Saturday, December 16, 2017

Note to Net Neutralityists: Be Careful What You Wish For

The distortions in the way the Trump FCC’s rollback of the Obama FCC’s so-called Net Neutrality rules is being reported is disgraceful. For example, AP reported:

The Federal Communications Commission repealed Obama-era “net neutrality” rules Dec. 14, giving internet service providers like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T a free hand to slow or block websites and apps as they see fit or charge more for faster speeds.

No. The FCC didn’t “give” the ISPs anything. It restored the rights of ISP providers to manage content traffic on their own networks—the networks that they built—as they see fit.

The original Obama rules did give something—a free ride to big content providers like Google, Facebook, and Netflix that lobbied for Net Neutrality regulations so they didn’t have to pay a voluntarily agreed-upon price or contractual conditions with the ISPs. In other words, the high-minded sounding “net neutrality” rules were just a crony regulation.

More seriously—though given far too little attention—the Net Neutrality power grab by government is a threat to free speech. In the name of “protecting consumers,” the rules put a handful of politically-appointed bureaucrats in charge of managing the flow of content across the internet. Thus the market—the cumulative choices of consumers that ultimately drives the ISP’s management—will no longer be the governing factor. The whims of government officials will. Once a precedent is net, its consequences spread and metastasize.

And it didn’t take long.

Intellectual freedom is crucial to the maintenance of a free and civil society. It’s no accident that the Founders made the protection of intellectual freedom explicit through the very First Amendment to the Constitution. The FCC’s 2015 so-called “net neutrality” rule was an opening wedge of control and an attack on that freedom where it is the most unfettered—the internet. It didn’t take long to see why and how that rule was only a start. As the Washington Post recently reported in The Switch: Tech companies pushed for net neutrality. Now Sen. Al Franken wants to turn it on them:

For years, tech companies have insisted that they're different from everything else. Take Facebook, which has long claimed that it's a simple tech platform, not a media entity. “Don't be evil,” Google once said to its employees, as though it were setting itself apart from the world's other massive corporations.

But now, some policymakers are increasingly insisting that firms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter really aren't that special after all — and that perhaps it's time they were held to the same standard that many Americans expect of electricity companies or Internet providers.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) became the latest and most vocal of these critics Wednesday when, at a Washington conference, he called for tech companies to follow the same net neutrality principles that the federal government has applied to broadband companies such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast.

There you have it. The lure of political power—the power of the gun to coerce and control—is insatiable. Electric companies, bad as those monopolies are, carry mere electricity. Internet providers carry intellectual content. When government took the step of forcing “net neutrality” on the Internet Service Providers, they took a huge step toward control of the intellectual life of Americans. Now they’re agitating to take the next step—extend that control to content providers. Once we started down the road of government control of the internet camouflaged as “net neutrality,” there was nothing to stand in the way of power-lusters to expand their reach. A “call” for “net neutrality” on Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al, will eventually turn into a legal mandate and control if it is not stopped.

Alex Epstein saw this coming in 2006:

The widespread support for net neutrality among successful Internet companies — including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, and Amazon — is short-sighted and contemptible. These companies, which have benefited greatly from the unimpeded freedom of the Internet, are now trying to deny the same freedom to innovative ISPs and ambitious competitors under the egalitarian banner of “equal access.” This is an invitation for any clever moocher to demand “equal access” to their hard-earned resources; indeed, Google is already being sued because its proprietary search engine allegedly gives “unfair” rankings to certain companies. [My emphasis]

To be clear, the FCC’s 2015 “net neutrality” rule didn’t replace an unregulated internet. There was regulation, by the FTC, targeted at specific complaints as they arose. Nor was the “net neutrality” some iron-clad guarantee of strict sameness in how ISPs managed traffic on their systems. There were plenty of “loopholes” for the ISPs to exploit under “net neutrality”. The ISP’s could still discriminate—but only after getting FCC permission. ” As my Mercatus Center colleague Brent Skorup has tirelessly pointed out,”  Andrea O'Sullivan points out,

the OIO [Open Internet Order, aka “Net Neutrality”] did not require all internet actors—ranging from ISPs to content platforms to domain name registrars and everything else—to be content-blind and treat all traffic the same. Rather, it erected an awkward permission-and-control regime within the FCC that only affected a small portion of internet technology companies. [my emphasis]

In other words, the government seizes control.

But the details are beside the point. As the great James Madison once said in the context of defending religious liberty from government encroachment, “The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle."

