Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

Here’s a video that’s making the rounds, from Steven Crowder (the fellow who gave us that Lena Dunham parody a few days ago).

In this one Mr. Crowder “redistributes” Hallowe’en candy to reduce inequality. Needless to say, the kids he’s taking the candy from don’t like it.

It’s a funny video, sort of, and yes, we get the point — but let’s keep in mind that these are children, and perhaps are not exactly who we should be consulting to fine-tune our tax policy.

Instead, given how things have been going lately, I’d say start ‘em off on foreign policy first, and see how that goes.

30 Comments

  1. Dr. Strangelove says

    They worked hard for their candy? Really? Keep what they earned? Earned how? They walked around and were given handouts. Also children’s sense of fairness is not necessarily the barometer by which we should judge fairness. If you’re equating Mitt Romney’s sense of fairness to children’s then I’m game.

    Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Also children’s sense of fairness is not necessarily the barometer by which we should judge fairness.

    This is pretty much what I was saying here; I thought that was clear. I certainly wasn’t saying anything about Mitt Romney, but your gratuitous slur is duly noted.

    On the other hand, if we scale down to a child’s world for a moment, I can certainly see why a kid who spent hours traipsing around to get his candy would be reluctant to hand over his swag to some kid who doesn’t bother to do anything but show up at the redistribution center with a bag in his hand.

    Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  3. Dr. Strangelove says

    No, you had made yourself very clear that you had recognized how silly it is to use a child’s sense of fairness as a judge of our tax system. I just wanted to hammer home the point and also illustrate how absurd the example of using Halloween candy is considering it is a handout in the first place.

    Not sure why my comment on Romney’s sense of fairness would be considered a gratuitous slur considering the issue of fairness is one that is being brought up by his campaign (and Obama’s of course) when they equate a progressive tax system to class warfare. I do truly believe Romney to have a simplistic sense of fairness and the topic is surely fair game considering how central the topic is to the campaign.

    Posted October 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    OK, not gratuitous.

    Certainly a slur, though, if you are seriously saying that Mitt Romney’s understanding of how various concepts of “fairness” should best be expressed in government policy is indistinguishable from a child’s.

    Posted October 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Liberals always seem to think that their ideological model of the world is the only reasonable and morally defensible one. To say that one has to think like a child in order to suppose that there are persuasive moral and practical arguments against large-scale redistribution of wealth is a good example of that, I think.

    Posted October 31, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  6. “… equate a progressive tax system to class warfare.”

    In the United States, the first progressive income tax was established by the Revenue Act of 1862, which was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln and repealed the short-lived flat tax contained in the Revenue Act of 1861.

    That was, by my reckoning, 150 years ago. I am not aware that anyone seriously questions the legitimacy of a progressive tax system in the United States.

    The intensity of the progression, as a function of the taxable base amount, however, is certainly a legitimate issue for discussion, given that nobody, to my knowledge, has proposed a definitive measure for a nebulous concept like “fairness”.

    “I do truly believe Romney to have a simplistic sense of fairness …”

    So what is your sense of fairness, Strangelove, simplistic or otherwise? How close to 100% of earnings would satisfy your own fairness doctrine? And who appointed you to be King Solomon?

    Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Permalink
  7. Dr. Strangelove says

    “I am not aware that anyone seriously questions the legitimacy of a progressive tax system in the United States.”

    Presidential wannabes Rick Perry, Steve Forbes, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and many more throughout the years have called for a flat tax (for multiple reasons, including fairness).

    “And who appointed you to be King Solomon?”

    No one appointed me to be a judge of fairness. As citizens we are all welcome and encouraged to enter the common discourse as to our society’s calibration of sacrifice. For me the question is not about equality of outcome but equality of opportunity. Therefore, income taxes are of little importance and more important is the estate tax, the mortgage deduction, our segregated education system & other broken systems that help entrench wealth in the hands of a few. Not only is a lack of social mobility a question of fairness but it is also an issue of economic productivity. I could lay out why this is such a important issue and describe the historical precident of Venice but this NYTimes article does a better job of it than I can.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opinion/sunday/the-self-destruction-of-the-1-percent.html?pagewanted=all

    “Liberals always seem to think that their ideological model of the world is the only reasonable and morally defensible one.”

