Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The history of environmentalism starts in Germany

History shows that elitism has always been central to environmentalism -- and it also shows what that elitism leads to

Nietzsche belonged to a reactionary school of German thought which became known as the ‘Volk’ movement.  The historian Professor George Mosse wrote a brilliant account of Volkish thought in 1964 (The Crisis of German Ideology – Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich).  The movement acquired its name because its adherents were constantly harking back to a more authentic golden age when the German people were not just people who happened to live in Germany and speak German, but were, in a deeper, mystical sense, a ‘Volk’ (or‘Folk’).  

A famous (and typical) Volkish work was Land und Leute (Places and People), written in 1857 when the serfs had just won their freedom in Germany, and the feudal reactionaries were reeling from the great change. Its author, Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl (says Mosse), sought to turn back the clock and rebuild ‘the web of ancient custom, which once had determined every man’s place in society – and should do so again.  The respective positions of lord and peasant had been fixed by time-honoured customs as clearly as nature had divided field from forest.  Riehl viewed peasantry and nobility as the two estates which still lived according to the prescribed customs and which were furthermore, an integral part of the landscape out of whose soil they drew their living.’  

From the start, Volkish ideology had what we would recognise today as a Green tinge.  The Volkish writer Friedrich Ratzel, said, ‘As different from each other as plants, animals and human beings may be, they all stand and move on the same soil.  They came to life on the same soil … Life is always bound to the earth … and cannot, partially or as a whole, be separated from the earth and its soil.’

The ‘Volk’ (the people) had a deep, mystical, essential bond with each other and the earth. They said the true Volk society was connected with the soil (volksboden), it was organic and natural (organisirtes naturproduct), determined by nature (naturbedingtheit), shaped by earthly forces and conditions (bodenständigkeit), inseparable from the earth itself (erdgebundenheit).  The landscape had formed the people, and their culture was part of the landscape (kulturlandschaft).  The Volkists spoke of a healthy society’s ‘rootedness’ (verwurzelung).

In Nietzsche we find the usual Volkish green simpering about Nature:  ‘Remain faithful to the earth’ demands Zarathustra, we must ‘re-animalise man’ and ‘return to nature’. As Professor Mosse observes, ‘The word “rootedness” occurs constantly in their vocabulary.  They sought this in spiritual terms, through an inward correspondence between the individual, the native soil, the Volk and the universe … Rural rootedness served as a contrast to urban dislocation, or what was termed “uprootedness”.’   Volkish thinkers like Riehl, Paul de Lagarde, Heinrich von Treitschke and others, ‘looked back to the earlier Germans with nostalgia for their ordered social and economic life.  These olden days had been times of rootedness, when the nation, composed of craftsmen and nobles, warriors and tillers of the soil, enjoyed its labors and prospered under the benefits of a settled hierarchy.’

Of course it is no accident that this sudden enthusiasm for social ‘rootedness’ appears immediately after serfdom is abolished.  The yearning for ‘rootedness’ was nothing other than the desire to keep the peasants tied to the land.  ‘Rootedness’ was a perfect description of feudal society.  The nobles were rooted to the land … they even derived their names from their feudal domains:  the Baron or Earl of this, and Duke or Count of that.  And of course their serfs were legally tied to them, and to the land.  It was forbidden for serfs or their children to leave their lord’s land (or indeed to marry without the lord’s permission, and so on).  They were ‘rooted’ in a very real, (very unpleasant) way.  The serfs stayed serfs from generation to generation – it was in their ‘blood’ (keep your eye on that word ‘blood’).  Their status was inherited and legally enforced.  And the aristocrats stayed noble from one generation to the next, no matter how inept or imbecilic.  Their privileges were a blood-right.   A lord was as different to a peasant as a horse was to a dog.  The age-old social order seemed to them as natural as the trees.

The Volkist H. S. Chamberlain said that society, and our respective class positions within it, had evolved and were therefore natural: ‘nobody acquainted in detail with the results of animal breeding can doubt that the history of mankind before us and around us obeys the same law.’

Volkish anti-capitalism was not on the side of the masses. Quite the opposite. The Volkists saw capitalism (rightly) as the great liberator of the masses.  It was this liberation which was ‘unnatural’ to them.  As one of them put it, ‘Nature is a many-splendored thing, but one aspect will not be found in nature: equality.’

