Rein in the EPA – Carefully

We have to protect the environment.  Our lives and the future of the human race depend on it.  No one wants US cities to look like Beijing during high smog events.  No one wants to drink contaminated water or see rivers full of garbage.  The EPA has a valid function so it shouldn’t be abolished.  I think it has gotten “drunk on power” under the previous administration and needs to be reined in somewhat.  It seems to have morphed from basing actions on scientific studies and cost/benefit analyses to basing actions on bureaucratic authority.  That’s often a problem with agencies that can make rules but have no accountability to the voters.  It’s particularly noticeable in that the EPA rushed through some new rules in the last few days of the Obama administration.  Was that really enough time for a thorough analysis?  The EPA’s job is protecting the environment, not bureaucratic jobs.

Rather than delve into the controversial topic of climate change I’ll discuss a local matter that can really hurt taxpayers, and that’s wastewater treatment, a subject that’s very localized.  Suppose a city has wastewater treatment plants that meet current discharge specifications.  A company develops a treatment method that is more efficient, i.e., can better clean the water, and suddenly the city gets a notice from the EPA that they must meet this new “standard” or face ridiculously high fines.  Does the EPA have to provide scientific evidence that this new standard is necessary or are they working to “as low as achievable”?  That’s not science, it’s pandering to industry.

Another issue that involves local water is the EPA effort to exert control over virtually every body of water in the country, including small privately-owned ponds and “ephemeral” water (streams and puddles that only exist seasonally).  This extension of the EPA’s original mandate along with its power to levy fines has made life miserable for some farmers and other landowners.  Unless the landowner is using those small waters to dispose of toxic materials (which is illegal anyway) this is nothing but a bureaucratic power grab.

I’m offering the following suggestions to “bring the EPA down to earth” without destroying the earth:

  1.  Temporarily freeze all regulations that were issued between January 1, 2017 and January 21, 2017 until they are adequately reviewed for necessity.
  2. Establish a “show me the science” policy for cities faced with sudden revisions to local requirements for matters like wastewater treatment that would require costly upgrades to plants that meet current specifications.  Explain to the community why the change is needed in plain English, and allow a reasonable implementation time.
  3. Reexamine the EPA authority to levy very high fines, specifically in cases involving changes to standards that are currently being met (as opposed to willful violators).  This is a power that is subject to abuse and that drains money needed to make the changes.
  4. EPA officials need to understand that with authority comes accountability.  Fire employees involved in the Animas river disaster and bar involved contractors from Federal contracts for 10 years.

Habitat III – The New Urban Agenda

This month (October 2016), the UN is holding the third of it’s global conferences on cities; previous ones were held in 1976 and 1996.  The objective is to bring together government officials, industry leaders, planners, and environmental experts to discuss the future of cities around the world.  The State Department is representing the US government.  Increasing populations will have a major effect on urban environments and demands for services during the 21st century.  I’m all for sharing ideas, identifying best practices, and making the world better; however since the UN has become the global advocate for socialism we conservatives have to look at it with a bit of skepticism.  If you haven’t read their draft document it’s available on the Habitat III website.

Like UN Agenda 21 the draft has some lofty goals.  They’d like cities to be clean, safe, sustainable, and provide opportunities for all (nothing wrong with that).  They’d like to eliminate poverty, hunger, violence, inequality, discrimination, environmental degradation, and a list of diseases.

Like UN Agenda 21 the draft has the usual list of hypocritical goals.  The UN wants equality and equal opportunity for girls and women, and an end to discrimination.  We’re trying in the West, but no Muslim country will ever grant equality to women, who are often treated as less than human.  Countries that stone rape victims for adultery and hang men for being gay don’t see equality as a virtue.  The UN wants justice.  Tell that to countries that still torture, flog, and mutilate criminals.  The UN wants participatory government.  Tell that to communist countries like China where speaking out might get you 12 years hard labor.  The authors of this document are fully aware of these harsh and unchanging realities in totalitarian and theocratic states.

Unlike UN Agenda 21 there’s no obvious explicit demand for billions of dollars to be redistributed from developed nations to the third world but it is implicit.  Countries that can’t even end their own internal conflicts aren’t going to generate the cash to build clean water systems, productive farms, modern infrastructure, and the host of services needed in a city.

