By Isaac Orr
In a recent article titled “The New Battle Plan for the Planet’s Climate Crisis,” Bill McKibben, a radical climate activist and founder of 350.org, argued Earth is rapidly warming and immediate action must be taken to reduce human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions. To do so, McKibben advocates a massive build-out of wind and solar power, but he never mentions one of the most obvious and efficient energy sources available: nuclear.
The omission is no mistake; McKibben and his environmental pals have made a concerted effort to reject nuclear energy, even though it’s the only way to immediately reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.
Despite massive taxpayer subsidies to wind and solar-power industries, these two sources, which McKibben suggests is the future of U.S. energy, account for just 2.2 percent (combined) of the total energy used in the country. Making matters worse, they are incredibly expensive. It’s mostly for this reason the “Renewable Now” slogan is nothing more than that. It’s certainly not a solution.
Energy and climate realists must hold alarmists like McKibben to their own standards. If the alarmists want to be taken seriously, they must nuke up or shut up.
Countries that have tried to follow McKibben’s advice by aggressively subsidizing wind and solar power have lived to regret it. In Germany, wind and solar subsidies are the reason Germans now pay three times more for their electricity than the average American. To add insult to injury, German greenhouse-gas emissions have actually increased since 2009, because Germany decided to begin shuttering its nuclear power plants after the Fukushima accident.
Wind and solar only generate electricity when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, and this is why Germany only obtains a miniscule 3.3 percent of its total energy from wind and solar. As a result, Germany must burn more coal to generate electricity, which is why the country now owns one of the most carbon-intensive energy grids in all of Europe.
Nuclear energy has several drawbacks. It creates dangerous nuclear waste that must be safely stored away from humans, and generating electricity from nuclear power costs more than generating electricity from coal or natural gas. But the cost of nuclear energy is still far below the cost of wind and solar power.
According to an analysis by the Ontario, Canada Society of Professional Engineers, generating electricity from wind is twice as expensive as from coal or natural gas, and from solar is six times more expensive than retail electricity rates. By comparison, nuclear energy produces power for about 1.5 times the retail price, and nuclear power is reliable and predictable.
In addition to higher costs, the lack of reliability of wind and solar energy makes it hard for them to co-exist with nuclear energy. Because wind and solar require backup sources of generation when the wind isn’t blowing and sun isn’t shining and nuclear power plants are unable to quickly ramp up or ramp down generation, wind and solar are often backed up by natural gas. This means adding wind and solar at the expense of nuclear results in more carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.
Congress and President Donald Trump can restore energy sanity by removing barriers to nuclear power, establishing a permanent disposal site at Yucca Mountain, and letting the free market decide what the energy sources of the future will be.
[Originally Published at Detroit News]Next Page »
By Teresa Mull
Last week, people at the University of California-Berkeley (they weren’t solely students) violently protested a speech scheduled to be delivered by conservative journalist and Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos. The event was canceled after the group caused $100,000 worth of damage and a Milo fan was pepper-sprayed in the face.
“Black-clad protesters wearing masks threw commercial-grade fireworks and rocks at police,” CNN.com reported. “Some even hurled Molotov cocktails that ignited fires. They also smashed windows of the student union center on the Berkeley campus where the Yiannopoulos event was to be held.”
According to CNN, “The university blamed ‘150 masked agitators’ for the unrest, saying they had come to campus to disturb an otherwise peaceful protest.”
But in a statement, UC Berkeley distanced itself from Yiannopoulos, saying his “views, tactics, and rhetoric are profoundly contrary to those of the campus.”
UC Berkeley is a public university, which means it receives loads of taxpayer money. Why then does the university profess it has “views, tactics, and rhetoric” contrary to Yiannopoulos or in keeping with anyone else?
College campuses, especially those financed by the public, are supposed to be places that promote the free expression of ideas and encourage new, diverse, interesting, challenging, and/or unique thought. UC Berkeley basically said, “Yiannopoulos isn’t liberal. We don’t like him, but I guess we should have let him speak to keep up the illusion of diversity because someone was pepper-sprayed in the face and it made the news.”
