Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

October 17, 2014

Outsider’s View from Inside – Climate Change and Big Government

by Matt Souders

This post will not be a review of the facts, theories and implications of the anthropogenic global warning (AGW) hypothesis. Watts Up With That has, throughout its lifetime, done a pretty good job of laying out the “skeptical” case against the alarmist position on climate change and this blog is not meant to rehash that case in detail, nor is this a post intended to blindly support all tenets of the skeptical argument. This is a post about the dangers of group-think (defined as a ‘thought’ or idea which gains enough momentum within a tight-knit group to be believe by all members of that group specifically because the group believes it – as in, “you can’t be in this group unless you believe X”).

I’ll start with an anecdote from my days as a grad student at Stony Brook University. I came to the school because it had strong ‘street cred’ among academics in atmospheric science. I was interested in medium and long range (days 4 to 45) forecasting challenges and my adviser was well respected in that venue. I cannot stress enough that the people at Stony Brook were, by in large, fantastic scientists doing top notch research and a privilege to work with. The school has its flaws, but one of them is NOT the rigor of the education it offers aspiring oceanographers and meteorologists. However; the school was heavily invested in climate change science, having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its partnership with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in preparation of the third assessment report. The School of Marine and Atmospheric Science was, at least in part, allowed to grow due to funding that arrived as a result of this honor; and the scientists there were fairly committed to their position regarding climate change.

And, to be fair, so was I. I entered Stony Brook already pretty well versed in the skeptical position on climate change, and my education at Stony Brook, if anything, hardened my position.

At any event, one of the things the department stressed was the importance of attending scientific lectures and meeting successful people in your field. They held (and still hold) weekly seminars with speakers invited from around the region to discuss their research, and strongly encouraged all grad students to attend (it was required in your first two years). At one such lecture, the speaker – who up until the final fifteen minutes or so in her talk had done a fairly decent job of staying objective, though her presentation was fairly weak – used the phrase “We can represent these changes in a way that no one can possibly miss – even climate deniers and people who hate science.” Thankfully, the talk was nearly at an end, and I walked out in disgust before the Q&A period.

This talk had followed a run of three lectures in four weeks on the subject of climate change, all of which had been seriously flawed and filled with rhetorical language that has no place in science, so I finally drafted an open letter to the entire department. I basically requested that the department not condone such statements as above, and that they make an effort to aspire to a higher standard of discourse that better cleaved to the scientific method. Here are some of the actual responses I got (no names named, for the protection of their right to privacy in academic conversation).

PROFESSOR IN PHYSICAL OCEANOGRAPHY

I would suggest that you better acquaint yourself with the standards of the scientific method. Nothing said in the above is inconsistent with it.

PROFESSOR OF ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE

We do, on occasion, invite speakers skeptical of the prevailing theory to give presentations. Last February, we had a talk by Willie Soon that generated some intense discussion, for example. If you believe you are sensing bias, it is likely because there is such a strong consensus in the literature in support of this theory. In short, it’s human nature that we, as climate scientists, show a bit of contempt in the face of skeptics who are still trying to undermine such a strong consensus. If there is a shift in that consensus, it will be reflected here.

ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY STUDENT

Do you have a career death wish? What kind of idiot are you?

PROFESSOR IN PALEO-OCEANOGRAPHY

Please do not waste the time of this department to air your personal grievances. We do not exist to make sure all viewpoints are equally heard – we exist to promote scientific progress.

STUDENT IN PHYSICAL OCEANOGRAPHY

I missed this particular talk, but attend the Wednesday seminars regularly enough to know that this is nonsense. The only bias shown by this school is a bias toward good science. I guess they corrected that bias by accepting you.

As you would expect, the students were less civil, but look carefully at the comments of the professors. Every one of them equates consensus with truth, and the second professor I quoted also managed to dismiss all notion of bias by referring to the one talk every three or four years that they graciously allow from a known climate skeptic. I did get one reply that I would consider a representation of what a pro-AGW scientist should be saying in the face of an accusation of bias. He wanted to start a dialogue, and offered up a recent paper of his on solar-climate variability as a starting point in the discussion of the types of climate forcings that the models might be missing. It’s funny, because he was my least favorite professor as a student, but became one of the ones I most respected as a pure scientist.

But let’s ask the question – was their a bias toward “good science”? Here are a few examples of the science that the school supported in seminar talks leading up to this incident:

1) Climate modeling team from NASA attempted to add in the feedback effects of black carbon dust on arctic ice – their calibrated model without these feedbacks produced the usual global warming forecast – with the feedbacks added, the forecast produced 15 degrees of cooling almost instantly (within a few years).

2) In a study on sea-ice / low cloud cover interaction, Goddard scientists managed to gather six whole data points (the satellite data up there is limited and they needed to bin the data over 2 year periods to get reduced error estimates), which they attempted to fit to a linear trend projecting 0.1 C / decade warming rates in the arctic as sea-ice was lost, supposedly reducing low cloud clover. They later mentioned that there was some reason to be conservative with their estimates because if they removed the last data point from that fit, the trend dropped to 0.02 C / decade.

3) In a talk on global warming as revealed by SST warming in the Atlantic, the scientist concluded the presentation with a plot showing a cubic curve fit to some of his data, indicated calamity was ahead. He said “this isn’t really scientific, but I think it gets the point across.”

4) A scientist attempted to reconcile earlier consensus that the Sahel region in Africa would suffer unending drought due to global warming with data from the most recent 15 years suggesting that the drought of 1955-1985 was completely over. Their conclusion: although earlier tend analyses showed that the Sahel should dry under global warming, current modeling suggests the opposite. No mention of whether this trend would continue indefinitely.

I’ll let you folks be the judge if this is “good science” or not.

I want to be clear – I am not a hard skeptic (as in, I don’t believe there’s no such thing as human-induced climate change) – I believe that humans almost have to be having some sort of impact on climate. I question the rate of change, and the portion of that change caused by us, rather than natural factors like the sun. But what I saw in my time as a graduate student convinced me that the problem was not the scientists or their understanding of the scientific method, and it was not a coordinated government conspiracy to enslave us all – at least not among the scientists themselves – it was the funding.

I can’t count the number of times I had people at Stony Brook tell me that I should consider focusing on climate change because that was where the money was. I think what is happening is that scientists are falling for a group-think created by strategic government funding of a biased perspective on key issues, including climate change. As usual – when government distorts any market, including the marketplace of ideas, it only screws things up.

If you have an idea to study natural climate variability, you might get a small grant if you grovel enough and promise not to conclude that AGW is non-existent. If you have ANY idea remotely linked to climate science orthodoxy, you’re in the money. Even my adviser – whose main area of specialty is synoptic meteorology and terrain modeling – has extended himself into research on storm track changes under global warming, and regional climate downscaling studies, because synoptic meteorology doesn’t pay the bills. That’s not an insult to my adviser. We butted heads quite a bit, but the adversarial process produced in me my best work and I wouldn’t be where I am without his guidance. It’s a statement of reality.

In the 1970s, there was a group-think induced panic about the coming ice-age. Now, the direction sign has changed, but the culprit remains the same. I would ask my more liberal friends and colleagues why they are so ready to point out that skeptical papers are often funded by the private sector, but aren’t willing to take note of the same profit motive on the AGW side of the debate, where the funding is much larger and the source is more dangerous, big government? Big governments can twist arms, destroy careers, and enact policy more efficiently than private sector companies and lobbies.


