Monday, May 21, 2018

Jeff Tittel’s Dishonest Package Dealing

Leading up to Earth Day 2017 New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel opined in the Star-Ledger to Stand up to Trump's war on the environment this Earth Day. It’s full of hollow climate religionist sloganeering, such as condemning “climate deniers” in the name of science and accusing “Trump and EPA chief Scott Pruitt [of] siding with corporate polluters instead of our health and climate.”

Embedded in Tittel’s rage against Trump’s energy and Environmental Protection Agency policies is a simultaneous lauding of efforts to clean up polluted rivers and calls to stop construction of future energy infrastructure projects.

I left these comments:

Don’t fall for Tittel’s dishonest package-dealing.

It’s one thing to clean up actual harmful pollution by, for example, banning dumping of raw, untreated waste into rivers. It’s quite another to wage war on industrial development, like seeking to ban reliable, increasingly clean fossil fuel energy by stopping drilling and pipelines. The first is cleaner industrialization intended to benefit man. That’s good. The second is anti-industrialism that harms man. That’s bad. They are two entirely different things lumped together into one package deal, so that if you oppose Tittlel’s war on reliable fossil fuel energy, you automatically favor pollution. It is utterly dishonest.

Earth Day is the symbol of anti-industrial anti-humanism. They hate fossil fuels not because it’s “dirty.” They hate it because it provides cheap, reliable, clean energy. Fossil fuels keep us safe from the climate and other dangers that plagued mankind through all of preindustrial history. And if wind and solar can ever become as reliable as fossil fuels, environmentalists would find a reason to ban them, too. After all, reliable nuclear and hydro power emit no CO2, yet are also opposed by environmentalists. Earth Day anti-humanists oppose reliable, economical energy of any kind, because energy is the industry that drives every other industry—the very industrialization human beings need to live on Earth.

It’s important to understand that environmentalism [that is, ideological Environmentalism, upper case “E”] is driven by non-impact on nature, not human well-being, as the moral standard of value. Hence, environmentalists will never be satisfied. They will always seek more and more restrictions on productive human activity. Yet humans can only survive and thrive by impacting nature. Earth Day should celebrate the human ingenuity and the enabling individual freedom of capitalism, which together unleashed entrepreneurs to transform the planet from the danger-filled environment nature imposed on us to the safe, prosperous, clean industrial environment that allows each of us the opportunity to pursue flourishing and happiness. The Earth that the Earth Day environmentalists seek is no place for man.


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There’s an interesting twist to this year’s [2017] Earth Day—the inclusion of a March for Science on Earth Day. What’s interesting is that scientific progress is the prerequisite to the Industrial Revolution that environmentalists and their Earth Day is fundamentally, on principle, opposed to.

What are they up too?

There is no doubt that science is indispensable to human progress, including progress toward the development of technologies to alleviate and minimize negative side effects from industrialization, such as cleaner burning fossil fuels.

What I believe is the environmentalist movement seek to use science in the same way that Marxian communism uses to promote socialism and Nazisim and Progressivism used to promote eugenics. Following in the footsteps of the communists and the Nazis, the environmentalists peddle climate catastrophism to promote a statist agenda—all in the name of and under cover of science. Science ceases to be a source of knowledge in service to human progress, and is instead converted into a tool against human flourishing. As Tittel concludes:

We need to stand up for science at the March for Science on Saturday in Trenton and Washington. We need to protest against climate-deniers in Washington D.C. on April 29 at the People's Climate March. We need to stand together for clean air, clean water, and to protect our planet from climate change.

What we need is to protect humans from Environmentalism. Environmentalism invokes science the way religionists invoke God—as an infallible authority that people who claim to speak for the authority say must be unquestioningly obeyed. I for one won’t ever let them get away with this quasi-religious gimmick.

Related Reading:

Earth Day: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

Reflections on “Earth Day” 2012: Americans Begin to Wake Up—Ari Armstrong for The Objective Standard

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Leftist Acknowledges the Un-American Premise Behind the Welfare State

It’s no secret that the Democrats hate the Republicans’ drive to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare. But rarely does anybody on the Left exhibit such blatant nerve as former Democratic U.S. Congressman Steven R. Rothman of New Jersey. Last March (2017) Rothman authored a NJ Star-Ledger guest column asserting that Paul Ryan wants to destroy America's social safety net, not just Obamacare. The hyperbole of that patently false statement—modern Republicans are welfare statists—is nothing new. What is unusual (though not unheard of) is this statement from Rothman:

[A]ll Americans of good will and conscience must stop our Congressional representatives from taking the un-American and immoral step of hurting the programs that 99 percent of Americans rely on to live a decent life. 
After all, the provision of the U.S. Constitution that sets the righteous goal for our government to "promote the general welfare," has come to be interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Congress' broad authority to tax and spend for the general welfare of all Americans, not just the rich.

