Effort and Value

The definition of the American Dream has been stated in different ways. But, one way or another, one aspect has been boiled down to, “If you work hard enough, you can do anything!” I’m beginning to realize that there’s a level of common sense embedded in that thought. There’s a presumption of the limits of the hard work it speaks of that will see you through. That common sense isn’t so common anymore. No, the days of rewarding effort regardless of accomplishment and the sports leagues where everyone wins have diluted this message into something that is actually destructive. It’s now been watered down to imply that working hard at anything will guarantee a reward.

That difference may seem subtle, but it’s huge. This is the difference between effort and value. If I were to spend eight hours digging a ten foot hole in my backyard, how much would you pay me? Those of us with half a brain would recognize that I’ve done nothing to earn payment. A hole in my backyard has zero value to anyone else, so nobody will pay me for that. But, there is a wide swath of thought in American society that the mere exertion of effort deserves a reward. If I spend eight hours doing back-breaking work, I should be paid! The key link in the chain that is missing is the question of value. You can work yourself to death doing things nobody cares about and you will never earn a dime. The effort is not what pays off, it’s the value of your labors.

hole

How valuable is this to you?

The lack of this knowledge has led to some situations that would be laughable if they weren’t so sad. Some feel they’ve figured out the loophole: work hard at what you love and the rewards will roll in, right? Well, that depends. If what you love is collecting and categorizing Star Wars action figures, then there may be a small minority of people who will appreciate your efforts. And, there may be an even smaller minority of people who will pay for the results of your efforts. But, you have pigeonholed yourself into a “profession” with very little value. You cannot demand that the universe increase the value of your choice. It doesn’t work that way.

Now, if your passion is repairing cars, then you get very different results. If you love working with engines, rebuilding carburetors, and adjusting brake pads, then you are generating great value to society. A huge percentage of people have cars and vehicles that need repairs. Your passion will be in high demand and you can earn great rewards. Work hard at THAT passion and you could very well become independently wealthy! The effort is the multiplier. The value is the starting point. If you start at zero, the multiplier doesn’t do much for you.

Matt Walsh recently had some great insights into the mindset of people who argue that they won’t work hard because they’re paid so little. He points out how the hard work comes before the reward. That’s absolutely true. But, even before the hard work is finding out how you can offer value to your employer or your customer. Without the value, all the hard work in the world is pointless.

Please do not misunderstand me as assigning value to the person involved. We are all equal in God’s eyes and have equal value as human beings. What I’m describing is a matter of economics. The passion you pursue and the work you do has some value to other people in the world. If your work has no value, don’t expect a reward. If your work has great value, expect a greater reward. It is certainly the case that Christians and others may choose to do work that has lower value to society because it has great value to God. That’s praiseworthy and admirable. But, notice, that’s just a different measuring stick for value. At the end of the day, it’s still about being rewarded based on the value of what you are doing. And in every case, the value is determined by someone else. You do not get to determine the value of your own work.

Let me say that again: You do not get to determine the value of your own work.

So, spare me the sob stories of racking up hundreds of thousands in student loans only to find that there are no careers for owners of degrees in Social Justice and Gender Studies. You must have some level of intelligence to enter college, so how hard is it to do a little logical analysis of the value of those degrees? As I entered college, there was still a feeling that any degree would pay off in the long run. The higher starting salary would build over your career and be well worth it by the time the loans paid off. That changed as I was paying off those loans. I would still vouch for the value of my degree, but that’s because I picked a valuable major: Computer Science. I work in an industry where there is a high demand for developers. My skills have value. That same cost for a degree in history or literature would not have made sense. There is a need for teachers of these subjects, but not as much. Again, this is not about the value of people, but the value of your work to the rest of society.

By all means, find your passion and work hard to fulfill your dreams. But consider the value of what you do. If it’s valuable to society, then you can expect to be rewarded, if you work hard at it. If it’s valuable to God, you can expect to be rewarded if you work hard at it. If it’s valuable to neither, don’t be surprised when you find yourself broke. Effort is not the same as value.