President Donald Trump has called for UC Berkeley’s federal funding to be cut off. Though that’s unlikely to happen, it could mean the loss of $9 billion annually. That’s right, about $9 billion—with a B—of our hard-earned tax dollars go to a school that declares a conservative’s outlook on the world “profoundly contrary” to theirs.
The Los Angeles Times, in an attempt to paint Berkeley as the victim in all this, lamented “advances in solar-based sustainable energy” would be lost if Trump gets his way.
Solar energy is one item on a long list of feel-good, left-wing agenda items public universities teach students everyone is supposed to accept as gospel truth. Solar monstrosities cost an arm and a leg, are unreliable, require tons of maintenance, and only work well half the day (at best). But more importantly, even if they were effective forms of energy development, what does that have to do with the free-speech concerns expressed by Trump and others who are tired of watching publicly funded universities used as propaganda centers for the left? And why can’t the government find another university, one that values free speech, to give tax dollars for solar-energy development?
What happened at Berkeley is representative of a disturbing trend on college campuses that is becoming far too common. As reported in 2016 by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), the prevalence of disinvitations of college speakers is increasing.
Students at Berkeley and outside protesters, of course, have the right to protest Yiannopoulos. The spirited discourse of opposing views is what makes college and living in the United States fun, exciting, and interesting. But protesters don’t have the right to obstruct speakers physically, harass listeners, pepper-spray people, or vandalize property, all of which now seems to be a near-weekly occurrence.
“At DePaul University, Milo Yiannopoulos and Ben Shapiro were banned due to ‘inflammatory speech’ and ‘safety concerns’; the administration even threatened to arrest Shapiro if he set foot on campus again,” Kassy Dillion recently reported in The Hill. “At Kellogg Community College, three students representing Young Americans for Liberty were arrested for handing out pocket Constitutions in a public space on campus. At UC Irvine, a pro-Palestinian group attempted to violently shut down an event sponsored by Students Supporting Israel.” The list goes on and on.
Much can be said about those who oppose Yiannopoulos and others with differing views on college campuses, but one thing is clear: They all believe physically harming, intimidating, and/or silencing opposing views is valid, and it’s not just the nameless, faceless protesters dressed in black. As FIRE reports, “Nearly half of America’s top colleges maintain speech codes that blatantly violate First Amendment standards.” That’s scary stuff.
Colleges should be places where free thought is encouraged, not met with riots in the streets. For UC Berkeley to declare it has an agenda contrary to Yiannopoulos is telling. It’s obvious the modern campus climate is, and has been for a long time, a progressive one. But if we don’t allow our young people to exchange rational ideas in a peaceful manner in a place that’s supposedly dedicated to learning, what hope does our country—one that is founded on the principle of “ensuring that there is no prohibition on … abridging the freedom of speech”—have left?
[Originally Published at Breitbart]Next Page »
By Jim Rust
Leaving an Atlanta IKEA store this morning was a bearded, unwashed young man wearing a T-shirt with the words: I AM THE RESISTANCE.
At the time I thought how the word RESISTANCE changed in meaning the past 60 years. To me RESISTANCE is the millions of brave French citizens who fought against the Nazi occupiers of France from 1940 until 1945. Tens of thousands died during their quest.
Today the word RESISTANCE stands for disappointed progressives unhappy with the election of Donald Trump as President November 8, 2016. They number in the millions and have accounted for unspeakable amounts of violence and property damage from coast to coast since the election.
On the day of President Trump’s inauguration in Washington, DC hundreds of masked Progressive went on a destruction spree with crow bars and hammers in a several block area a few blocks of the Presidential Inaugural Parade route. Another example is 21-year old Valerie Starushok stuffing a bloody sanitary napkin in the mouth of a male marcher in the January 27 March for Life parade in Ashland, Oregon. An especially egregious example is disruptions on the University of California Berkley campus February 1 when a mob of 1500 stopped a campus lecture by an outside speaker. WSOF boxer Jake Shields, who rescued a bystander being attacked, said police refused to stop the mob.
