive market! "

As a Swede I get to hear a lot of the myths of how wonderful a country Sweden supposedly is — the "prosperous socialism" it stands for, a role model for the rest of the world. For instance, quite a few friends from around the world have commended me on Swedish recycling polices and the Swedish government's take on coercive environmentalism.

The way it has been presented to me, Sweden has succeeded with what most other governments at best dream about: creating an efficient and profitable national system for saving the environment through large-scale recycling. And the people are all in on it! Everybody's recycling.

The latter is actually true: everybody is recycling. But that is the result of government force, not a voluntary choice. The state's monopolist garbage-collection "service" no longer accepts garbage: they will only collect leftovers and other biodegradables. Any other kind of garbage that accidentally finds its way to your garbage bin can result in a nice little fine (it really isn't that little) and the whole neighborhood could face increased garbage collection rates (i.e., even larger increases than usual — they tend to increase annually or biannually anyway).

So what do you do with your waste? Most homes have a number of trash bins for different kinds of trash: batteries in one; biodegradables in one; wood in one; colored glass in one, other glass in another; aluminum in one, other metals in another; newspapers in one, hard paper in another, and paper that doesn't fit these two categories in a third; and plastic of all sorts in another collection of bins. The materials generally have to be cleaned before thrown away — milk cartons with milk in them cannot be recycled just as metal cans cannot have too much of the paper labels left.

The people of Sweden are thus forced to clean their trash before carefully separating different kinds of materials. This is the future, they say, and it is supposedly good for the environment. (What about the economy?)

But it doesn't end with the extra work at home and the extra space in each and every kitchen occupied by a variety of trash bins. What do you do with the trash that isn't collected? The garbage collection service (which nowadays doesn't offer collection too often, usually biweekly or monthly, even though the rates mysteriously seem to be much higher than before) only accepts certain types of garbage, generally only biodegradable food leftovers. But do not worry; it is all taken care of.

The authorities have established trash collection centers in most neighborhoods where you get to throw away your trash. These "centers" offer numerous containers where you can throw away your trash — there is one container dedicated for each and every kind of trash and they are all neatly color-coded to help you find the right one. But this means you better have separated your aluminum from your other metals and your newspapers from your soft and hard papers before you get here. You wouldn't want to throw away dirty milk cartons or unsorted paper, would you?

But it seems people do just that: they cheat if they believe they are better off doing so. So the authorities have responded by making it more difficult to cheat. Their first measure was to redesign all containers so that it is more difficult throwing the "wrong" trash in them. For instance, containers for glass have only small, round holes where you put your bottles, and containers for hard paper and carton materials have only letter-slit shaped holes (you need to flatten all boxes before recycling — that's the law).

Well, that didn't do the trick. People kept on cheating. And the more difficult the authorities made it to cheat, the more difficult it was to get rid of the trash even if you intended to put it in the right place. So people went to these centers and simply put everything next to the containers instead — why bother? The authorities responded by appointing salaried "trash collection center spies" (!) to document who was cheating so that they could be brought to justice. (There have actually been a few court cases where people have been tried for not following recycling laws.) Need I say the attempt to appoint spies didn't work either? After a rather hot-spirited debate in the media, all spying at trash collection centers was abolished.

But the real question here is not to what degree the authorities are ignorant of what spurs human action. We already have numerous examples of this ignorance being quite huge. The question is: does this recycling structure work? The answer is that, from a government point of view, while it can probably be thought of as working, from an environmental point of view, the answer is definitely "no."

As Mr. Bylund discusses more details, the sheer magnitude of the "1984" government controls emerge.

reasontv - ObamaCare

Noted Pediphile Dead at 50

From The Nose On Your Face:

Noted Pedophile And Skin Bleacher Michael Jackson Dead At 50

Michael Jackson, the man-child serial pedophile who spent most of the last decade in courtrooms or trying to become white through surgery, is dead at 50.

Jackson is best known for building the Neverland Ranch, an amusement park situated near his home that allowed for the unsupervised seduction and transfer of young boys from the park to his bed. Jackson’s resources and creativity made his a cult-hero among pedophiles; NAMBLA (The North American Man-Boy Love Association) gave him the coveted Jolly-Rancher Award in 2005.

Jackson was also on the cutting edge of plastic surgery, slowly morphing from a young black man to a horrid white ghoul with a detachable nose over the course of the last 15 years.

When he wasn’t giving horsie rides to poor white boys with compliant moms or at the dermatologist office, Jackson enjoyed juggling his own small children.

Jackson also moonlighted as a singer and dancer. He is survived by a drug-addled, parasitic traveling circus.



Healthcare Monopsony

John Hinderacker writes about the insidious side of single-payer healthcare:

[I]n fact, having the public "option" crowd out private insurance will result in a monopsony not a monopoly....i.e., one buyer rather than one seller.

This is, of course, the whole point of the plan... constructively, a single payer system which is, by definition, a monopsony which will exercise monopsony purchasing power....in effect confiscating as much of the incomes of providers as it can get away with...and managing the resulting supply shortage by its complementary monopoly position as a seller (or provider) of insurance to the public....only one place to go on either side of the trade....nice work if you can get it.