The principle involved today is the idea that the companies that have given us unprecedented freedom to talk to one another should be controlled by the state. A state that can dictate how content can be carried on the ISP’s networks can also dictate what content can and cannot be allowed on the networks. Franken’s jab at the content providers shows the principle in action. Therefore, we should deny that principle—the principle that the government should have any say whatsoever in what content flows on the internet and how it flows, what it costs, how it is managed, etc. Electricity is one thing. But for all the hollow talk by net neutralityists about protecting consumers, who in their right mind would want the state to dictate what we say and how we say it to each other?

Which gets us back to Franken. As O'Sullivan observes over at Reason,

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai made this very point last week at an R Street Institute event on the repeal. Major edge service providers like Google, Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter have made their opposition to OIO deregulation loud and clear to their user base. Some have displayed automatic messages on their front pages, urging visitors to take action and encourage others to do the same. Yet at the same time, these services engage in kinds of content blocking that they say broadband providers could possibly do.

This hypocrisy is relevant for more than just ideological inconsistency. It's about economic power. By encouraging harsh regulation of ISPs that effectively controls the rates that major tech companies can be charged for bandwidth, these companies are engaging in a kind of regulatory capture.

While I dispute O’Sullivan’s characterization of the edge service (content) providers demanding that net neutrality be imposed on the ISPs as economic power—regulation is actually political power, and there is a night-and-day difference there—the point is clear. Franken is right: If net neutrality is the goal, then why shouldn’t the “tech companies . . . follow the same net neutrality principles that the federal government has applied to broadband companies such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast?” The principle demands it. There’s no logical reason why they shouldn’t.

Which is precisely why the net neutrality rules should have been repealed. Avoid the consequences of the principle by denying the principle!

Let’s not be suckered by the statists or the cronyists. “Net Neutrality” is not about consumer protection, which is already adequately covered by anti-fraud and breach-of-contract laws. It’s about government control—about erecting a “permission-and-control regime within the FCC.” Government-imposed “net neutrality” rules are stupid in terms of economics and stifling of innovation, and unfair in terms of violating the property rights of the ISPs that built their networks. But “net neutrality” mandates are also downright dangerous to intellectual freedom—our freedom to express our thoughts—and should be repealed. We should do no less than follow Madison’s advice, and deny the government any say in controlling how the ISPs and tech companies manage their businesses and networks, as a matter of principle. Our ability to freely speak, communicate, debate, and rebut ideas is at stake. Repeal the government’s Net Neutrality rules and forbid them from ever re-imposing such rules again.

Better yet, abolish the FCC as the major threat to freedom of speech that it is. Net Neutrality supporters profess concern about the “power” of the ISP’s to control content flow on their networks. But it’s their networks, after all. Their power—economic power—derives from their ability to build and provide an offer of internet service, which consumers are free to accept or reject. The power that should be of concern is the government’s power—political power; the power to coerce and control and enforce edicts at the point of a gun. That’s the power that the FCC brings to bear on the flow of information and ideas across the internet. It’s not enough to say the government would never use its power to stifle that flow. But that’s not the point. It can use it covertly, by way of regulatory extortion, just as easily though less detectably as it can overtly. But even if not, a government of a free country should never have that power to begin with—not the power to control intellectual discourse nor, more broadly, the power to interfere in private economic contract between private citizens or their companies without evidence of rights violations. Our intellectual and economic freedom should not be at the mercy of government officials or politics

Good riddance to Net Neutrality. We need legal neutrality—a government that protects rights equally and at all times. Don’t give the next administration the opportunity to reimpose these rules, or something even worse. Abolish the Federal Communications Commission now.

Related Reading:

Net Neutrality: Toward a Stupid Internet—Raymond C. Niles for The Objective Standard

Net Neutrality: Toward a Stupid Internet—Raymond C. Niles for The Objective Standard

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Bezos Should Focus On Running His Company

A recent article in Bloomberg Technology reports that Jeff Bezos, the brilliant founder and builder of retailing revolutionary, is under pressure from altruists to give away his fortune. The article, For Bezos, Now World’s Richest, Philanthropy Is 'Saved for Later' is accompanied by the subtitle, “Amazon’s founder wants to change the world, but he’s still deciding on his approach to giving.”

