Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Editors Note: This is an article that finally shines the light on what is happening here. We are being forced fed that humans, mainly Americans, are causing global warming. Is that a fact? Or is it based on climate models? Now the truth is revealed for why they are pushing this junk science. This is a shift of economic power. A shift of power away from the people, again mainly the "evil" Americans, and sent to a small ruling class of "enlightened" environmentalists. Is that what you want? Isn't it time we wake up and realize what is happeing here? Is it time for a tea party?
A United Nations document on "climate change" that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body.
Those and other results are blandly discussed in a discretely worded United Nations "information note" on potential consequences of the measures that industrialized countries will likely have to take to implement the Copenhagen Accord, the successor to the Kyoto Treaty, after it is negotiated and signed by December 2009. The Obama administration has said it supports the treaty process if, in the words of a U.S. State Department spokesman, it can come up with an "effective framework" for dealing with global warming.
The 16-page note, obtained by FOX News, will be distributed to participants at a mammoth negotiating session that starts on March 29 in Bonn, Germany, the first of three sessions intended to hammer out the actual commitments involved in the new deal.
In the stultifying language that is normal for important U.N. conclaves, the negotiators are known as the "Ad Hoc Working Group On Further Commitments For Annex I Parties Under the Kyoto Protocol." Yet the consequences of their negotiations, if enacted, would be nothing short of world-changing.
Getting that deal done has become the United Nations' highest priority, and the Bonn meeting is seen as a critical step along the path to what the U.N. calls an "ambitious and effective international response to climate change," which is intended to culminate at the later gathering in Copenhagen.
Just how ambitious the U.N.'s goals are can be seen, but only dimly, in the note obtained by FOX News, which offers in sparse detail both positive and negative consequences of the tools that industrial nations will most likely use to enforce the greenhouse gas reduction targets.
The paper makes no effort to calculate the magnitude of the costs and disruption involved, but despite the discreet presentation, makes clear that they will reverberate across the entire global economic system.
• Click here for the information note.
Among the tools that are considered are the cap-and-trade system for controlling carbon emissions that has been espoused by the Obama administration; "carbon taxes" on imported fuels and energy-intensive goods and industries, including airline transportation; and lower subsidies for those same goods, as well as new or higher subsidies for goods that are considered "environmentally sound."
Other tools are referred to only vaguely, including "energy policy reform," which the report indicates could affect "large-scale transportation infrastructure such as roads, rail and airports." When it comes to the results of such reform, the note says only that it could have "positive consequences for alternative transportation providers and producers of alternative fuels."
In the same bland manner, the note informs negotiators without going into details that cap-and-trade schemes "may induce some industrial relocation" to "less regulated host countries." Cap-and-trade functions by creating decreasing numbers of pollution-emission permits to be traded by industrial users, and thus pay more for each unit of carbon-based pollution, a market-driven system that aims to drive manufacturers toward less polluting technologies.
The note adds only that industrial relocation "would involve negative consequences for the implementing country, which loses employment and investment." But at the same time it "would involve indeterminate consequences for the countries that would host the relocated industries."
There are also entirely new kinds of tariffs and trade protectionist barriers such as those termed in the note as "border carbon adjustment"— which, the note says, can impose "a levy on imported goods equal to that which would have been imposed had they been produced domestically" under more strict environmental regimes.
Another form of "adjustment" would require exporters to "buy [carbon] offsets at the border equal to that which the producer would have been forced to purchase had the good been produced domestically."
The impact of both schemes, the note says, "would be functionally equivalent to an increased tariff: decreased market share for covered foreign producers." (There is no definition in the report of who, exactly, is "foreign.") The note adds that "If they were implemented fairly, such schemes would leave trade and investment patterns unchanged." Nothing is said about the consequences if such fairness was not achieved.
Indeed, only rarely does the "information note" attempt to inform readers in dollar terms of the impact of "spillover effects" from the potential policy changes it discusses. In a brief mention of consumer subsidies for fossil fuels, the note remarks that such subsidies in advanced economies exceed $60 billion a year, while they exceed $90 billion a year in developing economies."
But calculations of the impact of tariffs, offsets, or other subsidies is rare. In a reference to the impact of declining oil exports, the report says that Saudi Arabia has determined the loss to its economy at between $100 billion and $200 billion by 2030, but said nothing about other oil exporters.