What is being overlooked this time around compared to 1993 [HillaryCare] is this: to prevent "leakage" from the system, draining of supply to other providers of insurance/purchasers of health care services...the "public option" has to effectively outlaw them. The mechanisms will be various and include provisions in law such as a prohibition on "topping off" fees paid independently by patients to physicians or hospitals above the public option's reimbursement rates to get better service or, indeed, any service at all in some circumstances (already in Medicare, I believe). A prohibition against taking private patients if a provider accepts ANY public patients...it's an all or none situation...unless your entire practice is exclusively private, you must accept the government's terms and conditions and no others. Severe penalties for the economic "crime," probably deemed to be medical fraud, of engaging in free market medicine, for violators. Private provision and private insurance is all but forbidden in Canada (despite the provincial court decision a few years ago) and that is where we would be headed, too.

Otherwise....you get a two-tier system...wealthy people will pay their health care tax but then just opt out of the system...analogous to public schools vs. private schools.....a very few health care providers will cater to them and not need the public option...they would then "disproportionately" "consume" medical "resources" and the best resources...but only a very, very few....and there will be nowhere to hide...no suburban school district to flee to that is the equivalent of private school. So that's how Bill and Hillary would avoid standing in that line at the clinic. And why it is ESSENTIAL that all public employees and those on public pensions be required to participate in the public option...make Congress have the exact same requirements as everyone else.

Unfortunately, Barack Obama has staked out only the best care for hs family.

You Can Call Me “Babs"

This bit of humor from William Kevin Stoos of CFP:


Mrs./Ms./Madam/Missus Barbie Boxer Apologizes to General

“Gawd, I really looked like a bitch!” exclaimed Mrs. Barbara Boxer, a California politician who occupies a political office in Washington, D.C., as she watched a replay of her disrespectful interruption of Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh, of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, during his testimony on the Hurricane Katrina restoration process. The General--who has served his country admirably, risked his life and limb, and devoted his life to preserve the lady’s freedom to disrespect him and others in uniform who are trained to refer to ladies as “Ma’am” and gentlemen as “Sir”--was rudely “dressed down” as they say in the military, as he dared to preface an answer to one of Boxer’s questions with a polite “Ma’am.”

At this point, Ms. Boxer interrupted the General and reminded him that she, Madam Boxer, worked hard to gain a seat in the legislative body of which she is a member, and was therefore entitled to the ultimate respect, deference, and tribute that comes with being a liberal, professional politician whose main accomplishment in Washington has been to tax other people and spend their money.

Invited by Missus Boxer to watch the replay, Stoos Views reporter Hugh Betcha--Chief of The Washington News Bureau--met with Barb at her request so she could issue an apology to the General for her inexcusable disrespect of a United States Army military officer. “I am so sorry for my indefensible behavior,” Missus Boxer stated, “I realize now that the term ‘Madam’ was not meant to be disrespectful to me as a revered member of the elite Washington Political Class. Rather, I understand now that it is a term of respect used by members of the lower and servant classes, such as military people, waiters, laborers, normal people with manners, and anyone else who does not occupy a seat in a privileged political club, such as I do. I was wrong to be so rude and I understand that the General was just trying to be nice to me, Mrs. Stewart Boxer. I was wrong to scold the great General and I hope he can see fit to forgive me.”

After promising to release this apology on behalf of Ms. Boxer, the Stoos Views reporter bid farewell to Stewart Boxer’s wife, saying “Goodbye, Madam,” as he went. “Please, call me Babs,” she replied, as she showed him the door.



H/T: Curmudeonly & Skeptical

Almost Heaven?

Christina Davidson has begun a motor tour across America for Atlantic Magazine to observe the "cataclysmic hemorrhaging" caused by economic recession in the contiguous 48 states. Ignoring strife and poverty in Washington, D.C. where she works, she heads straight to my home state of West (By God) Virginia. In her Recession Road Trip column, she writes:

West Virginia has endured pervasive poverty throughout its history. With a median per capita income at around $35,000, the state ranks second--after Mississippi--as the poorest in the nation. The people of West Virginia feature as stock characters in jokes referencing poor, uneducated "hillbillies." But within the state, the ruggedly self-sufficient culture that endemic poverty has engendered represents strength and independence--a thing of pride for residents. Most importantly--for the purposes of this project--that natural state of being for West Virginia has acted as a kind of buffer against some of the heartbreak and despair the recession has visited upon wealthier parts of the country.

Well, she almost got out of the first paragraph unscathed, but she blew a key statistic . . . West Virginia's average per capita income is $22,725, not $35,000. So an average family of four is required to survive on $90,800 instead of $140,000 per year. Damn, those coal miners still make good money!

