Politics

Eminent Domain versus Private Property Rights

Can the government take your private property? Yes, the federal government can take private property under certain conditions. The last clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This has become known as the “taking clause.”

The original intent of this clause was that the federal government can buy private property if it was needed to build something like a fort in time of war. However, over the years this “taking clause” (aka “public use clause”) has morphed into licence for states and local governments to take private property for any reason they see fit.

This came to a head when the city of New London, Connecticut, appropriated private land so that a private developer could build on it. The owners sued and in 2005 the case went to the supreme court. In Kelo v. City of New London, the Supreme Court held that “economic development” constituted a “public use” that justified the taking of private property through eminent domain. According to this decision, the government can utilize eminent domain to seize your property whenever the government deems it necessary for “economic development.”

This was, in my opinion supremely wrong (see my 2005 essay below). The U.S. House of Representatives has made several tries to make things right, but the U.S. Senate never followed through. The most recent try was in July, 2018, when the House unanimously passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act (see summary and full text). We should write to our senators (and senatorial candidates) urging them to take up this legislation when they return from August recess.

Here is my essay, written at the time of the Supreme Court decision:

Supremely Wrong

by Jonathan DuHamel

The United States Supreme Court, by its recent decision in Kelo vs. The City of New London, has just put your house up for sale, and your business, and your church.

The U.S. Constitution says “.. nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation,” and “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

In the past “public use” has meant things like highways, reservoirs, or other public works. But now, according to the “Kelo” decision, “public use” can mean anything a local government says it means.

The Kelo decision says that government, any government, has the right to condemn your private property and transfer titles to another private party simply to encourage economic development and a larger tax base.

The implications of this decision are made clear in the dissent written by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: “Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more.”

This is not what the founders intended for “public use.”

Justice Thomas wrote, “Today’s decision is simply the latest in a string of our cases construing the Public Use Clause to be a virtual nullity, without the slightest nod to its original meaning. In my view, the Public Use Clause, originally understood, is a meaningful limit on the government’s eminent domain power. Our cases have strayed from the Clause’s original meaning, and I would reconsider them.” Thomas goes on, “The Constitution’s text, in short, suggests that the Takings Clause authorizes the taking of property only if the public has a right to employ it, not if the public realizes any conceivable benefit from the taking…. The Takings Clause is a prohibition, not a grant of power….”

Increasingly, the cost of perceived societal goals are not borne by society as a whole, but by individual property owners. This has long been the case under the Endangered Species Act and increasingly so under the principle of Eminent Domain.

This situation is nothing more than legal plunder, or as Frederic Bastiat put it, “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”

With the “Kelo” decision, municipalities, counties, and states seem to have a license for legal plunder, especially since the term “public use” is now so vague. Beware whenever government proposes a project “for the public good” because usually all the “public” does not share equally in all the “good.”

The “Kelo” decision is supremely and fundamentally wrong because it subjects us to the tyranny of the majority, or the whim of a city council, rather than protect our individual rights as guaranteed by our republican form of government.

Justice O’Connor points out that now “The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.”

 

Related articles:

Federal land grabs hurt economy and trample property rights

Private Property Rights vs Environmental Feudalism

Property Rights and Freedom

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Don’t recycle plastic – burn it or bury it

Plastic in the oceans has been deemed an environmental problem and a danger to wildlife. Where does this plastic come from? According to a new report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation, much of the plastic comes from “leakage” from recycling operations. Some of that “leakage” is deliberate dumping in oceans and rivers by shippers in order to avoid fees.

The report: Save the Oceans – stop recycling plastic may be read in full here:

https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2018/06/Save-the-oceans.pdf

The report is just ten pages, but it cites 50 scientific studies and articles.

Here is the executive summary:

A marine plastic litter crisis has been declared and the mass media around the world has given their front pages over to the story for a while now. The European Union – among other actors – has declared a war against marine litter. Annually over 10 million metric tons (Mt) of plastic litter end up in oceans, harming wildlife. The International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) – the most competent specialist organization in the field – has summarized the origins of the marine litter crisis:

75% of land based marine litter in low to upper-middle income economies comes from litter and uncollected waste, while the remaining 25% of the land-based sources is plastic which leaks from within the waste management system.

In other words, the ISWA report shows that 25% of the leakage is attributable to the waste management option preferred by green ideologues; meanwhile, waste incineration can prevent any leakage of plastic if municipal solid waste (MSW) is incinerated along with sewage sludge. Despite this, incineration is vehemently opposed by green ideologues and also by the EU, which chooses to believe in the mirage of a circular economy.