In his great work, The Destruction of Reason, written in 1952, the philosopher Georg Lukács pointed out that the idealisation of ‘nature’ and the ‘organic’ was, from the very beginning, political.  It was, he pointed out, an attempt to defend ‘naturally grown’ feudal privileges, ‘Biologism in philosophy and sociology has always been a basis for reactionary philosophical tendencies … it cannot permit of any essential change, let alone progress …. Oppression, inequality, exploitation and so forth were presented as “facts of nature” or “laws of nature” which, as such, could not be avoided or revoked.’

Society was ‘naturally’ hierarchical.  Nietzsche even insisted, ‘In the last resort there exists an order of rank of states of soul’ and there is no point of aspiring to achieve a higher rank because, ‘one has to be born or, expressed more clearly, bred for it.’  One is superior ‘by virtue of one’s origin; one’s ancestors, one’s blood.’  People in different classes had different ‘blood’.  They were indeed a different race.  For Volkish thinkers the terms ‘race’ and ‘class’ amount to the same thing. Nietzsche grieved over ‘Europe of today, the scene of a senselessly sudden attempt at radical class – and consequently race – mixture’.  He talked of the ‘semi-barbarism into which Europe has been plunged through the democratic mingling of classes and races.’

Professor Mosse says that for the Volkists, ‘Even within the race, the most promising stock was to be encouraged and the inferior left behind … Aryan nobles and warriors were to be formed, as they had always been, by selection and selective propagation.  Social division, a special class, indeed a caste system, was thus essential.’  Hitler said he aimed for ‘a racial quality fashioned on truly noble lines.’

As Lukács observes, ‘The ancient racial theory was extremely simple; indeed we can hardly call it a theory at all.  It proceeded from the thesis that anyone could tell an aristocrat.  For, as an aristocrat, he was of pure stock and descended from the superior race.’   It was, says Lukács, ‘a pseudo-biological defence of class privileges.’  The Volk movement turned the ‘class struggle into a racial struggle “ordained by nature”’ ...  It was out of these struggles that racial theory sprouted.’

The Volk movement viewed the advent of capitalism with dismay.  As serfs, the masses had been charming.  As ‘proletarians’ they were threatening.  The proletariat, says Mosse, was ‘the unfortunate product of modernisation, which itself entertained an anti-Volkish malevolence.’  He says, ‘The big city and the proletariat seemed to fuse into an ominous colossus which was endangering the realm of the Volk: “dominance of the big city will be equivalent to the dominance of the proletariat”.’

Because of capitalism, the serfs, instead of being “rooted” to the land, were now physically and socially mobile.  The money economy - market capitalism - had shaken lose the old feudal bonds, as it had done in England, and the great commercial centres – the cities - were seen as driving this change. As one Volkish writer put it, ‘Cities are the tombs of Germanism.’ Professor Mosse tells us, ‘the city came to symbolize the industrial progress and modernity that all adherents to the Volkish ideology rejected.  It was the very opposite of rootedness in nature and, therefore, antithetical to the spirit of the Volk.  Worse still, it represented the accomplishments of the proletariat; it was the concrete expression of proletarian restlessness. The fear of urban centers became synonymous with apprehension over the alarming rate at which the proletariat increased in numbers and asserted itself.’

If the proletariat was to be feared, said the Volkists, capitalism and the bourgeoisie was to be blamed.  ‘The bourgeoisie, by raising the cry of liberty, equality, fraternity,’ says Mosse, ‘had ignored the natural difference between the strong and weak, the clever and the stupid – in short, the “natural” contrast between master and servant.’  For Riehl, says Mosse, ‘the bourgeoisie was a disruptive element that had challenged the “genuine” estates … this new element was composed mainly of merchants and industrialists who had no close connection with nature.’  

And the people singled out for special culpability were the Jews.  For, as Professor Mosse, says, ‘the Jews were not a Volk, had no peasants, and owned no land, but were only traders and parasites.’   ‘The Jews were identified with modern industrial society’, they were ‘weaving a net of business and trade’ around innocent Germans, and they were essentially un-green: ‘the rootlessness of the Jew was contrasted with the rootedness of the Volk.’  So, ‘to oppose the Jews meant to struggle against the champions of the materialistic world view as well as the evils of modern society.’

We must make the point here that Volkish and Nazi hatred of Jewish people was not religious.  The Volkists and Nazis hated Christianity, at times almost as much as they despised Judaism, and they tried to establish a State pagan religion to replace it (see the laughable librettos of Wagner’s turgid operas for a list of rehabilitated gods).  No, the Jews were hated because they were visibly non-rural and capitalistic, and in particular they were pre-eminent in the world of finance (the greens have always hated bankers).  Of course the Jews had, historically, ended up in those roles precisely because they had been expelled from the land in much of Europe and had been forced to find occupations on the fringes of feudal society.  That abused group of people had been punished once, and now they would be punished again.