Their draft items often begin with “We will …” so let’s use that to draw our “line in the sand”.

We will listen, share, and learn.  We can combine past experiences with new knowledge to build better cities in the future.

We will work with the teams to identify best practices as well as chronic problem areas.

We will use new developments and best practices for our cities that will work within our legal, financial, and cultural environment.

We will work to protect our environment within current practical technology and will continue research on new technologies.

We will help other nations reach their objectives within financial reason and as long as the safety of US aid workers can be assured.

We will NOT implement any objectives that would deprive US citizens of their constitutional rights within our borders.  For example, if their “eliminate all forms of violence” means gun confiscation, that’s unconstitutional here.  There’s a fundamental reality that there will always be bad people who want to hurt good people and that self-defense is a fundamental human right.

We will NOT allow foreign troops operating under the UN flag to conduct any operations against US citizens within our borders.  The UN is an organization, not a legitimate state, so It’s military powers are limited, or at least should be.

None of this advocates isolationism, aggression, or abandoning our allies; it’s simply sovereignty.  Borders matter, and yes, I want secure borders.  A nation without borders will either descend into chaos or tyranny.

 

The USA can work with the world without surrendering to it.

The Iceberg

Thanks to technological advances like radar and satellite tracking, icebergs aren’t the bane of shipping that they once were, but we can still learn something from them.  Most of the mass of an iceberg is under water, which is why people refer to the “tip” of an iceberg.  Well, the national debt is like an iceberg in some ways.

We see a number, right now over 19 trillion dollars.  That number is so large that nothing in our everyday experience helps us to comprehend it.  It’s almost doubled in less than eight years under the progressive Obama administration and there’s no reason to think that Democrats would curb that growth.  That’s an annual increase of around 9%.  Are your CDs paying that?

What we don’t see is what lurks beneath that number; the impact on our economy and national security.  Like any other debt, the national debt isn’t free; the government must pay interest on that debt to the bondholders.  Interest rates have been at record lows for years but they won’t stay there forever.  As interest rates rise the government will have to pay higher interest on new debt as it’s issued.  This is one part of the debt iceberg we don’t see.  Debt interest is paid from tax revenues, so as the debt rises the government will either have less money to spend on national defense, social programs, and environmental protection or it will have to raise taxes.  A second part of the debt iceberg that’s largely hidden is that the debt eventually has to be repaid as the bonds mature.  This is a huge and growing mortgage on future generations.  Of course that debt can always be refinanced at a higher interest rate but we all know where that leads: bankruptcy.  The third, and least conspicuous hidden part of the debt iceberg is that trillions of dollars in US debt are held by foreign countries.  That gives these countries leverage to demand special treatment and even an economic weapon to use against us in case of a conflict.

Here’s something to think about.  The national debt is now over 105% of the US GDP.  That’s right, it’s higher than the total annual output of our nation.  Anyone who thinks this can go on forever must believe that money grows on trees.

Here’s what we need to bring this situation under control before the iceberg of debt sinks the ship of state:

  1. Responsible elected officials who recognize the problem and are actually willing to do something about it.  This means keeping spending within revenues and actively reducing outstanding debt.
  2. A plan to reduce the outstanding debt.  If we ever get real tax reform (not just more pages of rules) this should be part of it.  For example, under a flat tax we could have Flat+1, where the flat portion covered expenses, 1/2 of the extra 1% goes to debt reduction, and the other 1/2 of the extra 1% goes to upgrading our infrastructure (see “Infrastructure: Circulatory System of a Nation” for more on this issue).
  3. Limits on both the total amount of debt that can be held by foreign countries and the portion of that amount that can be held by any one country.  See “The More You Owe Me the More I Own You” for further discussion of limits on foreign debt.