One reason for the lack of detail, the note indicates, is that impact would vary widely depending on the nature and scope of the policies adopted (and, although the note does not mention it, on the severity of the greenhouse reduction targets).
But even when it does hazard a guess at specific impacts, the report seems curiously hazy. A "climate change levy on aviation" for example, is described as having undetermined "negative impacts on exporters of goods that rely on air transport, such as cut flowers and premium perishable produce," as well as "tourism services." But no mention is made in the note of the impact on the aerospace industry, an industry that had revenues in 2008 of $208 billion in the U.S. alone, or the losses the levy would impose on airlines for ordinary passenger transportation. (Global commercial airline revenues in 2008 were about $530 billion, and were already forecast to drop to an estimated $467 billion this year.)
In other cases, as when discussing the "increased costs of traditional exports" under a new environmental regime, the report confines itself to terse description. Changes in standards and labeling for exported goods, for example, "may demand costly changes to the production process." If subsidies and tariffs affect exports, the note says, the "economic and social consequences of dampening their viability may, for some countries and sectors, be significant."
Much depends, of course, on the extent to which harsher or more lenient greenhouse gas reduction targets demand more or less drastic policies for their achievement.
And, precisely because the Bonn meeting is a stage for negotiating those targets, the note is silent. Instead it suggests that more bureaucratic work is needed "to deepen the understanding of the full nature and scale of such impacts."
But outside the Bonn process, other experts have been much more blunt about the draconian nature of the measures they deem necessary to make "effective" greenhouse gas reductions.
In an influential but highly controversial paper called "Key Elements of a Global Deal on Climate Change," British economist Nicholas Lord Stern, formerly a high British Treasury official, has declared that industrial economies would need to cut their per capita carbon dioxide emissions by "at least 80% by 2050," while the biggest economies, like the U.S.'s, would have to make cuts of 90 percent.
Stern also calls for "immediate and binding" reduction targets for developed nations of 20 percent to 40 percent by 2020.
To meet Stern's 2050 goals, he says, among other things, "most of the world's electricity production will need to have been decarbonized."
Click here for Stern's paper.
By way of comparison, according to the U.S. Department Of Energy, roughly 72 percent of U.S. electrical power generation in 2007 was derived from burning fossil fuels, with just 6 percent coming from hydro-power and less than 3 percent from non-nuclear renewable and "other" sources. And even then, those "other" non-fossil sources included wood and biomass — which, when burned, are major emitters of carbon.
Click here to see the Department of Energy report.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Am I the only one getting really scared about where our country is headed? Obama is trying to expand the role of the Central Government. What does that sound like to you? Read this article
The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document.
The government at present has the authority to seize only banks.
Giving the Treasury secretary authority over a broader range of companies would mark a significant shift from the existing model of financial regulation, which relies on independent agencies that are shielded from the political process. The Treasury secretary, a member of the president's Cabinet, would exercise the new powers in consultation with the White House, the Federal Reserve and other regulators, according to the document.
The administration plans to send legislation to Capitol Hill this week. Sources cautioned that the details, including the Treasury's role, are still in flux.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner is set to argue for the new powers at a hearing today on Capitol Hill about the furor over bonuses paid to executives at American International Group, which the government has propped up with about $180 billion in federal aid. Administration officials have said that the proposed authority would have allowed them to seize AIG last fall and wind down its operations at less cost to taxpayers.
The administration's proposal contains two pieces. First, it would empower a government agency to take on the new role of systemic risk regulator with broad oversight of any and all financial firms whose failure could disrupt the broader economy. The Federal Reserve is widely considered to be the leading candidate for this assignment. But some critics warn that this could conflict with the Fed's other responsibilities, particularly its control over monetary policy.
The government also would assume the authority to seize such firms if they totter toward failure.
Besides seizing a company outright, the document states, the Treasury Secretary could use a range of tools to prevent its collapse, such as guaranteeing losses, buying assets or taking a partial ownership stake. Such authority also would allow the government to break contracts, such as the agreements to pay $165 million in bonuses to employees of AIG's most troubled unit.
The Treasury secretary could act only after consulting with the president and getting a recommendation from two-thirds of the Federal Reserve Board, according to the plan.
Geithner plans to lay out the administration's broader strategy for overhauling financial regulation at another hearing on Thursday.