(We might mention here that one of the marked features of the declining feudal nobility in Europe was its tendency to get into debt and thereby lose control of its land.  Law after law was passed to stop feudal domains from slipping into private hands and entering the world of commodity exchange.  But such was the desire of lavish but useless aristocrats to have money, and such was their inability to make it, that they were constantly borrowing, and then selling land to repay the loans.  They nobles were prepared to entertain Jewish bankers when they needed the stuff, but loathed them with a passion when it came to paying it back).

As Professor Mosse describes, ‘Economic prejudices were always prevalent in anti-Semitism and they attained academic respectability with Werner Sombart’s Die Juden und des Wirtshaftsleben (Jews and Capitalism, 1910).  This eminent economic historian linked the growth of capitalism to the role played by the Jews.  As usurers in the Middle Ages and entrepreneurs in modern times, the Jews had been a vital force in building the capitalist system … The stock-exchange jobber, the corpulent banker, these were the stereotypes of the Jew that were widely accepted and disseminated through popular literature.  The stock exchange in particular became the symbol of the nightmarish capitalism that had been fostered on the Germans by the Jews.’

For Adolf Hitler, in Mein Kampf, it was the Jews who had dissolved the Volkish feudal bonds and brought capitalism to Germany.  It was ‘the Jew’ says Hitler, who ‘included landed property among his commercial wares and degraded the soil to the level of a market commodity.  Since he himself never cultivated the soil but considered it as an object to be exploited.’  It was the Jews, he said, who had brought to Germany all those devilish democratic modern ideas, ‘bubbling over with “enlightenment”, “progress”, “liberty”, “humanity”, etc.’

For the Volkish right-wing anti-capitalists, the ‘bourgeoisie’ and ‘proletariat’ merged into one urban, industrial, commercial enemy.  Mosse says that Volkish thinkers ‘feared that the “world bourgeoisie” and the “world proletariat” would recognize their mutual compatibility and exercise a suzerainty over a world in which all that was natural had been destroyed, especially the estates.’   The proletariat and the bourgeoisie was a common enemy.  They shared a world-view which was commercial and extended beyond borders.  (In this respect, Volkish right-wing anti-capitalism was a more accurate portrayal of reality than its Marxist offshoot).

Just as today’s greens idealise pre-capitalist society, so did the Volkists and the Nazis.  Their ‘blood and soil’ racism was wholly the product of this backward fantasy.   It was nothing more than the desire to cling onto the world as it was before.  As with the Nazi’s demonization of Jewish people, it was an expression of their fear and loathing of the physical and social mobility which came with capitalism.

Like Nietzsche and the Volkists, Hitler and the Nazis hated the Enlightenment.  They rejected its humanism just as they spurned the human-centered morality of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  They despised the moral restraints of civilisation, and embraced the romance of pagan savagery as more ‘authentic’.  They held bourgeois liberal tolerance and internationalism (or globalisation) in contempt.  These were all features of the despised new capitalist order.

The Volkist deep hatred of capitalism extended to all the trappings of industrial and urban development.  As Mosse says, ‘These sick individuals [the bourgeoisie and proletariat] had subsequently stamped their surroundings with diseased characteristics.  The result was an unhealthy, “degenerate” landscape marked by smoking factories, overcrowded cities and insatiable natural resource exploitation.’   The Volkists hated advertising billboards and hydro-electric dams and railway lines.  They hated modern farming techniques and the mass production of food.  They idealised peasant life.

In short, the Volkists and Nazis were green.  In 1934, a year after the Nazis took power, as Professor Thomas Lekan describes, they ‘declared that the Third Reich had ushered in a new era of environmental stewardship … They foresaw a new era of ‘organic’ land use planning that stressed long-term sustainability over short-term profitability.’  The leading Nazi Walther Schoenichen declared that the German countryside was to be purified of the ‘un-German spirit of commerce.’  The same year they passed a law ‘Concerning the Protection of the Racial purity of Forest Plants’, and the following year the wide-ranging Reichsnaturschutzgesetz (Reich Nature Protection Law).