The vast majority of the marine litter problem is attributable to poor waste collection and other sanitary practices in Asian, and to a lesser extent African, towns and cities in coastal areas and along rivers. The problem is particularly acute in China. The neglect of urban sanitary policy – the backbone of development agendas until that time – started when the ‘mother of sustainability’, Norway’s Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, personally refused to have it be part of her World Commission’s work program and ultimately its 1987 report, which famously led to the adoption of ‘sustainable development’ goals by the UN General Assembly.

This report describes the absurdities, inefficiencies, double or even triple waste management structures and horrible consequences of the EU’s erratic green waste policy, its fact-free claim that its waste policy helps to implement the Paris climate agreement, and its dumping of 3 Mt of plastic in China each year, with horrific consequences for the marine environment and health.

The EU has now started to sideline – in the name of circular economy – the highly successful waste incineration policy implemented in seven EU member states – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden – which all have major waste incineration capacity and now landfill less than 3% of their MSW.

The study notes the best thing to do is bury plastic in landfills or burn it. However, these methods don’t fit into the environmentalist’s scheme of sustainable development. Burning plastic along with other material has very few undesirable emissions. The resulting ash can be sent to landfills or used for applications such as road-building materials.

The study’s author, Mikko Paunio, opines: “that ideologically motivated environmentalists in the 1980s and their dreams of recycling and a ‘circular economy’ are the ultimate cause of the marine waste problem, because they have discouraged development of municipal waste schemes in Asia and Africa, and because they have encouraged developed nations to use management schemes that make it hard or expensive to deal with waste and therefore tend to ‘leak’ to the environment, sometimes catastrophically so.”

Recycling plastic poses some problems. First much plastic has to be washed which uses large amounts of water. Plastic also has to be sorted from other waste and by type of plastic because recycling processes are different for different types of plastic.

Save time, water, energy, and expense by burning or burying plastic. Don’t recycle it.

The plastics in the ocean problem has spawned some dumb regulations. For instance, silly in Seattle:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/02/seattle-bans-plastic-straws-utensils-becoming-first-major-us-city-to-do-so.html

The solution is to have more-careful waste collection and management.

Related:

Plastic bags and global warming

Some Thoughts On The Philosophy Of Religion And Civil Society

There seems to be a kerfuffle claiming that Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas wants to eliminate (or downplay) teaching the Theory of Evolution and substitute “intelligent design” or Creationism as part of the school curriculum.

See the claim from the Arizona Daily Star: Arizona’s schools chief seeks limits on teaching evolution, Big Bang theory (link to story).

And a rebuttal from ADI’s Loretta Hunnicutt: Fake News Claims Evolution Stripped Out Of Arizona Science Standards (link to story).

Before getting to the philosophy, I have some (tongue-in-cheek) questions for hard-core “intelligent design” folks:

1) Why do human males have nipples? How intelligent is that?

2) What if some entity figuratively snapped its fingers and precipitated a “big bang” that created a universe with the precise chemical and physical properties that led to evolution of life. That’s the ultimate “intelligent design.”

3) Is God a tinkerer? The Genesis story of creation contains this phrase several times: “And God saw that it was good.” Didn’t He know it would be good beforehand, or was He experimenting and evolving?

The philosophy of religion and secularism:

Do you know the difference between right and wrong? How do you know? Upon what principles do you base your judgment? In this age of politically-correct, moral relativism, many of us think that many others don’t know the difference, or, at the very least, are operating on a different system of moral justification. Does the end justify the means, and is the end itself justifiable? Let’s review, very briefly, the theories of what is right.

There are four general theories used to justify the rules for civil society, one religious and three secular.

All religions, aside from their various creeds and rituals, have two common characteristics. 1)They attempt to explain the origin of the world and man. Almost all religions have creation stories. (see one from a Native American at the end of this post). 2) Religions attempt to provide justification for a system of ethics and social mores. The first characteristic has provided many interesting stories; the second has often led to trouble and intolerance. Religious doctrine has been used to justify the “divine right of kings” and to support systems which give little respect to or cognizance of individual rights.

The first of the secular systems, Natural Law theory, supposes that there are certain principles “discovered,” not “invented” by all societies, practical principles which work. In Western civilization, these principles derive from Greek and Roman law; especially the latter, since the Romans had to adjudicate cases in many cultures, and they noticed that disparate societies had some principles in common. Our founding fathers embraced Natural Law theory in the Declaration of Independence, when they wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ….” Natural Law confers rights to the individual, and individuals form a society with a social contract based on those rights.

Natural Law theory has always had two problems, however. How can you identify a “natural” law? And, how do you make it work in society? The observations of the Romans answered the first: find the common principles which work in a variety of cultures. Our founding fathers found a solution to the second: the U.S. Constitution.