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October 16, 2014

Alan Dobson- first time caller, long time listener

by Alan Dobson

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I have spent a very long time looking for the perfect website to contribute to, and after an exhausting and intense vetting process I decided to go with none other than TLP.

I am 23 years old and currently live in Oklahoma City. I haven’t always lived in the best state in the Union. I am the youngest of three in a military family. I grew up all over the United States. However, I call Southern Maryland my home. Even though I have moved on from Maryland, my pride will never fade (excluding anything involving their politics).

I currently work as the Oklahoma City district recruiter for a national insurance agency, and as a United States Army Reservist. I am no stranger to politics, having spent the last five years working or volunteering in many different capacities on campaigns and in Washington. I am definitely looking forward to the day I return politics. It was sometime in middle school I got my first taste of politics, and since then there has been no going back.

My political views are honestly one of a kind. I can be found on the corner of conservative, libertarian, and liberal. It can certainly get confusing when you get down to it. My beliefs can’t be divided into fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Even if I am fiscally conservative and have a few socially liberal beliefs. Why draw a line, life is too short to be boring. My life motto is, “Courage invites critics. Endure.” No matter how well you are doing something someone will have a problem with it.

In my free time I enjoy reading, fishing, and just hanging out with friends. If we ever meet you can buy me an old fashion. I am a big fan of the Washington Nationals and Oklahoma Sooners. You can reach me on Twitter, @_AlanDobson, or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/alan.dobson.18.

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Hi. I’m Elle Woods and this is Bruiser Woods. And we’re both Gemini vegetarians!

by Daniel Golliher

Just. Kidding.

I am a 2014 graduate of Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in Government. Although I’m sure it all began when I read “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut in sixth grade, I started to develop my political ideas in earnest during my senior year of high school. They were forged in the crucible of liberal sentiment that was my college. My thinking was forcibly clarified, as I was in an environment where my ideas were opposed by a hostile majority. Classical liberals and those thereabout are in this position in American culture. However, I also learned a lot from the people I went to school with, and my mode of engagement shifted from debate to conversation. The Three Languages of Politics by Arnold Kling presents an excellent overview of the way I came to understand the ways my peers think.

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As an undergraduate I was not involved in campus social events or programs. I spent between 20-30 hours a week working for Harvard Recreation, and much more during breaks and exam weeks (no class = more work time). There are great people there, and I wouldn’t trade those hours for anything.

I identify as an Objectivist, and believe that good government is necessary for human flourishing. I think that the proper role of government is the proper role of force, because that’s what government is. So: I think a proper government should provide internal and external defense and a court system to help individuals peacefully settle disputes. When I discuss political philosophy, and philosophy widely, I don’t usually use explicitly Objectivist language (at least not immediately). I’ve found that it’s easier to speak in the language of a mutual respect for the facts of reality.

I grew up on a farm in Indiana, one of a set of triplets. I’m currently living in Boston and trying to make my way in the world. Right now I’m in the “big dreams small checking account” stage. I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time, and this August I self-published my first novel, Climbing Olympus. It’s science fiction, which is my favorite genre. I learned a lot by writing it, and now that it’s done I’m working on several other short stories that I will develop into novels as well. I look to Gone with the Wind and Atlas Shrugged for inspiration.

In my spare time I read, write, and conversate. I enjoy history, economics, philosophy of all kinds, and vast swaths of fiction. I run, and I work on foreign languages I’ve studied over the years (Spanish, German, and Portuguese). I look forward to writing for The Liberty Papers. I think I have valuable things to contribute, and I know I’ll learn an immense amount.

Here’s my Facebook and here’s my website!

 

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What the Heck is a Muscular Minarchist?

by Chris Byrne

CByrneIVHeadShot

 

I am a Muscular Minarchist.

What does that mean?

Well, the way I’ve introduced the concept for the past 20 or so years is”

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist. 

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

That’s a bit of “ha ha only serious” there… and really does fairly encapsulate my personal moral and ethical position… it’s the “elevator pitch” version as it were.

The next sentence of the elevator pitch is:

I believe in an absolutely minimalist government that provides a strong defense. I want a government that stays out of my wallet, out of my bedroom, and out of my business.

I realize that’s a lot to ask, but I don’t believe it should be.

I write, because from time to time I must express my anger, frustration, ire, pique, and general cussedness in a format that is unlikely to result in my imprisonment.

I can just see it now “Radical right wing gun nut takes out entire joint session of congress”

Hey a guy can dream can’t he?

Of course I’m not a radical right wing anything; I’m a radical about liberty. I make careful note that I am a philosophical libertarian (note the small “L”) and I take those principles seriously. It’s not just a question of politics, it’s a matter of morals and ethics. Since I hold all involuntary collectivism as an inherent evil; that, by the very definition used by modern media, is radical right wing.

The thing is, my opposition to involuntary collectivism is from all sides. I reject collectivist government, as much as I reject collectivist social policy, as much as I reject collectivist moral policy, or religion (not all religion, just the promulgation of involuntary collectivism through religion) , or any other concentration of the power to coercively limit liberty.

I believe in Liberty, Responsibility, Service, and Honor… I guess I’m just funny that way.

Okay so who am I?

Personally, I’m a husband, a father of three, a son, and a friend. I am a sincere and faithful, but dissenting and schismatic, Catholic. I am a cancer warrior, because I didn’t just survive cancer, I kicked its ass.

Professionally, I’m a veteran of the United States Air Force, an Aerospace Engineer and Computer Scientist by education; and an enterprise, infrastructure, systems, and security, architect and educator; by way of employment.

Passionately, I am a shooter, a singer, a guitar and bass player, a driver, a rider, a sailor, a pilot, a builder, a craftsman, a hunter, an outdoorsman, a reader, a writer, a poet, a cook and brewer, and a lover of fine food, and spirituous beverages.

Finally, by fundamental nature, I’m a hard core geek, about all of those things above, and more. I am by my nature compelled to learn, and love, and know, and understand, everything I care about, as fully and deeply as I possibly can.

I revel in my geekitude.

I work, play, game, read, speak, think, drink, and live, geek.

I am one of the original co-founders, contributors, and editors of  The Liberty Papers. I’ve been here from the beginning, and plan to be here until they pull the plug and turn out the lights.

And now, I’m getting tired of talking about me, so if you want more, look at my personal blog… or my post archive here on The Liberty Papers, and let the ranting begin again.

NOTE: This profile was originally published November 22nd 2005, for the launch of The Liberty Papers. The author was lazy and didn’t get around to updating it until October 16th 2014… when it was pointed out that in the intervening almost decade, he had somehow managed to acquire a wife and children (he met his wife shortly after the founding of the site), which he had neglected to mention. 

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The Nanny State Strikes Again: School’s Implementation of Zero Tolerance Goes Too Far

by Albert Northrup

In an effort to control perceived growing violence in schools, Congress passed the 1994 Gun Free Schools Act (GFSA) which required states to implement zero tolerance policies on school property as a prerequisite for receiving federal aid from the U.S. Department of Education. In 2002, Congress repealed this version but reauthorized the zero tolerance requirement under the No Child Left Behind Act. The revised bill expanded the school’s jurisdiction for such offenses from school property to any school-related function. So under the No Child Left Behind Act, school districts would not receive federal funding unless they implemented zero tolerance policies with a mandatory one year expulsion for any student who brings or possesses any firearm on school property or at any school function. School officials are also required to report these offenses to law enforcement agencies.

