It is becoming politically popular for cities and counties to ban single-use plastic bags for groceries and certain other items in the name of protecting the environment. People living in jurisdictions where such bans are being considered may benefit from my experience in Minneapolis.
Author: Edmund Contoski
Like a lot of Americans, I have been thinking for a long time that our nation is on the wrong track. Not only do things seem to be getting worse rather than better, but it seems the system itself is broken so it is no longer possible to get it back on track.
Despite its reputation for freedom, the U.S. has the world’s highest prison population rate, 716 inmates per 100,000 people. More than half the countries of the world have rates less than one-fifth of that. The United States’ rate is six times that of Canada and six to nine times greater than the rates of Western European nations, with whom we have the most cultural and historical ties. Why is criminality so much higher here than in those countries? The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but 22 percent of its prison population.
The purpose of any economic exchange is to better one’s position, whether a person buys or sells something for money or barters for something else. This is the essence of free market capitalism, where all economic transactions are voluntary because they are of mutual benefit. They are all “win-win” situations in the minds of the participants.
It is hard for people to grasp the magnitude of the U.S. debt problem—and what the ultimate “day of reckoning” will be. The national debt reached $1 trillion for the first time in 2009. It is now well over $18 trillion. That’s the official total; the real total is much higher. Lawrence Kotlikoff, a professor of economics at Boston University, has calculated that based on Congressional Budget Office data the real debt is $202 trillion, more than eleven times the official debt. It is also about 3 times what the entire world produces, that is, global gross domestic product (GDP), which is $72 trillion. In 2013 Kotlikoff updated his debt calculation to $222. That’s $700,000 per person, $1.9 million per household.
Beginning in 1983 the government changed its method of calculation to show lower inflation by excluding food and energy, claiming they were too volatile to be reliable indicators. The result is the so-called “core inflation” CPI, which is a favorite of the Federal Reserve. The latest figure for this CPI reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is 0.4% (for August and also July), but if calculated by the method used in 1980 the inflation rate would be 7½ percent, as shown by Shadow Government Statistics (ShadowStats.com).
Why do so many laws passed with good intentions and seemingly desirable goals so often fail? And why do they so often worsen the problems they are supposed to solve—and hurt people they are supposed to help?
In the same way that EPA has extended its control over water—and even land—under clean water laws (See Part 1), it has exceeded Constitutional authority and the intent of Congress under the Clean Air Acts. Once again, it has caused an enormous waste of billions of taxpayer dollars on government itself—and costs approaching a trillion dollars for compliance in the private sector. All this with measures that have little benefit—and often negative consequences—to the environment or human health. Take carbon dioxide for example.
Reckless government spending and an uncontrollable federal debt have created an unavoidable monetary disaster ahead. The door to unlimited federal spending was opened by President Nixon in 1971 when he severed the last link between the dollar and gold by ending foreign central banks’ ability to exchange dollars for U.S. gold. Politicians realized that more spending produced more votes to keep them in office; and with no limit on federal spending, the mountain of debt just kept on growing.
In a previous post we pointed out that alternative energies (solar, wind, ethanol and other biofuels) bump up against implacable physical realities which no amount of government spending or research can overcome, and which are environmentally destructive despite propaganda to the contrary. Ethanol in gasoline, for example, according to EPA’s own data, increases key pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide by as much as 7 percent. Yet it was on the basis of phony scientific claims that ethanol would reduce pollution from automobile emissions that it use was mandated by the government.
You can see immediately that 2014 is not the hottest year among even the last 18 years. Not by a long shot. Why is this chart be so different from the widely reported announcement in January by NOAA and NASA that 2014 was the hottest ever (“ever” being just since 1880, when records began)?
The obvious successes of past technologies have made politicians and environmentalists eager to be in the forefront of promoting futuristic schemes for their goals. Everyone wants to be on the side of the next Great Idea. All too often these futuristic fantasies are sold to a gullible public, as well as fellow politicians and the news media, with impressive but scientifically-flawed arguments that bump up against harsh physical realities that are immutable.
People don’t form governments to tell them what to eat. Our government was formed to protect people’s inalienable rights to their lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness. When governments attempt to do more than that, they violate the rights they are supposed to protect—and invariably produce unintended consequence, usually the very opposite from what they intend.
For a half century the idea that saturated fat in foods raises cholesterol and, consequently, causes heart attacks was dogma ostensibly justifying government regulation. The attacks on dietary fat have increased in recent years due to the “war on obesity.” But a new book based on nearly ten years of research has fired a devastating salvo in defense of this designated dietary enemy. The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz traces the origin of the fat myth from its faulty scientific beginning to its discrediting.
TweetThe federal government has been expanding for decades. More laws, more spending, more regulations. More executive actions and judicial decisions that enlarge the role of government. Everybody knows this, but[…]
TweetIn campaigning for the presidency, Barrack Obama inspired popular support of millions of voters by eloquently promising to “transform” America with “fundamental” change. Now his popularity is at its all-time[…]
The melting of glaciers is often cited as evidence mankind is causing global warming through carbon dioxide emissions. A corollary of this is that melting glaciers raise sea levels, which will reach catastrophic levels unless CO2 emissions are reduced. Adding to the massive evidence already refuting these assertions, a recent paper provides more accurate reconstruction of two centuries of previous data “by using many more stations, particularly in the polar regions, and recently processed historic data series from isolated island stations.”
In campaigning for the presidency, Barrack Obama inspired popular support of millions of voters by eloquently promising to “transform” America with “fundamental” change. Now his popularity is at its all-time low, his signature legislation, Obamacare, has been a disaster, his highly touted—and extremely expensive—stimulus program has failed. He has done nothing to lower the federal debt or tackle the future insolvency of Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.And the economy continues to stumble 58 months after the recession officially ended.
In 2013 the price of gold bullion lost 28 percent and closed near its low for the year. It was the first annual decline since 2000 and the worst since 1981. Gold ETFs experienced record redemptions, shrinking the funds 33 percent by year end, but they were the exception. Marcus Grubb, Managing Director of the World Gold Council, reported, “2013 has been a strong year for gold demand across sectors and geographies, with the exception of western ETF markets.” While investors were leaving ETFs, demand for gold jewelry, bars and coins was increasing, as were purchases by central banks. Globally, consumer demand increased 17 percent for gold jewelry and 28 percent for bars and coins.