Hitler appointed his most trusted general Herman Göring supreme commissioner for nature conservancy, and made him Reichforstmeister (Reich master of forestry) whose job it was to promote waldgesinnubg (forest-mindedness) and the close-to-nature ideals of the dauerwald (eternal forest).  Göring’s Reichsforstamt (Reich Forest Office) oversaw the Reichstelle für Naturschutz (Reich Nature Protection Office). He declared ‘The people are a living community, a great organic, eternal body’, which was echoed in the Nazi slogan, ‘Ask the trees, they will teach you how to become National Socialists!’  As Mosse says, ‘In Volkish thought the image of the tree was constantly used to symbolize the peasant strength of the Volk, with roots anchored in the past while the crown aspired to the cosmos and its spirit.’

Walter Darré, head of the SS Race and Settlement Office was made Reichsbauerführer  (Reich peasant leader).  He led the Nazi campaign described by one author as ‘the Nazification of the countryside’.  A new Nazi law attempted to re-impose feudal relations on peasant land, forbidding inherited land from being bought, sold or mortgaged.  Needless to say, this met with resistance from the peasants. The peasants also resented production quotas and other forms of state interference.  Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of Polish peasants were reduced to serfdom once more.  The Nazis attempted (unsuccessfully) to re-establish a Volkish peasantry by distributing free plots of land to workers, and it was this that sent the German army into Poland, and beyond, in search of lebensraum (living space), made available by the mass slaughter of east Europeans.  It was Darré, who said he wanted to breed a new rural nobility, who coined the chilling slogan ‘blood and soil’ (blut und boden).

Of course the green policies of the Nazis, like the policies of the greens today, were riddled with contradictions.  They wanted organic, peasant farming, but discovered very quickly that it would not produce nearly enough food (though a special supply of organic food was secured for the SS).  Likewise, though they despised capitalism and industry and commerce, they also needed it.  The sprawling Nazi State bureaucracy was a ravenous parasite that needed a host (we will deal with Nazi economics in another article).  But the fact that the absurd green fantasies of the Nazis were impractical did not seem to disturb them, as indeed it seems not to disturb greens today.  Perhaps this was because every bit of green legislation justified and involved a further extension of planning and state intervention.  As Professor Lekan politely puts it, ‘The discourse of organic planning meshed well with Naziism’s corporatist approach to economic intervention.’

But is important to note that environmentalism and the appeal to Nature was at the heart of Nazi belief.  As Adolf Hitler insisted in Mein Kampf:  ‘Man’s effort to build up something that contradicts the iron logic of nature brings him into conflict with those principles to which he himself exclusively owes his existence.  By acting against the laws of nature he prepares the way that leads to ruin … Our planet has been moving through spaces of ether for millions and millions of years, uninhabited by men, and at some future date may easily begin to do so again – if men should forget that wherever they have reached a superior level of existence, it was not the result of following the ideas of crazy visionaries but by acknowledging and rigorously observing the iron laws of nature.’ As Dr. Mark Bassin says (in the useful book How Green Were the Nazis?), ‘The very appeal to the authority of organicist-ecological principles for guidance in interpreting society and political organization was seen as a fundamental aspect of what fascism was all about.’

There are those greens who insist that the environmental movement started in 1962 when Rachel Carson published her misguided rant against DDT, Silent Spring.  But this is clearly nonsense.  To emphasise our point, let us look at the writings of Martin Heidegger, the famous Nazi philosopher who still exerts a powerful influence on Western intellectuals.  Heidegger’s appointment to rector of his University of Freiburg was celebrated with Nazi flags and songs, his lectures were accompanied by Nazi salutes, he destroyed the careers of rival academics by reporting them to the Gestapo and he remained a member of the Nazi party to the end. (I will quote at length, lest I am accused of cherry-picking).

Heidegger contrasts wonderful peasant life, which involved ‘dwelling’, with horrid footloose capitalism which involves ‘homelessness’.  He says, ‘The Old High German word for building, bauen, means to dwell.  This means to remain, to stay in place … The old word bauen, which however, also means at the same time to cherish and protect, to preserve and care for. Specifically to till the soil and cultivate the vine.’

His feudal Eden has been destroyed by capitalism, ‘Bridges and hangars, stadiums and power stations are buildings but not dwellings; railway stations and highways, dams and market halls are built, but they are not dwelling places  …  The truck driver is at home on the highway, but he does not have his lodgings there; the working woman is at home in the spinning mill, but does not have her dwelling place there; the chief engineer is at home in the power station, but he does not dwell there.  These buildings house man.  He inhabits them but he does not dwell in them.’

