Thursday, October 29, 2009

Walden Students Trying to Destroy World's Forests

There is a great commentary in the Wall Street Journal today that should be of interest to Walden students but probably won't ever be brought to their attention by their teachers. It is entitled Sins of Emission and I will paraphrase the commentary.

A new peer reviewed study published in Science takes a look at the way that "carbon emmissions from biofuels are measured in climate-change programs world-wide" and has found a "critical accounting error."

"The cap-and-trade programs run by the United Nations and European Union - and maybe soon the U.S. - treat biofuels as carbon neutral" ... because, "Since plants absorb and store carbon that is already in the atmosphere, burning them would create no new emissions, whereas fossil fuels release CO2 that has been buried for millions of years."

The "critical accounting error" occurs because these programs do not account for changes in land use. So, for example, if mature forests are cleared to make way for biofuel farms, the carbon that otherwise would have accumulated in the forests ought to be counted on the balance sheet. It isn't. So if Malaysia burns down a rainforest to produce biodiesel to be used in Germany, "Malaysia doesn't count the land use emissions and Germany doesn't count the tail-pipe emissions."

The politically created accounting errors create incentives that might, according to the study, "displace 59% of the world's natural forest cover" by the year 2050. "The reason: When bioenergy from any biomass is counted as carbon neutral, economics favor large-scale land conversion for bioenergy regardless of the actual net emissions." ... "In other words, not only is cap and trade self-defeating on its own terms but it also risks creating a genuine ecological disaster."

Be careful what you wish for kids!

You can read the Wall Street Journal commentary here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On Drug Addiction and Causes

I kind of like the response I gave to Randy, former Journal Times editor, over at the Racine Post. I thought I would share.

Denis Navratil said...
Randolph writes:

"So, why do people do drugs?

That’s easy. They’re self-medicating because their lives are crap.

When depression’s so great, you’ll reach out to anything to make it better – a gun, a needle …

The answer? Make people’s lives better. Give them hope instead of despair, relief instead of pain, opportunity instead of uselessness, a job instead of a dead-end."

And my response to Randy:

Or, perhaps people become drug addicts because they have become impatient waiting for other people to make their lives better, and that they are entitled to this help from others, and that they can and should wallow in self pity because nobody has come forward to make their lives better. The common denominator here is helplessness, entitlement, and irresponsibility for their own lives.
And when you keep feeding them that destructive world view filled with excuses, you contribute to their problems. You might as well insert the needle yourself into their collapsing veins.

Read the whole thing and any future responses here.

Indoctrination 101

On Saturday at Monument Square, some local high school kids rallied in support of United Nations climate change legislation. The Racine Post wrote an article which then generated over 100 comments, many of them critical of the kids.

Several commenters defended the kids by suggesting that we should applaud the kids for fighting for what they believe in instead of committing crimes, using drugs, having sex, playing video games etc...

The notion that kids should be applauded for political activism without considering the merits of their cause is just plain silly. And the "at least they aren't robbing liquor stores" argument shows just how far some have lowered standards for todays youth.

Of course we should consider and if necessary criticize the political objectives being pushed by children.

My biggest concern though is that children are being led to leftist political activism by the people we entrust to educate them. The children will all insist that their teachers always carefully present both sides of the issue, yet somehow all the children seem to decide "independently" to rally for far left causes. How can this be? Why are there never school sponsored clubs and protests to protect babies from abortion?

Every time you see school kids advocating for liberal causes, and never conservative causes, it is fair to suspect that thay are being manipulated and indoctrinated in school.

And to me, that is a far more dangerous problem than miniscule global temperature fluctuations.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Flu Politics

I heard on the radio today that the Obama children got a flu shot today but that the president and the first lady will wait and take the shot in accordance with prioritizing guidelines concerning risk etc... Of course this news, if true, would have originated from the White House. Correct me if I am wrong please, but is the president saying the presidents health is not a high priority?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Parental Involvement

Lately there has been lots of talk about parental involvement as the solution to our local public education problems. But does Racine Unified really want parental involvement or do they just want a ready excuse for their collective failings?

One of the most important decisions an involved parent can make is to decide which school, if any, will be entrusted to educate their child. This decision ought to say something about what a parent values. Is it high test scores and graduation rates and college acceptance success? Is it the importance of religious instruction along with the the three R's? Is safety an overwhelming consideration?

I don't think this is what Unified means by parental involvement. Unified wants your children educated at Unified regardless of the other educational options that exist outside of Unified, and regardless of what you as a parent value.

So Unified wants a parent to be completely uninvolved in the most important education decision - who should educate the child - but to then become hyperinvolved in education once the child is enrolled in a Unified school. I am not buying it.

Presently Unified employees and their national counterparts are the only obstacles to meaningful parental involvement in education decisions. If tommorrow the National Education Association issued a statement declaring that parents should be empowered with education vouchers to choose the school, whether public or private, for their child, it would be only a matter of days before such legislation would pass nearly unanimously.

This will not happen as this type of parental involvement would seriously erode the power of public school employees.