Have school boards taken these policies too far? Despite no duty or requirement to do so, most school districts have enacted strict zero tolerance policies for other offenses including possession of knives, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. They have also enacted zero tolerance offenses for acts of violence and even expression of speech, all under the guise of protecting students. For example, an honor student in Dearborn, MI was suspended this month for a year because school officials found a small pocket knife in her bag at a football game.  From the Huffington Post:

A Detroit-area high school has suspended an honors student for the rest of the school year over a pocketknife the student says she had by accident.

Atiya Haynes, 17, was caught with the pocketknife at a homecoming football game in late September at Annapolis High School in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. School officials were searching the bags of female students exiting the restroom after a security guard claimed to have smelled marijuana nearby, according to local outlet WXYZ-TV. When officials searched Atiya’s bag, they found no marijuana, but did find a small knife.

Atiya says she did not realize the knife was in her bag. Her grandfather had given it to her over the summer, urging her to carry it for protection when riding her bike through dangerous neighborhoods to her lifeguarding job, according to MLive.

Atiya, an Advanced Placement student, was originally expelled from Annapolis High following the incident. However, on Monday, the school board rolled back her punishment, albeit slightly. Atiya is now suspended for the rest of the year, but will be allowed to take online classes and graduate with her class in 2015, reports local outlet WJBK-TV.

For starters, students do not lose their constitutional rights when they enter school property. Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Cmty. Sch Dist, 393 U.S. 503 (1969). The Supreme Court has further held that public school administrators are considered state actors for purposes of Fourth Amendment searches. New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985). Students also have a reasonable expectation of privacy in items that they bring to school, even though this expectation is diminished. School officials do not need probable cause to search, like law enforcement would. They may search based on a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing and most jurisdictions require that this reasonable suspicion is individualized. One US District Court has held that the scent of marijuana is insufficient to show an individualized reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing if the scent cannot be determined to come from any individual or confined group. Here, the security guard claimed that s/he detected the scent of marijuana “nearby”, but there is nothing to suggest that the scent could be confined to Atiya or anyone else in the immediate area. I would argue that this was an unreasonable search and the knife is just “fruit from the poisonous tree.”

Let’s say, for all intents and purposes, that the search was valid. The punishment still does not fit and is excessive. Miss Haynes is an honor roll student, enrolled in AP classes, and potentially college bound. I would imagine that this suspension will go on her permanent record, which could affect her ability to receive scholarships or even get into certain colleges. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that she didn’t even know that the knife was in her purse. Is this the type of protection that Congress had in mind when it passed No Child Left Behind? In this case, Atiya Haynes is the only child being left behind and she is not the only one. Here are some other examples of overreaching zero tolerance policies:

In 1998, a Colorado school expelled a ten year old student when her mother inadvertently packed a small paring knife in her lunch. Despite trying to do the right thing by turning it in, she was expelled under zero tolerance policies and school officials said they had no discretion. While the expulsion was eventually overturned, her family was forced to move after receiving harassing letters that her family was trying to destroy the school.

In 1999, a Florida high school student was suspended for one year for bringing nail clippers to school. This expulsion was also reduced to a ten day suspension. However, the principal of the school was quoted as saying that he “was not…ready to arm kids with more ammo, to bring more items on our campus and make it an unsafe place.” Forget the fact that the student never used the nail clippers herself. Did I mention that her “crime” was bringing nail clippers to school? Nail. Clippers. This is the kind of “dangerous” activity we are trying to protect students from? Let that one sink in.

In 2013, two Virginia middle school students were suspended for nine months for shooting airsoft guns (similar to BB guns) in their front yard. The school claimed jurisdiction because the bus stop was in front of their house.

In 2012, a six year old student in Maryland was suspended for pointing his finger in the shape of a gun and saying “pow.” The principal sent a letter home to the parents stating that the boy “threatened to shoot another student.” Yes, this will be on this boy’s permanent record.

Similarly, a seven year old Maryland student was suspended in 2013 when he bit his pop tart into the shape of a gun and said “bang bang.” These two events led Maryland State Senator J.B. Jennings (R-Baltimore) to introduce the “Reasonable School Discipline Act of 2013″ to the Maryland Legislature, which would prohibit schools from suspending or expelling students who use any object that resembles a gun, but serves another purpose. In other words, the bill requires school administrators to use a little common sense. Has it really come to the point where we need such legislation?

In 1999, a Missouri high school junior was suspended for ten days when he responded “yes!” to an online message board asking whether students thought that a Columbine incident could happen at their school. As a result, he became ineligible for the National Honors Society and missed taking achievement tests which would have placed him in college level courses.

Finally, we saw the post made by Tom Knighton yesterday about the five year old student who was forced to undergo a psychological evaluation and sign an agreement to not harm anyone or herself because she drew a picture of a gun and held up a crayon, saying “pew pew.” She is five!

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, students who are suspended from school are more likely to suffer psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety from being ostracized. They are also much more likely to wind up in the juvenile justice system and therefore, the “playground to prison pipeline.” The American Psychological Association’s Zero Tolerance Task Force further found that zero tolerance policies had the opposite effect on preventing school violence. This is just another example of overreaching state power and the government, in its “infinite wisdom”, thinks it knows best. We would be better off to eliminate or reduce zero tolerance offenses. Our kids and future generations will thank us.

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“Climate Change”, and the false dichotomy of “evil or stupid”

by Chris Byrne

As we run up to the midterm elections, the drumbeat is once again sounding throughout that land, that Republicans… or rather, everyone not Leftist… are “anti-science”, “pro-ignorance” etc… etc…

I am constantly hearing some variant of “Republicans are either evil or stupid for not… X”.

The sad part of course, is that a certain percentage of non-leftists, including libertarians and conservatives are in fact, nuts, particularly about science… and another large block are ignorant.

Of course, so are large blocks of those on the left… but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.

There are certainly many scientific issues over which the ideological spectrum split, but likely the biggest one, with the most uniform split (there’s very few whose ideological “side” don’t match the position staked out by that side, to some degree or another)….

“Climate Change”

Ok, talked about it here before, and there’s plenty of great resources on the topic (try Climate Skeptic for a start)… But it’s an issue among my friends right now, and Neil Degrasse Tyson has been talking about it lately (before his most recent brouhaha), facebook is… well, pretty much always covered with it etc…

Let me just lay things out for a bit…

First, YES, there ARE loonies out there who say that there is no climate change “because Jesus” or “It’s all a conspiracy man” etc… etc… etc…

Feel free to ignore them, as you would on every other subject. They don’t represent any kind of reality based universe, never mind a rational position.

There are also those who simply say that there is no such thing as climate change whatsoever… But mostly they are either ignorant of, or don’t understand, the science, math, or historical record in question

And yes, there are far more of those than there should be in 2014.

However, some of us come to our positions through a knowledge of science, engineering, math, the scientific method, research methodologies and data analysis.

There are those, myself among them, who actually DO understand science, and don’t believe in CATASTROPHIC, ANTHROPOGENIC, global warming, leading to systemic, catastrophic climate change.

We are not irrational, ignorant, evil, driven by unsavory motives, or stupid.