Ms. Davidson is not through trying to trash those backward hicks while tooling along in her green car:

Since my journey is not simply a poverty tour, but intended specifically to document how people are adjusting to dramatically changed economic circumstances, I pointed my rental Prius in the direction of Pocohantas County. Sliding from 5.6% unemployment in late 2007, to 16.9% today, Pocahantas has arguably taken the hardest hit of any county in West Virginia.

I knew driving north on US 219 would take me through some of the most lush and pristine wilderness that can be found anywhere in the country. What I did not realize was that the route would pass by the birthplace of Pearl Buck. Since I brought The Good Earth in my traveling library, it seemed fated that I stop for a visit.

I am not at all sure how she knew that route 219 would go through pristine wildness but not realize that it went through Hillsboro. but she says she didn't know. I would have guessed that her Prius would have a GPS. Anyhow, at the Pearl Buck house she ran into two salt-of-the-earth West Virginia ladies who were not typical soup line liberals with hands extended. Marietta Stemple and Betty Morrison had many nuggets for Christina:

"When you got nothin', you got nothin' to lose. That's recession in West Virginia."

“I don't feel like the recession has hit us as hard as other places because we're more independent. Prices can hurt us because of gas, utilities, and groceries, but we know how to live lean.”

“I've always raised my own garden and canned. It's something I was raised up with, that my mother was raised up with, that my grandmother was raised up with. I buy basics like meat and cheese at the grocery store, but I grow the rest.”

Our rambling reporter hightailed it out of Pocahontas and was next seen in Hurricane, WV off of I-64 between Charleston and Huntington. On the way she passed Don Surber who toils at the Charleston Daily Mail. Don thinks that Ms. Davidson missed the other side of the story.

This is a dangerous article for many reasons, not the least of which is glossing over the poverty and the unemployment that the area suffers.

West Virginia is a welfare state.

Is Davidson’s purpose to make the entire nation a welfare state?

For every $1 in taxes, West Virginia receives $1.76 in benefits.

Highways are a small portion of that $1.76.

The overwhelming portion of that $1.76 is in food stamps, free school lunches, free school breakfasts, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, disability checks, and dozens of welfare programs.

West Virginia is not a self-sufficient state. It is a dependency.

“Valuable recession lessons can be gleaned from the West Virginia experience: Never buy what you don’t need,” wrote Davidson.

Nice.

Romantic.

Nuts.

If poverty is so good, then why do we have anti-poverty programs? Using her logic, we should have pro-poverty programs.

She should have listened to that resident of Marlinton [who said] . . ., “When you got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose. That’s recession in West Virginia.”

Far from being a pleasant experience, poverty leads to depression, anxiety and misery.

Yes, I have noticed the materialism — especially the $5 cups of coffee — is unhealthy and ridiculous.

Most of what you think you need is just expensive garbage.

And I love West Virginia. As long as I can eke out a living, I will stay.

But let us not kid ourselves.

We have built the best economy in the world (one which liberals are quickly dismantling) and that has provided the $1.76 on which West Virginia survives.

The $134 Billion T-Bill Caper

The Financial Times reports today:

One summer afternoon, two "Japanese" men in their 50s on a slow train from Italy to Switzerland said they had nothing to declare at the frontier point of Chiasso. But in a false bottom of one of their suitcases, Italian customs officers and ministry of finance police discovered a staggering $134 billion in US Treasury bills.

Whether the men are really Japanese, as their passports declare, is not entirely clear, but Italian and US secret services working together soon concluded that the bills and accompanying bank documents were most probably counterfeit, the latest handiwork of the Italian Mafia.

Few details have been revealed beyond a June 4 statement by the Italian finance police announcing the seizure of 249 US Treasury bills, each of $500m, and 10 "Kennedy" bonds, used as inter-government payments, of $1 billion each. The men were apparently tailed by the Italian authorities.

Yesterday the mystery deepened as an Italian blog quoted Colonel Rodolfo Mecarelli of the Como provincial finance police as saying the two men had been released. The colonel and police headquarters in Rome both declined to respond to questions from the Financial Times.

"They are all fraudulent, it's obvious. We don't even have paper securities outstanding for that value,'' said Mckayla Braden, senior adviser for public affairs at the Bureau of Public Debt at the US Treasury department. "This type of scam has been going on for years.''

The Treasury has not issued physical Treasury bonds since the 1980s - they are handled electronically - though they still issue savings bonds in paper format.

In Washington a US Secret Service official said the agency, which is working with the Italian authorities, believed the bonds were fake.

Conspiracy theories have popped up at CFP and with Karl Derringer at The Market Ticker who observes:

If they're real, what government (the only entity that would have such a cache) is trying to unload them?

If they're fake, this is arguably the biggest counterfeiting operation ever, by a factor of many times. I've seen news about various counterfeiting operations over the years that have made me chuckle, but this one, if that's what it is, is absolutely jaw-dropping.

Derringer further speculates:

Are we willing to assume that all the "issue" of Treasury bonds has been done "above board" as required by law. If Treasury has been surreptitiously issuing bonds to, say, Japan, as a means of financing deficits that someone didn't want reported over the last, oh, say 10 or 20 years . . .