The 1940’s members of the RESISTANCE will be hailed as heroes for eternity. The new Progressive’s RESISTANCE will be judged as bullies in the future.
[First published at the Freedom Pub.]Next Page »
By Robert Holland
The record-breaking numbers for the seventh annual National School Choice Week (NSCW), which wrapped up January 28, were stunning: There were 21,392 events held, with participation from some 16,000 schools and 2,000 home-schooling groups; more than 6 million attendees at events ranging from rallies at state Capitols to community forums; and close to 1 million online views of event highlights posted on the NSCW website.
More powerful than statistics was the joy on the faces of students that spoke of their love for schools chosen for them by their parents. Some of them danced to the week’s official song, Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” while waving the NSCW’s signature bright-yellow scarves.
The blend of youthful energy and conviction was quite compelling. As for the adult organizers of NSCW, their stated purpose was to shed the spotlight in a positive, politics-free way on all types of school choice—including open enrollment, magnet schools, charter schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.
Despite the massive show of unity, not all Americans were in a mood to celebrate or to leave politics aside for a few days. The Left’s pretentiously named People for the American Way (PFAW) reacted to the yellow scarves as a bull would to a red flag.
Writing on January 24 in PFAW’s Right Wing Watch, Peter Montgomery slammed NSCW as a “public relations spectacle designed to promote positive feelings about policies that undermine public education. It promotes a cheerful vibe by wrapping its participants in bright yellow scarves, which serve as a flashy distraction from the agenda at hand.”
So, the proud parents and teachers and the tens of thousands of children who enthusiastically paid tribute to their schools, public or private, should feel that they have been used? Maybe for the Left that is the new “American Way”—to cast aspersions on people you don’t even know.
Moderate/liberal commentator Juan Williams is certainly no tool of the radical right, yet Williams appeared on the January 24 edition of Fox News’ The Five sporting an NSCW yellow scarf and declaring his support for “more opportunity for parents to find the best schools for their kids.”
As for the criticism that choice drains resources from traditional public schools, NSCW President Andrew Campanella had this response in a January 24 interview with the online publication Real Clear Education: “… anyone who is talking about school choice and isn’t counting traditional public schools as a vital choice that parents can make for their kids, is counting out public education, and I think that’s a mistake. So, I don’t know how school choice can hurt traditional public schools when they are an important component of school choice.
“I do, however, know that research shows school choice helps all schools, and helps traditional public schools improve when they need to,” said Campanella. “What’s most important to remember, though, is that education is about kids and their futures. It seems too easy for some folks to lose sight of that.”
The bulk of PFAW’s diatribe against NSCW targeted Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump’s pick to be U.S. secretary of education, and her previous advocacy and financial support for charter school and voucher initiatives. The implication was the 2017 event was all about DeVos and the $20 billion in federal support for school choice promised by Trump during the presidential campaign. But it wasn’t. Nor was it about Trump, even though he did issue an official proclamation in favor of NSCW.
Indicative of the divergence of opinion was a January 26 K12DC blogpost (picked up on NSCW’s Twitter feed) by Dr. Howard Fuller, director of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University and former superintendent of the Milwaukee Public Schools. “For many,” Fuller wrote, “the election of Donald Trump as President has created an environment that is toxic at best and calamitous at worst. As a black man who voted for Hillary Clinton and supports parent choice, I am torn. I am concerned not only about parent choice in the realm of education but also worried about deportations, women’s rights, and access to health care, among other things.”
Nevertheless, Fuller continued, the goal in celebrating National School Choice Week remains the same no matter who is president: “to continue the fight for substantive and real improvements in the life chances of all our children, particularly those who come from low-income and working-class black families in America. For them, the realization of the promise of the American dream remains largely elusive.”