The second secular system, called the “Organic Theory” or “Historicism,” was a rejection of natural law. It was a reaction among European thinkers who thought that events such as the French revolution and breakdown of monarchies were getting too messy. Organic theory attempted to find a unifying doctrine that could conform all of society to some static model of perfection. This theory sought to identify a “collective will” manifested by majority rule, but it essentially ignored individual rights. Organic theory evolved into National Socialism in Germany, and into Communism.

The third secular theory is Utilitarianism. This, too, is a product of 18th century Europe and a rejection of natural law. Utilitarians think they can design a system of government to maximize the happiness of the citizens based on scientifically determined principles of governance. They attempt to show how a citizen’s self-interest can be reconciled with social responsibility without resorting to any lofty metaphysical assumptions. To reach this happy state, Utilitarians are loath to compare the values of one person with another. They think that goals, and means toward those goals, are so obvious to the enlightened, that they need not be justified with actual evidence. This theory has led to welfare economics and moral relativism.

Our educational system should visit all of these views and let the students decide for themselves which makes the most sense.

Finally, evolution is a scientific concept but science is not set in stone because:

“Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.” –Stephen Hawking

A creation story:

Coyotes feature large in Native American folklore.  One of the most interesting stories to me was told by professional storyteller and author Gerard Tsonakwa during a lecture at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  Mr. Tsonakwa is a Native American from the Abenaki people who inhabited Quebec and northern New England.  He now resides in Tucson.

Of the many stories he told us, I found his creation story a most interesting parable. The written word can’t convey the nuances of delivery nor gestures, so you will have to be satisfied with the plain narrative of what I remember of his story, and even this will be an abridged version.

The Lord of Creation was lonely, so he gathered all the energy of the universe into a small space so that, with much noise and fire, it exploded to create the world.  On the world, the Lord of Creation made plants and animals and humans, and all the animals and humans could talk to each other.  The Lord of Creation provided food for man and beast and some animals understood that they were to provide food for other animals, and for that, the animals and humans would give thanks to those they ate.

So it was on the first day.  On that first day, there was the Sun to provide light and warmth and the whole world was beautiful.  The first night was a different story.  There was only darkness with no stars to punctuate the black sky.  So on the second day, the Lord of Creation set out to do something about that.  He collected certain bright flowers called Tundra Stars and put them in a big bag.  On the second night, the Lord of Creation, using a long stick, carefully placed each Tundra Star in the sky.  The Lord of Creation was very meticulous and placed the stars in patterns like a bead design.  This was hard work and before the night was over, the Lord of Creation fell asleep.

As the Lord of Creation slept, Coyote happened upon him.  Now, Coyote was a curious beast, and although he was well fed from the fruits of the world, he was always looking for something else, and he saw the bag of Tundra Stars.  Coyote sniffed around the bag, then took it and ran off.   But as he was running he tripped and dropped the bag which opened and spilled its contents all around the night sky.  This commotion awoke the Lord of Creation who saw what Coyote had done.   The Lord of Creation chastised Coyote for scattering his stars and obscuring  his meticulous patterns with a random array of stars.  Coyote began to cry, then howl.  And from that day,  Coyote and his kin howl at the night sky as penance.

So here, in a short narrative, we have an explanation of the big bang theory, of why constellations appear in a random star field and of why coyotes howl at the night sky.

See also:

The Urban Coyote and a Creation Story

Environmental Sophistry

Abuse of the Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) was passed with good intentions, but in practice it has many problems. The ESA actually encourages private property owners to rid their properties of endangered species and their habitats because of the restrictions in beneficial use the Act imposes on property owners. The ESA is very expensive to taxpayers (regulatory costs exceed $1.2 billion per year). Besides trampling on property rights, the ESA destroys industries (remember the timber industry in the northwest?).

The ESA is easy to “game,” a characteristic that radical environmental groups take full advantage of through their “sue and settle” tactics. According to attorney Karen Budd-Falen, “Species are listed by a petition process, which means that anyone can send a letter to the federal government asking that a species, either plant or animal, be put on the ESA list. The federal government has 90 days to respond to that petition, no matter how frivolous. If the federal government fails to respond in 90 days, the petitioner – in the vast majority of cases, radical environmental groups – can file litigation against the federal government and get its attorneys fees paid. The simple act of filing litigation does not mean the species will get listed or that it is warranted to be protected; this litigation is only over whether the federal government failed to respond to the petition in 90 days. Between 2000 and 2009, in just 12 states and the District of Columbia, 14 environmental groups filed 180 federal court complaints to get species listed under the ESA and were paid $11,743,287 in attorneys fees and costs.” The act of responding to lawsuits causes government biologists to spend much less time on conservation work.