Who could have possibly been complicit in such a scheme? I can come up with only two nations (and only nations could be involved due to size): The Japanese and Chinese. Since the two individuals who were arrested were reported to be Japanese nationals. . .

Even after US authorities declared the bonds to be counterfeit, Derringer continues to have questions:

Why did it take Treasury six days to issue a statement that these bonds are "clearly fakes"? Does it really take more than one business day for the Italians to email someone a photo of the faces of the bonds, showing serial numbers and such? Either they're real or they're not - was Treasury hoping the story would "just die"?

Exactly who are the two who got caught with these things and where the hell are they? If they're not under indictment from the US side with an extradition request to Italy, why not? After all, counterfeiting $134 billion in alleged bonds is rather more serious than the usual guy who gets caught printing up a bad $20 or two, right?

Do we have a Treasury confidence problem? Maybe. The latest data released Monday shows that China was a net seller of Treasuries in April. Given that we think we can issue $2 trillion of new ones over the next year or so to pay for our profligate government spending programs. . .

Of course, this was not the only multi-billion dollar counterfeit T-Bill bust in our history. In 2001 US and Philippine authorities seized $2 Billion in fake bonds and in 2004 seized an undetermined amount of bogus bonds originating in the Philippines in denominations of $500 thousand, $100 Million and $500 Million.

Shortly, we hope to see some black helicopters setting back down into their well-protected helipads.

The White Roof Scam

Steven Chu, Obama's Energy Secretary has suggested that a proposal to use geo-engineering (deliberate manipulation of the Earth's biosphere) is a positive approach to counter global warming/climate change. Chu is quoted in the Independent (UK):

“Now you smile, but if you look at all the buildings and make all the roofs white, and if you make the pavement a more concrete-type of colour than a black-type of colour, and you do this uniformly… It’s the equivalent of reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years,” he said.

“It’s like you’ve just taken them off the road for 11 years. It’s actually geo-engineering.”

Professor Chu said that his thinking had been influenced by Art Rosenfeld, a member of the California Energy Commission, who drove through tough new building rules in the state. Since 2005 California has required all flat roofs on commercial buildings to be white; the measure is being expanded to require cool colours on all residential and pitched roofs.

Dr Rosenfeld is also a physicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, of which Professor Chu was director. Last year Dr Rosenfeld and two colleagues from the laboratory, Hashem Akbari and Surabi Menon, calculated that changing surface colours in 100 of the world’s largest cities could save the equivalent of 44 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide — about as much as global carbon emissions are expected to rise by over the next decade.

Greg Pollowitz over at Planet Gore finds that the motivation may be greed. It seems that Chu's cohorts over at LBNL are seeking to get their hands on $3 billion in stimulus money for this project.

Dr. Anthony Lupo at ICECAP did a bit of independent investigating.

For those who are proponents of the idea that humankind is harmfully warming the climate by adding greenhouse gasses to the earth’s atmosphere, it is also an article of faith that we can engineer our own solutions through policy prescriptions or burdensome regulations. So it is with Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu who claimed that we can offset a large part of the expected human‐induced warming by changing roofs to white and urban surfaces to a lighter, more reflective color.

There are many real climate scientists out there who question such silly statements and are not afraid to point out that trying to modify urban areas on such a grand scale would be a very expensive endeavor while delivering a small payoff. Dr. Roy Spencer convincingly demonstrates that such a prescription would offset only a very small portion of the expected CO2 emissions, and thus probably not make much of a difference in global temperatures. Dr. Lubos Motl also performs some back‐of‐the‐envelope calculations to demonstrate that the impact of Steven Chu’s prescription might result in a global temperature change on the order of .01 degree C or less.

Dr. Lupo goes on to relate three of his own experiments that support the findings of Spencer and Motl. You can read the detail here.

The final nail in the coffin to bury this bad idea comes from Dr. Robert Ferguson at the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI). Writing as "The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley", Ferguson humorously covers an unfunny subject with some frightful cost projections supported by calculations.

To achieve the 0.2 Fahrenheit reduction in “global warming” that the Chu-Chu’s grand design might bring about, we’re going to have to paint 0.5% of the Earth’s surface, and keep it painted every three years for a century. That won’t come cheap.

The Earth’s surface covers 510 million square kilometers, and 0.5% of that comes to about 2,550,000 square kilometers, or 2550 billion square meters. We’re going to need two coats of white gloss every three years: that’s 66 coats this century, times 2550 billion square meters, which is 168 trillion square meters of paint. Don’t you love it when big government thinks big? At your expense, of course.

We won’t be able to cover more than about 10 square meters for every liter of paint, because we’re painting rough exterior surfaces. Trust me on this: I’ve checked with the head gardener, and he hasn’t been wrong since 1963. Let’s call that 40 square meters per gallon. So, in 100 years, we’re going to get through 4.2 trillion gallons of paint.