The authority to seize non-bank financial firms has emerged as a priority for the administration after the failure of investment house Lehman Brothers, which was not a traditional bank, and the troubled rescue of AIG.
"We're very late in doing this, but we've got to move quickly to try and do this because, again, it's a necessary thing for any government to have a broader range of tools for dealing with these kinds of things, so you can protect the economy from the kind of risks posed by institutions that get to the point where they're systemic," Geithner said last night at a forum held by the Wall Street Journal.
The powers would parallel the government's existing authority over banks, which are exercised by banking regulatory agencies in conjunction with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Geithner has cited that structure as the model for the government's plans.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
By Thomas Sowell
Someone once said that Senator Hubert Humphrey, liberal icon of an earlier generation, had more solutions than there were problems.
Senator Humphrey was not unique in that respect. In fact, our present economic crisis has developed out of politicians providing solutions to problems that did not exist — and, as a result, producing a problem whose existence is all too real and all too painful.
What was the problem that didn’t exist? It was a national problem of unaffordable housing.
The political crusade for affordable housing got into high gear in the 1990s and led to all kinds of changes in mortgage-lending practices, which in turn led to a housing boom and bust that has left us in the mess we are now trying to dig out of.
Usually, housing affordability is measured in terms of how much of the average person’s income it takes to cover either apartment rent or a monthly mortgage payment.
There were certainly places here and there where it took half a family’s income just to put a roof over their heads. Many such places were in coastal California — but there were a few others here and there, on the east coast and elsewhere.
But, vast areas of the country in between — “flyover country” to the east-coast and west-coast elites — had housing prices that took no larger share of the average American’s income than in the decade before the affordable-housing crusade got under way.
Why then a national crusade by Washington politicians over local problems? Probably as good an answer as any is that “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” How are we to be kept aware of how compassionate and how important our elected officials are unless they are busy solving some problem for us?
The problem of skyrocketing housing prices was all too real in those places where this problem existed. When you have to live on half your income because the other half goes for housing, that’s a real downer.
Almost invariably, these severe local problems had local causes — usually severe restrictions on building homes. These local restrictions had a variety of politically attractive names, ranging from “open space” laws and “smart growth” policies to “environmental protection” and “farmland preservation.”
Like most wonderful-sounding political slogans, none of these lofty goals was discussed in terms of that one four-letter word that people do not use in polite political society — “cost.”
No one asked how many hundreds of thousands of dollars would be added to the cost of an average home by “open space” laws, for example. Yet empirical studies have shown that land-use restrictions added at least $100,000 to the average home price in dozens of places around the country.
In some places, such as coastal California, these restrictions added several hundred thousand dollars to the price of the average home.
In other words, where the problem was real, local politicians were the cause. National politicians then tried to depict this as a national problem that they would solve.
How would they solve it? By pressuring banks and other lenders to lower their requirements for making mortgage loans, so that more people could buy houses. The Department of Housing and Urban Development gave the government-sponsored enterprise Fannie Mae quotas for how many mortgages it should buy that were made out for people with low to moderate incomes.
Like most political “solutions,” the solution to the affordable-housing “problem” took little or no account of the wider repercussions this would entail.
Various economists and others warned repeatedly that lowered lending standards meant more risky mortgages. Given the complex relationships among banks and other financial institutions — including many big Wall Street firms — if mortgages started defaulting, all the financial dominoes could start falling.
These warnings were brushed aside. Politicians were too busy solving a national problem that didn’t exist. In the process, they created very real problems. Now they are now offering even more solutions that will undoubtedly lead to even bigger problems.
— Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Scientists Claim Earth Is Undergoing Natural Climate Shift
POSTED: 3:18 pm CDT March 15, 2009UPDATED: 10:37 pm CDT March 15, 2009
MILWAUKEE -- The bitter cold and record snowfalls from two wicked winters are causing people to ask if the global climate is truly changing.
The climate is known to be variable and, in recent years, more scientific thought and research has been focused on the global temperature and how humanity might be influencing it.
However, a new study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee could turn the climate change world upside down.
Scientists at the university used a math application known as synchronized chaos and applied it to climate data taken over the past 100 years.
