Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Defending Israel and Fighting Anti-Semitism - My Ariel Avrech Memorial Lecture

Posted by Daniel Greenfield Sunday, June 18, 2017  12 Comments @ Sultan Knish Blog


Local control of schools?

Not yet. We're still waiting. And the ESSA put in place under Obama is tightening its grip.

Posted by Mary Grabar, June 23, 2017 @ Dissedent Prof

Is waiting for local control like waiting for Godot? It's looking that way. Barack Obama and the Big Government Republicans made sure that things were set in place so that states are mired in federal regulations with the Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA). (Does the name remind you of anything? Like, "No Child Left Behind"? It's not only in Lake Wobegon that all children are gifted.) The bill was sold with the false promise of granting control back to the states, but as Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project warned, it actually gave MORE power to the feds.

The first sentence on the Department of Education's ESSA site says it all: "The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) was signed by President Obama on December 10, 2015, and represents good news for our nation’s schools." (I recommend signing up for every newsletter at the Department of Education website; I've found that little has changed since "good news" President Obama.)

Not good news so far for Alabama, Delaware, Nevada, and New Mexico: Jane Robbins and Emmet McGroarty describe the frustrations these states are experiencing in trying to comply with the ESSA regulations in their recent article at The Hill, "Republicans and the lost promise of local control in education." What these states are experiencing gives the lie to the promise of "local control."

New Mexico is facing a long list of complaints from the feds who are asking such questions as:
  • How much weight are you giving to language arts?
  • How will “closing opportunity gaps” work?
  •  How, exactly, will you move teachers around to ensure “equity”?
  • And how will New Mexico ensure all students have the opportunity to be ready for advanced math in eighth grade?
Emmett and Jane reply, "The best answer to that question would be to ditch the Common Core standards, but that’s probably not the option the department is looking for, or would accept."

Georgia is now facing similar challenges, because as Jane explains,
The new fed-ed law, which is called the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), mandates that each state submit a statewide education plan for approval or disapproval by the US Dept. of Education. (Yes, our senators and all but two of our reps -- Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk -- fell for the propaganda that ESSA restores local control over education, but the joke's on them, and us, and our children.)
Georgia has just released its draft plan for comment, but the plan doesn't propose getting rid of Common Core or doing anything else that would actually have a shot at major improvement of education.

Still, Jane offers the comments she is making and shared them with Dissident Prof. You may find them helpful in Georgia, as well as other states facing the prospect of local control dictated by the feds. (Maybe it will get through. Comments can't hurt. Too many of my friends who are Trump supporters think that worries over education are over.) The link

Here are Jane's comments:
 If requested by parents, GA Milestones and any other assessments should be administered in paper-and-pencil format. Many children don't perform as well on computerized tests.

I saw no mention of replacing the Common Core standards (now renamed the GA Standards of Excellence) with good standards, such as the pre-Common Core standards of Massachusetts, Indiana, or California. Have we given up on truly educating our children because it's just too much trouble to fundamentally change things?

See above comment about the desirability of transitioning to proven, effective standards in ELA and math. Also, if GA really wants to improve education, it should replace progressive-education pedagogy with proven, traditional, direct-instruction techniques. Such techniques have been proven superior, especially with respect to teaching minority or low-income students (see Project Follow-Through, a huge study in which Head Start participants were studied for years) 
I also suggest that everyone at GaDOE read Daisy Christodoulou's book, Seven Myths About Education, for an overview of why the "student-centered," "project-based," "fact-lite" pedagogies don't work.
The Brookings Institute has shown that these "parent-replacement centers" are either ineffective or actually harmful to student achievement.  
Let parents raise their own children after school without government interference. Also, the proposed U.S. Department of Education budget defunds this harmful program. I hope that means GA will as well.
What an idea! Drain the swamp!

UPDATE: As Ed Week reports, "Trump Administration Wants Advice on Cutting Back Regulations." They want it to be as specific as possible with citations to regulations and guidance. They want it within 60 days. The article seems to indicate that the advice is being sought from bureaucrats, but citizens should flood the site with comments. This would be a good opportunity to inform the feds about what ESSA does to local control and how it contradicts President Trump's Executive Order Calling for Local Control of K-12. And all of Jane's information will help!

Dictatorship of the Landlords - The Green Roots of the Housing Crisis

William Kay
 
The methodology underpinning this posting consisted of a representative survey of land-use and housing documents published by leading free market advocacy groups. Of the 100 groups investigated, 21 were found to have both prominence within the pro-market advocacy community, and to have devoted conspicuous resources to the land/housing issue. From these 21 groups (Cato Institute, Heartland Foundation, Fraser Institute, Frontier Centre, Institute for Public Affairs et al), 33 reports and 35 articles were dissected. To clarify certain statistics, several additional articles and reports from the mainstream media and from government agencies were summoned. A recent Harvard study on housing and a paper on commercial property from the Journal of Real Estate Management also proved helpful. To keep things germane, the canon was restricted to documents published during the last decade.
 
From the 2,000 pages of free market think tank literature perused, some preliminary observations can be made. The groups surveyed self-identify as advocates of: deregulation, privatization, free enterprise, limited government, property rights, individual liberty, lower taxes, and competitive entrepreneurialism. While some hold up this agenda as an end unto itself, most promote this agenda as a means to achieve: economic growth; poverty alleviation; efficient resource use; and the general enhancement of opportunity, innovation, and prosperity.
 
While this entire community could be categorized as “classical liberal,” only the UK’s Adam Smith Institute keeps the “liberal” flag flying. The word “liberal” has been anathematized across the English-speaking world’s pro-market community, especially in the USA. Despite this, surprisingly few of the surveyed groups embrace the term “conservative.” Most prefer epaulette collages wherein “free market” and “limited government” find salience......To Read More...

EPA’s Suspect Science

Its practices have defiled scientific integrity, but proposed corrections bring shock and defiance

John Rafuse

President Trump’s budget guidance sought to cut $1.6 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency’s $8.1 billion expectation. Shrieks of looming Armageddon prompted Congress to fund EPA in full until September 2017, when the battle will be joined again.

Then EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said he would prioritize Superfund cleanups based on toxicity, health-impact and other factors. The ensuing caterwauling suggested that EPA had no priorities since Bill Ruckelshaus (EPA’s first administrator, 1970-1975). But consider some standard EPA practices:

1. EPA advocates claim the US is unhealthy and dirty. They won’t admit that US water quality has improved dramatically since 1970. They deny that factories, cars and power plants are far more efficient and clean. They ignore that, while most nations continue to cut down forest habitats for fuel, the Lower 48 states have more forest coverage than when the Pilgrims landed in 1620.