Where does the money for these programs come from? You got it, the very Americans—the productive Americans themselves—whose earnings are confiscated to fund the programs. Most Americans don’t need these programs so long as they could keep their own money. (For those who do need them, there is always private charity.) Rothman twists things around: It is the government that relies on Americans to support its programs, not the other way around.

I left these comments, slightly edited for clarity:

A more morally inverted and un-American—in fact, anti-American—statement can not possibly be uttered, revisionist decisions of the Supreme Court notwithstanding.

America is the first country to be founded on the principle that each individual possesses inalienable individual rights to live by his own judgement in pursuit of his own goals, values, and happiness, free from coercive interference from others, including others in their capacity as government officials. That’s what limited government means—a government limited to protecting individual rights, not mob “rights.” This—the principles that leave Americans free to deal with each other on a voluntary basis, or not at all—is what makes America the moral country; a country of rationally selfish individualists, not sacrificial altruists each forced into unwanted dependence on and subservience to each other with no hope of escaping the mob’s iron grip.

Yet Rothman completely inverts the American system. He falsely claims that the “general welfare” clause stands, not for the protection of individual rights equally and at all times for all people, but for mob “rights,” in which the group, not the individual, is the standard of moral value. On this blatantly un-American collectivist premise, society can, through the all-powerful state as its representative, chain everybody into government programs in violation of the rights of any individuals who might otherwise choose not to join.

A socialist government program is not about the general welfare. It is about the welfare of some at the expense of others, and the power of the few over the lives of the many. The only thing “general” about socialist welfare state programs is the chains that bind all together and leave none with their rights. After all, rights can be boiled down to this: the freedom to say no, and go one’s separate way if one chooses. This freedom doesn’t protect the rich and powerful. It primarily protects the weakest among us—each of us as individuals. Under the American system, the rich have no power to coerce even the poorest individual, until and unless the government hands them that power by failing to protect the individual’s inalienable rights. In Rothman’s reactionary conception, no one has the right to say “no” to his neighbor or his government.

The American system embodied in the principles of the Declaration of Independence, which has come to be known as laissez-faire, or “let us alone”, capitalism, is designed to protect the life and liberty of the common person from mob and government alike. Rothman responds “Wrong! The American System is not about individualism. It is about collectivism, in which all are chained and enslaved to all, and dependent on all, via omnipotent government.” The fact that most of us are already partially chained via one government program or another shows how far the social statists—who disingenuously label themselves “Progressives”—have repudiated everything America stands for.

To wrap the rise of socialist tyranny in the American Flag: What can be more disingenuous than that! Rothman apparently believes that Americans have become so ignorant of the political, intellectual, and moral exceptionalism of American history and its Founding principles that he can get away with uttering such anti-American trash. But, he’d be wrong. Many of us see his rhetoric for what it is—a counter Revolution against America. Support the welfare state if you want to. But don’t pretend there is anything American about it. The Founders and Framers of the Constitution established a system for people from the world over to escape chains—to seek genuine freedom, not the chance to submit to a new form of tyranny. Rothman’s statement should be a wake-up call to all who have any remaining reverence for America.

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The “General Welfare” clause refers to the maintenance of the social conditions of liberty that enables people to flourish by their own efforts and voluntary interactions with others, within the scope of the enumerated powers granted to the government by the Constitution. As CATO’s Roger Pilon explains, “Article I, section 8, grants the Congress only 18 powers. Nothing for education, or retirement security, or health care: Those responsibilities were left to the states or to the people, as the Tenth Amendment makes clear.” It is a sanction for the state to promote the freedom of each individual to pursue and provide, by his own effort, his own welfare. The General Welfare Clause is not a sanction for the government to provide specific welfare benefits.

