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The Most Treacherous Political Myth

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from Don Boudreaux at the great Cafe Hayek, Quotation of the Day:

… is from page 144 of Anthony de Jasay’s brilliant 1998 volume, The State (original emphasis):

Private property, capital as the source of countervailing power, reinforcing the structure of civil society versus the state, used to be considered valuable both to those who owned some and to those who did not.  Liberal thought no longer recognizes such value.  It considers that democratic procedure is the source of unlimited sovereignty.

This truth is as sad as it is undeniable.  Modern “liberals” – “Progressives” – are both suckered by, and proponents of, what is perhaps the most treacherous political myth to be held by modern humans, namely, that regular corruption-free elections with a wide franchise are sufficient to keep the power of the state within appropriate bounds.  It isn’t only that “Progressives” stubbornly ignore public-choice realities.  They also believe in the existence of a mythical ‘People’s will’ or ‘People’s voice’ that they treat as a god whose desires and commands (always, of course, interpreted by the secular priests called ‘politicians’ and a select few high-church pundits) ought always override the wishes and desires of puny flesh-and-blood individuals.

HKO

It is a profound mistake to believe that the popular vote, also known as voter accountability, is considered enough to secure freedom.  It is not. It is the independence of the individual and private property that affects the greater check on tyranny.  In another post Boudreaux noted “Markets allow us to have faith in strangers.” ( a reader’s comment)

It is ironic that the early progressives such as Woodrow Wilson believed in the common will as true democracy yet recognized true leadership as one able to bend and form that will.  In those two thoughts he seemed to find little difference between democracy and the tyranny imposed by a demagogue.

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The Benefits of Fossil Fuels

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Matt Ridley writes in The Wall Street Journal, Fossil Fuels Will Save the World (Really)
excerpts:

Notice, too, the ways in which fossil fuels have contributed to preserving the planet. As the American author and fossil-fuels advocate Alex Epstein points out in a bravely unfashionable book, “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels,” the use of coal halted and then reversed the deforestation of Europe and North America. The turn to oil halted the slaughter of the world’s whales and seals for their blubber. Fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food, thus feeding a growing population while sparing land for wild nature.

To throw away these immense economic, environmental and moral benefits, you would have to have a very good reason. The one most often invoked today is that we are wrecking the planet’s climate. But are we?

Although the world has certainly warmed since the 19th century, the rate of warming has been slow and erratic. There has been no increase in the frequency or severity of storms or droughts, no acceleration of sea-level rise. Arctic sea ice has decreased, but Antarctic sea ice has increased. At the same time, scientists are agreed that the extra carbon dioxide in the air has contributed to an improvement in crop yields and a roughly 14% increase in the amount of all types of green vegetation on the planet since 1980.

That carbon-dioxide emissions should cause warming is not a new idea. In 1938, the British scientist Guy Callender thought that he could already detect warming as a result of carbon-dioxide emissions. He reckoned, however, that this was “likely to prove beneficial to mankind” by shifting northward the climate where cultivation was possible.

Only in the 1970s and 1980s did scientists begin to say that the mild warming expected as a direct result of burning fossil fuels—roughly a degree Celsius per doubling of carbon-dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere—might be greatly amplified by water vapor and result in dangerous warming of two to four degrees a century or more. That “feedback” assumption of high “sensitivity” remains in virtually all of the mathematical models used to this day by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

And yet it is increasingly possible that it is wrong. As Patrick Michaels of the libertarian Cato Institute has written, since 2000, 14 peer-reviewed papers, published by 42 authors, many of whom are key contributors to the reports of the IPCC, have concluded that climate sensitivity is low because net feedbacks are modest. They arrive at this conclusion based on observed temperature changes, ocean-heat uptake and the balance between warming and cooling emissions (mainly sulfate aerosols). On average, they find sensitivity to be 40% lower than the models on which the IPCC relies.