Heidegger contrasts the crass modern machine-powered technology that disturbs nature with the healthy use of tools by handicraftsmen, which involves a ‘revealing and unconcealment’ of nature. Industrial capitalism, says Heidegger, ‘challenges’ nature in a way that primitive peasant society does not, “The work of the peasant does not challenge the soil of the field.  In sowing grain it places seed in the keeping of the forces of growth and watches over its increase. But even the cultivation of the field has come under the grip of another kind of setting-in-order, which sets upon nature … Agriculture is now the mechanized food industry.’ He says, ‘To save the earth is more than to exploit it or even wear it out.  Saving the earth does not master the earth and does not subjugate it, which is merely one step from boundless spoliation.’

Into Heidegger’s imagined rural idyll, the poison of market forces is seeping, ‘The forester who measures the felled timber in the woods and who to all appearances walks the forest path in the same way his grandfather did, is today ordered by the industry that produces commercial woods.’

Heidegger argues against the ‘monstrous’ building of hydroelectric dams on the Rhine and sings the praises of wind power: ‘modern technology is a challenging, which puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy which can be extracted and stored as such.  But does not this hold true for the old windmill as well?  No. Its sails do indeed turn in the wind; they are left entirely to the wind’s blowing. But the windmill does not unlock the energy from the air currents in order to store it.’

Heidegger lambasts production of ‘the maximum yield at minimum expense.’  He deplores the fact that “The coal has been hauled out of some mining district … it is on call, ready to deliver the sun’s warmth that is stored in it … to deliver steam whose pressure turns the wheels that keep a factory running.’

How can anyone read the Nazi Heidegger, or the writers of the Volk movement, or indeed Mein Kampf, and say, with a straight face, that environmentalism started with Rachel Carson? The Nazi Martin Heidegger is to the tips of his fingers, a romantic anti-capitalist.  He is, to the toes of his fascist jack-boots, an environmentalist.

Should we be at all worried about any of this?  After all, modern environmentalism, to many people, seems so innocent.  But in the words of Bruggemeier, Cioc and Zeller (editors of How Green Were the Nazis?), ‘The green policies of the Nazis were more than a mere episode or aberration in environmental history at large.  They point to larger meanings and demonstrate with brutal clarity that conservationism and environmentalism are not and have never been value-free or inherently benign enterprises.’  We should heed the warning of Lukács, that, ‘fascist demagogy and tyranny was only the ultimate culmination of a long process which initially had an “innocent” look’.

Green thinking was not a side-line for the Nazis.  The idealisation of nature and the organic, the nostalgia for the Middle Ages, the anti-capitalism, the hatred of bankers, the hatred of cities and industry, the idealisation of peasant life … all this defined their poisonous ideology.  It was the green attempt of the Nazis to recreate a peasant society which led them to invade Poland in search of ‘living space’. It was their green nostalgia for the Middle Ages which led to their ‘blood and soil’ racist ideology. It was their green anti-capitalism and loathing of bankers which led them to hate Jewish people.  It was their green rejection of the Judeo-Christian tradition and of the Enlightenment and its humanist values, and their green return to pagan animal-worship - their idealisation of pre-civilised barbarism as more ‘authentic’ - that led to them to treat humans as worthless creatures with no more claim on our sympathies than viruses and pests.  Green ideology was at the core of National Socialism.  When we wonder what diseased thinking could motivate people to turn on the gas taps at Auschwitz, this is where we must look.

We need some regulatory patriotism!

President Obama condemns tax inversions, but pillages America with his regulatory agenda

Paul Driessen

It’s no mystery why American companies have stockpiled over $2 trillion of overseas earnings in foreign bank accounts. If they bring it to the United States, the IRS would grab 35% of it. That’s the US corporate tax rate – the highest in the developed world, double the average in EU nations.

Medtronic found a creative way to repatriate its cash, allowing it to bring money to the USA subject to just a 12.5% tax. The company acquired Covidien, another, smaller medical device firm in Ireland and will establish its formal headquarters in Dublin, thereby slashing its tax rate by two-thirds, and leaving it with far more cash for plants and equipment, innovation, hiring and keeping workers, and tapping new markets.

Pharmaceutical, biotechnology, healthcare and other companies have concluded or are pursuing similar “tax inversion” strategies. The actions have outraged the White House, “progressive” activists and many Democrats in Congress – except when President Obama’s BFF Warren Buffett engineered Burger King’s acquisition of Canada’s Tim Horton café and bakery chain.

