Last Friday, the New York Times editorialized in critique of American tariffs, which it says “raise the price of goods and are all too often based on outdated political considerations that defy logic and good sense.”

Huzzah!

Blog author: dwbosch
posted by on Monday, May 7, 2007

In between jokes, Gore called for a change in thinking about climate issues and the pollution that causes global warming. He was especially critical of the business community’s current focus on quarterly profits at the expense of sustainable business practices.

"That’s functionally insane, but that is the dominant reality in the world today," Gore said.

Functionally insane? Found this at EPA today:

Since 1970 (the year EPA was established by President Nixon), gross domestic product increased 203 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 177 percent, energy consumption increased 49 percent, and U.S. population grew by 46 percent. During the same time period and without any help from the IPCC or UN Environmental Programmmme, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants dropped by 54 percent. I’d suggest that EPA and industry are already well on the way to doing the same thing with "greenhouse" gasses.

Yeh, insane alright.

By the way, check out the story behind the story (via) linked above. Sounds like Gore’s preaching isn’t for the masses these days. Maybe that’s a good thing.

The nation’s news outlets picked up the story quickly last week out of downtown Los Angeles, where an immigration rally at MacArthur Park sparked a violent police reaction.

The LAPD police chief, William J. Bratton, was quick to express his displeasure. “Quite frankly, I was disturbed at what I saw,” Bratton told KNX-AM. He said the actions of some officers “were inappropriate in terms of use of batons and possible use of nonlethal rounds fired.”

It looks from reports like the rally turned ugly when protesters moved out of the confines of the park and into the streets. Rally organizers contend that the violence was initiated by a group of “anarchists” not affiliated with the rally itself.

Bratton agreed and said police were initially trying to deal with 50 to 100 “agitators.”

“The individuals were there to provoke police,” Bratton said. “Unfortunately, they got what they came for.” The New York Times also provides a lengthy summary piece of the event, which was organized around “a call for broad changes to immigration laws.”

For a period in the 1980s, I lived less than a block from MacArthur Park, at an apartment building named the Park Wilshire (You can see the proximity to MacArthur Park here). When I lived there, the park was not very family-friendly. There was a lot of violence, including gang and drug activities. It wasn’t a safe neighborhood by any stretch.

Obviously it’s been many years, and perhaps the area has changed. But if it’s anything like it was then, MacArthur Park is a pretty bad choice for place to hold a rally. No doubt the police over-reaction was at least in some small part related to the negative associations connected to the rally’s location. I’m also willing to bet that the “anarchists” and “agitators” didn’t have to travel far to enact some payback against the police, and were able to use the rally as cover.

Unfortunately the real victims of their violence were the innocents at the rally, the women and children who were put in danger, and the members of the media who were beaten and hurt. But there may well be victims beyond the rally itself, if the violence becomes an occasion for fostering more anti-immigrant sentiment in the US.

The NYT editorialized last week about the potential for a new immigration bill that would “eliminate or severely restrict whole categories of family-based immigration in favor of a system that would assign potential immigrants points based on age, skills, education, income and other factors.”

Family concerns are a huge factor motivating illegal immigration. The story of Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Alfredo Quinones-Hinjosa relates this fact. Dr. Quinones-Hinjosa admits that there is no justification for his entry into the US as an illegal immigrant twenty years ago.

“When I first came, I wasn’t thinking that I was breaking the law by coming to this country. All I wanted to do is have enough money to eat, period. That’s all that I had in my mind, is that how can I make money so that I can at least put food on the table of my parents, my siblings, and my future children,” said Quinones-Hinjosa.

His story is one well worth reflecting on as our nation debates the issues surrounding immigration policy and enforcement.

Welcome to the latest edition of the PowerBlog’s GLOBAL WARMING CONSENSUS WATCH, a weekly news recap where we highlight the continuing strength and enduring permanence of the universal scientific consensus on the causes and effects of global warming.

