Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Green Energy: Learning from Recent European History to Re-Embrace Our American Philosophy

A post at Reason on Tuesday noted the failings of green energy subsidies in Europe, highlighting the fact that Spain passed a law this month cutting subsidies to green energy companies. The Reuters article detailing the subsidy cuts notes a basic economic truth about the relationship between costs and prices:
Foreign investors poured money into Spanish wind and solar projects, drawn to generous subsidies during a decade-long economic boom that helped the country to become one of the biggest markets for investments in green energy. 
The problem was that the cost of the subsidies were not passed on fully to consumers because that would have pushed prices to unprecedented highs.
Price may be what a consumer pays, but it isn't necessarily the true cost of the product. Central planners often prey on the fact that citizens often do not distinguish between cost and price. Subsidies eventually cause a product to collapse under its own weight of its own cost. Over a decade ago, Thomas Sowell wrote an essay about the difference between cost and price in reference to health care. He notes:
 When politicians talk about "bringing down the cost of health care" they do not mean that they have found a way to produce the same health benefits with less medicine or less time spent by doctors treating patients.  They mean that they have some scheme for preventing these costs from being charged directly to the patient. 
 If these politicians were really going to bring down the cost of health care, they would have to do such things as stop so many medical resources from being diverted to enriching lawyers who win bogus lawsuits against doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. They would have to stop giving blanket subsidies to people who waste doctors' time with trivial ailments that they would ask their local pharmacist about if they had to pay a doctor out of their own pockets. 
The same principles apply to energy costs and prices. Governor Palin warned of Spain's energy subsidy crisis nearly two years ago in a speech in India when she noted:
 So as government locks up land & we lose good jobs in the 'Conventional Resource' arena, you may hear that "green jobs" will be the saviour! But look around the world & try telling that to the thousands of English & Scottish workers who've lost jobs as a result of government investments in "green energy" projects. A recent UK study shows that for every "green job" created, nearly four jobs were lost elsewhere in the economy due to lack of affordable energy! Same story in Spain - investment in "green jobs" brought massive debt, skyrocketing energy costs & unemployment.  
 This push for 'green' at the expense of 'conventional, reliable' sources is not a credible energy policy or economic policy. It's "Social Engineering" by Central Government Planners. And it leads to nothing but more debt & more job loss. And taxpayers will be stuck subsidizing the failure and paying more for energy.
 Despite the lesson that Europe has taught America and that Governor Palin warned of two years ago, President Obama continued to push for more green energy subsidies in his recent State of the Union address, claiming that the price of solar energy has gone down. This may be the case relatively speaking, but even with those additional subsidies, solar energy will still more much more expensive that coal, nuclear and other more traditional sources of energy, and that's according to the President's own Energy Information Administration.  Even solar companies themselves are turning down subsidies from the government. In 2011, the world's largest solar company, Solar Trust, turned down a more than $2 billion loan guarantee from the US government because it would be too risky. That company went bankrupt in 2012, even though the Obama administration fast tracked their land permits for energy development.

Margaret Thatcher once said that Europe was built on history and America was built on philosophy. She is right. Our leaders would do well to learn from Europe's recent "green history" by eschewing the green socialism and corporatism of Europe and embracing again the pro market philosophy that founded this great nation  by engaging in unsubsidized development of proven resources and sound policies that protect our future.

Crossposted here and here.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Name Is Whitney, and I Used to Be a Low-Information Voter

Hello. My name is Whitney, and I used to be a low-information voter.  I have been clean of low-information voting habits since the 2008 primary. 

I started writing this post about two weeks ago. In light of this post at Legal Insurrection today (which I encourage you to read) about low information voters and how we as conservatives should reach out to them , I thought I should finish it. I'm going to stray from my typical writing style with this post and get a little bit personal by sharing a  bit about my life politically prior to 2008. I don't want this post to be about me, and I apologize if this post ends up being a bit long. I'm just a Midwestern rube with a blog. I just want to use my recent past as a case study of sorts.