An example of this tactic was published last Monday by ADI in their article: “Absurd Sue And Settle Lawsuit Launched To Protect Borderlands Moth.” (Link) “Serial litigators, Defenders of Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, and Patagonia Area Resource Alliance filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Patagonia eyed silkmoth under the Endangered Species Act.”

In my opinion, while these enviros are gaming the system for money, their main purpose is to stop development of new mines in the Patagonia Mountains of Southern Arizona. These properties have the potential to become a major source of lead, zinc, and silver, and the only U.S. source of manganese.

See related stories:

New Zinc-lead-silver mineral deposit discovered in SE Arizona

Silver project may become only US source of manganese

The other major problem with the Endangered Species Act is that, through bureaucratic bungling and bad science, the ESA is particularly poor at recovering endangered species.

The Heritage Foundation has recently published an assessment of the Endangered Species Act entitled: Correcting Falsely “Recovered” and Wrongly Listed Species and Increasing Accountability and Transparency in the Endangered Species Program by Robert Gordon (Read full report)

Abstract

Numerous administrative actions should be taken to correct the record of species that are falsely claimed to have “recovered” and that have been declared endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) using erroneous data. It is crucial to improve implementation, accountability, and transparency in the administration of the ESA. The recommendations and information here will help correct the record, provide guidance as to some of the species that may be suitable for delisting on the grounds of data error or extinction, improve the likelihood that future delistings are appropriately categorized, eliminate unnecessary regulations and further waste, and ensure scarce conservation dollars are better spent.

In five years the Endangered Species Act will reach the half-century milestone—and yet only 40 U.S. species have graduated from the program as “recovered,” slightly less than one species per year. If not one more bird, beetle, or bear were added to the list of federally endangered animals and plants and somehow species recovered at 10 times that rate, it would take well over a century and-a-half to work through the current list.

There is, however, no indication that the list of regulated species will stop growing. Even worse, almost half of the “recovered” species—18 of 40— are federally funded fiction. They were never really endangered; like many species that remain on the endangered list, they were mistakes. With all the ESA’s costs and burdens, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is fabricating success stories to cover up this unsustainable mess and substituting fluff for statutorily required reporting regarding the recovery program.

 

My opinion: It is time to consider repealing the ESA and replacing it with a more effective system that encourages conservation with positive incentives.

 

Related:

Endangered Species paperwork to cost $206,098,920

Endangered species act could halt American energy boom

Endangered Species Act administration changes bode ill for property rights

Endangered species listings based on questionable science and lack of independent review

Repeal the Endangered Species Act

Rosemont and the Cuckoo scam

Arizona Game & Fish Department against critical habitat for jaguar

Pygmy owls and property rights

Renewable energy mandates and politics versus science

Competing renewable energy mandate legislation will appear on the Arizona this fall. You can read about them in two Arizona Daily Star stories:

Arizona utility APS crafts renewable-energy initiative with escape clause

Arizona Senate puts utility-written renewable energy plan on ballot

Neither addresses the real issue: electricity produced from utility-scale solar and wind is unreliable, expensive, plays havoc with electrical grid stability, and is not as green as advertized. Rather than play with tricky fixes, the Arizona legislature should repeal the Arizona Corporation Commission’s renewable energy mandate and forbid the ACC from mandating how electricity is generated. I can find no place in the Arizona Constitution nor in the Arizona Revised Statutes that gives the ACC authority to impose such mandates.

For background of ACC action, read a report from the Goldwater Institute: “Rediscovering the ACC’s Roots: Returning to the Original Purpose of the Arizona Corporation Commission” (link)

Here is the executive summary of the 26-page report:

The Arizona Corporation Commission was established through the state constitution to regulate corporations, public utilities, securities, and other investments. But in an unprecedented move, the Arizona Corporation Commission sought to single-handedly determine alternative energy policy in Arizona with a bold and unconstitutional energy mandate in 2006.1 This mandate forced energy producers to embrace state-favored alternatives instead of deciding for themselves which options are most attractive in Arizona.

Arizonans now face the real threat that the Arizona Corporation Commission will continue to seize power meant to be held by the state’s legislative branch. Important decisions about energy policy, corporate governance, and other areas have been removed from the legislative process which, for all its faults, offers more transparency, citizen input, and accountability than the opaque and bureaucratic proceedings of the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The framers of the Arizona Constitution had serious concerns about the Commission’s potential to abuse its authority. Records of the state constitutional debate show the constitution’s authors intentionally limited the Commission’s powers to prevent interference with internal business decisions. The framers’ fears have been borne out.