THIS WEEK: A fungus among us – again; more on Mars; are weather satellites creating more hurricanes?; Live Earth isn’t totally worthless; Laurie David is the GREATEST HERO IN AMERICAN HISTORY; and human sacrifice on the altar of environmental religion.

All this can be yours – after the jump! (more…)

Blog author: kschmiesing
posted by on Friday, May 4, 2007

A few books that have recently crossed my Journal of Markets & Morality reviews editor desk, and that may be of interest to PowerBlog readers:

Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice, edited by Edward P. Stringham. A reader of classic and other essays from a libertarian perspective—authors include Murray Rothbard, David Friedman, Hans Hoppe, Lysander Spooner, and Robert Nozick.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Utility: Happiness in Philosophical and Economic Thought, by Anthony Kenny and Charles Kenny. Another installment in the expanding (and welcome) effort to examine more closely the concepts of utility and happiness and how they are used in economics.

Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution, by Michael D. Tanner. The title is self-explanatory.

The Inner Vision: Liberty and Literature, edited by Edward B. McLean. A collection of essays analyzing the concepts of freedom present in great Western literature. Authors such as Marion Montgomery and Catherine Zuckert treat authors such as Dostoevsky and Mark Twain.

…at least not yet.

Check out this disheartening AP story, “Judge: Cleaner owes me $65 million for pants; 2 years of litigation x 1 pair of trousers = headaches for family business.”

The US court system shouldn’t be a venue for the pursuit of a personal vendetta. This case clearly shows how lawsuits can be used to bring incredible expense and stress on the defendant, regardless of his or her guilt or culpability. And unless things change, like moving to a loser pays system, the plaintiff risks nothing.

All too often the real victims in these kinds of lawsuits are hardworking small business-owners, whose livelihood is threatened. And when small businesses suffer, the entire community suffers with them.

Is the neighborhood being made better off by Pearson’s lawsuit? Is Pearson protecting them from a business that engages in false advertising? If Pearson drives the Chungs back to Korea, the neighborhood will be made worse off, not better, and Pearson will have settled a petty grudge.

When business enterprise and successful entrepreneurship makes you the target of predatory lawsuits seeking only deep pockets, there’s something deeply wrong with the tort system.

In this monograph, Ronald Rychlak argues that the tort system needs to be reformed with a view toward the common good.

Let’s hope in this case Pearson doesn’t get off scot-free. It seems like that even in the absence of a formally-instituted loser pays system, the arbitrating authorities should have the power to dismiss Pearson’s case with extreme prejudice and require him to pay all the court costs and legal expenses for the defense.

The Acton Institute is looking for great charities. The Samaritan Award is a $10,000 award given to a charity that is primarily privately funded and whose work is direct, personal and accountable. There are also second and third place prizes of $1,000 as well as a special edition of WORLD Magazine that will feature the top 10 charities in the United States. All programs that apply for the Samaritan Award will be entered into the Samaritan Guide which is a comprehensive tool that gathers information about charities throughout the country.

You can apply for the Samaritan Award here. Applications are available from May 1, 2007 through May 31, 2007.

The previous winners of the Samaritan Award include the Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch – Residential Treatment Program (Lampe, MO) in 2005 and the Christian Women’s Job Corps (CWJC) – Job Coaching for Working Poor Program (Nashville, TN) in 2006. Other honorees can be viewed in the Samaritan Guide, as well as details about their programs.

I encourage all of our readers who are involved with charities to encourage them to apply. We seek to recognize and reward the good work that they do. Visit http://www.samaritanguide.org for more information.

One more note related to the week’s reflections on energy and the environment. This brief piece from Marketplace highlights coal’s newfound popularity, “Coal makes a comeback” (here’s an in-depth and more technical piece from the NYT. HT: Instapundit).

Marketplace reporter Jeremy Hobson notes the need for coal to be integrated into an energy policy oriented toward independence: “The U.S. has more coal than any other country. $27 billion worth is mined every year. That’s why everyone, from unions to politicians to scientists, is getting on the coal bandwagon.”

