July 28, 2009
From sea to shining sea, people have a revealed preference against paying more for 'green' energy
Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:59 PMThe San Francisco Chronicle reports:
A Pacific Gas and Electric Co. program that asks customers to fight global warming by paying a little extra on their electricity bills has enrolled just 31,000 people and takes far more money to run than it generates.
Now PG&E wants to extend the ClimateSmart program, even as consumer watchdogs question whether it's worth the money.
Two years ago, in his renewable energy Spotlight report, JLF policy analyst Daren Bakst wrote:
North Carolina has a voluntary program called NC GreenPower that gives electricity customers the option of paying a premium in order to receive some of their energy from renewable sources. However, this program has dismal participation rates. Currently, North Carolinians choose to receive only 0.011 percent of their energy needs from renewable sources through this program. Nationally, participation rates for voluntary programs such as NC GreenPower also are very low and “have remained steady at just more than 1% of customers.”
Want a new car? Can’t afford it? No problem.
Posted by Becki Gray at 6:30 PM
Under one of the new government “stimulus” programs, new car buyers get a big discount, courtesy of federal taxpayers. A $3,500 - $4,500 credit from the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS – don’t you love gov’t acronyms?) is available to purchase a new car getting 18 mpg or less.
The CAR Allowance Rebate System (CARS) is a $1 billion government program that helps consumers buy or lease a more environmentally friendly vehicle from a participating dealer when they trade in a less fuel-efficient car or truck. The program is designed to energize the economy; boost auto sales and put safer, cleaner and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the nation's roadways.
Consumers will be able to take advantage of this program and receive a $3,500 or $4,500 discount from the car dealer when they trade in their old vehicle and purchase or lease a new one. Consumers you do not need to register anywhere or at anytime for this program.
However, IF you already drive a fuel-efficient car, you don’t qualify. IF you’d rather buy a used car, you don’t qualify. IF you think you can spend your money better than the government, you’re out of luck. IF you’d rather not go into debt to further subsidize the automobile industry, too bad. Welcome to a stimulated economy.
UPDATE (2:15pm, JULY 31): The N&O reports that the House has approved $2B more for "cash for clunkers", voting to rush an additional $2 billion into the popular, but financially strapped, car purchase program. Read the full story here.
Video poker redux?
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:49 PM
Rep. Earl Jones wants to see a return of the banned gambling option.
If you've forgotten what John Hood has written about video poker and about Jones, you might be interested in following those links.
Health care heaven
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 4:07 PM
A survey conducted in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mongolia, and Bangladesh had the following surprising result
there is public support to increase government spending on health and to reduce out-of-pocket spending. There is also widespread support for mobilizing this increased government financing through taxation. "Sin taxes" were a particularly attractive option in some countries. Survey results also highlight that there is general lack of confidence in allowing politicians to set health care priorities and that people would like to be involved in that decision-making process.
It's the eternal promise of eroding freedom - you'll get more, pay less, and somebody else will pay the bill. But you'll still get to make your own decisions. It just never quite works out that way.
Beware of stats on life expectancy
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 1:17 PM
The supporters of government run health care are fond of pointing out that life expectancy in the US is 30th in the world, behind countries with socialist systems. What they don't tell you is that when you abstract from causes of death that have nothing to do with the health care system, i.e. homicides and accidents, especially car accidents, the numbers are turned on their heads. As reported in Investors Business Daily citing a study by Robert Ohsfeldt of Texas A&M and John Schneider of the University of Iowa, if you subtract our higher death rates
from accidents and homicide, Americans actually live longer than people
in other countries.
In countries with nationalized care,
medical outcomes are often catastrophically worse. Take breast cancer.
According to the Heritage Foundation, breast cancer mortality in
Germany is 52% higher than in the U.S.; the U.K.’s rate is 88% higher.
For prostate cancer, mortality is 604% higher in the U.K. and 457%
higher in Norway. Colorectal cancer? Forty percent higher in the U.K.
But what about the health care paradise
to our north? Americans have almost uniformly better outcomes and lower
mortality rates than Canada, where breast cancer mortality is 9%
higher, prostate cancer 184% higher and colon cancer 10% higher.
Then there are the waiting lists. With a
population just under that of California, 830,000 Canadians are waiting
to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment. In England, the list
is 1.8 million deep.
What will the "nanny" city regulate next?
Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 1:10 PM
City government run by liberals is such a wonder to behold. First, it was a ban on garbage disposals. Now, it’s a ban on front yard parking. As the N&O reports here, our esteemed Councilman Crowder wants to prohibit property owners from parking multiple cars on their front lawns.
I reviewed the proposed ordinance and it does not ban parking in your lawn. It only regulates the size of “vehicular surface areas.” Under the proposed ordinance, a front yard may have a maximum of 330 square feet or 40 percent of the front yard whichever is less for a “vehicular surface area,” an area for about two cars.
Once you are in compliance with the ordinance, you can park your two cars on the required "vehicular surface area" and your other 4 or 5 cars on the lawn.
Don’t get me wrong. I think parking in the front yard is an eyesore, but neighbors should be encouraged to work out these problems without passing another law. Why not encourage those who want to park in the front yard to put up a landscape barrier or as one guy on Wake Forest Road has done, put up a woodpile to block the view of the front yard.