At Wal-Mart, if they’re selling bin-ends of low-grade paint, they occasionally charge as little as $5 a gallon. But we need high-quality gloss-white exterior-grade paint, which is more expensive than most paints – often as much as $80 a gallon. But we’re buying in bulk, so we’ll get a gummint discount. Let’s call it $4 a gallon. So, Mr. Taxpayer, it’s going to cost you $17 trillion to reduce global temperature by just 0.2 Fahrenheit degrees. You may not think this is a particularly sound investment.

Healthcare Reformation

Wretchard posted a piece on his Belmont Club blog at Pajamas Media related the American Medical Association's objections to government-oriented reform of the US healthcare system. A NY Times article provides the basis for discussion:

As the health care debate heats up, the American Medical Association is letting Congress know that it will oppose creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan, which President Obama and many other Democrats see as an essential element of legislation to remake the health care system.

While committed to the goal of affordable health insurance for all, the association had said in a general statement of principles that health services should be “provided through private markets, as they are currently.” It is now reacting, for the first time, to specific legislative proposals being drafted by Congress.

At the heart of the president's restructuring is a reduction, rather than an increase, in Medicare and Medicaid spending over the next decade to the tune of $313B, in order to provide health care to all Americans(and probably all illegal aliens as well).

Therein lies the rub, as explained so very well by Leo Linbeck III in his comments to the Belmont Club blog post:

The market for healthcare services today is greatly distorted by the intervention of the Federal Government, which is the largest payor for those services.

In 2007, Americans spent about $2.2T on healthcare. Of that, about 20% was spent on Medicare, 18% was spent on Medicaid, and 7% was spent in other public programs. This means that about 45% of all healthcare spending was controlled by government. The Federal Government sets its prices through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS). It establishes the reimbursement for doctors, physicians, drug companies, etc.

Reimbursement rates set by CMMS do not cover the cost of healthcare. As a result, private payors effectively subsidize healthcare for Medicare and Medicaid users. Last year, according to Millican, a healthcare consulting firm, hospitals lost $30B on Medicare. Hospitals get about 32% of total Medicare dollars, so this equates to about $141B in revenues, meaning a margin of about -21%. If everyone in the country moved onto a Medicare system, this would mean that Medicare healthcare reimbursement to hospitals would be about $704B, and hospital losses would grow to $148B - an annual increased loss of more than $100B. These losses would bankrupt the entire hospital sector. And the economics of Medicaid are much, much worse.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Rome burns while the emperor fiddles. According to watchdog reports, Medicare Part A is already out of money and the whole system will collapse of its own weight by 2018.

Professor Linbeck not only succinctly identified the problem, he has the solution that Obama says he needs to solve the healthcare dilemma.

At the end of the day, there are only two ways to match supply and demand: a market and a queue. The question of universal access is a crock. Today, everyone in the US has access to healthcare; the problem is that not everyone can afford to pay for the access they would like to have. But this is true of all goods and services - I have access to a private jet, if I can pay for it. But I can’t, so I have to fly on commercial airlines (or ride the bus, or drive my car, or walk).

Right now, the system uses market mechanisms, but the price-setting role of CMMS is straining the system in the extreme. How much longer can private payors subsidize government healthcare expenditures? We are essentially faced with a choice between:

a) moving away from government price-setting toward letting buyers and sellers set the price (i.e. a market), and

b) moving toward a government-controlled system, which will result in healthcare rationing (i.e. a queue.)

It seems to me that the best way to reform the system is to implement the following:

1. A catastrophic healthcare insurance program funded through taxes. Essentially, this is a high-deductible insurance policy that will keep people from being wiped out by a catastrophic illness. This is what insurance is for - a low-probability, high-damage event - not what it is currently being used for - reimbursement of regularly-consumed goods and services.

2. Removal of the tax-deductibility of health insurance and reduce tax rates to compensate. Why should healthcare be paid with pre-tax dollars? After all, food is paid with after-tax dollars, and it is more critical to our survival. Forcing people to rely on their employers to purchase their health insurance is a huge distortion of the market. Removing this would allow individuals to purchase policies on the same basis as corporations, and put the consumer in control of the type of healthcare they wish to buy. If they don’t want to buy any, that’s fine; after all, they will have a catastrophic policy that will cover costs if they have a really bad illness. Otherwise, they should decide whether they want to buy healthcare or some other good. This would significantly shrink the private insurance market, but who cares? If people want to purchase insurance, fine. But a lot of folks would be better off paying as they go, and avoiding the cost of insurance. Insurance is a lousy vehicle for most folks to finance the consumption of goods and services.

3. Transparent pricing. Require healthcare providers to provide prices for their various healthcare services. Let consumers decide where and from whom to purchase their services, and let prices be used to match supply and demand. Currently, if you ask a hospital how much, say, a bunion removal costs, you might get a quote of $15,000. But, when you look at what a private insurer actually pays, the number might be $5,000. You have no idea how much a particular procedure costs, so no one can shop based upon price.