The Worm Has Turned

Okay, so I lied. I don’t have more time. I don’t have the ability to write more frequently. In fact, my job change has only encouraged me to take on more projects and fill every nook and cranny of my schedule. Yep, that’s right, I’m nuts.

So, let me make a deal with my handful of hardy readers. Instead of writing frequently, I will write more deeply. I have a hard time writing short updates with a bunch of links anyway. You don’t come to read here to get redirected to other places. Instead, I hereby promise to write on those things that are important to me, but with a little more depth into my personal opinion. Think of this as a monthly essay rather than a regular update. The truth is that’s about all I can muster now, but I still need the outlet.

To kick off this new plan, let me dive in to a subject that I’ve commented on frequently: Anthropogenic Global Warming… and the lack thereof.

I’ve been consuming and digesting a prodigious amount of material on the drama around the global warming discussion over the past few months. I have firmly believed for years that while the planet may have had measurable warming over the last decade or so, it was most definitely not the result of man’s activities. I flat out deny that we are the cause of any climate change on a planetary scale. And, in fact, the temperature graphs have plateaued for the past few years. It simply isn’t shooting up like we were warned it would.

For those not reading alternative media, you may not be aware of the event now called Climategate. In mid-November of last year, a large cache of reports, software code, emails, and other electronic documents from inside the East Anglia Climate Research Unit were leaked to the public. This is significant because much of the evidence used by the UN IPCC (United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) came from this group and some of the biggest names in arguing for AGW either worked in this group or were closely associated with them. This was a glimpse in to the inner workings of the primary engine of the AGW claims. It wasn’t pretty and, in some cases, it appears to be illegal.

There is some debate over whether these released items contained smoking guns or not, but at the very least it cast considerable doubt on the objectivity and the desire for good science by all of those involved. There was discussion of molding data to hide or show the results to achieve a desired outcome (the classic molding of data to fit the theory). There were emails clearing asking or admitting to destruction of original data and efforts to avoid complying with Freedom of Information requests. There were clear statements about keeping any alternative studies or theories out of respected journals or, if necessary, trashing the journals themselves so that no alternative ideas could gain traction. The obvious question is why would otherwise respectable scientists engage in such behavior.

In any large endeavor, you can usually find the motivations by following the money. These scientists realized that there was grant money and influence to be had by documenting an impending disaster and suggesting remedies. Once the ball got rolling, it became the biggest bandwagon in science. In short, this is a hideous breach of public trust and climate science will have a cloud over it for years to come. They brought this upon themselves.

Since November, there has also been revelations about authoritative claims being made by the IPCC regarding Himalayan glacier loss that were based on nothing more than a phone interview and a Master’s thesis. The bad news for the IPCC and their supporters seems to have gone from drips to a constant stream.

I believe the house of cards is beginning to fall. It may take a few years for the true believers to be convinced, but the public is no longer buying it. Polls continue to show climate change at the bottom of the list of important issues for the American public. It’s even beginning to fall rapidly in Europe where governments were the first to sign up for carbon limitations. After years of being berated about how little we care for the planet, we are finding that those looking down their noses at us were just doing a bunch of hand-waving to cover outright deception. Hand-waving was not a sufficient proof in my college courses, and I certainly don’t think it should be enough to upend the world’s largest and most influential economy. It makes no logical sense to try to dramatically remake the economy of the US based on unclear and shaky science that seems to be crumbling as we watch.

So, you can explain the second wave by pointing to the money and influence, but how does something like this get started when there’s no bandwagon to join? What’s the first handful of snow that turns into the snowball? It’s all about freedom. Those who think they know a better way to run society are looking for was to do just that, for your own good. The problem is that central planning by imperfect people will always be a disaster. The twentieth century had more than a few examples of just how bad those societies can be. We have a few that have made it into the twenty-first century in Cuba and North Korea, but they are on their last legs.