Bezos wants to “change the world?” What the hell is Amazon, a company that radically changed the world for the better? Like Wal-Mart two generations ago, Amazon harnessed emerging cutting-edge technology to create a retailing value that hundreds of millions of consumers have enthusiastically embraced. Amazon has lowered the general cost of goods by bypassing the traditional “brick-and-mortar” strategy, thus raising the standard of living of average people while making the shopping experience more convenient. And don’t forget that Amazon is a jobs machine. Which is why politicians across America have been scrambling in a bidding war to get Amazon to locate its planned Second Headquarters in their states and communities, which will bring an estimated 50,000 good-paying jobs with it. The secondary benefits of Amazon’s success are undoubtedly almost incalculable. All this thanks to the vision, drive, and ability of one man!

Yet, altruists focus only on how Bezos can give his fortune away. According to Karen Weise and Dina Bass: Inc. founder Jeff Bezos may have surpassed Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates to be the richest person in the world, but there's one title he isn't likely to claim: world's most generous.

Even with more than $90 billion to his name, Bezos has yet to make a major philanthropic mark, but with the new mantle of the world’s richest, the pressure on Bezos to give will only grow. Nonprofits and other foundations are desperate to see what he’ll do, says giving consultant and researcher Amy Schiller. “Bezos has probably had philanthropy in his mental cart for a while,” she says, “and kept clicking `save for later.'”

Why are they so desperate? If the welfare of others is their goal, they should want Bezos to “save philanthropy for later”; building a business does far more good that giving away. Now I realize that philanthropic foundations have their own interests in mind. After all, their job is to give away other people’s money, not earn it. But even by that standard, can’t they see that production, not handouts, is the most humanitarian of pursuits? Give the guy a break.  

Now, there’s nothing wrong with philanthropy (the voluntary kind). It definitely has its place in a progressive society. But it’s instructive that Bill Gates is held up in comparison. The next paragraph indicates a dark side of the “giving” crusaders:

As Gates built Microsoft, he also faced increasing pressure from the public -- and even his own parents -- to give more. When his mother prodded him one night, Gates snapped back, "I'm just trying to run my company!" the Wall Street Journal reported in 2009. Gates didn't fully throw himself into philanthropy until he stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in 2000, but since then he's helped build the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation into the largest foundation in the country. A representative said Gates was unavailable to comment.

Was Gates pressured into abandoning his dream to focus on philanthropy? Now, I don’t claim to know whether Gates succumbed to the pressure and stepped down from running his company before he was ready. I remember reading or hearing that Gates left Microsoft in the aftermath of the US government’s vicious antitrust assault on the company, saying that the assault made his job “not fun anymore.” But it’s rotten for people to have pressured Gates into quitting what he wanted to do—run his business—for the sake of giving away his fortune to people who didn’t earn it. And by his own mother, no less! But this is altruism. In the name of “helping the less fortunate,” they callously disregard the desires of those who actually make the money that the “less fortunate”—which includes not only people down on their luck through no fault of their own, but also the lazy, the incompetent, the moocher, and, worst of all, the envious haters of success and achievement—supposedly need.

The irony is that Bezos already donates substantial amounts of money, and some of the donations are listed in the article. So, what are the altruists after? Here’s a hint: ““His giving so far is not meaningful in terms of a direction,” said one CEO of an organization that tracks Tech giving. What will be “meaningful?” Giving up his passion?

As I write this, Bezos is closing in on becoming America’s first $100 billion man, thanks to the continuing growth of Amazon—which thanks to Bezos’s continuing genius and tolerance for calculated risk that is inherent in entrepreneurialism is finding new avenues of growth (Amazon recently bought Whole Foods). Good for him! Capitalist fortune builders are by far mankind’s greatest-ever humanitarians, before or regardless of whether they give away their first dime.

To his credit, Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, who himself has solicited donations from Bezos, said, “Jeff is probably not quite ready to step down yet, but this is a guy who, like Bill, is fixated on changing the world in really important ways. It’s a full-time job. You have to imagine he will be every bit as philanthropic as Gates. Nobody has any right to make demands, and they have to give the guy time.”  

Exactly right. No one has any moral right. As someone who uses Amazon, let me extend a hearty thank you to Jeff Bezos. May he resist the heartless attempts to pressure and guilt him into philanthropy. Here’s to encouraging Bezos to continue to run and grow his business, if that is what he wants to do.

Related Reading:

THE GUILT PLEDGEDon Watkins and Yaron Brook

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Why We Need the Separation of Education and State

Killeen, Texas School Bans Charlie Brown Christmas Poster by Tyler O’Neil, posted at PJ Media in December 2016, is a good example of why government schools should not exist in a free society:

Dedra Shannon, a staffer at Patterson Middle School in Killeen, was ordered [by the principal] to remove a door-length poster featuring the iconic scene of Linus in front of a kid-sized tree uttering the true meaning of Christmas: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord. That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

The principal argued that the poster was "an issue of separation of church and state" and that it "had to come down because it might offend kids from other religions or those who do not have a religion." The principal said Shannon could keep the picture of Linus up but had to remove the offending dialogue.