Of course, with the current leadership in Washington, this sort of approach has approximately zero chance of being adopted. Rather, if the Obama Administration gets its way, we will eventually end up with a government-controlled system, i.e. Washington sets all prices. This means a queue for matching supply and demand. This means healthcare rationing. Sorry, it’s just the way it works.

Think bread lines in the Soviet Union. Not good for bread eaters, not good for bakers, not good for society. A true lose-lose-lose system.

Obama's Malignant Narcissism

Narcissus, in Greek mythology, was a handsome fellow who fell in love with his own reflection. Severe narcissism results in a pathological behavior disorder (NPD) characterized by self-absorption, intolerance toward others' perspectives, insensitivity to others' needs and indifference as to what effect such egocentricity might have on others.

Victor Davis Hanson captures this personality defect of Barack Obama in this Pajamas Media piece that requires your full reading.

Obama Versus the Way of the Universe

I wish the President well, but he is butting up against human nature. And that is a fight one cannot win. If one runs up nearly a $2 trillion annual deficit, and then persists in such red-ink to the point of adding another $9 trillion, all to reach an aggregate $20 trillion national debt, there are not too many options. If there were, everyone-both states and individuals-would simply spend, call it stimuli, and then find academics to offer contorted explanations why it was OK and the money need not really have to be paid back. Does Obama think his debt is like buying a house in a down market with an up market inevitable?–that is, we borrow to the max and then count on our equity to come to bail us out? But houses do not always go up, and we can’t quite sell off the US to capture our speculative profit.

So we all know the old rules, because the universe works according to time-honored precepts: we either must tax all of us (there are not enough of those evil “they” who make between $200-500K or even enough of the noble generous rich who make over $10 million a year and think Obama should increase inheritance taxes so that their children get only $1 billion instead of $2, while the hardware store owner’s kids sell the business) in insidious ways; OR simply cut government expenditures elsewhere to pay the annual interest payments, OR print money and screw the Chinese, European, etc. , debtors, inflating our way out via the late 1970s.

Sorry, there are no other real alternatives.

The only mystery? How the choice of payment is rhetoricized in the hope and change mode.

Deficit Foreign Policy Too

So it is with foreign policy as well. Obama’s make-over will have positive short-term effects, as he reminds the world ad nauseam that he is black, sorta, kinda from a Muslim family, and the son of an African who is more like the world than he like most Americans-and not George Bush and not a thieving capitalist and not a warmongering imperialist and not (fill in the blanks). (My favorite Cairo line was the apology on Gitmo where inmates have laptops and Mediterranean food, spoken to millions whose societies kill and maim tens of thousands in Gulags on a yearly basis.)

But in the long run?

He hits against human nature. Most of you readers-in business, law, the professions-don’t continually praise your friends, competitors, and enemies (e.g., “Glad you got that job, Home Depot-we at Lowes didn’t really need it; what a wonderful bid you submitted, Hilton, much better than ours here at the Four Seasons; it was my fault here at Goldman Sachs that I didn’t match your better offer at Credit Suisse; I grew up working for the Royals, and can empathize why you Yankees don’t like us; it’s time we at Citibank apologized to Chase for our past cutthroat competition; we are just too arrogant over here at Delta and wanted to let you guys at United know that.”)

Sorry

The world sadly does not work that way. If one were to do that, we know the outcome: a group of rival execs would say “Hmmm, time to steal market share from Citibank, or Hilton isn’t really up to the arena anymore, let’s move in on its Western region, etc.”

Only someone who has not been in the real world, but only marketed rhetoric without consequences (e.g., if Obama had a bad day organizing, or legislating, was he fired?) could believe such things.

Postmortem

Obama will come to his senses with his ‘Bush did it’, reset button, moral equivalency, soaring hope and change, with these apologies to Europeans, his Arab world Sermons on the Mount to Al Arabiya, in Turkey, in Cairo, etc., his touchy-feely videos to Iran, his “we are all victims of racism” sops to Ortega, Chavez, and Morales. It is only a matter of when, under what conditions, how high the price we must pay, and whether we lose the farm before he gains wisdom about the tragic universe in which we live.

A sojourn at an elite university, you see, can sometimes become a very dangerous thing indeed.

Methinks that the Professor's optimism about Barry gaining wisdom is naive, but then J. B. White over at Rattler Gator is ever the optimist.

As Hanson indicates, the only true question is: what will BHO do in the face of a mugging by reality? Specifically, "The only mystery? How the choice of payment is rhetoricized in the hope and change mode." Payment, mind you, whether foreign or domestic. For me, there is an acknowledgment in this question/statement from VDH that Obama is, first and foremost, a politician.

No,Obama doesn't understand the country. No, he doesn't know how to properly respect military service or the imperative to serve in our armed forces, nor does he know how to properly admire a corporation surviving the gauntlet of initial start-up, then finding, developing and servicing a market. Hell, the fact of the matter is that he doesn't even believe in the CIA or its mission.

But he does understand politics.