The Commission’s attempt to act as the state’s de facto energy czar clearly oversteps its original role.

Arizona courts should re-establish a proper balance between the Commission and legislative power. Courts in other states with similar utility regulatory commissions already have concluded such agencies don’t have constitutional authority to mandate statewide policy. The Legislature also can reassert its authority by ordering an audit of the Commission that would recommend ways to streamline the agency and to restore it to its proper role. Finally, the state constitution could be amended to transfer necessary functions to other agencies and decommission the ACC to stop its policymaking power grabs, which Arizona’s founders specifically aimed to prevent.

See these articles for more detail on the consequences of the ACC mandate:

Six reasons Arizona should repeal its renewable energy standards mandate

The economic impact of Arizona’s renewable energy mandate

The high cost of electricity from wind and solar generation

The more installed solar and wind capacity per capita a country has, the higher the price people pay for electricity.

Political correctness versus science:

The alleged rationale for these mandates is that we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions to forestall dread global warming. But, there is no physical evidence that emissions from fossil fuels play a significant role in driving global temperature. See these ADI posts for more detail:

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists

“What physical evidence supports the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the principal cause of global warming since 1970?” I posed that question to five “climate scientist” professors at the University of Arizona who claim that our carbon dioxide emissions are the principal cause of dangerous global warming. Yet, none could cite any supporting physical evidence.

Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect

The “greenhouse” hypothesis of global warming makes four major predictions of what we should see if the “greenhouse effect” is intensified by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. All four predictions are shown by physical evidence to be wrong.

What keeps Earth warm – the greenhouse effect or something else?

An alternative hypothesis with observable evidence.

Failure of climate models shows that carbon dioxide does not drive global temperature

Results from climate models based on the assumption that carbon dioxide controls global temperature diverge widely from reality.

Climate change in perspective

An overview of climate history

The 97 percent consensus of human caused climate change debunked again

The fake climate consensus

Mass Shootings: Guns are not the problem; gun-free zones and drugs are

The February 14, 2018, murders at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, demonstrate that government cannot always protect us. Local, State, and federal government agencies had numerous red flags about the shooter, yet failed to act. Even as the school shooting commenced, local police at the scene failed to engage him.

Guns themselves are not the problem; gun-free zones, or otherwise unprotected areas are. For instance: The non-profit RAND corporation spent two years and $1 million on an analysis, searching for evidence of benefit from gun control policies. RAND’s analysis looked to establish connections between gun policies and rates of homicide, suicide, self-defense gun use, hunting, and other categories. The vast majority of those categories went unaffected by legislation. Read more Gun-free zones, such as ,schools, provide a pool of helpless potential victims.

Another side of the problem are legally prescribed pyscho-active drugs. Selwyn Duke, in his article “From Prozac to Parkland: Are Psychiatric Drugs Causing Mass Shootings?” catalogs mass shootings and finds one commonality: almost all shooters have had pyscho-active drugs in their system. These drugs include Luvox, Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor, Amitriptyline, Thorazine, and Ritalin. Duke notes that clinical studies by the drug manufacturers found that side-effects of these drugs may include mania, “suicidal ideation” and “homicidal ideation.”

The political left and left-media are not letting this crisis go to waste:

The Patriot Post opines in their article: “The Adolescent 2nd Amendment Puppet Protests

In a display of just how dumbed down American students’ civic awareness has become, thousands of students across America walked out of their schools March 14 [and March 24], using their First Amendment rights to protest against Second Amendment rights. The Leftmedia coverage has been fawning, to say the least. These kids are viewed with reverence as sages possessing moral authority that cannot be questioned. By contrast, little attention is given to the students who did not walk out, or gathered to show support for our constitutional rights. Spurred on by leftists, however, student protesters are being used as pawns in a play designed to shame conservative lawmakers for not creating more laws to limit the Second Amendment.

A string of Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders, addressed the crowd of students in DC, which speaks volumes about the political agenda. But remember: Democrats don’t care about children unless they can serve the leftist agenda.

Not that students are admitting it. “It’s not Republican or Democrat; it’s about keeping people safe,” said a 16-year-old student from Manhattan. “We know what we want from our society: to have less guns and, at some point, no guns at all.” (Grammar police: shouldn’t that be fewer guns?)

There you go — safe spaces and gun confiscation. Unfortunately for this naive young lady, those two are mutually exclusive. Liberty isn’t defended with a smart phone and poster-board sign.

 

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms … disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.” —Cesare Beccaria

 

“It is only by obtaining some sort of insight into the psychology of crowds that it can be understood how powerless they are to hold any opinions other than those which are imposed upon them.” Gustave Le BonThe Crowd

Jury Duty and Jury Nullification

I recently received a summons to jury duty. The date has been rescheduled and I don’t know if I will actually have to appear. However, this brings to mind the last time I had jury duty.