 I was born into a middle class farming family to conservative parents during Reagan's first term. My parents were your typical Republican voters. They weren't super involved in elective politics, aside from my mom serving as an election judge during most elections. Most of my formative years were during the Clinton administration, whom my parents didn't particularly like. They even named one of our cats Clinton because, as my dad would say, "one more thing and he's out!". Clinton also happened to be our first black cat. I was involved in student government in junior high and high school, but I didn't really pay any attention to politics at any other level, aside from once helping stuff envelopes for a family friend running for county board .

The first election I could vote in was in 2002. I voted primarily because my mom always said growing up, " if you don't vote, you can't complain". I didn't necessarily want to complain, but I did feel like I should vote, even if I didn't really know who I was voting for. I do remember voting for the GOP nominee for governor in 2002 primarily because my parents were Republican. During the 2004 general election, I was a senior in college. My political knowledge was confined to headlines in the school newspaper, brief news segments I would occasionally catch watching TV, and whatever my professors would talk about. Since I was a microbiology major, my professors didn't talk much about politics, aside from a 20th century American history professor who spent a big chunk of each class bashing Bush about Iraq. In that election, I ended up voting to re-elect President Bush, and I voted for Barack Obama for Senate. The little bits I picked up about John Kerry showed to me he was a flip flopper, and I appreciated how President Bush handled 9/11 which happened during my freshman year in college. When it came to the Senate race, I was aware that the GOP's original nominee was gone and they had brought in a candidate from out of state to replace him--Alan Keyes. I didn't really know anything about Keyes, but I didn't understand why the GOP had to go out of state to find a new candidate, so I voted for Obama. In 2006, I was getting a master's degree in community health. Most of my professors sympathesized with universal health care policy, and me, being at the time, naive and easily persuadable, agreed. So, in 2006, rather than vote for Blagojevich or the GOP candidate, Judy Baar Topinka, I voted for the Green Party candidate who believed in universal health care as public policy. Plus, his last name was Whitney, and my first name was Whitney. I thought that was cool.

You don't have to register with any particular party in Illinois, so when the 2008 primaries rolled around, I toyed with the thought of voting for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary because I thought it was cool that a woman was running. Ultimately, I decided to vote in the Republican primary and voted for John McCain, mostly because as a short, grey haired veteran in his seventies, he reminded me of my grandpa. I didn't pay attention to the election again until Senator McCain picked Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. I thought it was cool that he picked a woman, and I had caught enough of the news to know that she was a runner, former high school point guard, and a flutist (all the things I was too). I decided to catch her VP nomination acceptance speech on TV, and I was impressed. It was the first political speech that I had watched in its entirety. I started to pay attention to politics that election. I'd catch a few interviews or clips of rallies. I kept hearing this phrase, "energy independence", but I had no idea what it meant. I began to learn more about Governor Palin's record of taking on corruption and being fiscally responsible. She was the opposite of the Illinois politicians I typically ignored. She spoke in ways that made sense to me.

Following the election, I began to read because politics began to intrigue me. I happened to catch a segment on FoxNews that S.E. Cupp was on, and it highlighted her book Why You're Wrong about the Right. She put aspects of conservatism into a language and a format that I could understand by weaving in cultural references and quotes from athletes. I don't always agree with her now, but I'm grateful for that book because it spoke conservatism at a level that met where I was at the time. Now, I feel that I'm a reasonably informed voter who is now a political junkie. It wasn't because Sarah Palin was well versed in explaining the nuances of the Fed's interest rates or the geopolitical history of the Middle East; it was because she spoke of conservatism in concepts that were relatable in my everyday life.

In his recent speech at the National Prayer breakfast, Dr. Ben Carson noted that Jesus spoke in parables and how that was an effective teaching mechanism. I'm very hesitant to mix politics and religion, but I do think that if one is trying to reach people on an ideological level, be it with religion or with politics, relating those concepts to their audience's daily lives and culture is effective. Jesus spoke to those who weren't of the religious establishment be using parables about farming, fishing, and weddings.  Good political communicators-- the Reagans and Palins--do the same thing. They use rhetoric that speak to their audience. This seems like a very basic thing, but it is important. Often it's the most rhetorically wonkish politicians who get the most praise. They may be very smart, but their approach doesn't resonate with everyday Americans.