"Imagine that you have four synchronized swimmers and they are not holding hands and they do their program and everything is fine; now, if they begin to hold hands and hold hands tightly, most likely a slight error will destroy the synchronization. Well, we applied the same analogy to climate," researcher Dr. Anastasios Tsonis said.
Scientists said that the air and ocean systems of the earth are now showing signs of synchronizing with each other.
Eventually, the systems begin to couple and the synchronous state is destroyed, leading to a climate shift.
"In climate, when this happens, the climate state changes. You go from a cooling regime to a warming regime or a warming regime to a cooling regime. This way we were able to explain all the fluctuations in the global temperature trend in the past century," Tsonis said. "The research team has found the warming trend of the past 30 years has stopped and in fact global temperatures have leveled off since 2001."
The most recent climate shift probably occurred at about the year 2000.
Now the question is how has warming slowed and how much influence does human activity have?
"But if we don't understand what is natural, I don't think we can say much about what the humans are doing. So our interest is to understand -- first the natural variability of climate -- and then take it from there. So we were very excited when we realized a lot of changes in the past century from warmer to cooler and then back to warmer were all natural," Tsonis said.
Tsonis said he thinks the current trend of steady or even cooling earth temps may last a couple of decades or until the next climate shift occurs.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Sunday, March 15th 2009, 4:00 AM- Article Link
President Barack Obama
Not long ago, after a string of especially bad days for the Obama administration, a veteran Democratic pol approached me with a pained look on his face and asked, "Do you think they know what they're doing?"
The question caught me off guard because the man is a well-known Obama supporter. As we talked, I quickly realized his asking suggested his own considerable doubts.
Yes, it's early, but an eerily familiar feeling is spreading across party lines and seeping into the national conversation. It's a nagging doubt about the competency of the White House.
It was during George W. Bush's second term that the I-word - incompetence - became a routine broadside against him. The Democratic frenzy of Bush-bashing had not spent itself when a larger critique emerged, one not confined by partisan boundaries.
The charge of incompetence covered the mismanagement of Iraq, the response to Hurricane Katrina and the economic meltdown. By the time Bush left, the charge tipped the scales to where most of America, including many who had been supporters or just sympathetic, viewed him as a failed President.
The tag of incompetence is powerful precisely because it is a nondenominational rebuke, even when it yields a partisan result. It became the strongest argument against the GOP hammerlock on Washington and, over two elections, gave Democrats their turn at total control.
But already feelings of doubt are rising again. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were never held in high regard, so doubts about their motives and abilities are not surprising.
What matters more is the growing concern about Obama and his team. The longest campaign in presidential history is being followed by a very short honeymoon.
Polls show that most people like Obama, but they increasingly don't like his policies. The vast spending hikes and plans for more are provoking the most concern, with 82% telling a Gallup survey they are worried about the deficit and 69% worried about the rapid growth of government under Obama. Most expect their own taxes will go up as a result, despite the President's promises to the contrary.
None other than Warren Buffet, an Obama supporter, has called the administration's message on the economy "muddled." Even China says it is worried about its investments in American Treasury bonds. Ouch.
Much of the blame falls on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, whose appalling tax problems softened the ground under him before he took office. After his initial fumbling presentations, he became a butt of jokes on "Saturday Night Live," not a sustainable image for the point man in a recession. And still the market waits for his answer to the banks' toxic assets.
It's also notable that four people lined up for top jobs under Geithner have withdrawn, leaving one British official to complain that there is nobody to talk to at the Treasury Department. Perhaps it was a bid to combat the Geithner blues that led Larry Summers, Obama's top economic adviser, to make an unusual appearance Friday in which he defended the spending plans everyone is so worried about.
Yet the doubts aren't all about Geithner, and they were reinforced by the bizarre nomination and withdrawal of Chas Freeman as a top intelligence official. It's hard to know which explanation is worse: that the White House didn't know of Freeman's intemperate criticism of Israel and his praise of China's massacre at Tiananmen Square, or that it didn't care. Good riddance to him. But what of those who picked him?
Which brings us to the heart of the matter: the doubts about Obama himself. His famous eloquence is wearing thin through daily exposure and because his actions are often disconnected from his words. His lack of administrative experience is showing.
His promises and policies contradict each other often enough that evidence of hypocrisy is ceasing to be news. Remember the pledges about bipartisanship and high ethics? They're so last year.