In other words, the week really was all about the kids and their energy, exuberance, pride, and their hopes and dreams, which they expressed clearly as they waved those yellow scarves and danced up a storm. In the end, you could say it was about advancing the American way by expanding opportunity for all.
[Originally Published at Townhall]Next Page »
By Jane Shaw
On January 18, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit against Kellogg Community College, charging it with violating the rights to free speech of two students. One, Michelle Gregoire, had been arrested, checked for weapons, and taken to jail.
In September, Gregoire, fellow student Brandon Withers, and two other young people were recruiting for Young Americans for Liberty, a pro-liberty campus group, at the college in Battle Creek, Michigan. They distributed pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution and asked students if they believed in freedom and liberty.
In doing so, they violated the college’s policies on solicitation; they hadn’t obtained a permit in advance, and they were speaking outside an established free-speech zone near the student center, the one part of the campus where students can exercise their First Amendment rights in accordance with the college’s policies.
They were told to stop, but when they said that they would continue, campus police were called. Three were arrested and jailed for trespassing. Gregoire, who is a mother of three children and also a nursing student, was checked for weapons. The others arrested were representatives of the Leadership Institute and the YAL group at Michigan State. All were released about seven hours later.
The Kellogg case is especially disturbing, because of the innocent nature of what the students were doing: defending freedom. But it is just one of a growing number of curtailments of free speech on campuses. A basic right is being violated at the whim of administrators. This is happening even though courts — including the Supreme Court — consistently uphold students’ constitutional rights to free expression on public campuses.
Many people think of college as a place to “find oneself,” to be exposed to different ideas, to challenge conventional wisdom. But college campuses are now blocking that experience.
For instance, student expression is often limited to “speech zones,” which can be minuscule. At Kellogg Community College, the zone was the student center. At Grand Valley State University, also in Michigan, the free speech zone represents about 0.02 percent of the university’s space.
Additionally, administrators can often choose which groups may speak. The suit against Kellogg claims a LGBT group was allowed to speak freely — but not the group distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution.
Why are such incidents becoming common? There are two reasons. First, for the first time in decades, administrators are deliberately shaping student opinion. Like most faculty, they lean left ideologically and often have more interaction with students than faculty do. At Kellogg, it was the director of student life who told Gregoire and her colleagues to stop speaking.
Robert Shibley, executive director of the watchdog group FIRE, thinks we are seeing the return of in loco parentis, the doctrine of most universities 60 years ago. Because parents had placed their children in the hands of university officials, it was deemed proper to set up rules to protect them. These rules typically included curfews and parietal hours (times during which men and women could be in the same dorm rooms).
Shibley explains, “For years the effort to develop moral character was sidelined, but now the administrators are happy to get into that role again. Without admitting it, colleges are again taking up ‘moral education,’ but the morals are different. And too many students seem to accept that paternalism.”
One example of the new in loco parentis is the increasingly adopted requirement — it’s official at Occidental College, a private college, and in all California public colleges — that any sexual activity (including fondling) be preceded by explicit, stated permission. This is known as the “yes means yes” rule. Failing to meet that standard could lead to prosecution for rape.
As if to confirm Shibley’s in loco parentis thesis, Drew Hutchinson, the director of student life at Kellogg, said he was stopping Gregoire and her colleagues because he wanted to protect unsophisticated students who might be unnerved by their questions.
There is, in addition, another reason for the kind of incident at Kellogg: poor or inaccurate teaching of American history.
Both administrators and students have little understanding of the rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. Nor do they realize the Constitution and Bill of Rights represent a giant leap in the progress of political history toward freedom. That’s a clear and significant failing of college education.
Until schools bring back respect for inalienable rights and the role of the United States in protecting them, we will continue to see troubling examples of universities’ ignorance, just as we did when campus police at Kellogg Community College arrested students for peacefully handing out pocket-sized Constitutions.