"I just took the entire thing down," Shannon recalled. "I wasn't going to leave Linus and the Christmas tree without having the dialogue. That's the whole point of why it was put up."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton would not let this stand, however. He accused the Killeen Independent School District of violating the state's Merry Christmas Law. That law, passed in 2013, ensures that no school official in Texas can silence a biblical reference to Christmas.

"We passed that law precisely because of this type of discrimination against people of faith," Paxton told Starnes. "This is an attack on religious liberty and a violation of the First Amendment and state law."

O’Neil goes on to report “Exactly how a poster showing Linus with a well-known Christmas quote constitutes ‘imposing’ personal beliefs on students the district did not explain. It seems to imply that the mere possibility of a non-Christian student seeing the poster is enough to cause psychological harm.”

But psychological harm is not the point. The "’imposing’ [of] personal beliefs on students” comes from the fact that government schools are imposed on students by government force—that is, force of taxation and compulsory attendance laws. A public school teacher is, by extension, an agent of the government and there bound by Constitution. The biblical reference is, by definition, a violation of the First Amendment’s ban on Establishment of Religion by government.

But, that’s not the whole story.

I left these comments:

The principal argued that the poster was "an issue of separation of church and state."

"We passed that law precisely because of this type of discrimination against people of faith," Paxton told Starnes. "This is an attack on religious liberty and a violation of the First Amendment . . . ."

Both are correct.

Government owned and administered schools must not allow its property to be used for any activity “respecting an establishment of religion,” thus violating dissenting taxpayers’ right to freedom of conscience. On the other hand, Christians are as much taxpaying supporters of government schools as non-Christians, so they have as much right to display religious Christmas greetings as anyone has to display secular Christmas greetings: To do otherwise amounts to “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” as well as “abridging the freedom of speech,” violating the rights of Christians in two ways.

Displaying the poster and forbidding its display both violate the First Amendment. This is a government-created contradiction. I believe the most fundamental issue here is not one of separation of church and state nor freedom of religion nor free speech. The fundamental issue is the proper role of government regarding education: specifically, the propriety of government being involved with financing, owning, or administering schools. These kinds of conflicts wouldn’t arise if we didn’t have government-run education. If all education were privately owned, run, and funded, the schools could make their own policies regarding expressions of conscience, and parents can consider such policies when choosing a school for their children. Whatever school parents then choose, they’d have to follow the school’s rules. (I’m leaving aside the issue of “discrimination against people of faith.” The government shouldn’t discriminate in the enforcement of its laws. But anti-discrimination laws targeted at the private sector violate the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of association. But that is off-topic and a subject for another day.)

To avoid these kinds of unnecessary conflicts, and for many other reasons, I propose the following addition to the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In short, we need the separation of education and state in the same way and for the same reasons as we have the separation of church and state—to protect intellectual freedom.

Short of that—and while acknowledging that Christians have a legitimate beef—I have to side with the school district. Religion itself is the larger threat to freedom because it is inherently authoritarian, which is why there must be an impenetrable firewall between religion and political power (the power of legalized force). As long as we have government schools, the Texas conflict and the like must be resolved on the side of separation of church and state as articulated in the First Amendment “establishment” and “free exercise” clauses. Once we crack the door open to government establishment of religion, no matter how small the crack, we start down a road that leads to theocratic tyranny. And that would be the end of freedom of religion, speech, press, and association—the entire First Amendment—and by extension freedom generally.

I would add one more important observation. Shannon said, "I wasn't going to leave Linus and the Christmas tree without having the [biblical] dialogue. That's the whole point of why it was put up."

No, it’s not the “whole point.” Christmas ceased being a strictly religious holiday the minute Congress made it a legal holiday. A legal religious holiday in a nation dedicated to freedom of religion and conscience is a contradiction. (The Founders used the terms “religion” and conscience” interchangeably. They understood religious freedom to encompass the freedom not to believe in or practice any religion—in effect, not just freedom of religion, but freedom from religion as well.) Being a national legal holiday, Christmas can have non-religious, non-Christian meaning just as validly as a Christian meaning. It’s a matter of individual preference. Otherwise, what’s the point of freedom of conscience?