The President says the practice is “unpatriotic” and “immoral,” calls the companies “corporate deserters,” and says businesses must start acting like “good corporate citizens.” Congressional Democrats have issued similar denunciations and want inversions prohibited or punished. They’re barking up the wrong tree.

The proper solution is comprehensive tax reform. However, Republicans want to address both corporate and individual tax issues, Democrats insist that only corporate taxes on the table, and Mr. Obama is typically not inclined to do the hard work of forging bipartisan compromises. Instead, he wants his IRS and Treasury Department to review “a broad range of authorities for possible administrative actions” and ways to “meaningfully reduce the tax benefits after inversions take place,” as one Treasury official put it.

Companies, workers and investors are bracing for the coming executive fiats. The diktats epitomize a huge problem that neither Congress nor the courts have been willing to address, but which continues to drag our nation’s economy and employment into the abyss: an out-of-control federal bureaucracy that is determined to control virtually every aspect of our business and personal lives – at great cost, for few benefits, and with little or no accountability for mistakes or even deliberate harm.

Of course we need taxes, laws and regulations, to set norms and guidelines, safeguard society, punish miscreants and pay for essential government programs. No one contests that. The question is, How much?

What we need right now is regulatory patriotism – and Executive Branch morality, citizenship, and fealty to our Constitution and laws. The federal behemoth today is destructive, and unpatriotic.

* The confiscatory 35% corporate tax rate is embedded in a Tax Code that’s 74,000 pages long, counting important cases and interpretations. It totals some 33 million words (compared to 788,280 in the King James Bible) and is loaded with crony corporatist provisions and complex, indecipherable language.

* A 906-page, 418,779-word (un)Affordable Care Act that has already metastasized into more than 10,000 pages of complex, often contradictory regulations, with more interpretations and clarifications to come.

* The 2,300-page Dodd-Frank law has already spawned over 14,000 pages of banking and financial rules.

* Over 175,000 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations are coupled with more than 1.4 million pages of tiny-type Federal Register proposed and final rules published just since 1993, at the rate of over 71,000 pages per year. Doctors, patients, insurers, businesses large and small – much less average citizens – cannot possibly read, comprehend or follow this onslaught.

* At least 4,450 federal crimes are embedded in those laws and regulations (with some 500 new crimes added per decade) – often for minor infractions like failing to complete or file precisely correct paperwork for selling orchids or importing wood for guitars. Neither inability to understand complex edicts, lack of knowledge that they could possibly exist, nor absence of intent to violate them is a defense, and the “crime” can bring military swat teams through doors, and land “violators” in prison for months or years.

* Production Tax Credits and other sweetheart “green” energy subsidies and grants total some $40 billion a year – for ethanol producers and folks like Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Mr. Tom Kiernan, who is both CEO of the American Wind Energy Association and treasurer of the League of Conservation Voters, which gives millions to mostly Democratic candidates to perpetuate the arrangements.

* American businesses and families must pay $1.9 trillion per year to comply with these mountains of regulations. That’s one-eighth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product; it’s almost all the corporate money now held overseas: $5,937 a year for every American citizen – and far more than the $1.6 trillion in direct economic losses that re-insurer Munich Re blames on weather-related disasters between 1980 and 2011.

* $353 billion of these regulatory costs are inflicted by the Environmental Protection Agency alone, say Competitive Enterprise Institute experts who prepared the $1.9 trillion regulatory costs analysis for 2013.

Even worse, these criminal complexities and costs are being imposed by increasingly ideological, left-of-center, anti-business “public servants” who target conservatives and are intent on advancing President Obama’s agenda of “fundamentally transforming” the United States. They are determined to redistribute wealth, pit economic and ethnic groups against each other, close down coal-fired power plants, ensure that electricity prices “necessarily skyrocketing,” and stop drilling, mining, ranching, fracking and pipelines.

Poll after poll finds Americans focused on jobs and the economy, and on ISIL, terrorism and Ebola. Not so our federal government. Secretary of State John Kerry says climate change is “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction,” posing “greater long-term consequences” than terrorism or Ebola. For EPA the biggest issues are global warming, “environmental justice” and “sustainable development.”

How is the US economy responding to these policies? Median household income is down $2,000 since Obama took office, while costs of living continue to rise. Despite the subsidies, electricity prices have soared 14-33% in states with the most wind power. Some 45 million Americans now live below the poverty line – a 50% increase over the 30 million in poverty on inauguration day 2009.