    Malcolm, I certainly don’t think that my moral model is the only defensible one. Certainly one can make the plausible argument that lowering taxes on the highest earners would lower the marginal tax rate and in doing so encourage greater effort to make more money. This would additionally increase economic activity and potentially lead to more jobs. (I don’t believe this argument because I think it misunderstands the motivation behind people’s effort in the work place. Malcolm, did you work harder in music production because you were going to make more money or because you love the music or the musicians you were working with? However, it is at the very least a plausible and well researched argument.) I apologize if my comments come off as if I think my line of thinking is the only morally defensible one. If I thought that then there would be no point in me reading the blogs of “opposing” view points. I come to your blog, and others, because I find them normally well thought out and they stretch my perspective.

    Posted November 1, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink
  8. So, to support your allegation that “Romney [has] a simplistic sense of fairness”, you trot out a list of politicians, not including Romney, who “called” for a flat tax, and then you list a bunch of changes to the tax code and other “broken” legislation (what “segregated education system”?) that would require a massive bipartisan consensus in Congress and support from the sitting President?

    Tell me again why any serious person should waste his time trying to engage with you in a discussion?

    Posted November 1, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink
  9. Dr. Strangelove says

    No TheBigHenry, I mentioned that partial list of politicians in response to your comment that “no one seriously questions the legitimacy of a progressive tax system.” That statement of yours is clearly wrong. Many people have questioned its legitimacy. The comments concerning other broken systems was just meant to illustrate how simplistic it is to look only at our income tax system when assessing the fairness of our society.

    And you really have no knowledge of our de facto segregated education system?

    “Tell me again why any serious person should waste his time trying to engage with you in a discussion?” I could easily ask the same question considering the amount of times you have resorted to unfounded and personal attacks on this site.

    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  10. Malcolm says

    Malcolm, did you work harder in music production because you were going to make more money or because you love the music or the musicians you were working with?

    I worked very hard, putting in long hours at sweatshop pay, while I was working at Power Station Studios getting my recording career off the ground. Yes, this was because I loved the music, but it was also because I knew that there were plenty of other people who would have given their eyeteeth to take my place in that enormously competitive environment (which was at the time the premier studio in America). I wanted to start a family, and I knew that if I was to be a responsible parent I had to be able to support my children. All of this together drove me to give everything I had in the pursuit of excellence, because I knew that only by doing outstanding work would I succeed in achieving all of those goals.

    It is precisely that environment — a wide-open, highly competitive marketplace that rewards creativity, hard work and “future time orientation” — that creates excellence and innovation. It is what made America the greatest engine of prosperity the world has ever seen, and has lifted more people out of poverty and despair than any system ever devised. And it is that engine of excellence and prosperity that is in peril as we slide toward socialist big-government mediocrity, It’s what’s at stake in this election (although readers will know that I think it may already be too late.)

    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink
  11. Malcolm says

    Henry, Strangelove’s right. You slip far too quickly into insults and abuse, and it does nothing to advance your argument.

    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink
  12. How does any of this advance the argument about Romney’s alleged “simplistic” views? Simplistic with respect to which viable candidate’s views?

    Posted November 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink
  13. the one eyed man says

    Your assertion that our “wide-open, highly competitive marketplace” is in peril is unsubstantiated and, I believe, incorrect.

    American tax law, security law, and regulation are brilliantly designed to promote capital formation and entrepreneurship. I would be shocked if there are any other societies – except possibly Hong Kong and Singapore – which start more new businesses than we do on a per capita basis.

    As someone who now owns a (very, very small) corporation, I am amazed at the tax preferences which benefit small business owners. The tax code makes success very lucrative and minimizes the cost of failure.

    The conflict between capital and labor has been shifting towards capital for years. Right-to-work states reduce unions’ leverage and affirmative action programs are being watered down or eliminated.

    America has the strongest economy in the developed world (with the exceptions of the commodity based economies of Canada and Australia). This is due to many factors, not least of which is an open and competitive marketplace which attracts people from all over the world to start and grow businesses here.

    Do you have any actual evidence that we are more closed or less competitive than we were before, or is it part of your general Weltanschauung that everything is going down the tubes?