Forcing the public to use energy technologies not yet ready for prime-time will drive successful businesses out of the marketplace, prop up businesses that cannot yet support themselves, and limit the spending power and freedom of the public in the meantime. Increased cost of anything always flows to the consumer. Making businesses pay extra for anything is a joke because those costs will just be passed along. The only way to for a business to pay more without changing their prices is to tilt the playing field, and that is not capitalism. That is something else. But, when the public cannot afford the only available options, they will go to the government for help. And, the government that can supply whatever you need can take whatever they want.

I’ve long agreed that the most rabid of anthropogenic global warming supporters fit the description of being watermelons: green on the outside and red on the inside. The love of the environment was sheep’s clothing for the wolf of central planning and socialism. Thankfully, the truth was revealed in time to avoid any further damage.

Now, please, can we all move on to more pressing matters and leave this boondoggle in the dust? I fear that it will be some time before I’ll have nothing to talk about in this arena. But, it seems clear that the worm has turned.

Update 2/9/10: An article on point from the The Globe and Mail. Thanks to Todd S. for the link.

Missing the Obvious

This past week the unemployment numbers were released and shocked many talking heads that it had broken 10 percent. 10.2 percent is the highest unemployment we’ve had since 1983. What blows my mind is that nobody, and I mean nobody, is asking what seems to be an obvious question: How did we recover from the 1983 recession? Are there any lessons to be learned from that robust recovery?

This paragraph in an AP article was the first thing even close:

The economy soared by nearly 8 percent in 1983 after a steep recession, Greenhaus said, lowering the jobless rate by 2.5 percentage points that year. But the economy is unlikely to improve that fast this time, as consumers remain cautious and tight credit hinders businesses. In fact, many analysts expect economic growth to moderate early next year, as the impact of various government stimulus programs fades.

The implication here is that the economy just righted itself with no external adjustments in 1983. Since we have stimulus running out, we can expect growth to actually flatten further next year. Why no investigation into what helped us drop 2.5 points of unemployment? Why no investigation into what caused 8 percent growth?

Simple. Tax cuts. A dirty word to Democrats especially when the evidence shows they worked.

In 1981, President Reagan signed a tax cut that dramatically lowered the marginal rates and other taxes. It let the country keep more of its money, which it promptly spent and invested kicking off one of the longest sustained periods of growth in the country’s history.

So, what are we planning on doing this time around? Oh, we’re spending like madmen! A huge stimulus bill that didn’t really stimulate. Attempting a huge health care bill that will only succeed in creating a huge bureaucracy. Attempting a cap and trade bill that will increase energy costs for everyone. But, what about tax cuts? Oh, they’ve talked about those, too. There are those Bush tax cuts that they will allow to expire next year.

That’s right. At a time of double-digit unemployment and a flattening economy, Congress has deemed it fit to increase income taxes. Wow. Brilliant.

Leave it to a Democratic Congress to ignore what works in favor of what gives the government more control.

Worse than Doing Nothing

During this health care debate, it’s become clear that a very large number of Americans are unimpressed with President Obama’s plans for reform. Despite what he and his spokesmen say, it’s hard to believe that we can make things better by involving more government and more money. In fact, I believe that proper reform is actually in the opposite direction. The value is not in hiding away the cost of health care, but actually in removing the middlemen.

Arthur Laffer made this point better than I could in this Wall Street Journal column. Economics is based on the dynamic tension between consumers and producers. The producers want to be able to charge more for the product. Consumers want to pay less. It’s this tension that drives free markets to produce better products at lower, but sustainable, prices over the long term. If you detach either end of this equation, the tension is broken and it begins to break down.

Although we’ve all come to love it, medical insurance itself is part of the problem. We pay a flat fee every month and we’re able to consume as many services as we can get approved for. By removing the patient’s concern about cost, we allow the producer (the doctors and hospitals) to charge more with no immediate effect. Maybe our premiums will go up next year, but that’s too far removed from the action that drove them. If I had to pay for each doctor’s visit, each diagnostic test, and each prescription at full price, I’d become a much pickier consumer. I’d look for better deals. Those providers would have to compete for my money. Services get better and prices go down.