The beat goes on. Last week, Obama brazenly gave a speech about earmark reform just after he quietly signed a $410 billion spending bill that had about 9,000 earmarks in it. He denounced Bush's habit of disregarding pieces of laws he didn't like, so-called signing statements, then issued one himself.
And in an absolute jaw-dropper, he told business leaders, "I don't like the idea of spending more government money, nor am I interested in expanding government's role."
No wonder Americans are confused. Our President is, too.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
In his campaign and inaugural address, Barack Obama cast himself as a moderate man seeking common ground with conservatives.
Yet his budget calls for the radical restructuring of the U.S. economy, a sweeping redistribution of power and wealth to government and Democratic constituencies. It is a declaration of war on the right.
The real Obama has stood up and lived up to his ranking as the most left-wing member of the Senate.
Barack has no mandate for this. He was even behind John McCain when the decisive event that gave him the presidency occurred — the September collapse of Lehman Bros. and the market crash.
Republicans are under no obligation to render bipartisan support to this statist coup d'etat. For what is going down is a leftist power grab that is anathema to their principles and philosophy.
Where the U.S. government usually consumes 21% of gross domestic product, this Obama budget spends 28% in 2009 and runs a deficit of $1.75 trillion, or 12.7% of GDP. That is four times the largest deficit of George W. Bush and twice as large a share of the economy as any deficit run since World War II.
Add that 28% of GDP spent by the U.S. government to the 12% spent by states, counties and cities, and government will consume 40% of the economy in 2009.
We are not "headed down the road to socialism." We are there.
Since the budget was released, word has come that the U.S. economy did not shrink by 3.8% in the fourth quarter, but 6.2%. All the assumptions in Obama's budget about growth in 2009 and 2010 need to be revised downward, and the deficits revised upward. Look for the deficit for 2009 to cross $2 trillion.
Who abroad is going to lend us the trillions to finance our deficits without demanding higher interest rates on the U.S. bonds they are being asked to hold? And if we must revert to the printing press to create the money, what happens to the dollar?
As Americans save only a pittance and have lost — in the value of homes, stocks, bonds and other assets — $15 trillion to $20 trillion since 2007, how can the people provide the feds with the needed money?
In his speech to Congress, Obama promised new investments in energy, education and health care. Every kid is going to get a college degree. We're going to find a cure for cancer.
Who is going to pay for all this? The top 2%, the filthy rich who got all those Bush tax breaks, say Democrats. But the top 5% of income earners already pay 60% of income taxes, while the bottom 40% pay nothing.
Those paying a federal tax rate of 35% will see it rise to near 40% and will lose a fifth of the value of their deductions for taxes, mortgage interest and charitable contributions.
Two-thirds of small businesses are taxed at the same rate as individuals. Consider what this means to the owner of a restaurant and bar in Los Angeles open from noon to midnight, where a husband and wife each put in 80 hours a week.
At year's end, the couple find they have actually made a profit of $500,000 that they can take home in salary. What is the Obama-Schwarzenegger tax take on that salary? Their U.S. tax rate will have hit 39.6%. Their California income tax will have hit 9.55%.
Medicare payroll taxes on the proprietor as both employer and salaried employee will be $14,500. Social Security payroll taxes for the proprietor as both employer and employee will be $13,243.
In short, U.S. and state income and payroll taxes will consume half of all the pair earned for some 8,000 hours of work.
From that ravaged salary they must pay a state sales tax of 8.25%, gas taxes for the 50-mile commute, and tens of thousands in property taxes on both their restaurant and home.
And, after being pilloried by politicians for having feasted in the Bush era, they are now told the tax deduction they get for contributing to the church is to be cut 20%, while millions of Obama voters, who paid no U.S. income tax at all, will be getting a tax cut — i.e., a fat little check — in April.
Any wonder native-born Californians are fleeing the Golden Land?
Markets are not infallible. But the stock market has long been a "lead indicator" of where the economy will be six months from now. What are the markets, the collective decisions of millions of investors, saying?
Having fallen every month since Obama's election, with January and February the worst two months in history, they are telling us the stimulus package will not work, that Tim Geithner is clueless about how to save the banks, that the Obama budget portends disaster for the republic.
The president says he is gearing up for a fight on his budget.
Good. Let's give him one.
Copyright 2008 Creators Syndicate, Inc