Related Reading:

The "Right to Be Left Alone" Applies to More than Religion

Constitutional Distortions- the "General Welfare" Clause

Minimum Wage Doesn't Belong in the Constitution--or Law

Obama's "Bridge": 21st Century Tyranny Cloaked in America's Founding Ideals

Thursday, May 17, 2018

S-L Letter’s Anti-Industry Bigotry is Wrong Across the Board

The following letter appeared in the 4/19/17 edition of the New Jersey Star-Ledger. I think it deserves a strong rebuttal. Since the Star-Ledger no longer publishes letters online, I copied it here for the sake of my commentary:

Regulations protect Americans

A Star-Ledger article (April 17) relates how industry is complaining about EPA’s restrictions. Time has proven that industry will not work for the good of its employees, neighbors or country without oversight by good government. Great examples by the Washington Post: BP oil wants less restriction on drilling in Gulf of Mexico. Isn’t this the company responsible for that huge leak? Also, a trade association opposes USGS efforts to study coal tar emissions from parking lot paving. Coal tar is known (and accepted by real science) as loaded with carcinogens. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants the government to eliminate publication of industrial injuries and illnesses now reported to the Labor Department. I guess the public really shouldn’t want to know about accidents, emissions, diseases related to money-making industries in the U.S. And so it goes under President Donald Trump. Stand up and fight. [emphasis added]

Herb Skovronek of Morris Plains
The “Star-Ledger article” in question is EPA emerges as major target after Trump solicits policy advice from industry, republished from the Washington Post of 4/16/17.

I want to focus on the underlying message of this letter.

The first premise is that, unlike employees, neighbors, and people who comprise “the country,” industrialists have no moral right to work for their own good. This is of course altruism, and Skovronek apparently believes that the world owes him whatever he happens to want. The second premise is that whatever the government does in terms of regulating industry is good because it chooses to do it, and that industry will run roughshod over everyone and the environment if it is not regulated by government bureaucrats.

Skovronek has it exactly backwards.

Unregulated industry—that is, industry to the extent it is free to operate—has made the world an immensely better place since the dawn of capitalism as an organized social system some two hundred plus years ago. It is the role of business—especially the entrepreneurial “cream-of-the-crop” of business—to bring the knowledge of the scientist and the ideas of the inventor to the general public at all economic levels, in the form of mass-market products and services that allow even the poorest inhabitants of industrial countries to live better than kings and even early industrial “one-percenters” in the relatively recent past. And industry has done that splendidly. Our lives are saturated with the life-enhancing benefits of industry, to which we owe our flourishing lives

Historically, government unconstrained by proper constitutional limits has been by far the greatest bane to mankind, being responsible for endless wars of aggression, conquest and plunder, slavery, genocide, and redistribution of wealth on a scale private criminals couldn’t even fathom—all under cover of law.

Time has indeed proven that industry will not work for the good of its employees, neighbors or country. That is the moral beauty of capitalism—and we should be thankful for that. Business—the voluntary organization of human, financial, and material capital under a focused productive goal—does and should work for its own good in pursuit of its creative goal. The greatness of capitalism—the basic essentials of which are outlined in the Declaration of Independence—is that personal profit and gain is achieved, and can only be achieved, by providing willing customers with economic values that, in the consumer's’ own judgement, betters their lives. The means is voluntary trade, the win-win basis of any civil, enlightened society. The greatest of unregulated capitalism, to the extent it is unregulated, is that as industry grows, so grows the general standard of living. (Note: “unregulated” does not mean no rule of law. See my Objective Standard article Where Does Valid Law End and Regulation Begin?.)

Skovronek’s knee jerk condemnation of “industry” as some kind of exploiter who must be kept under the thumb of government regulators as beasts of burden—a mindset that springs from the same collectivist generalization that gives birth to racism—is morally abhorrent. We should be joining industry representatives in questioning the regulations coming out of the EPA, especially given that environmentalism is rooted in a standard of moral value that puts non-impact on nature above human flourishing. Business is by far humanity’s greatest benefactor of all time, and yet is the most persecuted minority around today. It’s time we recognized the former and corrected the injustice of the latter.

I often wonder about anti-business bigots: Why do they buy products made by business? Why don’t they try living without business products, even for just a little while?

Related Reading:

Elizabeth Warren's Flawed Understanding of the Source of Worker Productivity

Businessmen—Ayn Rand

The Left’s Insatiable Lust to Soak American Business

On Bigotry: America’s Undefended Minority—Businessmen

Gladwell & Co.’s Monstrous Injustice Against Businessmen—Ari Armstrong for The Objective Standard
Why Businessmen Need Philosophy: The Capitalist's Guide to the Ideas Behind Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged – Edited by Debi Ghate and Richard E. Ralston

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Iran Deal Pullout or Not, American Interests Come Before Internationalism

In Trump and Iran: Has he traded peace for bloodshed?, New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialist Tom Moran argues against President Trump’s pullout of Barack Obama’s Iran deal:

It's not clear what will happen next, except that the United States will be more isolated than ever on the world stage. It follows Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, his abandonment of the Pacific Trade Partnership, and the new steel tariffs imposed on some of our close allies.