Now, add another level of indirection when the government funds the medical insurance. This means some folks getting free insurance (no cost at all!) with no concern for the cost of the services they consume. When the prices go up in this scenario, the government foots the bill. There isn’t even an increase in premium prices for the patient. How does government solve this problem? By setting prices. They declare they will only pay so much for services. So, the service providers either refuse to accept patients on the government plans or they make up for the lost income by pushing the costs over to those still paying for their own insurance. Which continues to increase those premiums! And, if there are no other kinds of patients (in a single payer system like Canada or the UK), then the fix is to simply ration the care.

Distancing the payer from the service provider causes breakdowns in the benefits of free market economics. The solution here is to bring them closer. Mr. Laffer calls this the wedge. The wedge is the difference between what services cost and what the patient actually pays. The bigger the wedge, the worse the problem. The key is to shrink or remove the wedge.

Thus, health-care reform should be based on policies that diminish the health-care wedge rather than increase it. Mr. Obama’s reform principles—a public health-insurance option, mandated minimum coverage, mandated coverage of pre-existing conditions, and required purchase of health insurance—only increase the size of the wedge and thus health-care costs.

According to research I performed for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a $1 trillion increase in federal government health subsidies will accelerate health-care inflation, lead to continued growth in health-care expenditures, and diminish our economic growth even further. Despite these costs, some 30 million people will remain uninsured.

Implementing Mr. Obama’s reforms would literally be worse than doing nothing.

Put more emphasis on Health Savings Accounts to give taxpayers a tax-advantaged way to pay for these services, but make them pay for them themselves. Put the costs in front of the consumer and he will begin to shop. When people feel ownership and control of the costs, they will manage the money better than any government agency ever would.

Fantastic Claim

Fantastic can mean “amazing, wonderful, and good” and it can also mean “impossible, beyond reality, and of fantasy”. I’m going for the second meaning here as I discuss the claim by the current White House that massive intrusion of the federal government into health care will reduce costs. That’s fantastic (again, in the “beyond reality” kind of way).

This article in Investor’s Business Daily makes the point cleanly.

The idea of expanding the federal role in the medical arena is truly fiscally irresponsible. The claim that money will be saved through government competition with the private insurance system (with government setting the rules!) is the height of fantasy.

If 45 million Americans are now uninsured, that means 265 million are insured privately, and the government should not disrupt that. If the government becomes the insurer of most Americans, the impact on the budget would be absolutely awesome. Rationing of medical care that is so often mentioned would surely result.

Again, I believe the author is using awesome with a negative connotation.

It seems the height of fantasy to argue that the feds can make something cheaper by trying to control the market centrally. It is the height of arrogance to make that argument with a straight face.

Not Sold

I’m sorry. I just don’t buy it. I read President Obama’s comments from his press conference last night (sorry, I just have a hard time listening to him) and I am shaking my head. The language is sounding near-Orwellian. Just last week, we heard Vice President Biden say this:

“Now, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’ The answer is yes, that’s what I’m telling you.”

Then, the President said this last night:

This debate is not a game for these Americans, and they can’t afford to wait any longer for reform. They’re counting on us to get this done. They’re looking to us for leadership. And we can’t let them down. We will pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice, and provides coverage that every American can count on. And we will do it this year.

Now, remember that the President is discussing a plan that, as currently described, will create this (click the image to see it full-size):

House-Democrats-Health-Plan

How does any coherent human being describe an organization like this run by the US government as a way to “lower costs” and “promote choice”? The whole argument is based on the idea that central planning of the entire health care system of this nation will make the system more efficient and more cost-effective. I seem to remember another superpower that thought central planning was the way to go. It didn’t work out for them. I just find it hard to believe that any government agency can cause something to get cheaper. You can’t legislate the laws of economics. The costs have to get paid. Prices only go down when there is choice and competition. Government can only limit choices and lower competition. It cannot artificially improve either one. It’s best bet is to get out of the way and let the market provide the solutions.