    Posted November 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink
  14. Dom says

    It’s not obvious that watering down Affirmative Action every represented a shift towards capital (assuming you’re using “capital” to mean “business owner”). I see nothing wrong with AA used to help American descendents of slaves in a certain economic bracket — they suffered a great injustice after all — but there was never a good reason to see it extended to other privileged groups, such as hispanics who are just immigrants, or to non-black women. In any case, the effect of AA has been to hire educated blacks at a level below their skills, and to keep uneducated blacks unemployed. Those damn unintended consequences again!

    Posted November 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  15. the one eyed man says

    I am not arguing for or against affirmative action (although my view is that the state has the obligation to promote equality of opportunity but not equality of results).

    My point is that regardless of what one thinks of affirmative action, it is anti-competitive insofar as it is anti-meritocratic.

    Posted November 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink
  16. Malcolm,

    Since you saw fit to address me in a “school-marmy” tone, which some [not me, of course] would construe as a gentlemanly form of abuse, permit me to offer a small rebuttal. I will endeavor to be as genteel as a non-gentile could possibly be.

    I entered this thread in response to Strangelove’s remark about Romney’s supposed simplistic views on fairness. In response to my objection, Strangelove presented a series of remarks that were unrelated to his allegation that Romney’s views are simplistic. This elicited a rebuke from me, as is my wont.

    Though it is not my intention to bruise anyone’s fragile sensibilities, with a few exceptions that need not be mentioned at this point [I think most of us here know to what I am referring], at least I make an effort to stay on topic.

    Posted November 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Permalink
  17. Malcolm says

    Peter, I think you’d quickly change your mind if you ran a business with multiple employees needing healthcare, that provided food service, ran bricks-and-mortar facilities, etc.

    Here’s an example — I’m staying with a friend who runs a film-distribution company. He gets films and videos not in current distribution and licenses them for broadcast, streaming, etc. His profit margins are small.

    Along comes a regulation that insists that everything now licensed for distribution must be made available in a closed-caption format for the deaf. To add these captions, however, costs far more — vastly more — than his margin permits.

    The result? What would have been a profitable little business, that would have made interesting content available at a low price to a large audience, died on the vine. The government’s regulatory intent was to ensure that everyone could enjoy the films he intended to license; the unintended consequence, however — so typical of the unintended consequences of intrusive government meddling — was that nobody could.

    Also: one of the best ways for a small company to grow is for it to attract capital with a public offering. My friend used to run a large post-production company in Manhattan. It was doing well, but he was unable to take it public. Why? Because as soon as he went public he would be subject to mandatory compliance with the Enron-inspired Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, which impose an enormous expense (at least a million dollars a year, in his case). He couldn’t go public, investors went elsewhere, and his business died.

    Regulations like SOX, because they have a high cost floor for compliance, have a disproportionate effect on smaller businesses, and as in my friends’ case, very often prevent them from making the move to a public offering.

    As Tocqueville noted:

    The sovereign extends his arms over the whole society; he covers its surface with a web of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls are unable to emerge in order to rise above the crowd; it does not break wills but softens them, bends them, and directs them; it rarely forces men to act, but constantly opposes itself to men’s acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from coming into being

    But I wasn’t even really thinking about regulation when I made the remark you quoted. I was thinking, rather, of the stultifying and enervating effect of an ever-expanding system of entitlements, and of course the burden of paying for them, on the competitive impulse itself.

    I have a friend, a composer and arranger, who travels often to Europe as a guest conductor. In Europe, the musicians have secure, cushy jobs with state-sponsored orchestras — and knowing that their jobs are safe, make only desultory efforts to prepare for rehearsals. In the highly competitive U.S. job market, musicians know that there is always some ambitious young virtuoso eager to take their place, and so they always bring their “A game” to every session.

    The result, says my friend, is that the European performances rarely rise to any level much above mediocrity.

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink
  18. the one eyed man says

    Hope everything in le Grande Pomme is OK apres le deluge.

    Regulation is not intrinsically good or bad, but it is either wise or foolish. It sounds like requiring closed captioning is pretty dumb, along with banning Big Gulps and smoking in bars.

    I once worked for a company which delayed its IPO to be compliant with Sarbanes Oxley, so I don’t dispute that it makes it harder to go public. Much of SOX has been rolled back recently in the JOBS Act. However, its provenance is from the time when Enron and MCI blew up, and its inhibiting effects on business are balanced by its putative role in preventing similar blow ups. Did it go too far? In the words of Rocky Rococo: maybe yes, maybe no. It’s no simple thing to compare costs with benefits.