My emphasis. Moran repeated the isolation charge in the last paragraph:

We have a dangerously ignorant and impulsive president who is listening to poisonous advice from extremists. We are increasingly isolated, in a day when nearly every challenge, from climate to terrorism, requires international cooperation.

I left these comments:

There may be valid reasons to criticize Trump’s move. Treaties are complex. The U.S. probably should not have signed the agreement in the first place. However, once in it, one must be concerned with America’s future credibility and reliability that it will honor previous commitments across different Administrations when considering whether to pull out.

That said, whatever the arguments for or against pulling out of prior American commitments like the Iran deal--I believe Trump’s pullout from Paris was right, but from the Pacific Partnership was wrong--fear of being “isolated” should not be one of the concerns. The American government’s job is to protect Americans’ rights and security, regardless of how unpopular the policies may be in the world. Cooperation is valuable: Americans have a lot to gain from freedom of trade and migration or from multi-nation security agreements. But this cooperation is only valuable up to a point. It is not an intrinsic good. Agreements are not good simply because they are agreements. Don’t confuse mutually beneficial cooperation with national self-sacrifice. Sometimes the right thing to do is to go it alone. American interests should never be sacrificed on the altar of Internationalism.


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It should also be remembered that Obama refused to submit the treaty to Congress for formal ratification. This may be strictly legal, constitutionally (although I have my doubts). But when Obama made an end run around Congress, he made it as easy for future Administrations to arbitrarily alter or scuttle the deal as he had committing the U.S. to the deal. The same thing happened with Obama’s Paris Climate deal--no Congressional ratification, Trump pulls out without Congressional approval. When you rob the American people of a full and open debate through the ratification process--in effect, ruling more like a King than serving as president--you get what you asked for.
Related Reading:

"Tear Down This Wall": Reagan’s “Isolated” but Successful Drive to “Win” the Cold War

Trump’s Leadership on Paris Withdrawal versus Obama’s Delusions of Unearned Greatness

Buchanan’s Anti-Free Trade Tirade Under Cover of TPP ‘Fast Track’ Debate

NAFTA, Whatever its Flaws, Was a Good Thing

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Energy Subsidies: Cronyism Breeds Cronyism

Nuclear plant owners expand search for rescue to more states, the Associated Press reports;

The natural gas boom that has hammered coal mines and driven down utility bills is hitting nuclear power plants, sending multi-billion-dollar energy companies in search of a financial rescue in states where competitive electricity markets have compounded the effect.

The plant owners' strategy is similar to that in Illinois and New York: give nuclear power megawatts the kind of preferential treatment and premium payments that are given to renewable energies, such as wind and solar.

New Jersey is in on the act. Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG) succeeded in getting a nuclear  “bailout” bill through the legislature and sent to Governor Murphy. The same bill required a compromise, via a companion bill, creating massive new subsidies--labeled “incentives,” not bailouts) for unreliables solar and wind.

As usual, cronyism breeds cronyism. “That guy’s getting a subsidy, so why not me.” How about eliminating the "preferential treatment and premium payments" throughout the energy industry, and letting market forces—the cumulative individual voluntary choices of producers and consumers—determine energy sources?

Related Reading:

Free the Market to Sort Out the Future Course of the Energy Industry

If ‘Renewable Energy’ Technology Has Truly ‘Proven Itself,’ Why Does the Renewable Industry Need NJ’s 80% 'Renewable' Mandate?

Climate Change Catastrophists Who Oppose Nuclear have Anti-Humanist Premises

Friday, May 11, 2018

Drug Advertising: New Zealand and the USA are Right, and the Rest of the World is Wrong

A New Jersey Star-Ledger letter, Drug advertising dangerous, argues against prescription drug advertising, concluding

There are only two countries in the world that allow direct to consumer pharmaceutical advertising: New Zealand and the USA. I wonder why?

The implication—the author doesn’t answer his own question—is that Pharmaceutical companies engage in deceptive advertising because they “put profits over people.” But who is really putting dollars over patient health?

I left these comments:

“There are only two countries in the world that allow direct to consumer pharmaceutical advertising: New Zealand and the USA. I wonder why?”

Because New Zealand and the USA are the only two countries that respect pharma companies’ freedom of speech and consumers’ right to take the responsibility to rationally judge for themselves what medical options there are. Other countries—all of whom have some form of socialized, government-funded healthcare—would rather put cost above healthcare needs. They’d rather let people suffer and die needlessly rather than spend the money, as their systems go broke. It’s easier to get away with their blood savings when people are less likely to be informed of all of the options available.