 

Alternative Energy: The Missing Link

Those who accept the idea of climate change caused by human activity call their opponents “deniers”, yet in one way they are also deniers, of technology. Both solar and wind energy have one insurmountable (at this time) disadvantage: the electricity must be used as it’s generated. You can use a battery to power an electric car for some distance and then recharge it (although it takes much longer than filling a gas tank). There is, however, no battery storage system large enough to store the power required by even a small city at night or when the wind doesn’t blow. The technology simply doesn’t exist. Transfer systems that convert electricity to mechanical energy and then back to electricity aren’t practical either due to losses at every stage. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be researching electricity storage, we should, but we can’t assume we’re on the verge of an earth-changing breakthrough, because we’re not. Scientists have been “on the verge of a breakthrough” in fusion power for decades but those super expensive devices have yet to produce a sustainable and commercially viable power output in excess of their input.
This means that a transition to alternative energy sources will happen gradually, not instantaneously. Politics can’t force science or alter the laws of physics. Attempts to do so, like President Obama’s proposed $10 per barrel tax on oil, will not materialize new technology, they will just hurt the people and the economy of the USA while generating more tax revenue for liberals to squander. On the other hand, the goal of UN Agenda 21 is to drag down developed nations, and our president is fully on board with that.
The rational, i.e., apolitical, approach is to plan the dual transition. Start by replacing the dirtiest fuels, like coal, with cleaner burning natural gas. Focus on energy conservation to reduce demand. Simultaneously implement alternative sources on a scale where current technology permits and continue improving that technology.
As for the types of technology, solar power is the cleanest. Wind farms are unsightly, kill birds, and emit low frequency vibrations that can make neighbors sick. That’s a well documented fact, not hypochondria. Another clean power source that does produce electricity 24/7 is hydroelectric power. It’s been a mainstay in eastern Canada for decades. They even have excess capacity that they would gladly sell to energy hungry New England if the environmentalists who demand clean energy would allow the transmission lines to be built. Expansion of hydroelectric power in the US is unlikely as efforts are underway to remove dams, not build them. Harnessing tidal power might benefit coastal cities but this is still experimental technology. What about biofuels? Except for capturing methane (natural gas) from landfills as a transition fuel it’s a dead end. Producing liquid fuel from crops removes food sources that are needed to feed a growing population, and when burned, emit CO2 just like oil from the ground.

The subject of hydroelectric dams raises the question of when does harnessing something change it. People don’t like dams because they substantially change the river. How many wind farms could be placed in one area without altering local wind patterns? How many tidal turbines could be placed in a harbor without altering the currents? Solar energy wins on this one. No number of solar panels on earth could alter the sun.

There are deniers on both sides but one thing neither can deny is that the world will eventually run out of fossil fuels, notably oil.  This reality was first brought to the attention of petroleum producers in 1952 by M. King Hubbert.  As an important raw material oil will eventually become too expensive to burn. The transition to alternate energy sources is, therefore, inevitable. It just won’t be driven by emotions, socialism, or surrender to a corrupt organization like the UN.

If the Science is Real, the Politics Are Lies.

We all accept the fact that air pollution is bad for human health.  Now if we take the word of those who say that pollution, including ubiquitous CO2, is also bad for the global climate what do we find?  We find hypocritical politics, that’s what.  The US-China agreement on “climate change” says that the US must start reducing CO2 emissions immediately while China gets a 15-year grace period during which it can continue using coal-fired power plants.  Hey, the atmosphere is global and no science can prove that pollution from China or India is less hazardous than pollution from the USA or western Europe.

What we find, once again, is UN Agenda 21.  It requires developed nations to reduce pollution faster than emerging nations so they can catch up and make the world fairer.  Putting developed nations at an economic disadvantage is one way to redistribute global wealth, isn’t it?  Even though China is an economic powerhouse that’s buying up US land as fast as it can it’s still considered an emerging nation so it can get away with this ruse.  India would fare even better.

Progressives like to ridicule “science deniers” but their own hypocrisy betrays them.  They would be far more convincing if they demanded that every nation play by the same rules.

Is there any reason to reduce our consumption of oil as a fuel without getting into the climate change debate?  Actually there are two indisputable and apolitical facts: eventually the world will run out of oil and petroleum is an essential raw material for millions of products used around the world every day.  Evidently the UN didn’t worry about these because they don’t support wealth redistribution..

Global threats require global responses, nothing less.

Because We Can, That’s Why.