So when you hear public school apologists lament the lack of parental involvement in schools, know that they don't mean it. What they really mean is that the lack of parental involvement, that they alone perpetuate, provides a handy excuse for the ongoing demise of our public education system.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Question of the Day

Why don't those who want both "power to the people" and big government see the contradiction?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mayor Dickert and the Money Cycle

I went to the Racine Taxpayers Association meeting today to listen to Mayor Dickert. It was a nice speech that didn't really cover much new territory, except it shed some light on how Mayor Dickert thinks about economics. Mayor Dickert spent a fair amount of time discussing the money cycle. It was a term that he didn't define but did describe in some detail. Faced with rising costs and a decrease in state shared revenue, Dickert asked aloud whether he should let some city employees go to shrink the deficit. No was the answer because of the high unemployment and the money cycle. If the city employee keeps his job, he will spend the money in local businesses, eat at local restaurants etc... which in turn allows the local business the keep their employees on board who will then in turn spend money in local businesses etc... and so on and so on. If the city employee is laid off, he will not be spending in local businesses that will in turn have less revenue and will perhaps have to lay off an employee who will then not spend in local businesses etc... and so on and so on.

It is certainly true that money is spent again and again and that people who don't have jobs will probably spend less money as they have less to spend. The problem I have with Dickert's money cycle theory is the implied importance of government jobs. Without the government job, the laid off city worker starts a downward spiral that affects local businesses and individuals. But you can think of the same phenomenon in an entirely different way. It takes money to employ a city worker. That money is taken from the profits resulting from private sector economic activity. The taxes required to pay for the salary, insurance and pension of city employees results in less money circulating in the private sector. With less money, individuals and businesses will spend less, hire less, eat less at local restaurants etc... with the same downward spiral described by Mayor Dickert.

So which is better, public sector spending or private sector spending? Generally speaking, money is better spent in the sector that creates wealth rather than the one that takes wealth. That would be the private sector. Private sector activity creates additional wealth which in turn will cycle in much the same way that Mayor Dickert described. The public sector squeezes money out of the private sector, thereby posing a threat to private sector wealth creation.

Now this is not an argument for anarchy. There is a need for a very limited government. Unneccessary government spending slows the spending cycle and wealth creation. I hope Mayor Dickert reads this post.

Health Insurance Incentives

As I write this, the Senate Finance Committee is considering a health care bill that would mandate insurance companies to offer health insurance to those with pre-existing conditions. Additionally, the bill would fine/tax those without health insurance by some amount less than $1,000.

Presently I am paying in the neighborhood of $4,000 per year for a high deductible health care plan that covers my family.

If the health care bill passes, government would be creating a $3,000 incentive for me to drop my health insurance, knowing I could get insurance later if I or someone in my family were to get seriously ill.

If I like my plan I can keep it. But if I prefer to stick others with the bill for my health care, I can drop my plan.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Inexplicable City Development Policy

OK, I'll admit it. I can't make heads or tails of Racine's approach to development. Some folks (Tom Toussis, Brent Oglesby etc...) have to go through an often contentious process that requires approval by the Racine Development Authority and, I think, approval by the full city council. Others get land and tax breaks after behind the scene decisions, then pose for photo shoots with the mayor. Is there a coherent city policy that can explain this seemingly haphazard approach to development? Greg Helding, I know you are out there, can you explain? Thanks.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel Joke

President Obama has won the Nobel Peace prize this morning, leaving many to wonder what he has done to merit winning the award. Perhaps putting a stop to Chicago's aggressive campaign for the Olympics?

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Racial Politics Revealed

There is an interesting battle brewing over a piece of property near a proposed KRM train station. One Brent Oglesby has been seeking a "hold" on the property, arguing that it takes time to secure financing etc... for his proposed project. Meanwhile, Mayor Dickert has announced that the city has put development of this property on hold. Enter our local racial grievancemongers. You see, Oglesby is black. Therefore the denial must be racially motivated, the thinking goes, such that it is.

I have an alternate explanation. The property in question may well increase in value quite dramatically if the KRM train project moves forward. Thus, offering Oglesby a hold on the property would allow Oglesby to reap the profits if KRM moves forward. And of course he could walk if KRM doesn't move forward. The potential property value increase should go to the current owners of this property, and those current owners are the taxpayer. Giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property value increase to any one individual, whether black, white or whatever, would be wrong.

I give Mayor Dickert credit here, even though I think the best decision would be to sell all excess property to the highest bidder. In any case, I am sure it is difficult to withstand the "racist" smears that are being hurled at Mayor Dickert. But withstand them you must for the sake of our city.

I should also mention that, to the best of my knowledge and to his credit, Brent Oglesby has not made this a racial issue. I would be even more comforted if he publicly distanced himself from the racial hucksters that are seemingly trying to work on his behalf.

The Racine Post has the story here.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Lifestyle Guru or Representative?

"I think you have to lead by example," said Racine Mayor John Dickert as he urges citizens to recycle, to exercise and to use their cars less.

I quote Mayor Dickert above not to criticize but to pose a more general question about who we elect and for what purpose. Do we elect representatives to guide us towards the proper way to live our lives, as the above quote in part suggests? Or do we elect representatives to fulfill a far narrower, and less sexy, function of eficiently delivering government services? Or some combination of both?

Monday, October 05, 2009

City Hall Out of Touch

So the powers-that-be at city hall have recommended that the Toussis plan for West Racine be received and filed. In other words, killed. The Racine Post has the story.

So what does the Racine Development Authority want in West Racine? Not too long ago, the city was about to pull the trigger on a low income housing project for the same location. If it weren't for the former mayor's transgressions and the ensuing mayoral election, that project may well have gone through.

So city government has demonstrated a preference for low income subsidized housing over the private sector development of a restaurant/grocery store/gas station complex. This makes no sense whatsoever.