During voir dire, the judge asked prospective jurors if evidence indicated conviction, would they vote to convict even if they disagreed with the law. Everybody said “yes” except me. What follows is the justification for my answer.

It is the job of the court to see to the law, but it is the job of the jury to see to justice. Columnist Walter Williams gives an example:

“I was summoned for jury duty some years ago, and during voir dire, the attorney asked me whether I could obey the judge’s instructions. I answered, ‘It all depends upon what those instructions are.’ Irritatingly, the judge asked me to explain myself. I explained that if I were on a jury back in the 1850s, and a person was on trial for violating the Fugitive Slave Act by assisting a runaway slave, I would vote for acquittal regardless of the judge’s instructions. The reason is that slavery is unjust and any law supporting it is unjust. Needless to say, I was dismissed from jury duty.” – Walter Williams, 11 July 2007

The judge in my past appearance asked why I said “no.” I explained that, in my opinion, jurors had the right and duty to judge all of the circumstances as well as the evidence. I also mentioned the following which establishes that principle:

John Jay, first Chief Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, wrote in Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 U.S. 1 (1794): “The jury has a right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.”

Samuel Chase, Supreme Court Justice and signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote in 1804: “The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.”

U. S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said in 1902: “The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact.”

Harlan F. Stone, the 12th Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, stated in 1941: “The law itself is on trial quite as much as the cause which is to be decided.”

In 1972, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said that the jury has an “unreviewable and irreversible power… to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge….” (US vs Dougherty, 473 F 2d 1113, 1139 (1972))

That jurors can rule against both law and evidence is called jury nullification. Jury Nullification, as defined by the US Dictionary of Law is “A sanctioned doctrine of trial proceedings wherein members of a jury disregard either the evidence presented or the instructions of the judge in order to reach a verdict based upon their own consciences. It espouses the concept that jurors should be the judges of both law and fact.”

More recently, Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor supported Jury Nullification. (Source)

The purpose of Jury Nullification is to protect citizens from unjust laws perpetrated by government. It is part of the “checks and balances” of our republic.

Prospective jurors are not likely to hear about this from a trial judge. I was dismissed as a prospective juror.

UPDATE: I reported for jury duty on April 3, 2018. The case was vehicular manslaughter. The judge asked if anyone had a problem with the law. I answered: “I hold to the principle that jurors have the right to judge the law as well as the evidence in the case.” The judge replied, “dismissed.”

Multi-shot Assault weapons of the 1700s and the 2nd Amendment

 

Note: This post is an updated version of https://wryheat.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/assault-weapons-a-machine-gun-from-1718/

Proponents of stricter gun control have a problem with the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” One of their arguments is that our Founding Fathers could not have imagined the rapid fire weapons of today. But, in fact, during the time of the American Revolution and ratification of our Constitution there were several weapons in use that could fire much faster than the standard muzzle-loading flintlock rifle of the time.

 

In 1718, James Puckle invented and patented what was essentially a machine gun. According to Wikipedia, the Puckle gun “had a pre-loaded cylinder which held 11 charges and could fire 63 shots in seven minutes [9 shots per minute]—this at a time when the standard soldier’s musket could at best be loaded and fired three times per minute.” The gun was intended for use aboard British ships to repel boarders. Although the Puckle gun was never widely used, it was known at the time of the American Revolution, and the concept was certainly known since Leonardo da Vinci designed a rapid fire weapon in 1481 (see here).

 

Another relatively rapid fire weapon was the Ferguson Rifle invented by British officer, Major Patrick Ferguson. The Ferguson Rifle was a flint lock, but it was breech loading rather than the standard muzzle-loaded rifle. It could fire up to seven rounds per minute, two to three times faster that the muzzle-loading weapons of the day. Using the Ferguson Rifle, light infantry troops could continue loading and firing without breaking cover, even when lying prone. This rifle was used by the British against the Americans in 1777. Read more

 

The Girandoni air rifle was an airgun designed by Tyrolian inventor Bartholomäus Girandoni circa 1779. The Girandoni air rifle was in service with the Austrian army from 1780 to around 1815. This rifle had a lethal combat range of 125 to 150 yards. It had the advantage of a high rate of fire, no smoke from propellants, and low muzzle report. It had a detachable magazine containing 19 rounds of ammunition. A single shot from the Girandoni could penetrate a one-inch wood plank, or take an elk. Read more

 

Washington Post article by David Kopel notes: “Gun-control advocates often argue that gun-control laws must be more restrictive than the original meaning of the Second Amendment would allow, because modern firearms are so different from the firearms of the late 18th century. This argument is based on ignorance of the history of firearms. It is true that in 1791 the most common firearms were handguns or long guns that had to be reloaded after every shot. But it is not true that repeating arms, which can fire multiple times without reloading, were unimagined in 1791. To the contrary, repeating arms long predate the 1606 founding of the first English colony in America. As of 1791, repeating arms were available but expensive.”