They never mention that the US did not sign the 1992 Kyoto Accord, nor that it is the only nation to meet its Kyoto targets. Is it ignorance? malignance? eco-professional propaganda? Yes, yes, and yes.

The United States is one of the cleanest, healthiest nations on earth. Our progress will continue because we rejected the Paris Accord and thus will not cripple our economy, jobs or environmental progress. Other nations must work hard to catch us. They may work hard, but they won’t catch up, and they’ll blame us.

2. Eco-militants at EPA tricked the Supreme Court into letting it label plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide a pollutant. Meanwhile, professional enviros demand “zero tolerance” for pollutants – because they claim “any dose kills.”

However, CO2 is plant fertilizer, the trace gas that makes plant and animal life possible on our planet. Atmospheric CO2 is just 400 parts per million (ppm), or 0.04% of the air we breathe, compared to 21% oxygen and almost 1% argon. Classrooms average 1,000 to 2,000 ppm; US nuclear submarines average 5,000 to 8,000ppm. We inhale 400 ppm and exhale 40,000 to 50,000 ppm.

That means 100 to 125 times the “fatal dose” of a “zero tolerance pollutant” is always in our lungs. We don’t die, because CO2 is not a pollutant and because real scientists know that dosage, not microscopic presence, is the key.

EPA keeps cheating, but dosage always determines poisonous impact. In fact, EPA experiments illegally exposed human test subjects to 10 and even 30 times the levels of fine soot particles that EPA claims are lethal. No one got sick or died, and yet EPA continues its “standards” and lies.

3. DDT saved millions in World War II from death by typhus. By 1970 DDT had helped wipe out malaria in 99 countries, including the USA. Administrator Ruckelshaus appointed a scientific committee to examine claims that the pesticide caused cancer and other problems. The experts said it did not, because dosage determines effect.

Ruckelshaus ignored them, never attended a minute of their hearings, never read a page of their extensive report. He simply banned DDT in 1972. He later said he had a “political problem” due to Rachel Carson’s misinformed book Silent Spring and pressure from the Environmental Defense Fund, and he needed to “fix it.”

Other nations followed suit, banning DDT. Since 1972, some 40 million children and parents have needlessly died from malaria. Today DDT is partially reinstated, but P.A. Offit, Pandora’s Lab, Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong, quotes Michael Crichton, MD: “Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in twentieth century America. We knew better, and we did it anyway, and we let people around the world die, and we didn’t give a damn.”

4. EPA knowingly relies on fake science. Data from point-source “pollution” are used to “project” thousands of asthma cases and cancer deaths. EPA “validates” the analyses by “assuming” that each projected death and illness happened to someone who had spent every second of a 70-year life at the point-source – within 6 feet of the measurement point. But Newton’s Law of Inverse Squares proves that dosage wanes by the inverse square of the distance; 5 units of distance cuts dosage impact to 1/25 what it was at its source. At 10 units, the impact is 1/100th. EPA’s analysis is a dishonest, purposeful scam.

The 70-year/6-foot/no-movement assumption makes a joke of all its calculations and projections. EPA has relied on that scam for decades to “prove” need for a non-scientific regulatory remedy for every newly invented threat.

5. EPA colludes with professional environmentalists to “fix” “inadequate” draft regulations. EPA then “settles” cases, pays co-conspirators’ fees with taxpayer funds and wins excessive regulatory powers it sought from the beginning. Parties who oppose the decision never get a day in court, and the “sue-and-settle” cases ensure high costs but provide no health or environmental benefits.

6. EPA covers up crimes. As the auto industry cratered since 2000, Flint, Michigan has lost 25,000 citizens and become poorer and more minority. The 2010 Census Report concluded that 42% of the population was in a “level of poverty and health … not comparable to other geographic levels of these estimates.” Yet EPA (and state and local authorities) did nothing to protect them. What happened?

The 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act delegated compliance to EPA, which typically approves a State Compliance Plan, re-delegates authority, and oversees State and local enforcement. Flint’s drinking water has been lead-poisoned for three years – ever since state and local officials switched water sources to save money with no hearings, approvals or notifications to EPA or affected citizens.

Drinking, tasting and smelling nauseating newly-brown water alerted residents to potential dangers. An EPA expert tested the water in 2014 and wrote repeated warnings to Agency officials. A February 2015 Detroit News report said EPA’s Regional Administrator knew the facts but claimed her “hands were tied.”

Then-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy forbade the staff expert from meeting, writing or speaking about the issue, and reassigned him. Thus the two most senior and directly responsible EPA officials “washed their hands” of the problem.

But Flint Medical Center tested for lead in the water and sounded the alarm. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added powerful voices. Flint’s mayor and Michigan’s governor took heat until the state’s attorney general initially charged five Flint and Michigan officials with wrongful issuance of permits, and tampering, altering and falsifying evidence. That has now expanded to more than 50 criminal charges against 15 state officials; including one of involuntary manslaughter (an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease took 12 lives).

The two “clean-handed” EPA officials kept mum until June 12, 2016, when Gina McCarthy wrote to Michigan’s governor and Flint’s mayor. Citing “major challenges” and her “long-term” clean water goal, she blamed state and local staffs and old and (newly) over-large piping. She said EPA had no money to help. Will Michigan’s AG indict EPA officials involved in the EPA cover-ups? That would be logical, but don’t bet on it.

McCarthy’s was a nasty letter from a culpable official. Later in 2016, Congress voted $110 million to repair Flint’s drinking water, no thanks to EPA. The work will go on for years as Flint residents get bottled water from EPA and the state.

President Trump’s budget guidance exposed decades-old EPA abuses. The evidence exposes EPA’s lack of mission, commitment and integrity. If EPA would use honest, evidence-based science to protect the nation’s health, it would be a welcome and long overdue change – perhaps a miracle. What’s your bet?

Independent consultant John Rafuse worked for government agencies, a think-tank and an international oil and gas company on energy, trade, environmental, regulatory and national security issues.

We should be glad the US is out

States that claim they’re committed to Paris do nothing for the climate and ill serve their citizens

Paul Driessen and David R. Legates

Ten states, some 150 cities, and 1,100 businesses, universities and organizations insist “We are still in” – committed to the Paris climate agreement and determined to continue reducing carbon dioxide emissions and preventing climate change. In the process, WASI members claim, they will create jobs and promote innovation, trade and international competitiveness. It’s mostly hype, puffery and belief in tooth fairies.