We come to this position, because we understand that:

  1. The question isn’t whether climate is changing and will change in the future, it always has and always will. The question is how much has it, how much will it in the future, and why.
  2. Catastrophic, anthropogenic, global warming leading to catastrophic climate change, is a tightly interconnected theory. For any element of the conclusions to be correct, ALL of the suppositions within the theory must be correct. The instant any of them changes, at all, the theory falls apart.
  3. The mathematical models for this have always been highly speculative and have proven non predictive both forward and backward.
  4. The data is greatly variable ( and often poor) in quality, and is adjusted in ways that make it less than useful for a model with high sensitivity predictions, because small changes or inconsistencies in the data make big changes in the model.
  5. The catastrophic model adopted by the U.N. has some major dependencies which are entirely theoretical, and have not been borne out by historical facts; specifically estimates of forcing, estimates of weighting of various factors, and particularly estimates of extremely high sensitivity to certain factors (especially CO2), that while throughout all of history have exhibited one behavior (a stable, negative feedback system), for some reason (i.e. humanity is bad and stuff), things have changed now… even though CO2 has been much higher in the past, and it didn’t happen then… Such that a very small change in CO2 will have a large multiplier effect, transforming the stable negative feedback system that the climate has been throughout the entirety of history to this point, to an unstable positive feedback system.
  6. There is no evidence for this catastrophic theory, nor does it correspond with historical models, or models that prove to be historically predictive (i.e. if you run the model backwards and forwards in time, it matches roughly with what actually happened).
  7. This prediction has been made since the mid 80s (prior to the mid 80, from the early 70s they were predicting global cooling and ice age by the way), and the models have proven to be grossly inaccurate. They are constantly revised to reflect the same conclusion, but never actually predict what ACTUALLY happens in the real world. There was initially slightly more warming than the previous historical models predicted, but by 1991 warming was back to the historical trend line, and there has actually been no significant warming since 1994-1998 depending on exactly which dataset you look at.
  8. Human outputs from all of industry, vehicles etc… Make up less than 1% of total atmospheric CO2… actually between .3 and .4%. The VAST majority of CO2 comes from forests, oceans, animals, and soil (and the bacteria contained therein). They also absorb CO2 in the natural CO2 cycle.
  9. If the historical, non catastrophic models prove correct, and they have so far, there will be between less than 1 and just over 2 degrees centigrade warming in the next 100 years. This is not catastrophic, and is consistent with warming/cooling cycles throughout history.
  10. If all human output of carbon dioxide and other theorized elements of climate change stopped right now, today… That number wouldn’t change at all, or at most very little. Within the margin of error.
  11. Once you take the catastrophic sensitivity to a tiny change out of the model, many other factors become far greater “forcings”, particularly the suns variability (relating to sunspot cycles).
  12. If the catastrophic models are correct, either we already have, or we soon will, pass the point of no return. We would not only have to completely stop emitting CO2 entirely, but we would have to take large amounts of it out of the environment.
  13. No matter what, the developing world isn’t going to stop burning wood, and coal, and growing and modernizing and using as much hydrocarbons as they can. They don’t give a damn what european liberals think, they just want to cook their dinners and have lights at night.
  14. No matter what, China and India aren’t going to stop being 60+% of all CO2 emissions from human sources (that’s according to the environmentalist group, the earth policy institute. UN numbers say it’s more like 30-40%), because if they did they’d all be plunged into even greater poverty and likely starve to death.

What it comes down to is this:

  • If the catastrophic models are correct, it’s too late to do anything about it anyway.
  • Even if every western nation utterly stopped producing ANY output which contributed to climate change, it wouldn’t make any difference whatsoever.
  • If the catastrophic theory is wrong, and everything point to it being so, then we would be spending trillions of dollars, destroying economies, ruining millions or billions of peoples lives etc… All for little or nothing.
  • There are real, actual, proven problems that are far more likely to be important, and that we can actually do something about, that are much better ways to spend our time and money.
  • Ok… so why do so many people support the idea… particularly so many scientists?

    The same reason anyone does anything… because it aligns with their perceived incentives, beliefs, worldview, narrative, and identity.

    To wit…

    1. Funding
    2. Social signaling an ingroup identification
    3. Politics
    4. Power and control (climate change legislation is all about taking power and control from one group, and giving it to another)
    5. Ideology and alignment with world view
    6. The precautionary principle
    7. Anti-capitalism
    8. Funding
    9. Because if they don’t, they don’t get jobs, their papers don’t get published, they don’t get university positions etc…
    10. Because they know that it’s not as bad as the press makes it out to be, but that making it super duper scary is the only way to make the morons out there pay attention and actually make some of the good positive changes that need to happen (like more energy efficient technology, and more research into alternative energy)
    11. Because the entire world has lined up into teams, not just about climate change, but about ALL social, cultural, and scientific issues… Evolution, homosexuality, everything else about the environment etc… and one team has decided to label themselves “progressive” and “liberal” and “pro science” and the other team “anti science”, and nobody wants to be “regressive” and “anti-science”.
    12. Did I mention funding? There is no funding in saying “things are going to be about like they always have been, with some small changes as expected, and maybe a very small degree of increased change… it will have some moderate impacts”. That’s boring, and it gets ignored, and no-one gets any funding, and you can’t do additional research on it. No-one is paying for research into squirrel populations and how “1 degree per century of climate change will impact them).

    Yes… I repeated myself, in several different ways there… That was intentional.

    The Broken Record

    Catastrophists have a record, of being broken records… and being mostly or entirely wrong.

    From 1974 until 1985 or thereabouts, many of the exact same scientists, politicians, pundits, and environmentalists who today are saying are going to warm our way into a combination of ice age, deserts, and typhoons everywhere… were saying the exact opposite.

    At the time, their theories and models said that we were going to precipitate our own ice age, blocking out the sun, and that crops would fail and we would starve to death.

    The fact is, we’ve heard over and over again for decades that if we don’t do exactly what this one particular group wants us to do about any particular issue within 5, 10, 20 years etc… that we’re all gonna die, the world is gonna end, everything will turn to dust, there will be no birds, no trees…

    Anyone remember when acid rain was going to kill us all?

    Yes, in part, it’s because we did respond to the concerns of the environmentalists, regulations were changed somewhat, technology got better, we polluted less and cleaned up more. These are all good things.

    But mostly it was because they were dramatically overstating both the problems, and the solutions; either because they actually believed it, or for political reasons…

    Seems to me, mostly for political reasons.

    Mostly we haven’t done what they asked.

    The world didn’t end.

    We didn’t all die.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean they aren’t right this time…

    …One of these times they just might be… or at least they might be more right than wrong…

    …it just means that we should really be very careful, and very skeptical, about what they say, what we believe, and what we do about it.

    Oh and one more thing…

    There is one final, and almost universal test of the validity of someones claim that “everything has to change”.

    It can’t prove that a claim is true… but it can nearly always prove a false claim to be false, or at least greatly exaggerated.

    Simplified, it’s called the “Act as If” test.

    Does the person making the claim, act as they would if the claim were true, and as urgent as they say?

    Is it conclusive? No… but it’s a pretty strong indicator.

    Do those who say they believe in truly catastrophic anthropogenic global warming pass this test?

    Do they actually act as they would, if they actually believed their predictions.

    The answer is very much no… not even close.

    So, if they don’t… why should anyone else?

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    • • •

    Watch A Couple Of Millennials Talk About Barack Obama’s Policies Have Harmed Their Generation

    by Kevin Boyd

    A couple of young Millennial women, Alyssa Lafage and Elly Mae, appeared on “The Rick Amato Show” on the One America News Network (don’t worry, you probably don’t even get the channel). Amato had both young ladies on to talk about how the policies of President Obama and progressives have harmed the Millennial generation.

    Some reports show that Millennial unemployment remains high at 15% in September. This summer, it was estimated that Millennials are 40% of the overall unemployed in this country. Millennials still cannot afford health insurance, despite Obamacare’s promises.  Finally, Millennials are trapped by high amounts of student loan debt, which cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, in order to obtain near worthless degrees.