[Originally Published at American Spectator]Next Page »
By Jeff Stier
The EPA just threw out five years of fracking safety research to appease green extremists. Although early drafts found no evidence that fracking has had a “widespread, systemic” impact on drinking water, the final report claims that there isn’t “enough information to make a broad conclusion.”
How absurd. An honest look at the science should have environmentalists waving the white flag in their fight against fracking. It’s time for both the EPA and green crusaders to quit this political charade and recognize that fracking technology has boosted the economy, helped wean America off imported oil and gas, and dramatically reduced CO2 emissions.
In 2015, a draft of the EPA’s report found that fracking operations have not “led to widespread, systemic impact on drinking water.” Since then, the underlying science in the report hasn’t changed. But the EPA, under pressure, adjusted its conclusion to suit critics to the left even of the administration, who would have been left without a leg to stand on in their efforts to sow doubt about fracking safety.
The findings weren’t surprising. In 2011, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson conceded she is “not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.” And in 2013, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said he has “not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater.”
But green activists and their allies in Washington were quick to contest the draft report, ignoring the fact that EPA researchers relied on more than 950 sources — from scientific analyses to peer-reviewed papers — for their report. Do environmentalists really expect us to believe the agency, no friend of the oil and natural gas industry, is in the pocket of Big Fracking? The academic community is in agreement on fracking; only activists are fracking deniers.
For example, a 2013 Duke University study of the Fayetteville Shale area in Arkansas found that shale gas development and hydraulic fracturing had no impact on groundwater.
In 2015, scientists analyzing the Marcellus Shale region in Pennsylvania found fracking activity harmless, concluding that there was “no evidence for direct communication with shallow drinking water wells due to upward migration from shale horizons.”
And this year, a three-year study by the University of Cincinnati found that fracking did not affect water supplies — despite researchers’ best efforts to find a link. Indeed, lead scientist Amy Townsend-Small said her team was planning to keep the results under wraps because their funders were hoping the “data could point to a reason to ban” fracking.
Attempts to undermine fracking threaten America’s ability to tap into significant energy benefits. In 2012, oil and natural gas production saved the average U.S. household at least $1,200. All told, the industry supports almost 10 million jobs and represents 8 percent of the U.S. economy — and those figures are only predicted to grow, especially if OPEC keeps its promise to reduce production.
Moreover, fracking has strengthened America’s energy independence. As the world’s leader in oil and natural gas production, the Unites States can now scale back its energy purchases from less-friendly nations.
And despite the green movement’s outrage, fracking is actually helping the environment. That’s because the boom in gas and oil production has enabled us to substitute natural gas for coal. As a result, last year, energy-related carbon dioxide emissions hit their lowest level in nearly three decades, according to the U.S. Energy Administration.
Environmentalists should stop denying science. Fracking boosts our economy, strengthens energy independence, and protects our environment. It’s a shame that, like the most extreme green activists, the EPA is only willing to embrace science when it serves an anti-fossil-fuel agenda.
[Originally Published at Pundicity]Next Page »
By Thomas Hemphill
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its annual report on union membership last week, and the numbers are not favorable for the U.S. labor movement. The BLS calculated (from data collected as part of the Current Population Survey) that union membership in 2016 was 10.7 percent, down 0.4 percent from 2015. This percentage loss translates to a decline of 240,000 union members since 2015. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data is available to the BLS, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent; the 10.7 percent rate represents a 46.8 percent decline in American union membership over the ensuing 34 years. Moreover, as of 2016 there are 14.6 million union members, as compared to 17.7 million union members in 1983.
Interestingly, private and public sector union membership in 2016 is now approaching parity, as approximately 7.4 million private sector workers and 7.1 million public sector workers are union members. Yet the union membership rates are significantly skewed, as the public sector union membership rate of 34.4 percent is over 5 times that of private sector union membership (6.4 percent). There is empirical evidence that supports the argument that union members are paid higher wages than their non-union counterparts. For 2016, the BLS reports that median weekly earnings of nonunion workers – $802 – were only 80 percent of union workers ($1,004).