Some scientists are arguing that the negative environmental impact of coal-burning power plants can be significantly mitigated by the advent of new cleaning technologies, presumably including the use of “scrubbers” which divert CO2 emissions from smoke stacks.

Many of these technologies, such as scrubbers, are focused on limiting the input of GHGs into the atmosphere. But there is a shift that is beginning to focus much more on sequestration and removal of GHGs. That is, there are two elements to consider: how much CO2 or other GHGs are put into the atmosphere and how quickly they are taken out, through both natural and artificial means.

Robert O. Mendelsohn, of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, made this point in his comments at the Copenhagen Consensus of 2004. He writes, “Although the bulk of carbon emissions in the future come from burning fossil fuels, policy makers should consider more than just energy policies to reduce carbon emissions. Another important policy option is to include carbon sequestration in forests. By growing timber trees longer and by setting aside vast tracts of marginal forestland for conservation, land use policies can sequester a large stock of carbon in living forests.”

Well-planned and properly planned reforestation is indeed an important part of that second element by sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere. But new technologies like carbon capture devices also will be an important feature of any attempts to manage the climate.

According to reports published last week (HT: Slashdot), Global Research Technologies, LLC (GRT) has announced the first successful “demonstration of a bold new technology to capture carbon from the air. The ‘air extraction’ prototype has successfully demonstrated that indeed carbon dioxide (CO2) can be captured from the atmosphere. This is GRT’s first step toward a commercially viable air capture device.”

It’s an encouraging step to see that the media and politicians, but most especially commercial businesses, are beginning to pay attention to the possibilities for sequestration and GHG removal and not just focusing on consumption and emissions. There’s definitely going to be a commercial demand for carbon capture devices. Maybe someday we’ll all wear some sort of mask that mitigates the .3 tons per year of CO2 that a human being emits just by breathing.

Could the early socialists have envisioned an organization such as Wal-Mart or predicted the thousands of jobs created by such a firm? In this week’s Acton Commentary, Rev. Robert A. Sirico examines the “common good” and free markets in this excerpt from a recent speech at the first annual Free Market Forum, sponsored by Hillsdale College’s Center for the Study of Monetary Systems and Free Enterprise.

Read the entire commentary here.

Back in September of 2003, Michael Crichton delivered an address in which he made the claim that modern environmentalism has become much more than a desire to be wise stewards of our environment; rather, he said, it has become a full-fledged religion. Here’s a sample:

I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can’t be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people—the best people, the most enlightened people—do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.

Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it’s a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday—these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don’t want to talk anybody out of them, as I don’t want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don’t want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can’t talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.

And so it is, sadly, with environmentalism. Increasingly it seems facts aren’t necessary, because the tenets of environmentalism are all about belief. It’s about whether you are going to be a sinner, or saved. Whether you are going to be one of the people on the side of salvation, or on the side of doom. Whether you are going to be one of us, or one of them.

While I may quibble with some of the details, overall that address is well worth a read in full. The reason I thought of it today was that I ran across a news item this morning which indicates to me that a certain someone has genuinely achieved sainthood in the church of environmentalism:

Visitors to the Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa won’t find the Gideon Bible in the nightstand drawer. Instead, on the bureau will be a copy of “An Inconvenient Truth,” former Vice President Al Gore’s book about global warming.

Thanks be to Gaia for inspiring the sacred, inconvenient word which was written down by Saint Albert, and through which we shall all be saved!

Update: John Reed – Media Relations at Gaia Napa Valley Hotel and Spa – left a correction to the Bloomberg story quoted above in the comments to this post, noting that An Inconvenient Truth will not be replacing the Bible, but will rather be made available along with the Bible in each guest room.

Granted, that’s a little better than outright replacing God’s Word with the Goracle, but I still have to roll my eyes at the fact that it places Al Gore’s manifesto at the same level of importance as Holy Scripture…