    Watch these two Millennial women describe how the polices of President Obama and progressives have harmed their generation and made their generation worse off than ever. Also, check out our own Quincy’s takedown of Obama drone Paul Krugman’s proclamation of Obama as one of the greatest presidents ever which touches on some of these same issues.

    h/t: Wayne Dupree

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    • • •

    Rant: People Who Don’t Link To Source Material

    by Brad Warbiany

    Earlier today, my new co-contributor Matt wrote about the ridiculous Houston city council subpoena on a group who was against the transgender bathroom-rights law.

    Where did the original story come from? Right here at The Washington Times.

    It’s a busy article.

    It comes complete with a picture from the San Francisco gay pride parade. What does San Francisco have to do with Houston bathrooms? I’m not quite sure.

    It has a minute-long vapid video featuring a reading of the first two paragraphs of the article, because apparently 300 words is such a weighty article that it elicits “tl;dr” from typical readers of the Washington Times.

    And of course it has a rather superficial 300-word article touching only ever-so-slightly on the merits of the case. The article which doesn’t even summarize the basic legal rationale for the group who is challenging the subpoena. The basic legal rationale that’s so simple that I’ll summarize it for you in two sentences:

    The law states that subpoenas may only ask for evidence likely to result in admissable evidence on the merits of the case and doesn’t violate various legal privileges. ADF asserts that the subpoenas are overly-broad and violate the law by asking for such wide-ranging materials (some of which are Constitutionally-protected expression and others that are attorney-client privilege or protections against nonparties to lawsuits) that it cannot possibly be within the law.

    You know what the Washington Times article is also lacking? ANY GODDAMN LINK TO THE ACTUAL SOURCE MATERIAL!!

    It’s not like it was hard to find. A 10-second Google search led me to the ADF web site. A prominent link on the front page of the site got me to their press release in the first 10 seconds on their site. And ADF, to their credit, linked both the subpoena and their motion to quash in the first paragraph. And it’s not like links are expensive. Hyperlinks are free.

    So I read them. I realize, this is ridiculous in the days of blogging when everyone has an opinion on Supreme court decisions despite the fact that none of them ever actually reads the opinions. When I read the subpoena and the motion to quash, it was pretty apparent that the subpoena was overly broad. When you dig into it, though, there are a lot of areas of the subpoena that are quite likely to result in admissible evidence. Hence why in the motion to quash, you’ll see this statement:

    The Nonparty Pastors respectfully request that the Court issue an order quashing their subpoenas. Alternatively, the Nonparty Pastors request an order modifying the subpoenas to clarify that they do not include (or a protective order declaring that the Nonparty Pastors need not produce) the requested documents that are not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence and the requested documents protected by the First Amendment privilege, the deliberative-process privilege, the attorney-client privilege, and the work-product doctrine.

    In a lawsuit alleging that a city council unfairly determined that an insufficient number of petitions were gathered, the portions of the subpoena related to the records of petitioners are certainly likely to result in admissible evidence. The content of sermons discussing the Mayor, on the other hand, are clearly not. So if the city attorneys narrow the scope of their subpoena (as the WSJ–an entity which deserves kudos for actually linking the subpoena and motion!–reports they’re already backing away from), they’ll probably still be able to get the discovery information they need to prepare an adequate defense to the lawsuit.

    Of course, IANAL, and it’s entirely possible that I got my legal analysis wrong. But what I do know is that I’ve already given you, the readers of The Liberty Papers, a more cogent (and more entertaining, I hope) analysis of the issues than Valerie Richardson of The Washington Times. And unlike Valerie Richardson, I actually gave you the links to go form you own opinion if you doubt my reporting in any way. Because frankly, my dear readers, you’re worth it!

    Publications that give you opinion without linking to original source material are trying to keep you dumb. They either want you to keep coming directly to them for analysis (likely), or don’t want you to read the source material and realize they’ve gotten something terribly wrong. Or maybe they’re just terrified that you’ll click on the link and not come back. Or maybe all of the above. Either way, they treat you like infants.

    Don’t let them get away with it. Demand better. This is 2014. I hate to use the term “mainstream media” in such a derisive tone that went out of style in about my third year of blogging–right about the time Sarah Palin started calling it the lamestream media–but even The Washington Times should have figured out how to hyperlink by now.

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    • • •

    Christopher Bowen, TLP’s Token Liberal Libertarian

    by Christopher Bowen

    Taken in an independent coffee shop in Fairfield, Connecticut. I can hea "hipster!" from all across the nation.Hello to everyone. My name is Christopher Bowen, and though I’ve been writing professionally for about eight years now, this is my political debut. I also come at this from a challenging perspective: in a field where the term is often openly dismissed, I am what is called a “liberaltarian”: a libertarian who came from the liberal side of the divide.

    … Are they all gone? How many are left? Wow, that’s not a lot. Well, at least we can stretch our legs…

    In actuality, I don’t believe there’s much of a difference between myself and others like me – the bleeding heart libertarians, if you will – and those who come from a more conservative base. It sums up simply, in my mind: the only tangible difference between a conservative libertarian and a liberal libertarian is the hill they’re willing to die on. A conservative libertarian will not back down on issues relating to commerce; keep the markets free at all cost, Adam Smith style. Conservatives tend to come over from the Republican party out of disgust at the large spending sprees of the Reagan and Bush era. Liberal libertarians like me, on the other hand, consider social issues and civil liberties to be sacrosanct. I’m more flexible on economic policy, but when it comes to our ability to live free lives – everything from LGBT issues to gun ownership – I am a fierce advocate for freedom, and unlike many “liberals”, I understand that is a two way street; I don’t believe the government should disallow a loving couple from marrying, but I also believe the person too bigoted to make their wedding cake has the right to act on that. I left the Democratic Party when I learned that they were just fine with wars, the surveillance state and other issues when one of their guys was in charge.

    My political evolution has been like many at this site, if only from the other direction. Living in Connecticut most of my life, I grew up a standard, blue state, Clinton-era Democrat, though I’ve always had a mistrust of authority and government. That has reflected in my recent voting patterns, culminating in my support for Gary Johnson’s 2012 Presidential bid. I started to stretch my “damn the man” legs a bit when I started writing about the video games industry professionally in 2006, with part of my work being a series of articles investigating a myriad of issues from a pro-consumer viewpoint. I wrote professionally for six years, though my games writing has become sporadic of late, as I look to broaden my horizons and make my political writing debut.

    Personally, I’m 34, still live in Connecticut, and currently work in IT. I also work ice hockey from the semi-professional level and down, primarily as a linesman. I’m a four year veteran of the United States Navy, where I served on the USS George Washington during the Afghanistan and second Iraq wars.

    My Twitter is @superbus, and my brand spanking new Facebook “fan” page for all of my writing is here. I also have a Google Plus account that I really should start using more. I look forward to this new challenge in my career, and hopefully can turn some opinions on what a “liberaltarian” is.

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    • • •

    Why Do We Give These People So Much Control Over Our Lives

    by Kevin Boyd

    In one of the most mind boggling moments in American politics ever, Florida Governor Rick Scott refused to debate his opponent, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, because……..Crist placed a fan underneath his podium.

    Scott claims that the rules forbid any electronics on stage, however Crist says that the rules didn’t ban fans on stage. Scott wouldn’t come on stage for four minutes and then after Crist ripped into him for being petty, Scott eventually came on stage.

    Question is, why are we electing people who cry about fans and give them so much control over our lives?