Let’s begin with the climate. When Delaware signed on to WASI, for example, Governor Carney cited rising average temperatures, rising sea levels, and an increase in extreme weather events. In Delaware, sea level rise is almost entirely due to subsiding land resulting from compaction of glacial outwash, isostatic response from the retreat of the ice sheets more than 12,000 years ago, and groundwater extraction.

The biggest threat to homes, roadways and wildlife habitats lies not in sea level rise – but in the effects of nor’easters, tropical storm remnants and other weather events that impact Delaware’s sand-built barrier islands. Moreover, not a single category 3-5 hurricane has struck the US mainland for a record 11.5 years.

Climate models have long overstated the supposed rise in air temperature. Recently, even alarmist scientists like Ben Santer have agreed that a warming hiatus has kept air temperatures unchanged for over 15 years, even as plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere rose to 400 parts per million.

No trends exist in tropical cyclones, tornadoes, floods, droughts or other weather extremes. Contentions that these changes will pose health risks and threaten our economy are purely scare tactics. Climate has always changed and weather is always variable, due to complex, powerful natural forces. Insisting that these events must be caused or exacerbated by human activity reflects a denial of basic climate science.

Full adherence to the Paris Treaty by all nations would prevent an undetectable 0.3°F (0.2°C) rise by 2100 – assuming that all climate change is driven by humans and not by natural forces. This meaningless achievement, by switching to 100% renewable energy, would cost $12.7 trillion to $93 trillion by 2030.

Surely, WASI members and the rest of the world have better uses for that money than chasing climate chimeras. Paying their massive state debt, pension, welfare and retirement obligations, for instance; in developing nations, getting electricity and safe water to people and ending their poverty and disease.

But substantially reducing CO2 emissions will create jobs, won’t it? For every job these mandates and subsidies create, multiple jobs will be lost in businesses that require affordable, reliable energy. Your local or statewide CO2 emissions may decrease. But in 150+ countries that are under no obligation under Paris to reduce their fossil fuel use, emissions will increase. WASI groups may take pride in “resisting Trump,” but their actions really hurt America’s working class families, who had no vote on the matter.

WASI members California, Connecticut, Hawaii and New York already have among the worst unfunded pension liabilities. Their residential electricity prices are already outrageous: 17 cents a kilowatt-hour in NY, 19 in CA, 20 in CT and 29 in HI – versus 9 cents in North Dakota. Honoring “Paris commitments” would send rates skyrocketing to German and Danish levels: 37 cents per kWh. Expensive energy will hurt poor and minority families the most and send jobs to countries where energy costs less.

Just imagine what your WASI actions would do to households, hospitals, businesses, factories, malls and schools. How it would kill jobs and swell unemployment and welfare rolls – while creating a lot of low-pay, largely part-time jobs. Rather than producing jobs, the Paris Treaty is a job-killer for the USA.

For all these reasons, we should be glad we are out! We ask those who have told their constituents they are “still in,” How exactly will you meet your Paris commitments, and what exactly will you achieve?

How will you slash your CO2 emissions by 26-28% by 2025, as required for the USA under the Paris pact? The United States reduced CO2 emissions by 12% between 2005 and 2015. But that was accomplished by a downturn in the economy and increased reliance on natural gas, most of which is produced by hydraulic fracturing. Will you support fracking and build more gas-fired power plants? Or will you build new nuclear and hydroelectric power plants to reduce your fossil fuel dependence? You cannot rely on wind and solar, as they currently account for barely 2% of overall US energy needs and the mining required to get rare earth metals, cadmium, iron, copper, limestone and other raw materials for these technologies has extensive, often horrendous environmental, health and human rights impacts.

Growing populations mean more energy will be needed. Do you expect wind and solar to grow to cover the new demand? These highly expensive technologies require vast land areas, much of it taken from wildlife habitats – and huge government/taxpayer subsidies. From whom will you take this money?

What will you get for your efforts? The cost is enormous, for minimal benefits. Higher electricity prices will affect businesses, hospitals, jobs and families in your state. The impact of 30, 40 or 50 cents per kilowatt-hour electricity will be devastating – especially for the poor, minority and blue-collar workers and families you say you care deeply about. They will be forced to choose among energy, food, clothing, shelter, health and safety. How will this serve climate and environmental justice?

By contrast, a change in global air temperature of about 0.01°F will have zero impact. That’s how much reduced warming the world is likely to see from all the sacrifices imposed by “We are still in” programs. Storms, floods and droughts are not linked to CO2 concentrations, so your actions will have no effect in these areas. Avoidance of an un-measurable increase in air temperature is simply not worth the cost.

Governors who have committed their states to this climate-centered resistance movement have done so without approval from the legislature or their constituents. How do you propose to pay for this unilateral executive decision? With tax increase and soaring energy costs? How will your constituents react to that?

The “We are still in” press release proudly proclaims that its members contribute $6.2 trillion a year to the US economy. That’s one-third of the United States $18.5 trillion GDP in 2016.

Under the Paris formula, the United States is to contribute $23.5 billion per year initially to the Green Climate Fund – with the US contribution rising to some $106 billion per year by 2030, based on the same percentages. Your one-third WASI share of that would be $7.8 billion in 2017, rising to $35 billion a year by 2030. Is this part of your vaunted commitment to the Paris treaty? How do you anticipate paying that?

Can individual cities and counties opt out of your pact, and become sanctuary cities or counties, to protect their jobs and families against runaway energy costs, climate fund payments and more autocratic actions?

By deciding that their schools will stay in the Paris Treaty, college and university presidents will drive up energy and other costs on their campuses. Did you consult with and get approval from your boards of trustees, legislators, taxpayers, students and parents – or was this simply another executive decision?

Delaware gets 95% of its electricity from natural gas, coal and oil. How exactly will the University of Delaware slash its fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions by the 26-28% required by Paris? How will George Mason University, with Virginia getting 63% of its electricity from fossil fuels?

Have you calculated how much this will cost? Will you make up the difference by increasing tuition? How will you compensate those who can least afford these increasing expenses? In the interest of integrity, accuracy, transparency and ethics, have you made those analyses public (if they exist)?