It's not just the language conservatives use that makes a difference. It is the platform that we use. This is what makes Governor Palin prescient with her use of Facebook and Twitter and for and her family's involvement in TV shows aside of the political commentary. She knows as she noted in her interview with Breitbart following her decision to not renew her contract with Fox, " we can't just preach to the choir".  It may be taking the GOP more time to see that she is right 99.9% of the time, but at least hopefully people are truly grasping it. We may mock Buzzfeed for having posts featuring 10 cats who look like Lady Gaga or the top 20 quotes from Full House, but low information voters eat that stuff up. It's a part of culture now. This is why sites like Twitchy and Breitbart (especially Big Hollywood) are important because they push back against the cultural narratives, but they also engage the culture. There is a great opportunity for us to do even more though, as the Legal Insurrection post suggests, but we first have to fully realize that it is important. This doesn't mean we abandon our principles. We must continue to embrace them. We don't try to make a bigger tent by driving the stakes of the tent into swampy, unstable ground. That will only make the tent collapse, no matter how many people are inside. We make the tent bigger by making it attractive to enter, and for low information voters, this means that we meet them where they are politically and culturally. This does not mean all will choose to enter, but we do want to make conservatism attractive to them. Again, not by changing conservatism, but by making our message appealing.

Crossposted here and here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

State of the Union: Incestuous Business Partnerships and Forced State Partnerships

Following President Obama's State of the Union address earlier this week, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rand Paul gave Republican and Tea Party rebuttals respectively. Both of them spoke on important points like outrageous spending, high taxes, and the need for choice in education. Senator Paul rightly highlighted both the GOP's complicity in big spending and the President's wrong stances on civil liberties and foreign policy while Senator Rubio barely touched these issues. However,there were two very big issues that the two Senators either insufficiently discussed or did not discuss at all--corporatism and federalism.