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    • • •

    October 15, 2014

    The view from the bubble

    by Quincy

    They say we’re entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Except, of course, if we’re Paul Krugman:

    When it comes to Barack Obama, I’ve always been out of sync. Back in 2008, when many liberals were wildly enthusiastic about his candidacy and his press was strongly favorable, I was skeptical. I worried that he was naive, that his talk about transcending the political divide was a dangerous illusion given the unyielding extremism of the modern American right. Furthermore, it seemed clear to me that, far from being the transformational figure his supporters imagined, he was rather conventional-minded: Even before taking office, he showed signs of paying far too much attention to what some of us would later take to calling Very Serious People, people who regarded cutting budget deficits and a willingness to slash Social Security as the very essence of political virtue.

    And I wasn’t wrong. Obama was indeed naive: He faced scorched-earth Republican opposition from Day One, and it took him years to start dealing with that opposition realistically. Furthermore, he came perilously close to doing terrible things to the U.S. safety net in pursuit of a budget Grand Bargain; we were saved from significant cuts to Social Security and a rise in the Medicare age only by Republican greed, the GOP’s unwillingness to make even token concessions.

    But now the shoe is on the other foot: Obama faces trash talk left, right and center – literally – and doesn’t deserve it. Despite bitter opposition, despite having come close to self-inflicted disaster, Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history. His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward – and it’s working better than anyone expected. Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it’s much more effective than you’d think. Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but has nonetheless been much better than in other advanced countries. And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy.

    As usual, his screed is filled with cherry picked statistics, unsupported claims, and plenty of vitriol for those who don’t agree with him. He uses these weapons, such as they are, to paint a picture of Barack Obama as a consequential and successful president. While I certainly won’t argue with consequential (there have certainly been consequences for electing Obama), the bar Krugman sets for success is convenient for his case but meaningless to Americans outside the elite bubble.

    How does Krugman address this?

    Yes, Obama has a low approval rating compared with earlier presidents. But there are a number of reasons to believe that presidential approval doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to: There is much more party-sorting (in which Republicans never, ever have a good word for a Democratic president, and vice versa), the public is negative on politicians in general, and so on. Obviously the midterm election hasn’t happened yet, but in a year when Republicans have a huge structural advantage – Democrats are defending a disproportionate number of Senate seats in deep-red states – most analyses suggest that control of the Senate is in doubt, with Democrats doing considerably better than they were supposed to. This isn’t what you’d expect to see if a failing president were dragging his party down.

    More important, however, polls – or even elections – are not the measure of a president. High office shouldn’t be about putting points on the electoral scoreboard, it should be about changing the country for the better. Has Obama done that? Do his achievements look likely to endure? The answer to both questions is yes.

    Krugman’s point about changing the country for the better is an interesting one. It inevitably leads to the question of better for whom. We the people, pesky knaves who base our opinions on the reality we face every day, have been rejecting the claim that Obama has been successful in poll after poll for years.

    That rejection is not hard to understand. Jobs are still hard to come by. Our hours have been cut. Our benefits have been slashed. Our savings haven’t earned interest in half a decade. We see more and more people on the streets, not just in big cities but in suburban towns. We know we might be one job loss away from joining them. We see a generation graduating from college into a hopeless economic situation. We know our children might be next. Worst of all, we’ve had to listen to the media trumpet recovery and economic good news while our situations are still terrible.

    Instead of acknowledging the reality faced by the people, Krugman moves to silence and marginalize us. Our opinions are due to partisanship and being down on politicians in general. With a wave of a hand, he rewrites our stories to fit his narrative. This leaves room to for Krugman to explain Obama’s successes using only his preferences and priorities for reference. Inside the bubble, he matters and we don’t.

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    • • •

    PRESS RELEASE: Libertarian Women Find Their Voice Online

    by Kevin Boyd

    If you run a liberty-friendly organization or blog and you have a press release you want shared, please e-mail kevin@thelibertypapers.org (Note: we are unable to accept press releases from any political candidates, regardless of party affiliation or office sought)

    October 15th, 2014

     

    Contact: Associate Editor Elizabeth BeShears

    liz.erob@gmail.com

    (256) 527-8133

     

    Libertarian Women Find Their Voice Online

     

    The online-only libertarian publication Thoughts on Liberty, a women’s magazine, is celebrating its second anniversary this month. It heads into its third year boasting a year-over-year readership increase of 44.5 percent. Thoughts on Liberty, while it initially only had three writers on staff, has grown to nine contributors, all of whom are female, and regularly publishes guest submissions and student writers.

     

    Its growth online and boom in brand awareness speaks volumes to the growth of women in the libertarian movement.

     

    “A recent study by Pew shows that approximately seven percent of women are libertarian, far more than what has been reflected in the voting polls in previous years,” said associate editor Rachel Burger. “This number tells us that there are millions of women who value personal liberty and are interested in making those values a larger part of the mainstream conversation.”

     

    In response to the growing demand for female libertarian voices, Thoughts on Liberty is building an interactive community that is engaged with both women and men across the political and ideological spectrum by producing quality long-form content and building allies both in and outside of the greater liberty movement.

     

    “In the past two years, Thoughts on Liberty has shaped conversations in the liberty movement and pushed libertarians to think about liberty in ways they might not have before,” said Gina Luttrell, editor-in-chief. “This just goes to show what women in particular can add to our movement, and why there should be more of them.”

     

    Thoughts on Liberty’s writers and alumnae have been featured national and international publications such as Forbes, Mic, The Blaze, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and have founded Citizens for Media Accountability. They have been quoted in The Los Angeles Times, Jezebel, and other respected outlets.

     

    Thoughts on Liberty is a growing women’s publication that strives to be the premier site for women libertarian voices. Its aims to provide a focused platform for women already participating in the liberty movement  and to speak to show women at large why a free society is best. It proudly represents ideas across the ideological spectrum and promotes intellectual exploration among its writers. You can read more and subscribe at thoughtsonliberty.com

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    • • •

    Schools’ zero gun tolerance get more ridiculous

    by Tom Knighton

    A student’s mom in Mobile, AL is a little upset these days. You see, her daughter’s school got upset because the daughter drew a picture of a gun, then reportedly pointed a crayon at another student and said, “Pew pew!” (The school has not commented on whether or not the crayon was loaded, however)

    In reaction, the school reportedly had the daughter evaluated by a psychologist and had the daughter sign a contract stating that she would reach out to someone should she want to hurt herself or another. Such contracts are fairly standard for people with mental health issues involving suicidal or homicidal intentions.

    Why is the mother upset? Probably because her daughter is just five years old. (more…)

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    • • •

    Houston Loses Collective Mind – Subpoenas Pastors

    by Matt Souders

    Here is the news story in its original form for your shocked brains to attempt to process:

    Houston Subpoenas the Churches Over ‘HERO’

    The Alliance Defending Freedom is countering this abuse of freedom with legal action – a motion to stop these subpoenas from going ahead (and you can find their legal reasoning here.

    Notably, ADF claims that the city’s subpoenas, which the city claims go toward answering a lawsuit filed by Houston citizens over this new rule (dubbed HERO – cute), is a fishing expedition, and that the pastors being subpoenaed were not even involved in the lawsuit. It looks as though the city may be hunting for some way of legally punishing the city’s religious leaders for taking a position counter to ‘HERO’, and their methods are questionable at best.

    But let’s step back a minute and talk about that rule.