Sometimes silence is golden
Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 12:29 AM
University of Chicago Law Professor Richard Epstein provides this analysis of the Gates/Crowley controversy in Forbes. His conclusion:
In these circumstances, it was ungracious for Obama to damn Crowley
by faint praise. Of course an "outstanding officer" like Sgt. Crowley
with "a fine record of racial sensitivity" can have interactions with
members of the African-American community that are "fraught with
misunderstanding." This Solomonic effort to split the baby is undercut
by one simple fact: Crowley's compliance with protocol in the face of
Gates' gratuitous confrontation. Gates is hardly covered with glory
because his own abusive conduct may not be criminal. Common civility
There is a larger lesson to be learned. No
national dialogue will improve race relations by treating a model
officer like Crowley as if he were a rogue cop. The rate of racial
progress in Cambridge makes these harsh denunciations hurtful. Gates
could have contributed to improving relations by keeping his cool after
the incident was over. Yet, no matter how one views the case, standard
statistical protocols caution against sad generalizations about race
relations from one unfortunate incident. Professor Gates and President
Obama would have done a lot better if they had reined in their own
harsh charges. Sometimes silence is golden.
The latest research--20th century global warming caused by "natural forcing"
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 11:15 AM
The most recent research from the July 23rd issue of Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, one of the top academic journals in the field of climate science, has reached conclusions that should, but won't, doom any public policy efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the name of thwarting global warming. The paper is by three scientists, two from Australia and one from New Zealand. From the abstract published with the paper, here's what they conclude:
Overall the results suggest that the Southern Oscillation exercises a
consistently dominant influence on mean global temperature, with a
maximum effect in the tropics, except for periods when equatorial
volcanism causes ad hoc cooling. That mean global tropospheric
temperature has for the last 50 years fallen and risen in close accord
with the SOI [Southern Oscillation Index] of 5–7 months earlier shows the potential of natural
forcing mechanisms to account for most of the temperature variation.
As suggested though, these conclusions will have no influence on the climate alarmists and their push for a government takeover of the energy industry via cap and trade legislation. This is because the issue is much bigger than whether global warming is human or nature induced. In the words of former Colorado senator and under secretary of state for global affairs in the Clinton Administration, Timothy Wirth, "We've got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global
warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing -- in terms of economic
policy and environmental policy."
The complete press release for the study can be found here.
N.C. Revenue Dept. to keep tax info on file
Posted by David N. Bass at 10:28 AM
The N.C. Department of Revenue appears to be keeping on file personal information obtained through its review of large families, just as it does with traditional audits.
In an e-mail dated March 9, 2009, a Revenue Department staffer asks the following question of his supervisor:
I have had several calls from the taxpayers that are concerned as to what we will be doing with the info they send once it has been verified (especially copies of [Social Security] cards). I was wondering if, in the lack of filing space, we could shredd [sic] this info once we have verified the documentation and released the refund.
The supervisor's response two minutes later:
At present, we will need to maintain records in the same manner as other audits.
As reported previously, the Revenue Department has requested additional details on the dependents of about 6,700 taxpayers this year, including copies of birth certificates and Social Security cards. Failure to comply meant a forfeited tax refund.
Filers had 30 days to fulfill the request. Auditors also requested that taxpayers who filed as head of household provide a divorce decree or custody agreement, and to provide documents “to substantiate proper support of any dependents that did not live with you during the year(s) in question.”
The review kicked in for some taxpayers who claimed eight or more dependents on their return.
GOP legislators outline $633 million in additional cuts, call for release of proposed spending plan
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:26 AM
Republican legislative leaders focused again on the ongoing state budget debate during their weekly news conference.
They outlined a list of $633 million in potential savings for this budget year and called on their Democratic counterparts to release the state's proposed spending plan. The idea, GOP leaders say, is to find enough additional cuts within that spending plan so no legislator would need to support a tax increase.
Click play below to view the 21:37 news briefing.
Should we say that Obama is veracity-challenged?
Posted by George Leef at 10:21 AM
Or should we just bluntly say that he won't tell the truth about his pernicious health care "reform" legislation? In this column, Rich Lowry makes it clear that our Beloved Leader is tell the public things that are not true, hoping desperately to hornswoggle them into accepting his bill.
Once a politician starts lying, he almost never extricates himself with the truth. Instead, the lies become more and more desperate and far-fetched.
Per pupil spending
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:47 AM
The U.S. Census Bureau says that North Carolina ranks 44th in per pupil spending. What does this mean? Not much. Spending more money does not necessarily yield better results. The awful D.C. Public Schools ranked third, spending over $14,300 per student.
Many factors play a role in determining per pupil expenditures. For example, small states, states with declining student enrollment, states with high cost of living, and states with union bullies usually have high per pupil expenditures.
Government spending no more creates jobs than storks bring babies
Posted by George Leef at 08:27 AM
Today's Wall Street Journal has a superb letter to the editor, attacking one of the great political fables of our time, namely that government spending creates jobs. Here's the letter:
Only Invested Capital Creates Jobs
Elizabeth McNichol of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington (Letters, July 22) offers the familiar but totally false description about how government stimulus “creates” jobs. She describes how unemployment payments spent on food and school supplies help “local storeowners” pay their employees and order more goods from their suppliers. “Multiplied many, many times over,” she lectures, such benefits result in economic and job growth. Really? She should have added, only if the government prints all the extra money. Otherwise, the money just comes from taxing the “local storeowners.” Does anyone really believe this system works? It’s like passing the cornbread around the Thanksgiving table, with everybody eating and nobody baking, eventually all that is left are the crumbs.
The fact is that government is fiscally incapable of creating any job. Jobs are “created” when capital is invested in a new economic activity. The government has no capital of its own: It can only tax and borrow. No capital, no jobs, period. The sooner we can communicate in the same language, the sooner we can set about improving the environment so that those with capital will want to create new jobs.
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:46 AM
Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Michael Lowrey's report on a recent N.C. appeals court ruling striking down one local school system's plan for random drug testing of employees.
John Hood's Daily Journal discusses some interesting developments in happiness research.
<< Last Entry