When I get this deep into a complex issue, I usually back up and start at the beginning by asking, “What problem are we trying to solve?” It’s easy for the solution to take on a life of its own and lose track of the original problem. So, what is the problem here? Well, according to the President it’s about providing coverage for the “47 million Americans” who are currently uninsured. Who are these people?

Professor Dominick T. Armentano summarizes the myth of the 47 million pretty well here. Let’s turn his numbers into raw math:

  • 47 million uninsured according to the US Census Bureau
  • Approximately 10 million of those are illegal aliens who should not be covered in any case.
  • Approximately 17 million are people making more than $50,000 a year who choose not to purchase insurance. So, it’s not an availability problem, but an issue of liberty.
  • Also, people who lose their jobs are recorded as uninsured, but most individuals changing jobs will regain insurance within four months. This is a temporary situation.
  • Furthermore, there are millions of Americans who qualify for federal or state-offered medical benefits who simply don’t sign up or who are considered uninsured because some government agency is already taking care of things.

Professor Armentano concludes that, with some reasonable estimates, the number of chronically uninsured is closer to 8-10 million. This is roughly three percent of the population. Is it really worth radically disrupting the entire industry and the vast majority of the population that is sufficiently covered to try to gather up that small number? Sure, these are people who need help. Sure, the industry as a whole needs help, but central planning, higher taxes, bigger deficits, more debt, and decreased liberty are not the solution here.

Human nature is to do what benefits yourself. Instead of building a huge bureaucracy to force people to do what isn’t their natural inclination, it is better to make it financially beneficial to do the right thing. Make the payment and the services more closely related. That will cause the patient to shop for the best deal. Remove the danger of a good doctor being wiped out by a lawsuit, and he will make better decisions about what tests and services are necessary and which are not. Further separating the service from the payment will incline people to overuse the services because they feel “free”. That will not lower costs.

The kicker here is the vast damage this kind of legislation can do to the industry. With some legislation, the laws can just be repealed and society can return to its previous state. This legislation will likely drive private insurance companies out of business, or at least change them dramatically. So, even if this monstrosity is repealed, the landscape will be changed and we could be in a world of hurt for some time.

This is something that needs to be prevented now. We can’t afford to “wait and see” and hope to clean it up later.

The Green Tax

So, temperatures have been flat for the last decade. The science supporting the idea of anthropogenic global warming is becoming more suspect. Neither China nor India has any interest in reducing their carbon emissions. So, now is the time to cripple ourselves economically to make ourselves feel good about cutting carbon emissions even though it will have almost no effect. I must be missing something. Why, again, is this imperative? Why is this not a regressive tax?

I loved this take on it by The Tax Foundation:

The Wrong Side

Anyone who has played, watched, or coached a Little League game has seen players just learning the game make some basic mistakes. The players are forgiven, of course, because they are still learning under the tutelage of their coaches. Kids run the wrong direction, forget to throw the ball to first base, or even end up on the wrong side of the field. It’s understandable, really, that in the confusion of one team leaving the field and another team taking the field, that someone can end up in the wrong dugout. This is usually remedied quickly when the player realizes he doesn’t recognize the dugout or the kids standing around him and he’ll bolt across the field as the opposing team heckles and parents in the stand chuckle quietly.

So, what do you do with an otherwise intelligent adult with no teacher or coach who ends up on the wrong side and refuses to admit it? This is exactly what has happened to Barack Obama in regards to the Honduras “coup”. First off, it was not a coup. A coup is a calculated breaking of the law by powers that want to take control. It’s usually followed by a new leader explaining why it was necessary and how the law of the land will change under the new leadership. Traditionally, it’s also been followed by that leader being leader for an indefinite period of time.