Did all you “socially responsible” companies and organizations in WASI get approval from your boards of directors, shareholders, customers and clients before committing to stay in Paris? Did you analyze and discuss the likely economic and employment ramifications? Or are you the real climate deniers – denying the costs of anti-fossil fuel, renewable energy commitments, regulations, subsidies and mandates?

Finally, for the millions of voters, taxpayers, citizens, students, workers and consumers who are being impacted by “We are still in” states, cities, colleges, universities, businesses and organizations, we ask:

Are you still in with expending trillions of dollars to have an undetectable effect on Earth’s future climate? If not, perhaps it’s time you made your voices heard – and started resisting The Resistance.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death. David R. Legates is professor of climatology at the University of Delaware and a former Delaware State Climatologist.

Dan Mitchell on Pensions, Big Government, Socialism, Spending and Budgets

Dear Readers,

I've been off line for some days, so I'm posting links to more than one of Dan Mitchell's articles which appered since June 16th.  I will be posting three a day until I catch up.  Please enjoy.

Rich K.

The Universal Private Retirement System Is an Additional Reason to Admire Switzerland


There’s a lot to admire about Switzerland, particularly compared to its profligate neighbors.
With all these features, you won’t be surprised to learn that Switzerland is highly ranked by Human Freedom Index (#2), Economic Freedom of the World (#4), Index of Economic Freedom (#4), Global Competitiveness Report (#1), Tax Oppression Index (#1), and World Competitiveness Yearbook (#2).......To Read More....
   

The Nanny State, Showerheads, and the Declining Quality of Life

When I write about regulation, I usually focus on big-picture issues involving economic costs, living standards, and competitiveness.

Those are very important concerns, but the average person in American probably gets more irked by rules that impact the quality of life.

That’s a grim list, but it’s time to augment it.
Jeffrey Tucker of the Foundation for Economic Education explains that the government also has made showering a less pleasant experience. He starts by expressing envy about Brazilian showers.
…was shocked with delight at the shower in Brazil. …step into the shower and you have a glorious capitalist experience. Hot water, really hot, pours down on you like a mighty and unending waterfall… At least the socialists in Brazil knew better than to destroy such an essential of civilized life.
I know what he’s talking about.......To Read More....

Three Lessons from the Tax Defeat in Kansas

Leftists don’t have many reasons to be cheerful.

Global economic developments keep demonstrating (over and over again) that big government and high taxes are not a recipe for prosperity. That can’t be very encouraging for them.

They also can’t be very happy about the Obama presidency. Yes, he was one of them, and he was able to impose a lot of his agenda in his first two years. But that experiment with bigger government produced very dismal results. And it also was a political disaster for the left since Republicans won landslide elections in 2010 and 2014 (you could also argue that Trump’s election in 2016 was a repudiation of Obama and the left, though I think it was more a rejection of the status quo).

But there is one piece of good news for my statist friends. The tax cuts in Kansas have been partially repealed. The New York Times is overjoyed by this development.........By the way, all three points are why the GOP is having trouble in Washington.  The moral of the story? As I noted when writing about Belgium, it’s hard to have good tax policy if you don’t have good spending policy............To Read More........




Monday, June 19, 2017

Advancing scientific integrity on bees

Putting a beehive at the VP’s residence could spur people’s understanding of bee problems

Paul Driessen

Second Lady Karen Pence and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue recently teamed up to install a honeybee hive on the grounds of the Vice President’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC. This will serve as a “great example” of what people can do to help “reverse the decline” in managed honeybee colonies around the country, the secretary said.

Helping bees and educating people about bee problems is a good idea. However, if the hive is an attempt to reduce media and environmentalist criticism of Trump Administration policies – or put the Pences and Ag Department on the “right” side of the “bee-pocalypse” issue – it will backfire. It will also undermine administration efforts to advance evidence-based science, restore integrity to scientific and regulatory processes, promote safe modern technologies, and support continued crop production and exports.

A steady stream of misinformation has fueled misplaced public anxiety about bees. Being on the “right” side must therefore begin with recognizing that honeybee populations are actually increasing, as the decline in managed honeybee colonies reversed in recent years. Attention to the vice presidential hive should instead focus on preventing and controlling the biggest single threat to honeybees, especially in small-scale hobbyist hives: infestations of Varroa mites

Anti-pesticide zealots and headline-seeking news media have been talking for years about domesticated bees (and now wild bees) serving as “the canary in the coal mine,” whose health problems portend yet another man-made environmental calamity. The future of agriculture, human nutrition, perhaps all life on Earth could be at risk if bees and other important pollinators “disappear,” they ominously intone.

That is nothing more than fear-mongering. Honeybee populations have been bouncing back nicely since the days when many worried about mysterious large-scale deaths in hives. In fact, the “crisis” was seriously (and sometimes deliberately) overblown, and honeybee populations are now at or near 20-year highs in North America and every other continent, except Antarctica.

Assiduous scientific investigation helped identify the mites, viruses and fungal pathogens that can infest hives, and beekeepers are learning to treat infestations without inadvertently killing bees or entire hives. That process has underscored the hard reality that, for professional and hobbyist beekeepers alike, maintaining healthy hives is complicated and difficult, especially when multiple pathogens invade.

However, in another sense, honeybees truly are canaries in the coal mine. They are harbingers of the ways environmentalist attacks on modern agriculture can damage one of the most productive, competitive and globally vital sectors of the American economy. American agriculture feeds the USA and world, while generating trade surpluses and supporting rural and small town communities across the country.

Unfortunately, determined anti-pesticide zealots have been trying for nearly a decade to use the alleged “bee crisis” to prevent farmers from using advanced-technology neonicotinoid pesticides that boost agricultural yields, reduce the need for other crop-protection insecticides that can harm bees, and reduce risks to humans, birds, other animals, non-pest insects, and bees.

Neonics are now the world’s most widely used pesticide class. They are mainly (some 90%) applied as seed coatings, which lets crops absorb the chemicals into their tissue and allows minuscule amounts to target only pests that feed on and destroy crops. Radical greens have tried for years to blame neonics for higher-than-normal over-winter hive losses, “colony collapse disorder” (in which bees mysteriously abandon their colonies, leaving the queen, food and unhatched eggs behind) and other bee problems.

The mere fact that neonics may be detected in negligible, below-harmful levels in the nectar and pollen of neonic-treated crops, in foliage near neonic-treated cropland, or in the food stored in honeybees hives, has fueled emotional campaigns to ban these crop protection products. The activists simply ignore large-scale field studies that have consistently shown no adverse effects on honeybees at the colony level from field-realistic exposures to neonics. They ignore the fact that bees thrive among and around neonic-treated corn and canola crops in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and elsewhere.