While the official unemployment rate is now under 6% for the first time in six years, University of Maryland economist Peter Morici puts the real jobless rate at closer to 20% – which includes the millions who have given up looking for work, those who want to work full-time but must settle for part-time, and students enrolled in graduate school because their employment prospects are so bleak.

The labor force participation rate now stands at 62.7 percent, the lowest level in 36 years, with over 92 million adults not working. Over the past six years, one million more Americans have dropped out of the labor force than have found a job.

Indeed, a hallmark of the Obama recovery is its unique ability to convert three full-time jobs with benefits into four part-time positions with no benefits – and then say unemployment is declining.

It’s hardly surprising that dozens of senators and congressmen who voted with Mr. Obama 90-99% of the time now want to be seen as “moderate independents” – and do not want to be seen with the President.

But as President Obama told Northwestern University students October 2, “Make no mistake, [my] policies are on the ballot, every single one of them.”

He’s absolutely right. So are his economic and employment records. Time will tell how many people remember that when they vote November 4.

Via email

Dumb, Dumber, and Banning Plastic Bags

California must have solved all the problems of its state government. On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a ban on single-use plastic shopping bags.

“This bill is a step in the right direction — it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown said. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

Actually, the mandate harms the environment, conservative environmentalists contend.

“Consumers widely reuse plastic shopping bags for many different types of uses and recycle them at the end of their use,” said James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environmental policy at the Heartland Institute.

“The term ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle’ is a perfect description of how people use plastic shopping bags.

“Coercing people to use cloth shopping bags will subject people to unnecessary health risks caused by festering bacteria from prior food purchases contaminating newly bought food.

“The only way to avoid this is to wash the cloth bags after every use. The environmental consequences of this will be more water depletion in a largely arid state and more detergents polluting waterways.”

Plastic bags are safe, reusable and cheap. Banning them makes no sense, but then much of what state government in California does makes little sense.


GAO Report Confirms: States Better Fracking Regulators than EPA

A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirms what many small-government environmentalists have been saying for years: States are more effective at regulating the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations than is the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” has led to a surge in oil and natural gas production in the United States. The process uses water, sand, and a few chemical additives to create fissures in oil- and gas-bearing rocks thousands of feet underground, allowing these resources to flow up to the surface.

Each hydraulically fractured well typically requires 2 to 4 million gallons of water, with 15 to 50 percent of this water flowing back to the surface after the process is complete. This water is typically briny, and it contains remnants of the sand and chemical compounds used to fracture the well.

This water must be disposed of or recycled. Disposal typically means injecting the wastewater into deep, underground wells regulated by EPA under the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program. GAO concluded EPA’s injection-well safeguards sufficiently protect drinking water: Few allegations of drinking water contamination, and fewer confirmed cases of groundwater contamination, have been reported.

However, GAO’s report stressed EPA has failed to be proactive regarding emerging challenges, such as induced seismicity (manmade earthquakes) and excessive pressurization of rock formations. GAO urged EPA to update its regulations to reflect state laws.

EPA cannot help enforce state regulations unless they are incorporated into federal rules, which is why GAO is urging EPA to update its rules to reflect the superior wastewater-injection protections adopted by states.

Amazingly, EPA responded by stating, “Incorporating changes into federal regulations, particularly through the rulemaking process, was burdensome and time-consuming.” This is the same EPA that is seeking to expand its authority (and therefore its control over your everyday life) by creating rules to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and micromanaging prairie potholes and the puddles that form in your driveway after a summer rain. Yet it considers its current duties “too burdensome.”

Claiming protection of the environment is “too burdensome” is not an option for state regulators, which is why they are more effective than federal regulators on these matters.

For example, Ohio passed regulations allowing the state’s chief of the Division of Oil and Gas to require a number of tests or evaluations to address potential induced seismic risks for companies seeking permits for brine injection wells in Ohio.

Other state regulations considered “too burdensome” for EPA adoption include on-site inspection for all injection wells to review the condition and operation of the wells. California, Colorado, and North Dakota require monthly reporting on injection pressure, injection volume, and the type of fluid being injected.

It makes little sense to entrust EPA to handle more responsibility when it has been incapable of fulfilling the responsibilities it already has. This is especially obvious when the responsibility involves essentially copying the example already implemented by state agencies.

EPA claims it does not have the resources to implement this program properly, but EPA’s budget request for 2014 was $8.153 billion, more than the entire annual budgets of 20 percent of states nationwide ... yet these states, which have fewer resources at their disposal, manage to get the job done just fine.