If these conclusions are right, they would explain the failure of the Earth’s surface to warm nearly as fast as predicted over the past 35 years, a time when—despite carbon-dioxide levels rising faster than expected—the warming rate has never reached even two-tenths of a degree per decade and has slowed down to virtually nothing in the past 15 to 20 years. This is one reason the latest IPCC report did not give a “best estimate” of sensitivity and why it lowered its estimate of near-term warming.

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The Clinton Tradeoff

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From the New York Times, Maureen Dowd writes An Open Letter to hdr22@clintonemail.com

excerpts:

Because you assume that if it’s good for the Clintons, it’s good for the world, you’re always tangling up government policy with your own needs, desires, deceptions, marital bargains and gremlins.

Instead of raising us up by behaving like exemplary, sterling people, you bring us down to your own level, a place of blurred lines and fungible ethics and sleazy associates. Your family’s foundation gobbles tens of millions from Saudi Arabia and other repressive regimes, whose unspoken message is: “We’re going to give you money to go improve the world. Now leave us alone to go persecute women.”

That’s an uncomfortable echo of a Clintonian trade­off, which goes: “We’re going to give you the first woman president who will improve the country. Now leave us alone to break any rules we please.”

This is not the first time Ms. Dowd has expressed her displeasure at the Clinton’s ethical vacuum.  Is it possible for the Democratic heir apparent to go forward without the endorsement of the sacred NYT?  Is it possible that Ms. Dowd and other Democrats who are not blind sycophants would still vote for Ms. Clinton over any Republican?

Is this Clinton’s McCarthy moment?  Is Ms. Dowd McCarthy’s Joseph Welch?

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After Tax Income Gains

from 15 Statistics That Destroy Liberal Narratives by John Hawkins in Townhall:

It’s also not true, as widely asserted, that the wealthiest Americans (the notorious top 1 percent) have captured all the gains in productivity and living standards of recent decades. The Congressional Budget Office examined income trends for the past three decades. It found sizable gains for all income groups. True, the top 1 percent outdid everyone. From 1980 to 2010, their inflation-adjusted pretax incomes grew a spectacular 190 percent, almost a tripling. But for the poorest fifth of Americans, pretax incomes for these years rose 44 percent. Gains were 31 percent for the second poorest, 29 percent for the middle fifth, 38 percent for the next fifth and 83 percent for the richest fifth, including the top 1 percent. Because our system redistributes income from top to bottom, after-tax gains were larger: 53 percent for the poorest fifth; 41 percent for the second; 41 percent for the middle-fifth; 49 percent for the fourth; and 90 percent for richest. – Robert Samuelson

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The Foundation Slush Fund

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from The American Spectator, The Founding Father… and Mother, by Jay Homnik

excerpts:

Here is the setup. You have an ex-President who wants to rake in loads of cash and exploit his fame and position to maximum profit. What to do? After all, when Ronald Reagan took two million dollars from Japan for a goodwill trip after leaving office, there were howls of outrage. Answer: take the millions but not for yourself… for the Presidential Library… and for the Foundation! Whenever Bill or Hillary speaks, the company or university hosting the address pays several hundred thousand dollars to (everyone together now)… the Foundation! No need to pay income tax because it is not income. No criticism for selfishness because this is the height of selflessness.

Additionally, every Clinton foot soldier from the campaigns and terms of office are employed at the Foundation. This means there is a full-time perpetual campaign in place, for whatever office or project Bill and Hillary seek next, and it is all being paid for under the guise of charity. If Bill is as nimble as he once was, he can keep a few mistresses on the payroll as well.

During the years Hillary was a Senator or a Presidential primary candidate or Secretary of State, her position facilitated the “fundraising” considerably. Individuals, companies, countries seeking her favor could deliver checks — above the campaign contribution limits — to the Foundation. To demonstrate just how crooked this all was, here is all you need to know: the chief fundraiser of Hillary’s campaign, a chap named Cheng, was given a job at the State Department — to be her advance man!

Think about it. Before each country could greet Secretary of State Clinton, they would first greet her chief fundraiser. Ya kiddin’ me?!

HKO

The only thing more amazing than their brash absence of any moral or ethical core is the incredible gullibility of their sycophants. A true liberal should be incredibly outraged.