 

The Washington Post article mentions a German breech-loading matchlock arquebus from around 1490-1530 with a 10-shot revolving cylinder, the Girandoni air rifle, and many other multi-shot hand weapons all available at the time when the Second Amendment was written.

 

The “failure of imagination” argument falls to the facts of history.

See also:

Assault Weapons Ban Not Correlated with Decrease in Homicides

 

 

 

Russian collusion with environmentalists to disrupt American energy production

It seems that there is indeed Russian collusion, collusion with environmental groups to harm American energy production. This has been going on for years.

Environmentalists have campaigned for the following:

1) US nuclear energy facilities to close down

2) US fossil fuel reserves to stay in the ground (onshore and offshore)

3) the costs of fossil fuels to go up (e.g. with a carbon tax)

4) a high percentage of the US electric grid to be based on unreliable sources? (wind and solar)

5) the US to waste trillions of dollars on unreliable electricity

All of this plays into Russian hands as they battle to maintain their European markets.

 

See a Congressional Report about this collusion:

Mar 1, 2018,WASHINGTON – U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released a staff report uncovering Russia’s extensive efforts to influence U.S. energy markets through divisive and inflammatory posts on social media platforms. The report details Russia’s motives in interfering with U.S. energy markets and influencing domestic energy policy and its manipulation of Americans via social media propaganda. The report includes examples of Russian-propagated social media posts.

According to the report: “Russia has a significant interest in disrupting U.S. energy markets and influencing domestic energy policy. American energy is booming. America’s emergence as a global energy exporter presents a significant threat to Russian energy interests. Such competition reduces the revenue and influence generated by Russian energy exports. This adversely affects the Kremlin’s ability to leverage Eastern Europe’s reliance on their energy and their ability to carry out their geopolitical agenda. The surge of American energy into the global marketplace heightens the Kremlin’s desire to eliminate or mitigate the American energy threat and to do so by influencing social media users, American voters, and public officials.”

 Read press releaseRead full report.

 

Consider these stories:

Environmental group may have to register as foreign agents

Reported by Washington Examiner, 01/15/18 Link to story

“U.S. environmental activists who are working to halt the production and use of fossil fuels could be required to register as foreign agents if Congress gets serious about enforcing an existing law.” The Foreign Agents Registration Act, passed in 1938, calls for individuals and organizations to provide full disclosure when they are working to advance the public policy interests of a foreign government.

Democrats dig for Russian connection and uncover environmentalists.

Reported by The Hill, 10/26/17. Link to story

“Democrats and the media have been on a year-long deep dig into Russian involvement into U.S. elections. But when you dig a hole you sometimes run across things you wish had remained buried — like the dirt pointing to Russian ties to the U.S. environmental movement.

Russia secretly working with environmentalists to oppose fracking.

Reported by The Guardian, 19/06/14. Link to story

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) said: “I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations – environmental organizations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.”

 

See also:

 

https://wryheat.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/the-high-cost-of-electricity-from-wind-and-solar-generation/

The high cost of electricity from wind and solar generation

Written by Jonathan DuHamel

Some European countries, particularly Germany and Denmark, have invested heavily in electricity generation from solar and wind sources with the result that the cost of electricity has increased substantially. The alleged rational for using “green” energy is that it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions and save us from dread global warming. The reality is that carbon dioxide emissions have not been reduced and real world evidence shows that carbon dioxide emissions have almost no influence on global temperature. (See my Wryheat post: Evidence that CO2 emissions do not intensify the greenhouse effect).

Here is what is happening in Europe. The more installed solar and wind capacity per capita a country has, the higher the price people pay for electricity. In the graph below the vertical scale is Euro cents per kilowatt-hour, the horizontal scale is the installed capacity of renewables (solar and wind) per capita. (For reference, the U.S. average residential cost is 12 cents/kwh which is about 9.6 euro cents/kwh, lower than all European countries on the graph.)