I'm going to hold onto that little nugget and believe (hope?), along with VDH, that our President is going to "get it" when the inevitable occurs. And I'm going to work to see that he's a one-term wonder because (as someone said in one of Hanson's comments) his was the most un-serious election of my lifetime. As a black man, I remain firmly convinced he NEVER should have been the first African American elected to the Presidency but . . . he was! And I have to respect that.

Worse Than Fiction

Last week, I covered the idiotic claims by Kofi Annan et al on a "study" on climate change causing over 300,000 deaths annually. Opinion Journal fills in all the missing points that I missed:

Global warming alarmists are fond of invoking the authority of experts against the skepticism of supposedly amateur detractors -- a.k.a. "deniers." So when one of those experts says that a recent report on the effects of climate change is "worse than fiction, it is a lie," the alarmists should, well, be alarmed.

The latest contretemps pits former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, now president of the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum, against Roger Pielke, Jr., an expert in disaster trends at the University of Colorado. Mr. Annan's outfit issued a lengthy report late last month warning that climate change-induced disasters, such as droughts and floods, kill 315,000 each year and cost $125 billion, numbers it says will rise to 500,000 dead and $340 billion by 2030. Adding to the gloom, Mr. Annan predicts "mass starvation, mass migration, and mass sickness" unless countries agree to "the most ambitious international agreement ever negotiated" at a meeting this year in Copenhagen.

Even on its own terms, the numbers here are a lot less scary when put into context. Malaria kills an estimated one million people a year, while AIDS claims an estimated two million. As for the economic costs, $125 billion is slightly less than the GDP of New Zealand. Question: Are targeted campaigns using proven methods to spare the world three million AIDS and malaria deaths a year a better use of scarce resources than a multitrillion-dollar attempt to re-engineer the global economy and save, at most, a tenth that number? We'd say yes.

But the Annan report deserves even closer scrutiny as an example of the sleight of hand that so often goes with the politics of global warming. Unlike starvation, climate change does not usually kill anyone directly. Instead, the study's authors assume a four-step chain of causation, beginning with increased emissions, moving to climate-change effects, thence to physical changes like melting glaciers and desertification, and finally arriving at human effects like malnutrition and "risk of instability and armed conflicts."

This is a heroic set of assumptions, even if you agree that emissions are causing adverse changes in climate. Take the supposedly heightened risk of conflict: The authors suggest that "inter-clan fighting in Somalia" is a product of climate change. A likelier explanation is the collapse of a functioning Somali government and the rise of jihadists in the region.

Enter Mr. Pielke, who, we hasten to add, does not speak for us (nor we for him). But given the headlines the Annan report has garnered, his views deserve amplification. Writing in the Prometheus science policy blog, Mr. Pielke calls the report a "methodological embarrassment" and a "poster child for how to lie with statistics" that "does a disservice" to those who take climate change issues seriously.

Mr. Pielke's critique begins by citing a recent peer-reviewed paper by three German researchers that "it is generally difficult to obtain valid quantitative findings about the role of socioeconomics and climate change in loss increases." Reasons for this, the researchers explain, include "the stochastic [random] nature of weather extremes, a shortage of quality data, and the role of various other potential factors that act in parallel and interact."

The report does admit to a "significant margin of error," but this hardly excuses the sloppiness of its methodology. "To get around the fact that there has been no attribution of the relationship of GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions and disasters," Mr. Pielke notes, the Annan "report engages in a very strange comparison of earthquake and weather disasters in 1980 and 2005. The first question that comes to mind is, why? They are comparing phenomena with many 'moving parts' over a short time frame, and attributing 100% of the resulting difference to human-caused climate change. This boggles the mind."

It gets worse. The Annan report cites Hurricane Katrina as a case study in the economic consequences of climate change. Yet there's not even remotely conclusive evidence that temperature increases have any effect on the intensity or frequency of hurricanes. The authors also claim that global warming is aggravating the El Niño effect, which has "ruined livelihoods, led to lost lives and impaired national economies." Yet new research "questions the notion that El Niños have been getting stronger because of global warming," according to Ben Giese of Texas A&M.

We could go on, except we're worried about the blood pressure of readers who are climate-change true believers. Our only question is, if the case for global warming is so open and shut, why the need for a report as disingenuous as Mr. Annan's?

Obama Deficits Expected To Continue

The Heritage Foundation reports that America's Deficit level is expected to increase as a percentage of GDP from a not-so-good 40.8 percent in 2008 to an astounding 54.8% in 2009 . . . with no end in sight.

A year to year increase of this size hasn’t occurred since World War II. While the main causes of this massive increase – $787 trillion economic “stimulus” and the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) – are sure to be debated for some time, the truly freighting [sp ...frightening] revelation should be not what has already taken place, but what our elected officials have planned.

President Obama’s budget, if passed, would send debt to levels 26.3 percent of GDP over current law. Although President Obama has publicly stated his desire to both bring down deficits and reform entitlements under his watch, his actions don’t match his words.

According to the Washington Post, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had little optimism about the current state spending levels:

"Even as we said, take steps to address the recession and threats to financial stability," he "maintaining the confidence of the financial markets requires that we, as a nation, begin planning now for the restoration of fiscal balance."