Anti-pesticide crusaders are determined to take neonics out of farmers’ pest-control “tool-kits.” They will not let scientific facts stand in their way.

This is the tug-of-war that Mrs. Pence’s beehive has plunged her into. What if her bee colony collapses and dies? Whatever embarrassment this may bring to her skills as a beekeeper (and those of USDA staff who will be charged with keeping the hive alive), activists will claim the bee deaths further confirm that the Trump Administration’s enviro-critics are right – and America’s farmers are wrong.

So what can we learn from the fate of one bee colony on the bucolic grounds of the Naval Observatory in the middle of urban Washington, DC? Potentially plenty – if Mrs. Pence and her USDA aides put on their thinking caps, learn more about “bee issue” realities, use this otherwise empty gesture to dramatize the real issues facing honeybees and their keepers, and help advance the cause of scientific integrity.

In recent weeks, the USDA-supported Bee Informed Partnership at the University of Maryland published its annual survey of honeybee colony losses for 2016-17. Although lower than last year and among the best since the decade-old survey began, over-winter losses of 21% and in-season (summer) losses of 18% are still troublesome numbers. However, a vitally important point must be kept in mind.

Those losses were suffered overwhelmingly by small, backyard, hobbyist beekeepers. (Barely 1% of respondents to the BIP survey are large-scale commercial beekeepers, which skews the survey.) This parallels other studies that show small-scale, hobbyist, backyard beekeepers suffer much higher rates of colony loss than do large-scale professionals, who handle the vast majority of US bees and hives.

Those other studies also show that small-scale beekeepers have the greatest difficulty keeping their bees alive in the face of the scourge of Varroa destructor mites. Epidemic since its 1987 arrival in the USA, this bee parasite is a triple threat. Bee larvae often hatch with Varroa mites already attached to them, and these parasites: (1) suck the bee’s hemolymph blood-equivalent out of them, (2) thereby compromising the bees’ immune systems, and (3) vectoring a dozen or more viruses and diseases into honey bees and colonies, turning what were just nuisance infections before Varroa arrived into devastating epidemics.

This has produced a striking paradox – which Mrs. Pence’s new bee colony could help explain. In the wake of widespread publicity about the supposed bee crisis, tens of thousands of well-meaning people across the USA – from the rural countryside to rooftops in densely populated urban areas – have set out to “help the bees” by setting up hobbyist beekeeping operations of one or a few hives. The problem, studies show, is that these well-intentioned initiatives often end up making things worse for honeybees.

Many newly-minted, nature-loving hobbyist beekeepers believe – contrary to the overwhelming bulk of beekeeping literature and practice – that treating their hives chemically for Varroa mites is “against nature,” and thereby hasten the inevitable disaster to their hives. When those hobbyist hives collapse under the weight of uncontrolled or poorly controlled Varroa mites and related diseases, surviving bees migrate in search of new homes, frequently among the healthy hives of some neighboring professional beekeeper – carrying Varroa mites with them. That’s how hobbyist beekeepers inadvertently contribute to the spread of this honeybee epidemic – and to the spread of misinformation about bee losses.

Mrs. Pence’s colony won’t provide lessons on supposed harmful effects on honeybees from exposure to neonic pesticides. The nearest neonic-treated canola and cornfields are well beyond her bees’ roughly 3-mile flight. However, it’s a golden opportunity to use the colony as an object lesson in what small-scale beekeepers should do to keep their hives alive and thriving: above all, control Varroa mites.

Mrs. Pence’s bee colony could become an exemplar for small-scale beekeepers on how to do right by honeybees. By implementing sound beekeeping practices (particularly properly timed Varroa counts and controls), live-streaming those practices and daily hive activity via the bee equivalent of the Panda Cam , and posting short how-to videos, she could teach millions about bees … and advance hobbyist efforts to help bees. That would help replace failure and disappointment with rewarding fun and satisfaction.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

Peter Zeihan on Geopolitics: Curious About Cuba





 
Last week President Donald Trump announced a partial revocation of his predecessor’s diplomatic opening to Cuba, reinstating pieces of the decades-long embargo impacting financial transfers, trade and transport.

As a rule, I don’t get too worked up about this or that president’s policies on this or that country. It is a big world. As a massive, domestically-focused economy with immense strategic depth and insulation, the United States has enormous wiggle room to both make mistakes and take the long view. Even presidents as aggressive as FDR during times as tumultuous as World War II can afford to sit back and watch things unfold. The bar for what actually impacts the homeland is pretty high.

Cuba isn’t one of those things – or more to the point, the Caribbean isn’t one of those places.

The reason is movement. Moving things by water is less than one-tenth the cost of moving them by land, making rivers among the most strategic economic assets on the planet. The interconnected rivers of the Greater Mississippi system have more miles of navigable waterway than the rest of the world’s internal waterways combined. That is the core reason the United States is a superpower.

But rivers have one mission-critical downside: they have to end somewhere. If a foe can threaten the river’s mouth, then trade possibilities face a pretty brutal cap. Securing river mouths and keeping them free of foes was a leading topic of much of Europe’s genocidal centuries.

For the Americans, the problematic bit isn’t just New Orleans, the last stop on the Mississippi’s course to the Gulf of Mexico, but also the island of Cuba which truncates access between the Gulf of Mexico and the wider Atlantic. And even if the Americans can get past Cuba, they still need to neutralize all maritime choke points in the Greater Caribbean region.

If anything, it is more serious than it sounds. For the United States has more waterways than “merely” the Mississippi. The Intracoastal Waterway lies behind a series of barrier islands that broadly parallel the East and Gulf Coasts. One of those Cuban-pinch points is the Florida Strait, which could enable a hostile Cuba-based power to not just block American trade in and out of the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi, but also disrupt internal maritime transport from New York, Richmond, Savannah and Miami from reaching New Orleans, St Louis, Louisville and Minneapolis.

Any extra-hemispheric power that is able to partner with any spot in the region could turn the Americans from an outward-projecting superpower to one whose own internal transport systems are in question.