    I work in an industry which has regulation up the wazoo. (I know where to find the Grand Wazoo, but not the wazoo itself). Because I have fiduciary responsibility, I am subject to bothersome record keeping and filing requirements, as well as sharp limitations in what I can say to clients and potential clients or how I can manage their money. I have no problem with any of that. There is a long and sad history of vulnerable people being taken advantage of by unscrupulous financial advisors, and my business is enhanced to the extent that there are fewer Bernie Madoffs in it.

    Whether the amount of overall regulation is growing is debatable. We no longer live in a world with one telephone company, or the cost of airplane tickets and stock trades set by government decree. Nixon instituted wage and price controls – these would be unimaginable today.

    I would also dispute the assertion that we have “an ever-expanding system of entitlements.” With the exception of Bush’s Medicare Part D, we have not added any major entitlement pgrams since LBJ, and the welfare entitlement was reduced under Clinton. (I do not believe that Obamacare is an entitlement – I think it is more properly characterized as cost shifting – although it has aspects of an entitlement program).

    While I have you on the phone (so to speak), you mentioned in a previous post that slavery in America was excusable because everybody was doing it at the time. By the same logic, the subjugation of women in some Muslim countries is A-OK, because everybody (or a lot of people) in Muslim societies accept it as the norm. If you will allow temporal moral relativism, why would you not allow cultural moral relativism?

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  19. the one eyed man says

    Toqueville’s argument sounds logical a priori but not a posteriori. As Yogi Berra said, “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.”

    If you accept as a premise that we have stifling reglations, then you would have to explain, for example, how Mark Zuckerberg made a multi-billion dollar company ex nihilo in a few years. Could you imagine facebook coming into being in any other country?

    If you draw up a list of world-beating companies, across virtually all industries, they are nearly all American: Apple, Boeing, Time Warner, JP Morgan, Pfizer, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle, and so forth. The once-great Japanese companies – Toyota, Sony, Panasonic – are having problems, and outside of companies like Nestle there aren’t a lot of European world beaters.

    As noted history teacher B. Wear said: avoid single causation. Nonetheless, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that a business friendly environment in America has enabled American businesses to dominate.

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink
  20. Malcolm says

    Perhaps the most onerous part of expanding regulation is that business-crippling rules emanate more and more often from unelected bureaucrats, rather than from acts of Congress. The EPA, for example, has imposed suffocating carbon-sequestration requirements aimed at stifling the use of coal.

    As for the burden of regulation generally, here’s a (very) long excerpt from a report by the House Committee on Oversight And Government Reform:

    [B]urdensome federal regulations continue to drag down our economy. The national unemployment rate currently stands at a staggering 8.2 percent, and the regulatory environment continues to hinder its improvement. Indeed, a recent Gallup poll found that nearly half of small businesses are not hiring because they are “worried about new government regulations,” and 44 percent of likely voters believe EPA regulations and actions hurt the economy. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, “regulations and red tape” is one of the “single most important problem[s]” for small business. Moreover, 53 percent of registered voters say “federal regulations are one of the major reasons the economy is struggling,” 59 percent think that cutting regulations is vital to improving the economy, and 52 percent believe that stopping new government regulations would “free employers to begin hiring.”

    Even the Obama Administration concedes that regulations can negatively affect job creation and investment. OIRA Administrator Sunstein has said that expensive regulations can “increase prices, reduce wages, and increase unemployment (and hence poverty).” OIRA’s 2012 Draft Report to Congress on Federal Regulations concedes that “regulations . . . can place undue burdens on companies, consumers, and workers, and may cause growth and overall productivity to slow.” In the draft report, OIRA also admits that “evidence suggests that domestic environmental regulation has led some U.S. based multinationals to invest in other nations (especially in the domain of manufacturing), and in that sense, such regulation may have an adverse effect on domestic growth.” Finally, OIRA agrees that “regulations can also impose significant costs on businesses, potentially damaging economic competition and capital investment,” if not carefully designed.

    Despite acknowledgement that regulations can impede the economy, the federal regulatory state under the Obama Administration continues to grow. From 2010 to 2011, the number of final rules issued by federal agencies rose from 3,573 to 3,807—a 6.5 percent increase.