Mr. Bernanke did not say explicitly that there is no such plan in Mr. Obama's budget -- at least not according to the CBO, whose estimates of the president's budget show annual deficits lingering indefinitely above 4 percent of GDP. . . . He did not say that Mr. Obama and Congress have done nothing so far to deliver on the president's pledge of entitlement reform. But if the Fed chairman had said those things, he would have been absolutely right.

Palestinian History According To Obama

James Taranto at the Opinion Journal detected this misrepresentation of history by Barack Obama during his "Muslim outreach" speech.

Obama is presenting an ignorant or dishonest account of history:

Threatening Israel with destruction--or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews--is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people--Muslims and Christians--have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations--large and small--that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

To hear this, you'd think that Palestinians have lived under Israeli "occupation" for 60 years. In fact, the West Bank and Gaza were under Arab occupation (by Jordan and Egypt, respectively) until 40 years ago (we're following Obama's convention of rounding to the nearest decade).

What happened 60 years ago was that the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution calling for Jewish and Arab states in what was then Palestine. The existing Arab states--Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria--rejected the plan, declared war on Israel, and urged Palestinian Arabs to flee their homes, promising their return upon the Arabs' victory.

Israel won instead. Palestinians remain in "refugee camps" in large parts because Arab states, except for Jordan, refuse to allow them to resettle. (By contrast, Israel has absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jews fleeing persecution in Arab countries.) Rather than accept their share of responsibility for the Palestinians' plight, the Arab states still promise the "right of return" upon Israel's defeat.

The president continues:

For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers--for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security.

Obama presents a false choice: between seeing the conflict "only from one side or the other" and treating Palestinian complaints about "the displacement brought by Israel's founding" and Israeli ones about "the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond" as equivalent and offsetting.

In truth, Israel's founding was not sufficient to bring about Palestinian displacement. Also necessary for the latter was the Arab states' violent rejection of the former. And the perpetuation of the Palestinians' plight is far more the fault of the Arab states (joined recently by Iran), not only for refusing to permit Palestinian immigration but also for giving both material and rhetorical support to Palestinian terrorism against Israel.

Probably it would have been diplomatically unwise for Obama in Cairo to put the matter as bluntly as we have done here. But no real resolution of the conflict is possible so long as the Arab states remain major players and are held to no standard of responsibility for their own actions.

The world according to Obama will never include honesty, James.

GM Bailout /Bankruptcy Only Delays Inevitable

Tracy Corrigan writes in the Telegraph:

So far, the US taxpayer has ploughed more than $50 billion into General Motors, the 100-year-old car manufacturer which filed for bankruptcy yesterday. GM, Americans joke, now stands for Government Motors, since the state owns 60 per cent of it.

There is a new American dream: that a slimmed-down GM will emerge from bankruptcy to prosper in the private sector. But it is not at all clear that huge amounts of government money should be injected to bring about this result. The US bankruptcy system is usually rather good at allowing companies to restructure and relaunch themselves, so why drag in the taxpayer?

The most appealing argument for doing so – that it will save jobs – is also among the weakest. First of all, GM will shed at least 20,000 more workers anyway. Yet even that may not be enough – it is doubtful that demand, particularly for GM's inefficiently-produced cars, will ever bounce back to previous levels. In which case additional government funding will be needed to avoid further redundancies.

In other words, the latest infusion of cash will not save jobs at GM and its suppliers; it will only delay the fall of the axe for some workers. That is not nothing – particularly since the delay will also help diffuse the broader economic impact of GM's blowout – but it is not enough to justify intervention on this scale. As Robert Reich, the former US labour secretary, has argued, if the only practical purpose is to slow the decline of GM to allow workers, suppliers, dealers and communities to adjust to its eventual demise, then the funds would be better spent helping the Midwest economy diversify away from cars.

A slightly stronger case for hitting up the taxpayer is that the private-sector financing that would speed a leaner GM through the restructuring process is hard to come by, given the state of the US economy and its car industry. However, this presupposes that a viable – and reasonably sizeable – business will come out at the other end. If private money, which seems to be flooding into other distressed assets, isn't available to make this bet, there may well be a good reason.

Global car production is, on the other hand, currently twice as great as demand, and GM is not best placed to survive the inevitable cull.

Ho Hum . . . Another Classical Gasser

Tim Cavenaugh over at Reason's Hit & Run blog describes the efforts by GM to sell its Hummer brand. His piece de resistance is in this final point:

I was hoping Hummer would be one of the brands that didn't survive, not because I object to the gas-guzzling but because I object to the deterioration of language the nearly two-decade brand represents. A boxy, militaristic all-terrain vehicle that drives like a truck and probably shouldn't be on civilian roads is called a HUMVEE. That's an iconic vehicle, developed by the truly great and lamented American Motors Corp. A HUMMER is a blowjob, and it still will be long after the last SUV has been replaced by dilithium-powered antigravity cars built by the Japanese.