 


There’s more to the Caribbean than Cuba, more to Panama than cheap shipping, more to Venezuela than cheap oil, more to the Bahamas than beaches, and more to Grenada than cheap medical school. These places and more are the collective garage door to the United States. A hostile Caribbean threatens the United States in a way that a robust China, a war-drum-beating Soviet Union or German-dominated Europe cannot. As such, American strategic policy since roughly 1800 has been borderline neurotic about forcing the Caribbean into a shape that works for the United States. Just how neurotic? What was truly scary about the Cuban Missile Crisis wasn’t just how discombobulated the Americans were, but how logical it was for them to risk nuclear war to keep the Soviets out of Cuba.

At its core, Obama’s sunshine policy was about putting the Cuban bit of the Caribbean puzzle on the path to bed – permanently. It wasn’t like Cuba had been a threat to the Americans since 1992. Left with just its own resources, Cuba is merely an irritant. Yet as a geopolitical strategist I did find it nice to shift the country firmly out of the “watch closely” category with Iran and Ukraine on my wall map, and lump it in with the “meh” column that serves as home to Belgium, Belarus and Bangladesh.

Does this mean Trump’s decision is foolhardy? Not at all. Trump is at least partially right: the Obama administration really didn’t play hardball with Havana – the bilateral warming put next to no pressure on the Castro regime to liberalize, much less stand down. To use the president’s terms, a better deal can certainly be had. Trump holds most of the cards here, and there are plenty of options: everything ranging from a firmer diplomatic stance to economic sanctions that target other investors in Cuba to the threat (or use) of (para)military force. And since at present there is no extra-hemispheric power that seems interested in making Cuba its local military footprint, there is no time pressure either.

But that doesn’t mean that Cuba will remain in its post-Soviet no-man’s-land forever. Trump’s actions must have follow up. For if all this backtrack does is buy time and space for someone else to insert themselves into Cuban affairs, then much of what gives the Americans all that strategic insulation, economic power and room to maneuver – much of what makes the United States a global superpower –could be in doubt.

 
                           
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Thought For the Day

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The Endless Failure (but Bizarre Allure) of Socialism

June 18, 2017 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
Back in 2014, I wrote a column asking my leftist friends two very serious questions. And I often repeat these questions when debating proponents of bigger government.
  • Can you name a nation that became rich with statist policies?
  • Can you name a nation that with interventionism and big government that is out-performing a similar nation with free markets and small government?
I’ve yet to receive a good answer to either question. Many leftists point to certain European welfare states, but I debunk that claim by pointing out that those nations became rich when government was very small (about 10 percent of GDP, about one-half the size of the current Hong Kong and Singapore public sectors).

Others point to rapid growth in China, but that’s rather silly since improvements in that country’s economy are the result of partial liberalization. In any event, it’s not that difficult to have rapid growth rates when starting from a very low level. But even with a couple of decades of good growth, living standards in China are still relatively low.

So my challenge remains. I want a leftist (or anybody) to identify a successful statist nation, but I’m not holding my breath for good answers.

Yet even though the real-world evidence against big government is so strong, it’s rather baffling that many young people are drawn to that coercive ideology and disturbing that a non-trivial number of voters favor this failed form of statism.

The London-based Institute for Economic Affairs has released a video on the false allure of socialism.



I suppose a caveat might be appropriate at this stage.

Socialism has a technical definition involving government ownership of the means of production and central planning of the economy.

But most people today think socialism is big government, with business still privately owned but with lots of redistribution and intervention (I’ve argued, for instance, that even Bernie Sanders isn’t a real socialist, and that there are big differences between countries like Sweden, China, and North Korea).
For what it’s worth, that’s actually closer to the technical definition of fascism. But I guess I’m being pedantic by wanting more precision in how terms are used.

In any event, the IEA video is spot on. If you like videos debunking socialism, I have other examples here, here, and here.

Last but not least, here’s my favorite visual from the IEA video.



P.S. If you like visuals mocking socialism, I’ve amassed a very nice collection. Click here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for examples.

P.P.S. The good news is that socialism isn’t very popular in the United States, particularly compared to free enterprise.

Tax Competition: So Powerful that even Politicians in Left-Wing States Feel Compelled to Cut Taxes for Rich People

June 17, 2017 by Dan Mitchell
 
Whenever I debate my left-wing friends on tax policy, they routinely assert that taxes don’t matter.
It’s unclear, though, whether they really believe their own rhetoric.

After all, if taxes don’t affect economic behavior, then why are folks on the left so terrified of tax havens? Why are they so opposed to tax competition?

And why are they so anxious to defend loopholes such as the deduction for state and local taxes.
Perhaps most revealing, why do leftists sometimes cut taxes when they hold power? A story in the Wall Street Journal notes that there’s been a little-noticed wave of state tax cuts. Specifically reductions and/or eliminations of state death taxes. And many of these supply-side reforms are happening in left-wing states!
In the past three years, nine states have eliminated or lowered their estate taxes, mostly by raising exemptions. And more reductions are coming. Minnesota lawmakers recently raised the state’s estate-tax exemption to $2.1 million retroactive to January, and the exemption will rise to $2.4 million next year. Maryland will raise its $3 million exemption to $4 million next year. New Jersey’s exemption, which used to rank last at $675,000 a person, rose to $2 million a person this year. Next year, New Jersey is scheduled to eliminate its estate tax altogether, joining about a half-dozen others that have ended their estate taxes over the past decade.
This is good news for affected taxpayers, but it’s also good news for the economy.

Death taxes are not only a punitive tax on capital, but they also discourage investors, entrepreneurs, and other high-income people from earning income once they have accumulated a certain level of savings.

But let’s focus on politics rather than economics. Why are governors and state legislators finally doing something sensible? Why are they lowering tax burdens on “rich” taxpayers instead of playing their usual game of class warfare?

I’d like to claim that they’re reading Cato Institute research, or perhaps studies from other market-oriented organizations and scholars.

But it appears that tax competition deserves most of the credit.
This tax-cutting trend has been fueled by competition between the states for affluent and wealthy taxpayers. Such residents owe income taxes every year, but some are willing to move out of state to avoid death duties that come only once. Since the federal estate-and-gift tax exemption jumped to $5 million in 2011, adjusted for inflation, state death duties have stood out.
I don’t fully agree with the above excerpt because there’s plenty of evidence that income taxes cause migration from high-tax states to zero-income-tax states.
But I agree that a state death tax can have a very large impact, particularly once a successful person has retired and has more flexibility.
Courtesy of the Tax Foundation, here are the states that still impose this destructive levy.