In Honduras, it was the government itself that ordered the army to arrest and expel President Zelaya because he was breaking the law and threatening to subvert that country’s constitution. The new leader sworn in to replace Zelaya was the next in line according to their constitution. He is a civilian and has promised to hold elections in November as usual. The army did not install their own leader. The army did not change the law of the land. The army was enforcing the law of the land as ordered by the Supreme Court of Honduras.

Apparently, President Obama has not had this thirty second summary communicated to him and he, almost immediately, condemned these actions and insisted that Zelaya be reinstated. The American public, like parents in the Little League stands, watched the leader of their team (the leader of the free world) running to the wrong side. Obama finds himself making the same demands of Honduras as Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro, both anti-American dictators of their countries. He stands shoulder-to-shoulder with thugs and opposes the rule of law in a democracy.

This Washington Times editorial summarizes the situation well and comes to this conclusion:

Whatever the outcome of the crisis in Honduras, Mr. Obama has failed another key test of international leadership. The United States is in an increasingly perilous position in Latin America and needs solid allies to stem the anti-American tide being led by Venezuela. Mr. Obama should think twice before rushing to stand beside the likes of dictators such as Mr. Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro. They support Mr. Zelaya because he is a fellow traveler, a socialist in good standing, a member of their anti-gringo alliance. There’s no reason for America to support him.

In Little League, a coach or parent will encourage the child and suggest a correction for the mistake. Then, hopefully, the child will learn the lesson and not make the same mistake again. Of course, Little League games don’t quite carry the weight of international politics. There are no coaches or parents that have the President’s ear. There are too few critical press outlets that will challenge his decisions and postulate alternatives. So, the public sits in the stands and waits to see what he’ll do next.

Will Mr. Obama realize that he’s on the wrong side and run for the other dugout? Or, not wanting to admit his error, will he defiantly stay on the wrong side only to increase the hidden laughter of his newfound teammates? Or, worst of all, will he remain where he is because he knows exactly what he’s saying and approves? None of these choices present a very impressive picture of this President learning the basic rules of the game.

Update: This article in The Christian Science Monitor is from a citizen of Honduras and only reinforces what we already know. It also has the effect of making President Obama look even more foolish. He starts:

Sometimes, the whole world prefers a lie to the truth. The White House, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and much of the media have condemned the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya this past weekend as a coup d’état.

That is nonsense.

And, he concludes with a passion I love hearing:

Don’t believe the coup myth. The Honduran military acted entirely within the bounds of the Constitution. The military gained nothing but the respect of the nation by its actions.

I am extremely proud of my compatriots. Finally, we have decided to stand up and become a country of laws, not men. From now on, here in Honduras, no one will be above the law.

Behind the Times

The only thing worse than someone being intellectually stagnant is someone who is actively running away from knowledge. Apparently, there are quite a few in Washington, DC who are fleeing knowledge in this way. Currently, there are two major bills attempting to move through Congress that would, at best, be serious mistakes and, at worst, be boondoggles that will remake American society in a way that we may not recover from for decades. The health care overhaul is basically an attempt to let the US government become the single payer for all health care in the country. The cap-and-trade bill is an attempt to severely hamstring US industry on the basis of junk science.

Now, the Obama administration will tell you that providing a public option for health care won’t affect your choices. You’ll be able to choose to stay with your current plan (well, that’s not entirely true. If your current plan doesn’t provide the minimum benefits declared by the bill, that plan would have to change.) Of course, if it is cheaper for employers to switch their staff to the public plan, they will do so. And, in doing so, they will remove any options for existing plans. So, Obama qualified himself by saying that the government won’t force you into the public option. That would be your employer’s fault. Never mind that it will be, by far, the most common scenario.