Related Reading:

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Educational Freedom, Not Just Education, ‘Has to Be the Top Priority for Candidates

In a letter published in The Jersey Journal prior to the 2017 election, Jersey City Board of Education member Marilyn Roman expressed disappointment that the candidates didn’t pay more attention to education. In Education has to be the top priority for candidates, Roman wrote,

The issues the group wanted both Mayor Fulop and Mr. Matsikoudis to address were to be limited to jobs, affordable housing and safety all of which are relevant issues in our city. It occurred to me, however, that while the group made some mention of education, it was not really addressed by both candidates. It was the missing component, but it is the piece that makes all of the other issues come together. No one seemed to pick up education as a key component toward making everything else fall into place.

In the 21st century economy of today, it is extremely difficult to get a good job unless you have an education and for the most part that education has to be geared to a field where there is a need for qualified personnel. When this country entered the global economy, they neglected to gear up the education community properly toward providing the skills necessary to succeed in the jobs market of the future and the future has arrived and we do not have enough people with the skills to fill the jobs that are needed.

I left these comments:

We don’t need politicians addressing education. They’ve been doing that for decades. This letter could have been written 40 years ago. I recently listened to NY Mayor Bill De Blasio, speaking on CNBC post-election, urge us to “fix our educational system.” It’s the same old mantra. Everyone from the president on down has got their scheme to fix what can’t be fixed–our one-size-fits-all, monopolized government education establishment.

We need to get politicians out of education and get the parents and educators in charge. There are various ways to accomplish this. While I don’t believe in the morality of wealth redistribution, Americans won’t accept a fully free education market at this time. What we can do is redirect the dollars now spent on each child’s schooling by recognizing the moral right of parents to direct the course of their own children’s education through universal school choice. This can be accomplished by essentially giving the education tax dollars now spent on each child to the parents, to use according to their own judgement. Tax credits can accomplish that. Education savings accounts (ESAs) is another way .* This will open up the flood gates to the kind of entrepreneurial investment, innovation, experimentation, and competition that leads to refreshing new ideas and methods that can make excellence in education a reality.

As Ms. Roman observes, “When this country entered the global economy, they neglected to gear up the education community properly toward providing the skills necessary to succeed in the jobs market of the future and the future has arrived and we do not have enough people with the skills to fill the jobs that are needed.” But central planning essentially forbids people from “gearing up,” by smothering individual judgement under government mandates. How long is this failure of politicized education going to be tolerated? When will we learn that you can’t foster a competitive workforce geared to a competitive world economy on the back of an uncompetitive, monopolistic education system? It’s time that the future arrived in American education, as well.

* I’m thinking of ESAs that allow parents who withdraw their child from the public schools (traditional or charter) to have the per-pupil cost of their district’s schools deposited into a special account that parents can use toward their child’s education. They would keep any unspent money and use it toward other purposes, such as college expenses.

Related Reading:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Politics, Science, and National Unity

Congressman Rush Holt: Lawmakers need to use a scientific approach to formulating views: So heads a New Jersey Star-Ledger guest column by former NJ Congressman Rush Holt, published last December in response to Donald Trump’s election and his subsequent selection to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The first few paragraphs put forth, seemingly, a sound argument. After acknowledging that politics can be contentious, Holt writes:

I recognize, of course, that policymaking does not take place in a laboratory. I am not suggesting that science should be the only factor that lawmakers consider. But when it comes to the factual basis lawmakers use to inform their policy views, and to decide on a process for evaluating whether a particular policy has worked or failed, science should be the tool of first resort.

The stakes for our democracy are high. Many Americans are fearful that our elected leaders have forgotten how to find common ground, or don't want to, and that they continue to make assertions in disregard for each other. A scientific approach to formulating views and evaluating policies will provide politicians what they need to hone their proposals and, perhaps, walk back from some of their previous positions. That's not easy - I know, I've been there - but political arguments must resolve into policy choices at some point. Those choices should be pragmatic and informed by hard evidence and sound reasoning.

Having laid this reasonable-sounding groundwork, Holt’s real motive becomes apparent: It’s really a plug for Leftist policies regarding climate change and energy:

The stakes for our planet are high. We know, based on the work and expertise of the vast majority of climate scientists and virtually every leading scientific organization in the world, that human-caused climate change is real and dangerous. It is folly to ignore this scientific consensus - obstinate and irresponsible in the extreme.