    During the same time frame, the number of proposed rules increased 18.8 percent. According to the American Action Forum, headed by a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, the published regulatory burden for 2012 could exceed $105 billion. Moreover, since the beginning of 2012, the federal government has imposed $56.6 billion in compliance costs and more than 114 million annual paperwork burden hours.

    The most costly rules are also on the rise. The Heritage Foundation found that the Obama Administration issued 106 new major rules in its first three years that collectively cost taxpayers more than $46 billion annually. To compare, this is nearly four times the number of major regulations and more than five times the cost of major rules issued by the George W. Bush Administration during its first three years. In the past decade, the number of economically significant rules in the pipeline—those that could cost $100 million or more annually—has increased by more than 137 percent, rising from 56 in the spring of 2001 to 133 in the fall of 2011. Accordingly, claims by the Obama Administration that it has issued fewer regulations than the George W. Bush Administration are clearly misleading. While the Obama Administration may have issued fewer total regulations, they have issued far more of the most expensive regulations at a higher cost.

    In September 2011, President Obama declared that “we should have no more regulation than the health, safety and security of the American people require.” Yet, this staff report outlines many rules that arguably have no bearing on the health, safety, or security of the American people. Instead, they are gifts to the President’s environmental and union allies.

    To the detriment of job creators, the President may be under the impression that he has achieved his regulatory goals since he recently declared “the private sector is doing fine.” Yet, the input the Committee received gives no such indication. As the Non-Ferrous Founders’ Society (NFFS) observed:

    [T]he more things change in Washington, the more they stay the same. Several of the rules that NFFS and other industry groups took issue with in January of 2011 were withdrawn, only later to be re-proposed, reintroduced, or remanded for further consideration. Others continue to languish in legislative limbo pending the incorporation of and/or response to stakeholder comments, or awaiting additional cost or regulatory impact analyses. … Meanwhile, a plethora of new rules and regulations from agencies all across the government have been proposed.

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink
  21. the one eyed man says

    It’s hardly shocking that House Republicans put out a report saying that we are over-regulated. What else would you expect?

    Nor is it a surprise that business owners cite regulation as an impediment to business. They always do. Nobody wants to be regulated. The banks didn’t want to be regulated before they caused an economic meltdown, and they don’t want to be regulated now. Chemical companies don’t want to be told what to do with their waste, food companies don’t want to be told how to label their food, and airlines don’t want those pesky inspectors around making sure their planes are safe. In each case, it is a balance between the harm which would be done absent regulation versus the harm which would be done to the affected industry.

    Coal is a perfect example. Coal is the dirtiest form of energy, and what the EPA has done – consistent with its mandate – is to eliminate the dirtiest of the coal-fired generators.

    You could argue that the coal industry is a national treasure and it should be able to do whatever it wants. However, the unrestricted use of coal leads to lung disease and fouled air. So maybe that’s OK – you’ll accept some number of people dying from emphysema and smog in the atmosphere because it’s important to have a cheap domestic fuel supply. Or you make the calculation that it is more important to relieve the coal industry of the cost to adapt their facilities to EPA standards than to shift any advantage to cleaner forms of energy such as nuclear or solar.

    You then would have to consider that we have had the hottest year since records began, and the worst drought in generations. The recent destruction caused by Sandy was exacerbated by rising sea levels, and probably also because climatic change has made the confluence of different storm systems more likely. While we can quantify the cost to Patriot Coal to shut down a plant, what is the cost of failed crops or burned houses in Breezy Point? While extreme weather is not unprecedented, it occurs with much greater frequency than before, and the cost of climatic events which might not have occured previously is also a factor in the equation.

    98% of climatologists consider global warming to be a certainty, and over two thirds consider it to be anthropogenic. A majority think that we are either at the tipping point where global warming is irreversible or near that point. So let’s say there is a two out of three chance that if we don’t take aggressive and immediate action, future life on the planet will be irremediably affected. Would you play Russian roulette if there were four bullets in the chamber?

    Let’s review. On one side: the interests of the coal industry in having some percentage of their facilities shut down versus the certainty of lung disease and pollution, as well as the probability of being a contributing factor of catastrophic climate change.

    Which side would you be on?

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink
  22. Malcolm says

    Coal is cheap, domestically abundant, and energy-dense. It generates most of the electrical power in the US, and spares us dependency on foreign sources. It also is a primary source of employment in many parts of the country.