But declining membership is not the only concern for organized labor, as state Right-to-Work (RTW) legislation has re-emerged as another threat to union survival. RTW legislation prohibits so-called union security agreements, or other forms of agreements between employers and labor unions, that govern the extent to which an established union can require employees’ membership, payment of dues to a union, or fees as a condition of employment, either before or after being hired. In a June 2015 report issued by National Economic Research Associates, and sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an analysis of economic data from RTW states showed that, especially in heavily unionized industries such as manufacturing, businesses are more likely to locate in states with RTW laws. The report also found evidence that RTW laws have a direct, positive effect on employment, output, and personal income.
Since Oklahoma became the 22nd state to allow RTW (after voters passed a Constitutional amendment) in late 2001, there was a decade-long hiatus before Indiana (2012) and Michigan (2012) became the 23th and 24th States to enact such legislation. Three other States quickly enacted RTW legislation in succession: Wisconsin (2015), West Virginia (2016), and Kentucky (2017), becoming the 25th, 26th and 27th RTW States, respectfully.
Missouri’s Republican-controlled legislature has been busy this January moving RTW bills through its House and Senate, with recently elected Governor Eric Greitens (R) pledging to sign RTW legislation. Likewise, New Hampshire is also on track to pass RTW legislation in 2017, as the State Senate passed its bill earlier this month and it is expected to be taken up in the House in the next few weeks. New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) has said he will sign RTW legislation into law.
Not surprisingly, RTW legislation is a highly partisan issue, with Republicans generally in favor and Democrats strongly opposed to its’ enactment. Yet, in 2017, Republicans control both legislative chambers in 32 states, with 24 of these 32 states having Republican governors. Enacting RTW legislation requires control of both the executive and legislative branches of government. In those states without RTW laws and a Republican controlled government the stars have aligned, and legislative efforts this January – beginning in Kentucky – have been to rapidly vote this legislation out of state legislatures and send it for the governor’s signature.
The National Labor Relations Board (“board”), which has been criticized for being an activist, strongly pro-union agency during the Obama years, is getting a new acting chair. Phillip Miscimarra, a Republican board member was named acting chair by President Trump last week, and will remain on the board until his term expires on August 17, 2018. In a statement, Miscimarra said: “I remain committed to the task that Congress has assigned to the board, which is to foster stability and to apply the National Labor Relations Act in an even-handed manner that serves the interests of employees, employers and unions throughout the country.”
President Trump will also have the opportunity to name two new members to the board, as there are two unfilled seats. Under the new chair, and a majority of board members being Republican appointees, the days of the board seeking to expand and reinterpret existing federal labor rules, such as its controversial decision in 2014 to charge the McDonald’s Corporation as a “joint employer” in a series of unfair labor practice complaints filed against the company’s franchisees (even though the franchisees were privately owned and legally separate businesses) will become a fading memory under a newly reconstituted board.
Traditionally, the American manufacturing sector has provided a fertile ground for supporting and expanding union membership. However, this sector has shed nearly five million jobs since 2001, declining from 17 million to just over 12 million in 2016. In addition, many manufacturers are located in RTW states where union efforts to organize have been less successful. Recent growth in U.S. service sector employment is, however, accompanied by low unionization rates. For 2016, this low unionization rate is reflected in the finance industry (1.2 percent), at food services and drinking places (1.6 percent), and in professional and technical services (1.6 percent).
While President Trump has pledged his Administration’s support for bolstering American manufacturing and investing in the nation’s infrastructure, while the construction industry has a high unionization rate (13.9 percent in 2016), Trump’s policy efforts will not dramatically reverse this long-term trend of declining national unionization rates, but may help to stabilize private sector unionization rates and prevent the national unionization rate from slipping below 10 percent by the end of this decade.
[Originally Published at RealClearMarkets]Next Page »