And yet, a climate-change doubter has been put forward as the possible head of the Environmental Protection Agency in the next administration. There is no reason for such an appointment when there are scientists of every political stripe who adhere to the scientific method, have the humility to accept when they are wrong, and would be willing to serve their country if asked by an incoming president. I urge the president-elect and every incoming member of Congress to make use of the country's deep pool of talented scientists to serve as political appointees, staff members and outside experts.

What about scientists that dispute the alleged consensus?  The “hard evidence and sound reasoning,” it turns out, means disregarding reasoned analysis of the hard evidence of those who disagree. We as a nation must unite, says Holt, behind the statist climate agenda of the Left.

I left these comments:

The stakes for our planet are high. We know, based on the work and expertise of the vast majority of climate scientists and virtually every leading scientific organization in the world, that human-caused climate change is real and dangerous. It is folly to ignore this scientific consensus - obstinate and irresponsible in the extreme.

But should science be held up as an infallible authority? Climate change dogmatists routinely use the terms “scientists say” to shut down debate on their political policies and “climate denier” to smear anyone who dissents from their reliable energy-hostile statist “solutions.” Science—all science—should be consulted, not obeyed. We as reasoning individuals should do the evaluating.

What about political science? History and theory have demonstrated that political and economic freedom for individuals leads to steady human progress. Shouldn’t that knowledge and experience be integrated into the energy policy discussion regarding climate change? Voluntary consumer choice in a free market, not government coercion, should determine the energy sources we use.

What about the science of morality? Is it wrong for humans to change the climate, and the environment generally, in pursuit of human benefit? What is our moral standard of value? Is it maximizing human well-being and flourishing? Or is it minimizing human impact on the planet? Climate change dogmatists routinely assume the premise that human-caused climate change is bad per se. But is it? By what standard is it bad? Considering that the progress humans have made since the dawn of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution, the overwhelming weight of the evidence is that human-caused climate change, to the extent humans are the cause, is a very manageable and acceptable side-effect—and not necessarily all bad. The standard policymakers choose will determine if the policies they pursue will be constructive or destructive of human well-being.

What about the science of economics, which tells us that reliable, economical energy is vital to industrial civilization. Reliable, economical energy has made the environment much safer and climate dangers much more manageable for humans. Without it, immense human suffering would result. This is important because the more consistent environmentalists insist on eliminating fossil fuels and nuclear power regardless of whether any viable alternative exists (These are the naturalists, whose moral standard of value is minimal human impact). What about the demonstrated benefits of fossil fuels? Shouldn’t they be objectively weighed against the catastrophic negative impact on humans of outlawing them in the name of climate change? Where are the champions of fossil fuels?

Then there is this question: Should science funding be politicized, as it is now because of government funding of scientific research? What good is the “scientific consensus” when most research scientists rely on politicians for funding? Is it really a consensus that “human-caused climate change is real and dangerous?” Dangerous, to what degree? To whom or to what? Or is the much-touted “97% consensus” a fraud; nothing more than a wide diversity of scientific viewpoints mashed into a loose and essentially meaningless “consensus” that climate change is real and humans play a role, which no one disputes. We need the separation of science and state if we are going to have a fair and objective discussion of political policy based on science.

Should “scientific” prediction and speculation be equated with what is scientifically demonstrated? We have been hearing for decades that imminent catastrophe awaits humans because of climate change. Catastrophe, we are constantly told, is what “scientists say.” Yet life keeps getting better and safer for more and more people around the globe as reliable energy from fossil fuel use keeps growing. And no climate catastrophe. Only more and more failed predictions. Climate catastrophe, to quote Annie, is “always a day away.” Climate catastrophe is speculative. Mild, manageable, partly beneficial warming is the reality—as are the enormously greater benefits of fossil fuels. If someone said we should eliminate vaccines and antibiotics because they have some negative side effects, Holt would probably say—rightly—that they are crazy. But that’s where fossil fuel enemies are today.

It is the Left that is "obstinate and extreme." This article is just another plug for statist policies hiding behind science. If science is to be the common value that holds America united, then the climate change Left must stop demonizing and silencing rational dissenters to its political energy policies. The unchallenged premise is that climate change is bad and fossil fuels should be eliminated. This side has been in charge for too long. The climate catastrophists must stop hiding behind science and answer the dissenters openly and honestly. The dissenters are as much, if not more, attuned to science than the catastrophists ever were. It’s about time we had a balanced debate. Our energy security depends on rational pro-energy policies, not anti-climate change dogma. We may now, hopefully, get that from a Trump Administration.

Related Reading:

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the 21st Century—Ronald Bailey