Though this map may soon have one less yellow state. As reported by the WSJ, politicians in the Bay State may be waking up.
In Massachusetts, some lawmakers are worried about losing residents to other states because of its estate tax, which brought in $400 million last year. They hope to raise the exemption to half the federal level and perhaps exclude the value of a residence as well. These measures stand a good chance of passage even as lawmakers are considering raising income taxes on millionaires, says Kenneth Brier, an estate lawyer with Brier & Ganz LLP in Needham, Mass., who tracks the issue for the Massachusetts Bar Association. State officials “are worried about a silent leak of people down to Florida, or even New Hampshire,” he adds.
I’m not sure the leak has been silent. There’s lots of data on the migration of productive people to lower-tax states.

But what matters is that tax competition is forcing the state legislature (which is overwhelmingly Democrat) to do the right thing, even though their normal instincts would be to squeeze upper-income taxpayers for more money.

As I’ve repeatedly written, tax competition also has a liberalizing impact on national tax policy.
Following the Reagan tax cuts and Thatcher tax cuts, politicians all over the world felt pressure to lower their tax rates on personal income. The same thing has happened with corporate tax rates, though Ireland deserves most of the credit for getting that process started.

I’ll close by recycling my video on tax competition. It focuses primarily on fiscal rivalry between nations, but the lessons equally apply to states.



P.S. For what it’s worth, South Dakota arguably is the state with the best tax policy. It’s more difficult to identify the state with the worst policy, though New Jersey, Illinois, New York, California, and Connecticut can all make a strong claim to be at the bottom.

P.P.S. Notwithstanding my snarky title, I don’t particularly care whether there are tax cuts for rich people. But I care a lot about not having tax policies that penalize the behaviors (work, saving, investment, and entrepreneurship) that produce income, jobs, and opportunity for poor and middle-income people. And if that means reforms that allow upper-income people to keep more of their money, I’m okay with that since I’m not an envious person.

Moderates and Radicals in Islam and the Left

Posted by Daniel Greenfield Thursday, June 15, 2017 17 Comments @ International Liberty
The core strategic problem we face is two conflicts with two ideologies that operate subversively until they are in power. That is, instead of stating their agenda openly, Islam and the left operate as false fronts maintaining a friendly moderate image while pursuing a far more radical agenda.

The distinction between moderates and radicals is at the heart of the debate about Islamic terrorism. Much as it used to be at the heart of the debate about Communism and its fellow travelers. Everyone will concede that there are indeed radicals, if only ISIS and Stalin. What they will deny is the extent of the complicity and, more significantly, the fact that the radicals were pursuing the same ends as the moderates, an Islamic Caliphate or a Communist dictatorship, only more rapidly and ruthlessly.

The thing that must be understood is that moderates do not disavow radicals. Rather they bridge the gap between the radicals and the larger society, justifying their ends, and eventually their means, while pretending to disavow them. Radicals reject any dialogue. Moderates emphasize dialogue.

Moderates will verbally reject the means with which an end is pursued. Accordingly they will reject terrorism. They may even claim to reject the ends, such as an ideological dictatorship, but they will, in good fellowship, ask you to accept their premise which inevitably leads to the acceptance of both the ends and the means.

For example, moderates on the left and in Islam will ask you to accept that terrorism is caused by American foreign policy. Once you have accepted this premise, then you have partially justified terrorism and paved the way for accepting an "Arab Spring" that eliminates the consequences of American foreign policy by properly Arabizing and Islamizing the governments of the region.

Likewise, if you accept the premise that Israel's presence in its '67 territories is driving terrorism, then you have signed on to everything from BDS to the destruction of the Jewish State.

If you concede that crime and violence are driven by class and racial inequities, then you accept that the only way to end this "class war" is massive taxation and wealth redistribution through government intervention that addresses the root cause.

That is not the way it seems to most people. And that is why the "moderate" strategy works so well.

Once you have accepted the moderate definition of the root cause, you will inevitably be forced to accept the radical remedy. This is true across a spectrum of lower level policies. For example, accept that homosexuality is genetic and gay rights become the inevitable and inescapable outcome. That is how the root cause defines the outcome. And this is how moderates achieve radical goals.

Moderates convince you to accept their premise of the root cause. Then they argue for sensitivity to the radicals whose motives have suddenly become understandable. Finally they argue for a settlement in which a compromise is reached that will allow the radicals to achieve a moderate version of their ends.

The Muslim Brotherhood takeovers of the Arab Spring are an example of a compromise to avert Islamic terror aimed at creating a Caliphate. The ultimate outcome is the same, but the moderates dress it up as a kinder and gentler alternative.

And this is the core strategic problem that we face.

The radicals are not any kind of serious physical threat. We could destroy ISIS easily if we chose to unleash our full force against them. The same is true for every single Islamic terror group in the world. And, for that matter, their state sponsors too.

The real threat is always the subversion of the moderates. The challenge then becomes the need to expose the false facade of the moderates. This leads to a push-pull struggle. The moderates cry that they are being unfairly victimized by hateful people. There are shouts of red-baiting and McCarthyism, profiling and bigotry. Their critics are paranoid and unhinged. The moderates even assert that there is something ugly and "Un-American" about asking them to account for their agenda.

And this is really the core argument made by the two allied subversive ideologies. It is "ugly" to expose their views, to quote them, to bring them to the surface. It is intolerant. It's not the way that respectable people should behave. And the moderates, who pose as respectable people precisely to play on the weakness of the middle class for being respectable, understand that this is the ultimate weapon.

Respectable people do not accuse the friendly Imam on the block of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood or promoting Jihadist texts. They do not accuse the cheerful teacher in the school whom everyone likes of pushing anti-American views on her students. That is not respectable behavior.

And moderates, who pretend to be respectable, excel at pushing the respectable shame button.

It doesn't matter if it's true. It's ugly to discuss it. That is respectability simplified. It's much better to talk about how much we have in common, to speak about how we can unite and make the world a better place. And the moderates have plenty of ideas in that regard. All of them involve accepting their premise of what the world's problems are and how they can be improved by a series of proposals that would culminate with mass tyranny and murder.

There are actual moderates of course.

The majority of those on the left aren't harboring secret plans to build gulags. They would find the idea horrifying. Likewise many Muslims in Western countries don't support Islamic terrorism.

They are moderates, but only in the sense that they have not yet signed on to radical ideas. Not in the sense that they would fight and oppose them to their very last breath. They are mostly moderates out of a lack of conviction rather than a surplus of it.