False advertising can be dealt with through criminal fraud laws. Otherwise, government should protect the rights of the pharmaceutical companies to advertise the life-enhancing, life-saving prescription drugs they produce and of consumers who want to be informed. Anyone is free to ignore the advertisements, or to refuse to buy the drugs. But, for Levin and his ilk to demand to use the government’s guns to outlaw the advertisements is just plain thuggery. We should prefer live-and-let-live. It is immoral, not to mention unconstitutional, to legally ban drug advertising. It inhibits free trade and free speech, two inalienable individual rights.


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When governments pay, they have a vested incentive to control the treatment narrative. Another important question to ask is, “All but two countries in the world, New Zealand and the USA, legally ban prescription drug advertising. Why is that?” Maybe it’s because state bureaucrats don't want to be bothered by more informed consumers asking about other treatment options or learning about new advanced drug options that are more costly than the state wants to spend. Can there be any other reason?

Related Reading:

Pharmaphobia—Thomas P. Stossel

On Mylan’s EpiPen Pricing Controversy

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Challenge the ‘100% Renewables” Fanatics on their Underlying anti-Humanism

In a New Jersey Star-Ledger column, After outages, Phil Murphy needs to take a look at where electricity comes from, Paul Mulshine once again takes on the anti-pipeliners. He points out the energy disaster now unfolding in another state where Environmentalists have been getting their way, Mulshine believes that “[NJ Governor Phil] Murphy could learn a lot more if he focused his attention on what's been going on this winter in his native state of Massachusetts”:

There, environmental extremists prevailed upon state legislators to prevent the construction of pipeline capacity that could give the state access to the cheap and plentiful natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania.

A win for the environment? Not exactly. A recent editorial in the Boston Globe [Our Russian ‘pipeline,’ and its ugly toll] noted that instead of using fracked gas from Pennsylvania, some of the utilities switched to liquefied natural gas from Russia that came in on a tanker.

The editorial noted that the production of imported LNG is both more expensive and more carbon-intensive than domestic gas.

"As a result, to a greater extent than anywhere else in the United States, the Commonwealth now expects people in places like Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Yemen to shoulder the environmental burdens of providing natural gas that state policy makers have showily rejected here," it said.

Then there were the utilities that replaced the clean-burning gas with oil and coal, both of which are much dirtier. But so what? The anti-pipeline crowd was appeased.

Unfortunately, the anti-pipeline people are Luddites. You can determine that by going to the website of 350.org, the leading anti-pipeline group.

"Stop Fossil Fuels: Build 100% Renewables," it reads.

In labeling the anti-pipeliners “luddites”, Mulshine undoubtedly refers to their opposition to superior energy technologies, like fracking and pipelines. Nonetheless, I left this comment:

“Unfortunately, the anti-pipeline people are Luddites.”

I think “Luddite” gives them too much credit. The Luddites opposed labor saving machines because they displaced some jobs, which they saw as bad for human well-being. They were wrong. But at least their motive was pro-human.

The anti-pipeline movement is not pro-human. The movement is rooted in Environmentalist ideology that values undisturbed nature over human industrial progress. Why do Environmentalists oppose every reliable economical energy technology? Reliable energy drives industrial progress, so opposing reliables while increasing reliance on unreliable so-called “renewable” energy—they couldn’t get away with opposing all energy—will inhibit further human-caused “environmental destruction”. Since altering nature to human benefit is what industry is all about, the Environmentalists are anti-human well-being, the opposite of the Luddites.

As to [another point Mulshine makes], tree-clearing around power line rights-of-way, I doubt Environmentalists would allow the destruction of trees if they could stop it.


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Even bigger problems could be in store for Massachusetts. As Michael Bastasch reports for The Daily Caller, Rolling Blackouts Could Become A Fact Of Life In New England as new natural gas pipelines are kept from being built and existing coal and nuclear plants—two more reliable energy sources hated by Environmentalists—are slated to be shut down. Unlike the bratty “100% renewables now!” whim-worshipers, energy industrialists look years down the road. We ignore them at our peril. A “100% renewable energy” future is a bleak place for human life.

Related Reading:

Mulshine on the ‘National Anti-Pipeline Movement’

The ‘Jihad on Pipelines,’ New Jersey Front

The Risks of the Pilgrim Pipeline—and the Risks of Not Having Pipelines

Are Pipelines a Threat to Water?

Our Russian ‘pipeline,’ and its ugly toll--the Boston Globe Editorial Board

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century—Ronald Bailey
The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels Hardcover—Alex Epstein