    ‘HERO’ states that transgendered persons who identify as a different gender than what shows up biologically cannot be denied access to opposite-gender bathrooms in any public building in Houston. The theory is that it is a hardship for a biologically male (or female) person who identifies as the opposite gender to be forced to use the bathroom of their biological gender.

    A lawsuit filed to stop this rule from going live is what brought the debate to a boil, but I do want to briefly discuss the merits of the rule itself. I want to be sympathetic here – but how can any purveyor of a public restroom be certain of the state of mind of anyone wishing to use the opposite gender bathroom? It is well known, thanks to the internet and its cornucopia of platforms for discussion of sexual orientation and proclivities, that there exist a not-insignificant number of individuals who obtain sexual gratification from spying on the bathroom habits of the opposite sex. Houston is the place for these folks! Simply claim you are transgendered and spend all the time you want in there. I, for one, do not believe it is possible to uphold this law without creating a huge array of unintended consequences, not the least of which being a big increase in sexual assault and rape in ladies rooms in the city.

    But – and this is hard to believe – there is a bigger issue. In order to enforce the rule and punitively punish anyone who would bring a legal challenge, city officials feel within their rights to spy on – oops, I mean subpoena – the sermons of pastors not directly involved in said legal challenge on the topic of this rule. It is a deeply alarming world in which we now live, if it is considered normal behavior for a city to decide that compliance with this rule shall include absolute verbal agreement at the threat of legal action; and that in order to obtain this agreement, they shall have the unfettered right to pry into the private worship of any congregation in their jurisdiction on a fishing expedition. What’s next – the Justice Department deciding that it has the right to subpoena all churches to make sure they comply with the Affordable Care Act or do not explicitly oppose democrat candidates? Oh wait – the IRS is beginning to consider spying on churches to make sure they do nothing “political”.

    Here’s hoping that ADF is successful in its challenge – but, to be honest, I doubt it will matter in the long run if these abusive legal tactics become the norm (as they already seem to be doing).

    I fear for us all.


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    • • •

    Albert Northrup: My Own Little World

    by Albert Northrup

    Albert White House

    I have been wanting to blog for quite some time and I want to thank Kevin for the opportunity to post my humble opinions to The Liberty Papers.

    With that being said, my name is Albert Northrup. I am 36 years old and I currently reside in Oviedo, FL, which is just north of Orlando, Florida or Flori-duh, as I like to call it. :) I hold a B.A. in Political Science and an MBA from the University of Central Florida (UCF), where I was a member of the College Republicans and Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. Side note: UCF is the second largest university in the country and we were also ranked the second best looking student body. We are a good-looking group of people. You can’t argue with facts. :) Go Knights! Charge On!  I also hold a JD from Barry University School of Law where I competed for their nationally-recognized trial advocacy team and moot court team. As a law student, I was chapter president of the Federalist Society and treasurer of the American Association for Justice.

    Politically, I am a classical liberal/right libertarian. I believe that there are three functions of the government: (1) to protect against foreign invasion; (2) to promote justice and defend against injustice; and (3) to protect property rights. My love for politics began at the young age of six when my father took me to the voting booth in 1984 to vote for Ronald Reagan. I began to develop many of my own views on government during the 1994  midterm elections while I was a senior in high school. Since then, my political views have evolved from staunch conservative to libertarian (small “l”). I am still a registered Republican and I want to believe Ronald Reagan when he said that “at the very heart of conservatism is libertarianism.” However, I find it unfortunate that the GOP has been hijacked by big-government social conservatives who are just as statist as the big-government Democrats they criticize.

    One of the beautiful things about this country is that we have the right to disagree. You won’t agree with everything that I say and I won’t agree with everything that you say. However, I ascribe to the old adage that “even though I disapprove of what you say, I will fight to the death your right to say it.”

    I am the proud father of a 17 year old boy. He is my pride and joy and an outstanding soccer player. When I’m not debating with someone on law or politics, you can find me playing soccer, running, playing poker, in the gym, or at the gun range. I am a huge fan of the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, the Buffalo Bills, the New York Yankees, and the UCF Knights. You can follow me on Facebook or on . I look forward to our Twitter dialogue.

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    • • •

    Cost is NOT Price, and Neither Cost, nor Price, are Value

    by Chris Byrne

    Prices Provide a Misleading Measure of Dollar Devaluation
    Forbes Magazine Online – Keith Weiner

    There’s not a human being alive who doesn’t know the dollar is falling. Everyone over 25 has stories of what prices were like, way back when (and younger people have heard them). I remember when gasoline was 60 cents a gallon, and my mom remembers when it was 20 cents.

    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen acknowledges the official objective to push the dollar down by 2 percent per year. This intention is behind the Fed’s ill-conceived loose money policy.

    It’s important to measure each drop. This is not just to keep a scorecard on the Fed, but because a change in the dollar skews historical comparisons and distorts business decisions, like giving increases to workers and pensioners….

    Read the whole piece, and then come back…

    The thesis statement of the piece is correct, in that prices provide a misleading indicator of currency valuation (and that our weak dollar policy, as pursued by every administration since Bush 1 to some degree or another, is fundamentally wrong and destructive for that matter).

    Unfortunately the author suggests that simply using a different price denomination and comparison (to gold) is a less misleading indicator… In this, he’s absolutely incorrect.

    What you really want to compare is purchasing power parity (PPP) as measured by equivalent standard of living, expressed as a dollar cost in constant dollars normalized to average labor hour wage or compensation.

    i.e. this item costs 5 minutes of average labor, this costs 8 hours, this costs 20 years; the cost to maintain this equivalent normalized standard of living across an aggregate population is 1940 hours of median labor wage etc… etc…

    Note, this is NOT an expression of the fallacious labor theory of value, it is an explicit measure of purchasing power parity as actual cost, INCLUDING opportunity cost (in terms of time), not currency denomination.

    The critical function isn’t price, and it isn’t wage… it’s cost, in this case expressed as a cost to value ratio as a normalized dollar (to make it easy to relate to wages and prices).

    Cost is not price; it’s a totalized measure of inputs including resources, time, and opportunity.

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    • • •

    How ‘Affirmative Consent’ Laws Threaten Due Process

    by Kevin Boyd

    A few weeks ago, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the nation’s first “affirmative consent” law. When it was proposed back in June, I said the proponents were control freaks. The law essentially says that consent must be given, affirmatively and actively, for each act of a sexual encounter. In other words “yes means yes.” It sounds reasonable enough doesn’t it?

    The law has already spread with lawmakers proposing similiar laws across the country. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo implimented the policy at the SUNY system of universities across New York with plans to incorporate it into state law. Lawmakers in Illinois, New Hampshire, and New Jersey have plans to introduce similiar legislation across the country.

    While the lawmakers proposing the bills are all Democrats, the laws have found support in unlikely corners, social conservatives and even some libertarians. Townhall.com writer Conn Carroll supports the laws because he wants to discourage the “hookup culture.” Libertarian blogger Kelli Gulite argues that the laws clear up the “ambiguity of the existing consent standards.”

    However, while the affirmative consent laws are a well-intentioned attempt to address a problem (rape), they ultimately do more harm than good, especially where civil liberties are concerned. These laws will result in (mostly) young men either being expelled from universities and/or charged with a crime they did not commit.

    Here’s some reasons why affirmative consent laws are not the way to go:

    1) Sets us on the road to “precrime”. One of the lawmakers proposing these laws for their state, N.H. State Rep. Renny Cushing state this “We need to change the dialogue and we need to start talking about prevention rather than have a legal concern about whether or not someone was capable of giving their consent.”