    President Obama announced that it was his explicit intention to make it impossible to run coal-fired power plants. “They can open them, if they want,” he said “but they’ll go bankrupt.” He also said “Under my plan, electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket.”

    All this at a time when we are struggling to emerge from a disastrous economic slump, with intractable unemployment.

    The elected representatives of the nation’s people having rejected this vision, Mr. Obama simply made an end run and imposed these crippling regulations by fiat, through an unelected and unaccountable bureaucrat.

    At the very least something like this should be done by Congress, not unelected “czars”. If the people have weighed the need for abundant cheap energy against crippling a vital energy sector in the name of sky-is-falling global warmism, and have expressed this choice through their elected representatives, their will shouldn’t be thwarted and disrespected in this way.

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink
  23. Malcolm says

    The world has gotten far hotter and colder than it is now throughout the Earth’s history, and sea level has been far higher, and far lower, in past epochs (long before we arrived on the scene) than it is now. That’s just the way it is. If the earth is warming right now, it takes extraordinary hubris to imagine that it’s all due to us, and even more to imagine that we can stop it. It also takes a certain sort of mindset to expect that the whole developed world will cheerily submit to stifling central control by “experts” in a heroic attempt to control the global climate so as to avoid the effects of a warmer world, which among other things will include less money and energy spent on winter heating in temperate zones (which is a greater energy expenditure than cooling), and longer growing seasons at higher latitudes (not to mention that plants thrive in higher-CO2 environments).

    Yes, the sea level around New York has risen perhaps as much as nine inches or so over the past century. What made Sandy — a modest Category 1 storm — so destructive was that it made landfall precisely at high tide in a full Moon, and that the point of landfall was just enough south of New York that the storm surge, which always is worst on the north side of hurricanes making landfall on the East Coast, pushed directly into the natural funnel of New York Harbor. Meteorologists have warned of this possibly devastating combination of effects for a very long time.

    So: this wasn’t about global warming, unless global warming causes full moons. Had the great hurricane of 1938 hit under the same conditions, it would have been far worse than Sandy was.

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Permalink
  24. Malcolm says

    It’s hardly shocking that House Republicans put out a report saying that we are over-regulated. What else would you expect?

    Well, I guess it’s equally unshocking that a staunch, Obama-lovin’ liberal would argue that we aren’t over-regulated. So we’ll just have to duke it out in Washington, I guess. Have at ya, in three days. May the worst man lose.

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Permalink
  25. the one eyed man says

    Coal does not “generate most of the electrical power in the US.” It accounts for about one fifth of electrical power generation: less than petroleum and about the same as natural gas.

    President Obama is also “an elected representative of the nation’s people,” having received 9.5 million votes more than the other guy. He also explicitly ran on a platform of green energy and environmental conservation. Far from doing an “end run,” he is executing a campaign promise.

    The regulations surrounding coal are not “crippling.” There are plenty of coal plants around. As noted above, only the dirtiest and oldest plants are targeted.

    The statement that “something like this should be done by Congress, not unelected ‘czars’” is also incorrect. Congress passed legislation establishing the EPA and provided it with its eponymous mandate to protect the environment. The people did, in fact, “express this choice through their elected representatives,” and only if the EPA done anything differently would it have “thwarted and disrespected the people’s will.”

    While it’s a free country and you may deny the quantifiable and undeniable existence of global warming, you can take comfort in the fact that lots of people thought that Galileo was wrong too.

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Permalink
  26. Malcolm says

    In 2011, coal accounted for about 42% of US electrical generation. Next was natural gas at 25%. So OK, not a majority, but almost, and a strong plurality. Clearly coal is the most important energy source we have for making electricity.

    President Obama is also “an elected representative of the nation’s people,” having received 9.5 million votes more than the other guy. He also explicitly ran on a platform of green energy and environmental conservation. Far from doing an “end run,” he is executing a campaign promise.

    These are major regulatory decisions we’re talking about here, affecting gigantic industries and the entire national economy, and we’re handing them over to the whim of unelected executive-branch bureaucrats with zero accountability. To listen to you talk about it, one wonders why we need Congress at all.

    The regulations surrounding coal are not “crippling.” There are plenty of coal plants around. As noted above, only the dirtiest and oldest plants are targeted.

