American Elephants

Throwing Good Money After Proven Bad Policy by The Elephant's Child

It does not matter how often you show that a program does not work, and in the case of Head Start, studies have been showing it to be ineffective for years, but — it’s “for the children.” When a study has just emerged and funding would seem to be questionable, you just tack it on to another urgent bill, in this case, Sandy Relief, and $100 million.

A billion here, a billion there, who can keep track?

On January 4, Congress approved $9.7 billion in initial relief for victims of the storm. A second vote on the rest of the $60.4 billion aid package is planned for Tuesday, and among the numerous items unrelated to clean-up efforts is $100 million in additional funding for Head Start, the LBJ-era program that already spends $8 billion a year trying to prepare low-income toddlers for kindergarten.

Since its creation as part of the War on Poverty in 1965, nearly 30 million children have participated in Head Start at a taxpayer cost of more than $180 billion. The problem is that by the government’s own reckoning the program has never achieved what it promises.

The first major evaluation was in 1969 by the Westinghouse Learning Corporation and Ohio University. It found that pre-schoolers who did make cognitive gains did not maintain them in early grades and that Head Start participants performed no better than children from similar backgrounds who had never been in the program. Federal evaluations in 1985 and 2005 also found that any positive cognitive impact was transitory.

President Obama has said that education policy should  e driven not by ideology but by “what works.” The administration in 2009 sat on a very positive performance review of the Washington D.C. school voucher program which it opposed. The Congressionally mandated study of the Head Start program was finally released more than a year late. Using the political cover of disaster relief to toss more money into a bad program at a time when the country is running trillion-dollar deficits is evidence of Congressional bad faith.

Europeans Are Growing Restive Under the Heavy Green Thumb of the European Union by The Elephant's Child

The European Commission on Monday announced a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050.

Their list of future wishfulness begins with eliminating all cars and trucks from the future cities of the European Union.  They are getting desperate in their urge to eliminate any emissions from fossil fuels. They mean business.  They will put new taxation on fuel to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.  No cars or trucks in cities. None.  Zero. Zilch.

The European Union Commissioner for Transportation Slim Kallas. said “That means no more conventionally fueled cars in our city centres. Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behavior.”  He has denied that the EU plan to cut car use by half over the next 20 years, before a total ban in 2050 will limit personal mobility or reduce Europe’s economic competitiveness.

Cutting mobility is not an option, neither is business as usual.  We can break the transport system’s dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility.  It can be win-win.

A spokesman for the Association of British Drivers said “I suggest that he goes and finds himself a space in the local mental asylum.”

Christopher Monckton, Ukip’s transport spokesman said: “The EU must be living in an alternate reality, where they can  spend trillions and ban people from their cars.  This sort of greenwashing grandstanding adds nothing and merely highlights their grandiose ambitions.”

British councils have begun to raise the cost for parking for diesel vehicles. According to a paper  prepared for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, diesel vehicles, which were thought to be more environmentally friendly, may emit too many small polluting particles which damage local air quality. Diesels now account for 1 in 4 vehicles on the roads. A motorist with a typical family diesel faces paying more than £150 a year to park outside his or her house.

Mr. Cameron made a big deal of opening a factory in Coventry to build electric-powered vans.  Last week, after making only 400 vehicles in four years, the firm sacked half its workforce and went into “administration” with debts of £40 million. For every new “green” job, nearly four are lost.

Der Spiegel has a long survey on Environmentalism in Germany. Germans, it seems, are very concerned about the environment and will obey the rules, pay any price, and observe all restrictions faithfully. “Germans usually obediently go along with environmental measures, in fact they’re a model people when it comes to green living.  They carefully sort their rubbish, take their bottles back to the supermarket and put their batteries in special containers.  When they were told to have carbon filters fitted to their cars, they did so without complaining.  And of course they’re at the forefront when it comes to attaching solar panels to their roofs or insulating their homes.”

Germans only rarely question environmental policies. The light bulb ban was one example. Most didn’t see the need to scrap conventional bulbs when the simplest way to save electricity was just to turn off the light. And Germans have been unusually stubborn about the biofuel E10 — the name refers to the 10 percent ethanol admixture. They would prefer to pay a few more cents for a liter of gas than put their car engines at risk.

Many haven’t yet fully realized that E10 is an ecological swindle. People who want to help the environment shouldn’t use it. Nine large European environmental associations recently conducted a joint study which concluded that the bottom line impact of the fuel on the environment is negative. Rainforests are being clear-cut in Brazil and Borneo to make room for sugarcane and oil palm cultivation. At the same time there’s a shortage of arable land for food production, which is leading to the threat of famine in parts of the world. Last year, the price of grain rose sharply in the global market.

A single full tank of bio-ethanol uses up as much grain as an adult can eat in a whole year. In order to cover the German requirement for biofuel, an arable area of around one million hectares would be needed. That is four times the size of the south-western German state of Saarland, which would need to be fertilized, treated with pesticides and intensively farmed. Environmental groups say that across Europe, farming for biofuels would create up to 56 million tons of additional greenhouse gases— an environmental crime they say must be stopped immediately.

Not everything that looks green serves the environment, says der Spiegel. German garbage doesn’t really get recycled, the plastic gets burned and they import more plastic to burn. Extreme efforts to save water is damaging the sewage systems beneath cities, and utilities are forced to pump hundreds of thousands of gallons of water through the system to keep it operating.  This results in high water bills.  The EU made a big deal about fine particulates, ordered people to put filters on their cars,( is that where the EPA got it?) but particulate counts are increasing. Germans don’t like CFL bulbs any more than we do.

The treasured green dreams of environmentalists, as usual, do not take account of unintended consequences. Bright ideas turn out to be not so bright.  Pellet stoves required to replace fireplaces, now require filters to be added.  Major environmental initiatives aren’t just ineffective — they are counterproductive. No one is calculating whether all the billions invested in protecting the environment are actually being spent wisely.  The experts have no interest in shedding light on the problems because it is their livelihood.  It is far worse in the EU because the European Union is not accountable to the people.  Most people want to treat the environment well. The heavy hand of a poorly informed government is not the best guide.  Big Government simply doesn’t work.

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