Why do wealthy liberal elitists seek to undermine or destroy our way of life?  Because they can!

George Soros is one of the richest men in the world.  He made his fortune under our capitalist system.  He hates this country.  He supports as many liberal and socialist causes that he can find and thinks the US should surrender sovereignty to international agencies.  He is the principal architect of the “New World Order”.  So why does someone who began life as a poor Hungarian and worked his way up as many others have done hate the USA?  Who knows.  Maybe he resents his insider trading conviction.  Maybe it’s his belief that that he’s a “Messiah” of some type.

He’s certainly not the only one who “made it” in capitalism and then decided to help impose socialism on the nation.  Hollywood celebrities routinely donate to far left causes.  Former NYC mayor Bloomberg would deny people the right to defend themselves, even in their own homes, yet he’s surrounded by bodyguards.  He also wants to control what you eat.  Mark Zuckerberg is another anti-gun open-border billionaire who enjoys the protection of 16 bodyguards!  Bill Gates, though his investment in Common Core, has sought to buy the US education system and transform it into a factory to turn out obedient workers.  President Obama wants to raise our taxes, lower our standard of living, and flood the country with illegal immigrants who will eventually be granted citizenship and vote Democratic.

Celebrities who campaign against climate change are also hypocrites.  Someone who owns three mansions, six cars, a yacht, and travels by private jet has no right to criticize anyone else’s carbon footprint.  If they believe the masses should be herded into high rise hovels let them lead by example.

The common theme is that these elitists will never have to suffer under whatever they manage to impose on society.  They will always have their gated communities, bodyguards, and evasion-trained chauffeurs.  They will enjoy fine dinners prepared by personal chefs.  They will always have their concierge doctors and personal trainers.  Their children will enjoy private schools and exclusive colleges.  If a recession wipes out middle class savings they will still have more money than they can spend in a lifetime.  Yes, there are wealthy conservatives too but most of them support the Constitution more than the UN.

The New World Order is not a democracy; it’s actually a return to the Middle Ages when the masses lived in servitude for their wealthy lords.  It’s government of the elite, by the elite, and for the elite.  It’s the antithesis of why this country was born and it is not the way this country should die.

The Rich Elite Will Always Live Above the Messes They Cause for the Masses.

Update:  Billionaire Bloomberg is spending millions on local efforts to impose punitive taxes on sugary sodas.  There’s little difference between a punitive tax and a government official pointing a gun at you.  Notice that Bloomberg never campaigns for higher taxes on billionaires.

USDA to Shove UN Agenda 21 Down Your Throat.

That’s right, the next revision to the USDA dietary guidelines must include environmental sustainability, the most notable feature of which will be a “war on meat”.  The purpose of those guidelines has always been nutrition, nothing more.

Now the USDA can’t enforce these standards much beyond school lunches (which they’re already doing) but other increasingly politicized agencies have two weapons to do so, the “carrot” and the “stick”, and in this case the stick will be used.  They’ll start with a tax on sodas and sugary snacks but eventually a pound of meat will be taxed like a pack of cigarettes.  The EPA could impose restrictive rules on livestock producers to raise meat prices and drive some smaller ranches out of business.  The “war on coal” has been successful and the “war on CO2” is driving up energy prices, so why not repeat the strategy.  If any “carrots” were used it might be an incentive for us to eat bugs.  Yuck!

Wait, it won’t end there.  A war on dairy is likely as well because dairy production requires livestock, which isn’t good for the environment.  For that matter, not much humans do is good for the earth, so where does that lead?

Of course we want people to make healthy choices for their own good, but the key word is “choice”.  When every aspect of your life is dictated by progressives you’re no longer a free person.

If you think UN Agenda 21 is gone, you’re wrong.  You don’t see it because it’s pervasive, it’s everywhere, and it’s coming to your dinner table soon.

Update 2015: The USDA was stopped from this plan in 2015, however if progressives are in charge in 2020 it will happen. The UN will continue to activate for more meat for developing nations and less for developed nations. Maybe global meat redistribution is part of their global wealth redistribution.

Update 2016:  It’s happening.  Denmark is seriously considering a tax on meat, starting with beef.  The “war on meat” begins.