American Elephants

Leadership and Straight Talk! A Remarkable Idea! by The Elephant's Child
April 21, 2010, 6:38 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Economy | Tags: ,

The News from New Jersey:  Last week, Governor Chris Christie urged voters to reject school budgets in districts where teachers refused to freeze their pay to help the beleaguered state keep spending in check.

Yesterday, voters in over half of the state’s school districts did just that. New Jersey voters usually approve more than 70 percent of the school budgets. Voter turnout was high.

Governor Christie took his case to the people.  He made no excuses or apologies for what he is doing to return New Jersey to fiscal health.  Democrats whine.  Teachers’ unions prayed for his death!  But the voters responded.  This will strengthen Christie’s hand with recalcitrant legislators.  This is called  Leadership, and it’s working in one of the bluest states.  People respond to straight talk and honesty.

(H/T: Ace of Spades)

Col. Allen West, Republican Candidate for Congress, Broward County, Florida. by The Elephant's Child
April 21, 2010, 6:17 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Economy, Health Care | Tags: , ,

Col. Allen West, U.S. Army (ret.) is a Republican candidate for Congress in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District in Florida.  Just in case you needed a pep talk for today.

Another $1.4 Million EPA Bad Idea. by The Elephant's Child
April 21, 2010, 5:59 pm
Filed under: Environment, Health Care, Law, Taxes | Tags: , ,

This is going to seem really boring, but stick with me.  There is method in my madness.  Ken Green, who is a scholar at AEI specializing in energy and environment, offers a quick definition from Wikipedia:

Data dredging, according to Wikipedia, is “the inappropriate (sometimes deliberately so) use of data mining to uncover misleading relationships in data. These relationships may be valid within the test set but have no statistical significance in the wider population.” Wikipedia gives a particularly relevant example: “Suppose that observers note that a particular town appears to be a cancer cluster, but lack a firm hypothesis of why this is so. However, they have access to a large amount of demographic data about the town and surrounding area, containing measurements for the area of hundreds or thousands of different variables, mostly uncorrelated. Even if all these variables are independent of the cancer incidence rate, it is highly likely that at least one variable will be significantly correlated with the cancer rate across the area.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2).  It looks like cap-and-trade will not make it through the Senate, so the next best idea is regulating — and taxing — CO2, under the Clean Air Act, as a “pollutant.” As CO2 is what we exhale, it’s going to take some heavy evidence to get away with that.  Particularly since Climategate has pretty much put a damper on the whole global warming thing.  Congress never intended the Clean Air Act for any such thing, but Obama wants a carbon tax.  So the EPA proposes to give away $1.4 million in up to $300,000 portions to fund directional data dredging that looks only for relationships that suggest that exposure to various air pollutants cause harm to human health.  The polite term for this is “fishing expedition.”

EPA, ever helpful, gives some examples of what such data-dredging exercises might look like.  Air pollution associations with respiratory and cardiovascular disease have been studied extensively, but there might be some “air pollution impacts” on additional health conditions including diabetes, neurological disorders, tooth decay, brain tumors, zits, (Okay, I made up the last three, but surely you see the problems).

While data dredging can identify some correlations, it cannot identify causation.  It’s one thing for scientists to identify illness in a population, and to investigate what it is that might be causing it, but this is “Seek and ye shall find,” looking for ever more obscure health impacts to justify expanded regulation and EPA intrusion into the economy.   This funding proposal should be scrapped.

And the EPA should be scrapped while they’re at it.  (But I said that before).

The Energy Battles Aren’t Going to Disappear Any Time Soon. by The Elephant's Child
April 21, 2010, 8:00 am
Filed under: Capitalism, Energy, Law | Tags: , ,

Everyone got, temporarily, a little excited about the president’s offshore drilling announcement, but then they metaphorically read the fine print.  It does little to increase access to domestic supplies, and actually puts 13 billion barrels of oil and 49 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off-limits.  Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has been more supportive of offshore wind energy, which is the form of energy that his boss prefers.

A new Institute for Energy Research video compares a natural gas platform to an offshore wind platform, and explains some of the facts.  A government not captive to green ideology should allow industry to pursue these opportunities.  Whatever the energy source, the reoccurring problems are over-regulation and special-interest politicking.  The NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) crowd is always ready to fight.

The Cape Wind project is still in progress, but it has faced strong opposition from the Kennedy family, and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound.  The Alliance has reportedly poured more than $15 million into fighting Cape Wind ever since the project began in 2001.  The Alliance says “shipping lanes, tourism, public safety, Cape Cod economy.”  Two Indian tribes working with the Alliance seek to designate the entire Nantucket Sound as an Indian historic property.  And so the battles go on and on and on.

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