True to form, during his State of the Union address, President Obama railed against corporate tax loopholes and deductions for the well connected, proving later in his speech that this was only talk. As Veronique de Rugy noted at the National Review, President Obama later called for special incentives and tax breaks for certain industries and sectors of his own choosing--manufacturing, clean energy, infrastructure and construction, housing, science and innovation, and education suppliers among others. Sadly, as Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner notes, neither Senator challenged the President on this sufficiently nor offered alternative solutions:
But Rubio didn't make a full-throated case for free-market populism. Like Obama, he relied on his party's well-thumbed playbook: He pinned the housing bubble on government, and took another shot at the failed green-energy subsidy-suckler, Solyndra. Then he called vaguely for shrinking government. 
Rubio could have, instead, offered some real free-market populist ideas. To cut the deficit, for instance, he could have proposed ending specific corporate-welfare programs. He could have made it clear he wants to cut subsidies to both Big Oil and Big Green. And why not offer something tangible to the average family, like cutting the payroll tax? 
Rand Paul, giving the Tea Party response, hit the right notes a bit stronger. Paul tapped into the near-universal understanding that politics is a rigged game when he assailed "backroom deals in which everyone up here wins, but every taxpayer loses." 
Paul said, "We must continue to object when Congress sticks special interest riders on bills in the dead of night." 
Again, Paul's economic proposals were typical GOP fare: a balanced-budget, for instance. He never gave bolder proposals -- say, breaking up big banks to protect taxpayers from bailouts.
Perhaps one of those two Senators could have said something like this:
[W]e can and we will make America the most attractive country on earth to do business in. Here’s how we’re going to do this. Right now, we have the highest federal corporate income tax rate in the industrialized world. Did you know our rates are higher than China and communist Cuba? This doesn’t generate as much revenue as you would think, though, because many big corporations skirt federal taxes because they have the friends in D.C. who right the rules for the rest of us. This makes us less competitive and restrains our engine of prosperity. Heck, some businesses spend more time trying to figure out how to hide their profits than they do in generating more profits so that they can expand and hire more of us. So, to make America the most attractive and competitive place to do business, to set up shop here and hire people here, to attract capital from all over the globe that will lead to an explosion of growth, instead of chasing industry offshore, I propose to eliminate all federal corporate income tax. And hear me out on this. This is how we create millions of high-paying jobs. This is how we increase opportunity and prosperity for all. 
But here’s the best part: To balance out any loss of federal revenue from this tax cut, we eliminate corporate welfare and all the loopholes and we eliminate bailouts. This is how we break the back of crony capitalism because it feeds off corporate welfare, which is just socialism for the very rich. We can change all of that. The message then to job-creating corporations is: We’ll unshackle you from the world’s highest federal corporate income tax rate, but you will stand or fall on your own, just like all the rest of us out on main street.
This idea, proposed by Governor Sarah Palin in September of 2011, would prevent the selection of winners and losers and the "private-public partnership" touted by President Obama that only puts business in bed with government. Since this proposal eliminates corporate taxes, it would also provide push back to the President's continual false claim that tax breaks are given to companies who ship jobs overseas. This is claim President Obama made in his 2011 and 2012 State of the Union addresses, and it is false. As I wrote nearly a year ago :
 What President Obama calls a “tax break for outsourcing” is really no tax break at all. America has the highest corporate tax in the world. America's corporate tax rate is nearly three times that of the financially flailing Greece. Companies are not given a tax credit or subsidy specifically for outsourcing, but by outsourcing, their costs become lower as often the regulatory burden is smaller as are other costs. Additionally, American companies who have foreign subsidiaries pay taxes both to that foreign country and the US, and these companies pay taxes if those profits are repatriated.  
 As the Cato Institute notes “corporate income taxes are the most distortive, and hence the most harmful for economic growth.” Making America’s corporate tax rates competitive with the rest of the world will help drive jobs back to America, but the Obama administration has it backwards by suggesting the corporate tax reduction should follow companies “insourcing” jobs. Even in spite of the fact that President Obama’s deficit reduction commission proposed corporate tax reductions and that he himself discussed reductions in his 2011 State of the Union address, he has not made any concerted effort to reduce the corporate tax. In fact, his administration has even recently spoken of levying a “global minimum tax” to prevent American companies from “escaping doing their fair share” by outsourcing.
President Obama likes to play good cop to Big Business's bad cop--criticizing them in speeches only to give them special tax incentives and tax breaks. From a policy perspective, eliminating special tax breaks and at least lowering corporate taxes will allow businesses to create jobs and protect taxpayers from paying for special breaks to the President's cronies. From a political perspective, it means that the alternative concrete solutions are being offered, not just criticism of the opposing party.

In addition to discussing "private-public" partnerships, President Obama focused on state-federal "partnerships". In particular, states with the best "clean energy" proposal will get federal support and the federal government will work with states on providing Pre-K education. Senator Rubio mentioned briefly that states should have a role in Medicare, but neither Senator pushed back against the President's plans to push a federal government plan that would likely be an unfunded mandate for states. Maybe that is because it takes a governor to truly understand how the federal government stomps on federalism. Following the President's speech, Governor Sarah Palin tweeted:
She would know. In 2009, President Obama signed into law the "stimulus" package, which Governor Palin fought against by vetoing large portions of the stimulus funding allocated to Alaska. She noted that such a plan didn't have strings attached to it--it had "debt-building, binding, controlling ropes" attached to it. Governors today are seeing the same thing with Obamacare. Many Republican governors have rejected state run Obamacare exchanges in part because, although federal dollars are allocated to setup the exchanges, states are required to fund the exchange beginning in 2015. Accepting the exchange turns into an unfunded mandate.

This is not to say that the federal government has no relationship to state government. One of the main reasons the Constitution succeeded where the Articles of Confederation failed in our nation's founding was because the federal government's role was ill-defined and weak in the Articles. However, the federal government needs to realize its minimal role at the state level.

Suffice it say, while these two Senators effectively hit on several important issues, they did not appropriately hit on the federal government's improper entanglement with both business (corporatism) and state governments (lack of federalism). The State of the Union is one of incestuous business partnerships between connected cronies and the federal government and the forced partnership between the federal government and the states and the federal government with the taxpayers paying the dowry.