 

Pierre L. Gosselin, a graduate of the University of Arizona who resides in Germany, writes: “Despite the rapidly growing green energy capacity being installed, the effort to reduce CO2 has failed, and what’s left is an unpredictable power grid that often produces energy when it is not needed (waste energy) and thus costing Germans hundreds of millions annually. The Green Party claims that wind energy is “the most inexpensive” on the market, but “If that is really true, then why do they need subsidies? Why are we paying 25 billion euros annually for their feed-in?” An array of expert panels have determined that wind energy is not leading to more climate protection, but rather is only making electricity outrageously expensive.” (Source)

Australians are experiencing the same thing. The last 65 years of Australian electricity prices — indexed and adjusted for inflation show that during the coal boom, Australian electricity prices declined decade after decade. As renewables and national energy bureaucracies grew, so did the price of electricity. (Source) See graph at source.

Peter Rez (Professor at Arizona State University) explains Why solar and wind won’t make much difference to carbon dioxide emissions (Oxford University Press)

“In many circles there is a comforting belief that renewables such as solar and wind can replace fossil fuel electrical generation and leave us free to live as we do without carbon dioxide emissions. Fundamental physics and engineering considerations show that this is not so.”

“Power needs fluctuate with time of the day and, to a lesser extent, day of the week. In most places, peaks occur in the evening when people come home, start cooking, and turn on lights and entertainment systems. In Arizona in summer, the peaks are even more extreme due to the air conditioners all cutting in. There are also morning peaks, as people get up and turn on lights and hair dryers. Commercial and industrial use generally doesn’t change much throughout the day. The electrical utilities call this a baseload.”

“Solar and wind present two problems. One is low power density; massive areas have to be devoted to power generation. The other, more serious problem is intermittency. If we only wanted to run electrical appliances when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, fine, but don’t expect to use solar to turn on your light at night! So solar and wind cannot manage on their own; it’s always solar or wind AND something else.” Read more

All of this has implications for Arizona energy policy.

In 2006, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) imposed the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) on non-government-owned electric utilities. REST requires that electric utilities generate an ever increasing amount of electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar. The original mandated goal was to reach a total of 15 percent renewable generation by the year 2025.

Now ACC commissioner Andy Tobin is campaigning for what he calls an “Energy Modernization Plan.” (See ADI article “Tobin Appears To Overstep With Energy Modernization Plan”)  Read full plan at:   http://www.azcc.gov/commissioners/atobin/letters/energyplan.asp 

From the plan: “The singular unifying goal is to have Arizona’s economy powered by clean energy sources that make up at least 80 percent of the state’s electricity generating portfolio, by 2050, with the ultimate goal being 100 percent.

The high cost of electricity from wind and solar generation refers not only to the price of electricity, but also to the cost to the environment and health of humans and other animals.

Several years ago I wrote a Wryheat post: “Petition to Arizona Legislature – Dump Renewable Energy Mandates” which lists six reasons why the Arizona legislature should get rid of this mandate. Besides the cost and grid instability, solar and wind generation are not as “green” as advertised.

For example, many PV solar panels rely on polysilicon being manufactured in large quantities and at high quality. A byproduct of polysilicon production is silicon tetrachloride, a highly toxic substance that poses a major environmental hazard. Wherever silicon tetrachloride is dumped, the land becomes totally infertile. A major environmental cost of photovoltaic solar energy is toxic chemical pollution (arsenic, gallium, and cadmium) and energy consumption associated with the large-scale manufacture of photovoltaic panels.

Concentrating solar plants such as the Ivanpah generating station, in the Mohave Desert southwest of Las Vegas, uses 173,500 heliostats each with two mirrors to focus sunlight on a tower where water is converted to steam to generate electricity. This method is called “solar-flux” and it generates very high temperatures. Birds experience traumatic impact with the mirrors, but the larger danger is getting singed by the heat flux which is up to 800 degrees F. (See my post: Avian Mortality from Solar Farms)

Wind turbines chop up millions of birds and bats every year. (See: Wind Turbines Versus Wildlife) Wind turbines also cause health problems in humans and other animals due to their low-frequency noise and the “flicker” of the turbines themselves. (See: Health Hazards of Wind Turbines)

I can find no place in the Arizona State Constitution nor the Arizona Revised Statutes that gives the ACC explicit authority to dictate the methods by which utilities must generate electricity. I recommend that the Arizona legislature repeal the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff and forbid the ACC from dictating how electricity must be produced. Instead, let the free market decide.

Generating more electricity from solar and wind is just a very expensive exercise in political correctness that will have little impact on carbon dioxide emissions, but a big impact on your wallet.

See also:

A Simple Question for Climate Alarmists

“What physical evidence supports the contention that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are the principal cause of global warming since 1970?”

This article may be reprinted/reposted  provided that credit of authorship is given with a link back to the source.

URL: https://wryheat.wordpress.com/2018/02/27/the-high-cost-of-electricity-from-wind-and-solar-generation/