It is time to seriously consider replacing EPA with a Committee of the Whole of the 50 state environmental protection agencies, an idea suggested by Jay Lehr, science director and senior fellow at The Heartland Institute, where I serve as research fellow. According to the GAO, we might as well do so, since the states seem to be doing all the heavy lifting already.


New paper finds global temperature data trend prior to 1950's "meaningless" & "artificially flattened"

A correspondence published today in Nature Climate Change is a damning indictment of the updated HADCRUT global temperature database, which is used as the basis of all of the other land-based temperature databases including GISS and BEST.

The correspondence demolishes the claim of Ji et al that "the global climate has been experiencing significant warming at an unprecedented pace in the past century" as well as the reliability of the HADCRU database to determine global temperature trends of the past 164 years. According to the authors, conclusions about global temperature change cannot be reliably determined prior to the 1950's due to the poor spatiotemporal coverage prior to the 1950's and trends determined from the early HADCRU data are "meaningless and "artificially flattened."

Likewise, all climate model "tuning" based on the "meaningless" global temperature trends prior to the 1950's are therefore "meaningless" GIGO as well. According to the authors:

    "Ji et al present a methodology to analyse global (excluding Antarctica) spatiotemporal patterns of temperature change, using mean monthly temperatures obtained from the updated Climate Research Unit (CRU) high-resolution gridded climate database. Their analysis fails to take into account several key characteristics of the CRU database, seriously compromising the conclusions regarding the spatiotemporal patterns of global warming during the twentieth century.

    Consequently, the temporal auto-correlation of such time series is artificially high, and the climatic variability they portray for the early decades of the record is meaningless.

    "...strongly suggests the absence of a trend over the first half of the 20th century in many tropical and Arctic regions can be attributed to the lack of climatic information and the corresponding flattened time series..."

    "...we suggest that it is very likely that the spatiotemporal temperature patterns described in Ji et al are strongly contaminated by the spatial and temporal heterogeneities of the CRU database."

    "...this problem affects the whole analysis."

    "artificially flattened trends in the early 20th century will reflect slower warming trends than observed trends in the latter 20th century." [i.e. imply false acceleration]

    "If the aim is global coverage, the optimal period should not start before the 1950's, although this would compromise the authors' aim to capture long-term trends."

Excerpts from the Nature Climate Change, followed by 2 posts from StevenGoddard.wordpress.com, which illustrate the problems the authors are referring to in the HADCRU record, such as Phil Jones' and HADCRU ridiculous extrapolation of a single thermometer in Tasmania at the beginning of the HADCRU record in 1850 as representing the entire Southern Hemisphere, and with one-thousandth of a degree precision!

More HERE  (See the original for links, graphics etc.)

Sens. Paul, Grassley challenge climate group’s spending on lobbying, alcohol and parties

The Washington Post reports that a climate research group got caught partying and boozing on taxpayer funds in a draft audit, but what’s worse, the National Science Foundation and Defense Department officials are under investigation because they signed off on it. A whistleblower leaked the sordid story, and now two US Senators are investigating. They warn that this may be a widespread practice because NSF documents show the foundation knew what the expenses were but still paid them.

Two senators are investigating whether the National Science Foundation and Defense Department auditors skirted federal laws by signing off on a nonprofit organization’s use of taxpayer money for “unallowable expenses,” including alcohol, lobbying and extravagant parties.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said the practice came to his attention earlier this year when a whistleblower provided him with a draft audit that showed a climate change group used federal funds to pay $112,000 for lobbying, $25,000 for an office Christmas party, and $11,000 for “premium coffee services” and an unspecific amount on French hotels.

The partiers were the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) — who received $90 million this year from the NSF.

On its Web site, NEON says it will collect data on the impacts of climate change, land use change and invasive species on natural resources from 106 sites across the nation over a 30-year period. The sites where scientists will collect their data are still largely under construction, and NEON says it will not be in full operation until 2017.

From 2009 to 2013, NEON classified all the expenses that Grassley and Paul are questioning as a “management fee.”

But it’s the cover up that is even uglier:

Internal documents show that the NSF was told by NEON that it was having a difficult time covering the costs because it had little in the way of private funds.

 Not once but twice:

According to Grassley’s staff, the auditor said two levels of supervisors signed off on his work. However, he told the senator’s staff that he said he believes the audit had stalled because DCAA management was concerned about spark a controversy for the high-profile program, the foundation, and the defense department.

Grassley’s staff said the auditor came forward because he believed the audit was going to be “whitewashed.”



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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