Crossposted here and here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Exclusive: The Washington Post Receives Coveted Fishwrapping Contract with Seattle's Pike's Place

Washington D.C.--The Washington Post announced in a press conference today that they  received a coveted contract with Seattle's famous fish market, Pike's Place, to become the exclusive provider of fish wrap for the market.  
The Post's Kevin Merida, who was just named managing editor earlier this month, said, "this is a step in an exciting and bold direction for the Post. We want the Washington Post to reach not just to the District of Columbia, but also to Washington state as well. We do share the same name, and we want our excellent news coverage and in depth analysis to reach from the Potomac River to Puget Sound". 
A press release from Pike's Place noted that the market was thrilled with the partnership: "We are known for having fun at Pike's Place, and we think that this new relationship will added need depth and seriousness to our efforts to bring fresh fish to Seattle and its tourists." The release also noted, " we are glad that the Post takes diversity so seriously as to expand their outreach to new species".  
The Sierra Club also was pleased to hear of the contract. Their executive director, Michael Brune, noted that the Washington Post prints their newspaper on post consumer recycled paper and uses soy based ink. Brune also stated, " Pike's Place previously used non-recycled fish wrap. This is a step in right direction to make sure that our nation's precious trees are being preserved". 
The contract begins in March of 2013. The Washington Post beat out the New York Times and Politico's print edition for the contract. Newsweek had to withdraw their proposal after recently suspending their print edition. 

The above passage is quite obviously satirical. However, when a "journalist" is operating with a biased agenda, satire appears like legitimate news. Earlier today, Suzi Parker of the Washington Post based and entire post around a "story" at a satirical website that claimed Governor Sarah Palin had signed on with Al-Jazeera to reach out to religious people. The article's overarching point was that Governor Palin was supposedly trying desperately to hang on to relevancy, yet if she were truly irrelevant, why would the media have to grasp at straws to find something to pin on Palin?

For the Washington Post, this is par for the course. Since Palin burst on to the scene in 2008, the Washington Post has aimed to smear the Governor at every turn. During the 2008 election, then blogger Dave Wiegel, who covered conservative politics at the site, operated an email list among journalists to coordinate stories. Later, in 2010, it was revealed that these email exchanges included discussion on how to cover speculation that Governor Palin was not the mother of her son, Trig. Weigel left the Washington Post shortly after the news of this email list hit only to be replaced by "conservative" Jennifer Rubin. Rubin was complementary of Palin when she wrote at Commentary, but within eight days of signing on at the Washington Post, she began to slam Palin. As I wrote nearly two years ago:
Last November, the Washington Post hired Jennifer Rubin to replace journolister, Dave Weigel, as their "conservative" blogger. Yes, those quotation marks are needed. Many, including Newsbusters, saw this hire as a step in the right direction for the Washington Post, as Rubin replaced the unscrupulous Weigel and had a great tenure writing for the neoconservative outlet Commentary. In fact, prior to her departure from Commentary, Rubin wrote at least four lengthy pieces supporting and defending Governor Palin. Rubin wrote articles supporting Governor Palin's non-elitism, highlighting her as a strong Tea Party voice, offering high praise for Governor Palin's political instincts, and defending Governor Palin against those who criticized her Restoring Honor rally speech.  
 What a difference a new employment contract makes! Rubin was announced as a new conservative commentator for the Washington Post on November 23, 2010 writing a blog called "Right Turn" and eight days later, wrote her first anti Palin screed arguing that Governor Palin was not a front runner for the GOP presidential nomination and poo pooing Governor Palin's use of the term "death panel"--a phrase that Rubin was supportive of in her articles at Commentary.
This kind of anti-conservative coverage has continued, as Rubin bashed Senator DeMint when he resigned from the Senate and knocked Senator Ted Cruz's early days in Washington D.C. Those who don't wear the conservative moniker,and some who even claim to be objective have engaged in this type of behavior as well. When Governor Palin's emails were released in the Summer of 2010, the Post's "journalists", obviously averse to the idea of performing due diligence and actual research, crowd sourced the emails, asking readers to find juicy tidbits about Palin. During the 2012 election, shortly after writing a piece on how sexist it was that the media focused on Michelle Obama's clothes, one Washington Post "She the People" blogger spent most of a post criticizing what Governor Palin wore at a rally for Missouri Senatorial candidate Sarah Steelman.