    I’ve heard that before somewhere:

    These laws will no more prevent rape than laws against hate speech will prevent murder.

    2) It eliminates the presumption of innocence. The laws state that someone is guilty of rape if there was no yes. This will force the defendant to have to prove that there was a yes. That forces the burden of proof on the defendant, not the state and the university. The only logical way for a potential defendant to protect themselves from a rape allegation is to record the sexual encounter or some kind of proof that the encounter was explicitly consentual.

    In other words, we’re right back to the problem these laws were trying to prevent “he said vs she said.” Under the reasonable doubt standard, that’s clearly not enough evidence on its own to force a conviction. However, in a campus proceding or a civil lawsuit, there is no reasonable doubt but only preponderance of evidence.

    These laws codify the process of the campus-based procedings which have been criticized as essentially kangaroo courts that threaten the rights of the accused.

    3) It will lead to the prosecution of boorish behavior and bad sex as rape. In her defense of these laws, Gulite wrote:

    The best way to show why affirmative consent is a better standard than previous standards is through an example. Two students agree to have vaginal intercourse, but without warning or asking permission, the male student begins to have anal intercourse. Of course, the female could say no immediately after taking a few seconds to register what happened and the male could oblige. However, the sexual assault has already occurred.

    Under the affirmative consent standard, the victim has recourse. Without it, she does not. (emphasis hers)

    Perhaps I’m a caveman, but I fail to see a case for disciplining, suspending, or expelling the young man; let alone having him arrested and subjected to the legal process for essentially an act of boorish behavior. This particular example looks like something that should be best handled between the two of them without involving the university or the authorities.

    If this woman has recourse under this example under affirmative consent, what about bad sex in general? Or if a woman regrets a sexual encounter the next day? We know false rape accusations happen, even if we don’t know what the exact percentage is. I fear this standard will just increase the number of them.

    The road to hell, or the loss of liberties, is often paved with good intentions. The affirmative consent standards are an excellent example of this. We should resist the urge to “just do something” to address sexual assualt at colleges. We should also resist using the government to impose our own personal morality. All those will do is just lead to erosion of more liberties.

     

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    • • •

    “Bad” or “Wrong” or “I don’t like it” is not equivalent to “Unconstitutional”

    by Chris Byrne

    In a comment on someone elses post, another reader wrote “The DEA is an unconstitutional and illegal agency”.

    This bugs me… We frequently see these sorts of statements made about the DEA, the ATF, the federal reserve (where ok, there’s at least a rational and reasonable though flawed argument to be made… most of the people shouting stuff like that above aren’t making those arguments, but still)… Basically any federal agency that they don’t like, or which enforces laws, or uses delegated powers which they personally don’t like.

    No, the mere existence of the DEA is not unconstitutional or illegal. It is perfectly constitutional in that it is an executive agency chartered to enforce the laws promulgated by the legislative branch.

    The fact that the federal government has no constitutional authority to outright ban or criminalize such substances as the DEA is chartered to regulate, or to ban or criminalize their manufacture, use, or possession (and only limited power to regulate their sale. No, sorry, regulating interstate commerce and making such laws as necessary for the general welfare does not grant them such broad and deterministic powers… and Wickard v. Filburn is bad law and needs to be overturned), does not mean that all laws relating to such substances are illegal or unconstitutional. There are legitimate regulatory powers that such an agency may lawfully and constitutionally exercise.

    AS CURRENTLY EXTANT AND IN THEIR CURRENT ROLES AND ACTIONS… The DEA often engages in unconstitutional behaviors, and acts to enforce unconstitutional laws. That much is certainly true. But they are not inherently unconstitutional, or illegal.

    Those are actually really important distinctions. Not just semantics or distinctions without difference.

    This is so, because you go about addressing the issues, and solving the problems, differently. Things which are blatantly and directly illegal or unconstitutional are best addressed in one way. Things which are peripherally so, are best addressed in a very different way.

    You have to shoot at the proper target, with the proper ammunition.

    Also, it’s really important to remember, that “bad and stupid” or “harmful” or “undesirable”, or “pointless”; does not necessarily mean “unconstitutional”. Nor does “constitutional” mean “good”, or “useful” or “effective”.

    That’s not even a matter of judges discretion or interpretation… The constitution actually provides far less protection of rights, and limitation of powers, than people believe it, expect it, and wish it to (at least explicitly… the 9th and 10th amendments… there’s much bigger and messier issue).

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    • • •

    October 14, 2014

    Windowpanes, Pencils, and Paperclips

    by Chris Byrne

    A few days ago I wrote something on facebook that bears repeating here:

    A comprehensive understanding of the pencil problem, combined with a thorough understanding of the broken window fallacy (and its inputs and corollaries… Hazlitt for example), makes a pretty good inoculant against socioeconomic lies and stupidities.

    Although they are implied by the conditions above, perhaps one should also specifically reference the scale and complexity problems, the perfect information fallacy, the perfect man fallacy, and the law of unintended consequences…

    Some of our readers may be unfamiliar with the pencil problem.

    In comments, the novelist Ryk Spoor provided a decent explanation, which I’m going to paraphrase here, with my own edits and revisions (and the addition of the last bit, about planning and control):

    No one man, can make a pencil, or at least a pencil which could be sold economically.
    In general terms, the pencil problem, is that even simplest and most common objects in our civilization generally require an immense number of people and inputs; to not merely build, but manufacture and sell in sufficient numbers, to make it worthwhile to build them cheaply (or at least so that they can be sold economically).

    The applies to everything from cars and computers, to pencils, to paperclips.

    If you wanted ONE paperclip, it would be an epic undertaking, from locating the appropriate ores, refining them, turning them into steel, figuring out how to draw the steel into the appropriate size of wire, and then finally producing the paperclip from that wire. The amount of effort involved in it would be months of your labor, assuming you had the talent and resources to do it at all.

    Instead, you go to a store and buy a 100ct box of them for a dollar; or even at minimum wage, a few minutes of your time for a hundred of the things.

    Multiply that by all the different types of goods and services in a modern civilized society, and it starts to become clear just how many people, in how many different specialties, with how much infrastructure, are needed to keep everything running.

    Given that scale and complexity, it should also be clear how impossible it would be to plan, control, and manage, anything approaching a national economy or infrastructure centrally; or in fact in any way other than as devolved and decentralized as possible.

    The original statement of the problem in this way came from an essay by Milton Friedman (which was a restatement of an earlier essay, “I, Pencil” from Leonard Read, which was a restatement of Hazlitt, which was a restatement of Bastiat and back down the chain).

    A video of Friedman explaining the problem:

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    • • •

    The problem with “Wouldn’t it be…” and “Wasn’t it…”

    by Chris Byrne

    Progressive ideas usually begin with:

    “Wouldn’t it be great if…” (progressives are generally theorists)

    Ok, right there with you so far…

    Conservative ideas usually begin with:

    “Wasn’t it great when…” (conservatives are generally empiricists)

    Yup, that works for me too…

    The complication is the next step, taken by both progressives and conservatives:

    “Since that would be great, it is our moral obligation, to use the force of government to MAKE it that way”

    … and that’s where we part ways.

    The problem, is that I believe I have no moral right to force MY personal beliefs, preferences, or ideas on anyone else (no matter how “great” or “right” they may be).

    I also believe that we have a moral obligation to use the force of government as little as possible (even if doing so may be “for the greater good”).

    Of course, that’s where the kicker hits, from both left and right…

    “Since you oppose something which is great, and which is a moral obligation, you must either be stupid, or evil”

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