Worse, senators and congressmen have exempted themselves from having to participate in this plan. They get to stick with the impressively sweet deal they already have while the rest of us will be blessed by being better informed so we won’t use treatments that aren’t likely to work. In other words, the government will get to decide if it’s really worth trying that procedure on grandpa. You won’t. How else do you interpret this (from the LA Times):

In a nationally televised event at the White House, Obama said families need better information so they don’t unthinkingly approve “additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care.”

He added: “Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

In other words, the government will give you better information than your doctor based on what will be cost-effective. So, don’t get sick when you’re old, you may not be worth saving.

Then, on to the environment: the Democrats in the House are hurrying to get a contentious cap-and-trade bill through to limit carbon output over the next several years. Yet again, this bill solves our ills by creating vast bureaucracies designed to control key aspects of the economy and, therefore, aspects of your life. Minority Leader John Boehner created this graphic showing how the bill is intended to work. Let me know when you’ve figured it out (click to see the full-size image):

bureaucraticnightmare

These are serious intrusions into our lives. These will impose huge taxes on each and every one of us (don’t believe the “tax the rich” rhetoric because there aren’t enough of them. Don’t believe the “polluters will pay their share” rhetoric because all companies pass cost increases on to the customer.) This is, flat out, terrible legislation and will cripple our economy when it’s already in a bad way.

Now, the title of this post is “Behind the Times”. I give you all of this information simply to note that we aren’t the first country to try nationalized health care nor are we the first to try to limit carbon emissions. With a fairly simply review of nationalized health care plans in Europe and Canada, it’s easy to see that the result is that everyone has access to sub-standard healthcare. Lines are long. Doctors are fewer. Mortality rates go up (due to the delays and denials of service). Innovation even goes down. This will not only give us bad healthcare, but it will cripple the industry such that it will take years to recover even if the legislation is reversed.

And, in an even more stark case, countries are realizing that cap-and-trade is a terrible idea based on highly disputed science. The Wall Street Journal has an opinion piece by Kimberley Strassel that sums it up. She makes the point that the “consensus” is collapsing:

The collapse of the “consensus” has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth’s temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.

Strassel tells the story of an Australian legislator who came to America on a fact-finding mission to confirm or deny the need for carbon management legislation. He met directly with President Obama’s special assistant on energy and the environment, Joseph Aldy, and challenged the team to address the controversy. They, apparently, were unconvincing as the Australian went home and voted against the cap-and-trade bill.

Politicians are the only people I know who will passionately pursue a plan even when it has much evidence that it will fail and no evidence that it will succeed. They are fleeing knowledge and end up behind the times.

Reconsidered

Anyone with a passing interest in the global warming debate is aware of the IPCC. This is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that released it’s findings in 2007. The panel came to the conclusion that it was “very likely” that global climate change is caused by human activity. One of the lead authors even stated:

We can be very confident that the net effect of human activity since 1750 has been one of warming.

Since that time a series of serious criticisms have been made about that report including that idea that governments had an interest in what it said. Much research available to the panel was ignored because it did not fit into the desired narrative. Many of the scientists who did contribute to the overall report were unhappy with the way the summary was written. And, in some cases, the summary conclusions did not even follow from the evidence gathered. The data was collected and analyzed by scientists. The summary was written by bureaucrats and politically-motivated appointees.

On June 2 of this year, another report was released. This one was from the NIPCC (the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change) and titled Climate Change Reconsidered. This group had the major advantage of three more years of published science and no government support to unduly influence its results.

They make a clearly opposing case:

The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.

The authors cite thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that were ignored by the IPCC, plus additional scientific research that became available after the IPCC’s self-imposed deadline of May 2006.

The details are immense, but I challenge any believer in AGW to refute the evidence within. These men and women have taken the common sense that many of us had and backed it up with a vast amount of evidence and study that was ignored because it challenged the “consensus” that never really existed.

I do believe we are seeing the beginning of the end of the cult of AGW. The only challenge now is to make sure the government doesn’t pass anti-global warming legislation before it becomes clear that this is all a hoax. That, in fact, is a real danger that can affect us all for decades to come.