    Then how do you account for Barack Obama himself explaining that his intention was that anyone dumb enough to try opening a new coal plant will go bankrupt?

    Congress passed legislation establishing the EPA and provided it with its eponymous mandate to protect the environment. The people did, in fact, “express this choice through their elected representatives,” and only if the EPA done anything differently would it have “thwarted and disrespected the people’s will.”

    Fair enough, and a spectacularly stupid move it was. If Congress is stupid enough to grant plenary and unspecified power to executive-branch agencies, enabling political appointees to run (or ruin) the nation however they see fit, then it’s time for a new Congress to rein them in.

    Obamacare is a perfect example of this: it grants enormous, and enormously vague, powers to executive-branch entities, including the power to bring new such entities into existence. The bill is so huge, and so vague, that no single person can even grasp its full legal implications (as Nancy Pelosi famously pointed out). Few of the people voting on it had even read it. Moreover, a bill like that is even bigger than its own text, because much of it (and I know, because I spent weeks poring over it before giving up in despair) consists of inserting, deleting, modifying and extending language in other bills previously enacted.

    When we go from writing clear, brief, and simple laws to enacting opaque monstrosities that nobody can understand and that grant vast, unspecified powers to unelected officials and administrative entities not yet formed, we have effectively abdicated representative government. When we write laws that say, in essence, “the Secretary shall empower a panel to review and enact whatever regulation it deems necessary”, I say that we have moved beyond the rule of law itself.

    While it’s a free country and you may deny the quantifiable and undeniable existence of global warming, you can take comfort in the fact that lots of people thought that Galileo was wrong too.

    Nowhere have I ever denied that the Earth might currently be in a warming period. For all I know, it may very well be. If that’s what you think I’ve been saying, you simply haven’t been paying attention.

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Permalink
  27. Malcolm says

    While I have you on the phone (so to speak), you mentioned in a previous post that slavery in America was excusable because everybody was doing it at the time. By the same logic, the subjugation of women in some Muslim countries is A-OK, because everybody (or a lot of people) in Muslim societies accept it as the norm. If you will allow temporal moral relativism, why would you not allow cultural moral relativism?

    Now this is an interesting question, and one I’ve given a lot of thought to. I’ll answer it in a post of its own.

    Posted November 3, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Permalink
  28. the one eyed man says

    I erred. Coal accounts for 22% of all energy consumption, not all electricity generation. However, the fact that it accounts for nearly half of electrical production belies your assertion that somehow the industry has been crippled under Obama.

    What has affected the industry greatly is the enormous increase in natural gas production, making it much cheaper than coal. In the next few years, you will see downstream industries from plastics to potash relocating factories here to take advantage of natgas costs which are a fraction of what it costs elsewehere.

    I care not a fig whether a piece of legislation is lengthy, complex, or filled with minutiae. I care only whether it works and is an improvement over the status quo ante. Once Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014, there will be plenty of opportunity to determine if ACA was a good bill or a bad one.

    Referring to climate change as “global warmism” implies a disbelief in the rigor or validity of the underlying science, much as animism differs from biology.

    On a separate topic: perhaps you have heard that we will be having a national election on Tuesday. President Obama has been getting support from some unexpected quarters, most notably when Chris Christie weighed in with his apostasy of saying kind words about Obama. (I’m guessing that this makes Christie a RINO in both actions and girth.)

    Imagine my surprise when this week’s copy of the Economist – the most authentic voice of true conservatism, as opposed to the ersatz variety espoused here – arrived and they endorsed Obama, albeit grudgingly.

    http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21565623-america-could-do-better-barack-obama-sadly-mitt-romney-does-not-fit-bill-which-one

    This has been such a tumultuous election that only a fool would predict its outcome. However, once the votes are tabulated, I will be happy to explain why the results were inevitable.

    What the hell: I accurately predicted on these pages that Obamacare would get a 5-4 vote in the Supreme Court with Roberts casting the deciding vote, as well as predicting that Sarah Palin’s popularity would implode after her Gabby Giffords speech. So here goes: Obama wins 290 electoral votes, plus or minus five. Democrats get 51 Senate seats and claw back 10-15 House seats. At least one state – probably Florida – will be too close to call, and lead to litigation in the event that either side needs it to win.

    Hope you make it to the polls on Tuesday and – after considering the well-reasoned editoral in the Economist – you realize the error of your ways and vote Obama.