Just recently, Chris Cillizza, who has been less-than-objective to Governor Palin in the past wrote a lengthy post declaring Palin irrelevant following her decision not to renew her contract with FoxNews. Just a few short weeks later, Cillizza invoked Palin's name to take a shot at both Palin and the Pope when the Pope announced his resignation. While Palin is still supposedly irrelevant in his eyes, she was still relevant enough to mock.

To be sure, the Washington Post is known to smear and misrepresent many conservatives, but it is especially   apparent and pointed when it comes to Governor Palin. When Palin gave her acceptance speech at the RNC  in September 2008, she looked right into the camera and noted that she wasn't aiming to seek the media's approval; she was aiming to serve the people of the country. That is what she has done. She served Alaska as governor leading to multiple credit upgrades, ethics reform, and strong budgets for the state. She has supported conservative candidates, rallied the Tea Party faithful, helped in tornado relief in Alabama, visited Haiti after a devastating earthquake, flew thousands of miles to attend the memorial service of a fallen hero on her birthday. Palin often notes that only dead fish go with the flow. Palin is no dead fish, but the media who continue to claim her irrelevance may find their writing only serve to wrap actual dead fish, proving that real irrelevancy lies with the legacy media.

Crossposted here and here

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why is the Illinois GOP Honoring an Obama Crony?

The Illinois Review reported today that the Illinois Republican Party will honor David W Rowe, the Chairman Emeritus of Exelon, an Illinois company and the top nuclear energy company in the country:
CHICAGO - Illinois GOP Chair Pat Brady and Finance Chairman Sandy Stuart will be honoring Exelon Chairman Emeritus John W. Rowe March 19th with a special reception at the Chicago Club. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus will also be in attendance. Rowe made news in 2009 when he led Exelon's split with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over the Chamber's opposition to cap and trade. 
Reportedly armed with negotiated exceptions on how the proposed tax system would affect Exelon, Rowe pushed for the cap and trade tax's passage. During a Wheeling Township GOP meeting, then Congressman Mark Kirk publicly credited Exelon's CEO with influencing Kirk's vote in favor of cap and trade. 
The ILGOP honoree has an interesting donor record. Over the past 12 years, Rowe has written 96 checks to political candidates in Illinois state and local elections, totaling $232,000+. Over $123,800 has gone to Democrats and $83,000 to Republicans. He has donated thousands of dollars to Chicago Mayors Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel, as well as Chicago Alderman Ed Burke (D), and Burke's wife Anne who is an Illinois Supreme Court Justice. He's also written checks to Cook County Board President John Stroger, his son Todd, and current board president Toni Preckwinkle.
To provide some perspective on the candidates Rowe has backed, Preckwinkle, as I have written before, is the Cook county board president who helped secure a $100 million a year Obamacare waiver for the county to allow them to expand Medicaid early. Preckwinkle was also the woman who introduced President Obama to Reverend Wright and once said that President Reagan could "rot in hell".

Rowe also has donated to President Obama. Exelon,as a company, was President Obama's fourth largest donor in 2008. Additionally,in 2008, Senator Obama watered down nuclear regulations while accepting nearly a quarter million dollars in campaign contributions from the Exelon. Obama buddy, David Axlerod was also once a consultant to the company, and in 2011, Exelon received a more than half billion dollar loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to build a solar plant in California.

To be sure, Rowe's contributions include a good deal of money to Illinois Republicans as well as more than $22,000 to the RNC, $10,000 to the NRSC and a good deal to state level Republicans as the Illinois Review reported, and he is connected with one of the largest businesses in the state. However, what kind of a message is the state GOP and Reince Priebus trying to send by honoring an Obama crony who seems to possess no ideological compass? Sadly, it seems that this is only further proof that the already blurry line between Illinois Democrats and Illinois Republicans is becoming increasingly more blurry. We are governed by a single party--corruptocrats.

Cross posted here and here.