Subversive organizations operate through incremental radicalization. The average American liberal of twenty years ago would not have supported half of what he vocally advocates for today. Even Obama and Hillary were against gay marriage when they ran for office. In a few years they moved from opposing a policy to threatening to prosecute those opposed to it. That is how the left works.

Obama and Hillary always had a consistent position. The leadership of the left had one. It was the ordinary rank and file liberal who might have been in the dark until the whistle was blown and the herd stampeded toward the next policy abyss. A year ago those same liberals might have felt uncomfortable with the notion of men using the ladies room. Today they would fight a civil war for it.

The process operates the same way across a spectrum of policies. The left keeps its more moderate followers in the dark about its real goals. Then once the stampede begins, the moderates who derive their sense that they are good people from following the ideas of the left, quickly fall in line.

The same is true of Islam. Plenty of Muslims would not be happy with an immediate transition to ISIS. But plenty are willing to back the more incremental attempts to build a Caliphate through political Islam in Turkey or through the Muslim Brotherhood. Their moderation, like that of many Germans in WW2, consists of an unwillingness to know what dirty deeds are being done.

The moderates bridge this gap both for their rank and file, and for the outsiders who have to be fooled into accepting their premise in order to accept their ends. Their greatest weapon is respectability. When cornered, they insist that they are just nice people who want to make the world a better place. And their critics are bigots, nasty people, who don't want everyone to get along and spread disunity.

And doesn't everyone just want to get along? Isn't that nicer and better? Isn't it a good thing that there are passionate young people who want to make the world a better place?

The chief ally of the moderates is this sort of middle class respectability. The moderates paint their critics as radicals who have no solutions. When in fact they themselves are radicals with a final solution. And yet combating this sort of happy talk remains our greatest challenge.

Yet it is also a passing challenge.

Middle class respectability is a function of a sense of security. When that sense of security begins to implode as a society experiences chaos, the middle class stops clinging to respectability.

And then the real conflict begins.

We may well be approaching that phase. Economic decline and Islamic terror are leading to a radical break with respectability. We are entering a radical age in which the moderates take off their masks and radicals of various stripes gain great influence and openly recruit for their cause.

This will be a shattering experience for many. It will be a very ugly one in many ways. And yet the only way to avert it would be to expose the false moderates who are driving this process for what they are. And this is exactly what those who have the most to lose from a radical rise refuse to do.

None of this is a new phenomenon. History is repeating itself.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Thought For the Day!

Dear Readers,
 
Definition leads to clarity.  Clarity leads to understanding.  Understanding leads to good decision making.  Good decision making leads to harmony.
 
I saw The Five yesterday and I have to ask: If Juan Williams couldn't spew out logical fallacies would he be able to talk? 
 
This will be the only thing I'll be posting today and probably tomorrow. I've got lots to do, articles to write and a white paper to finish on pesticides. Have a good weekend!
 
Best wishes to all,
Rich K. 
 
 
 []

Friday, June 16, 2017

Thought For the Day

Given the latest attack on Congressman Scalise I thought this is a concept that fits a lot of scenarios.

Why
                                                          
                                                          |POLITICALLY
                                                          INCORRECT
                                                          CARTOONS:

A Lesson from China on Poverty Reduction and Inequality

June 15, 2017 by Dan Mitchell
 
I’ve written (many, many times) about how the best way to help the poor is to focus on economic growth rather than inequality.

After all, in a genuine market economy (as opposed to socialism, cronyism, or some other form of statism), the poor aren’t poor because some people are rich.

Today, let’s look at a real-world example of why it is a mistake to focus on inequality.

A study by five Chinese scholars looked at income inequality over time in their country. Their research, published in 2010, focused mostly on the methodological challenges of obtaining good long-run data and understanding the impact of urban and rural populations. But one clear conclusion is that inequality has increased in China.
This paper investigates the influences of the income overlap part on the nationwide Gini coefficient. Then we present a new approach to estimating the Chinese Gini ratio from 1978 to 2006, which avoids the shortcomings of current data sources. In line with the results, the authors further probe the trend of Chinese income disparity. …income inequality has been rising in China. …the national Gini ratio of 2006 is 1.52 times more than that of 1978.
Here’s a chart based on their data (combined with post-2006 data from Statista). It looks at historical trends for the Gini coefficient (a value of “1” is absolute inequality, with one person accumulating all the income in a society, whereas a value of “0” is absolute equality, with everyone having the same level of income.

As you can see, there’s been a significant increase in inequality.



My leftist friends are conditioned to think this is a terrible outcome, in large part because they incorrectly think the economy is a fixed pie.

And when you have that distorted view, higher absolute incomes for the rich necessarily imply lower absolute incomes for the poor.

My response (beyond pointing out that the economy is not a fixed pie), is to argue that the goal should be economic growth and poverty reduction. I don’t care if Bill Gates is getting richer at a faster rate than a poor person. I just want a society where everyone has the chance to climb the economic ladder.

And I also point out that it’s hard to design pro-growth policies that won’t produce more income for rich people. Yes, there are some reforms (licensing liberalization, cutting agriculture subsidies, reducing protectionism, shutting the Ex-Im Bank, reforming Social Security, ending bailouts) that will probably be disproportionately beneficial for those with low incomes, but those policies also will produce growth that will help upper-income people.*

But I’m digressing. The main goal of today’s column is to look at the inequality data from above and then add the following data on poverty reduction.

Here’s a chart I shared back in March. As you can see, there’s been a very impressive reduction in the number of people suffering severe deprivation in rural China (where incomes historically have been lowest).



Consider, now, both charts together.

The bottom line is that economic liberalization resulted in much faster growth. And because some people got richer at a faster rate than others got richer, that led to both an increase in inequality and a dramatic reduction in poverty.

Therefore, what happened in China creates a type of Rorschach test for folks on the left.
  • A well-meaning leftist will look at all this data and say, “I wish somehow everyone got richer at the same rate, but market-based reforms in China are wonderful because so many people escaped poverty.”
  • A spiteful leftist will look at all this data and say, “Because upper-income people benefited even more than low-income people, market-based reforms in China were a failure and should be reversed.”
Needless to say, the spiteful leftists are the ones who hate the rich more than they love the poor (here are some wise words from Margaret Thatcher on such people).

*To the extend that some upper-income taxpayers obtain unearned income via government intervention, then they may lose out from economic liberalization. Ethical rich people, however, will earn more income if there are pro-growth reforms.