    Posted November 4, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink
  29. Malcolm says

    President Obama has, from the beginning, made it clear that he was deeply antagonistic toward coal; his clear priority is “green energy”, which is so costly and inefficient that the only way it can gain any ground in the marketplace is if the expense of producing electricity by other means is made prohibitively high. (This isn’t something I’m making up; he’s made it quite clear in his own words that this is what he intended to do. I refer you again to his remarks I quoted above.) The cost of compliance is a major reason so many coal plants are shutting down, and few if any new ones are being built.

    I care not a fig whether a piece of legislation is lengthy, complex, or filled with minutiae.

    Yeah, I had a feeling.

    Once Obamacare is fully implemented in 2014, there will be plenty of opportunity to determine if ACA was a good bill or a bad one.

    Right, “you have to pass it to see what’s in it”. Great plan: introduce, over the objections of a majority of Americans, a radical reorganization that brings one-sixth of the economy under government control, based on a bill so vast and opaque that nobody even understands it, and so onerous that even before it was passed multiple bribes and waivers had to be granted — then just kind of wait to see what happens, and hope there aren’t any unintended consequences.

    In other words: “Light the blue touch-paper, and stand well back.” No wonder Will Rogers said “This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”

    Imagine my surprise when this week’s copy of the Economist – the most authentic voice of true conservatism, as opposed to the ersatz variety espoused here – arrived and they endorsed Obama, albeit grudgingly.

    “The most authentic voice of true conservatism”? You mean the magazine whose masthead says “First published in September 1843 to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward [Forward!!], and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress”? The one that endorsed Obama in 2008 as well as 2012? The one whose globalist editorial board advocates against any restrictions on immigration?

    Sure, whatever. I guess that might seem “conservative” to West Coast liberals like you, in the same way that Danny DeVito looks “tall” to his Chihuahua. To you guys, the only respectable sort of “conservative” is one who stands on the sidelines trying to make sure that the deficit doesn’t expand faster than liberals can grow the government.

    Hope you make it to the polls on Tuesday and – after considering the well-reasoned editoral in the Economist – you realize the error of your ways and vote Obama.

    When pigs fly.

    Posted November 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink
  30. Malcolm says

    Wait, there’s more:

    So here goes: Obama wins 290 electoral votes, plus or minus five.

    Well, you had already predicted an Obama landslide. Paul Krugman today wrote that anyone who thinks this election is even close is “stupid”. That’s a pretty big bet for him to make.

    Anyway, we’ll see about this soon enough. I look forward to watching the on-air staff at MSNBC melt into puddles of spluttering goo on Tuesday night.

    And:

    Referring to climate change as “global warmism” implies a disbelief in the rigor or validity of the underlying science, much as animism differs from biology.

    I use the expression “global warmism” to refer to a social phenomenon that has all the hallmarks of a new secular religion. Its adherents believe, with the certainty of the converted, all of the following propositions:

    1) That the Earth is currently warming.
    2) That this is due to human activity.
    3) That we have the power to control the climate.
    4) That the effects of global warming will be utterly, devastatingly, unmitigatedly catastrophic.
    5) That all of the above justifies any means necessary to bring the “crisis” under control, including: radical manipulation of free markets, the suppression of evil industries and the subsidization of virtuous ones, and even the large-scale abrogation of the sovereignty of nations in favor of global central planning by panels of “experts”.

    That this has many of the trappings of religion should be apparent to all. It has a divine Being worthy of our worship (the “Planet”); it has articles of faith (the items listed above, in ascending order of “faithiness”); it has soteriology (the vision of an enlightened, fully globalized human race living in Avatar-like harmony with the Planet-goddess Gaia); it has an essential pull toward high cohesion in service of the Divine (the need for the whole world to work together to “heal the Planet”); it requires sacrifice in the name of salvation (ask the coal industry about that one!); and most of all, it has heretics, upon which it turns the usual weapons of scorn, derision, revulsion, shunning, abomination, and excommunication. (No burnings at the stake yet, as far as I know, but that’s probably only because the practice has such an unfortunate carbon footprint.) Using the language now applied to the Holocaust, it calls its heretics global-warming “deniers”, which obviously intends to put them on a moral par with Nazis.

    Finally: remember this?

    Posted November 4, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

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