2016-04 April

People for the West -Tucson

PO Box 86868, Tucson, AZ 85754-6868 pfw-tucson@cox.net

Newsletter, April, 2016

Political Correctness and Free Speech

by Jonathan DuHamel

Political correctness is destroying our culture by making us all victims too afraid to hear an opinion contrary to our own beliefs, by making us monitor our thoughts and speech lest we commit a “microagression” against a tender soul, by turning us into children who must be protected from the real world.

Recently, demands for “diversity” have taken over college campuses. The University of Arizona “has announced a new diversity task force to tackle student concerns, and the school is poised to hire a new six-figure administrator responsible for overseeing improvements.” (Source)

My Wryheat article, Free Speech and Tender Feelings, presents three editorials on the subject.

Robert Weissberg writes: “Race-related protests on American college campuses are spreading faster than head lice at a daycare center. The ruckus is entirely about pushing the university leftward, and these immature campus social justice warriors are what Lenin called useful idiots.”

Ben Shapiro writes: “Four in 10 young Americans have no idea what America is. That’s the takeaway from a new Pew Research poll showing that 40 percent of Americans aged 18-34 say that the government should be able to prevent people from making ‘statements that are offensive to minority groups.’”

Walter Williams writes: “Recent events at the University of Missouri, Yale University and some other colleges demonstrate an ongoing ignorance and/or contempt for the principles of free speech.”

I conclude that article with “There are times when real discrimination requires action, and there are times when freedom requires that you develop a thick skin. The trick is learning the difference.”

I recent came across a long but very good article on political correctness:

WHAT WENT WRONG? Campus Unrest, Viewpoint Diversity, and Freedom of Speech

By Michael Shermer Read full article

Shermer’s statement of the problem introduces us to all the jargon spawned by academic political correctness. It is both amusing and maddening.

Some excerpts from the article:

The Problem

Trigger warnings are supposed to be issued to students before readings, classroom lectures, film screenings, or public speeches on such topics as sex, addiction, bullying, suicide, eating disorders, and the like, involving such supposed prejudices as ableism, homophobia, sizeism, slut shaming, transphobia, victim-blaming, and who-knows-what-else, thereby infantilizing students instead of preparing them for the real world where they most assuredly will not be so shielded. At Oberlin College, for example, students leveled accusations against the administration of imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, and the

ne plus ultra in gender politics, cissexist heteropatriarchy, the enforcement of “gender binary and gender essentialism” against those who are “gender variant (non-binary) and trans identities.” The number of such categories has expanded into an alphabet string, LGBTQIA, or lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual and any other underrepresented sexual, gender, and/or romantic identities. This is not your parents’ protest against Victorian sexual mores, and the list of demands by Oberlin students would be unrecognizable to even the most radical 60’s hippies.

As often happens in moral movements, a reasonable idea with some evidentiary backing gets carried to extremes by engaged moralists eager for attention, sympathy, and the social standing that being a victim or victim sympathizer can bring.

Safe space, according to the organization Advocates for Youth, is “A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome or challenged on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability.

In addition to infantilizing adults, this practice often means protecting students from opinions that they don’t happen to agree with, or shielding them from ideas that challenge their beliefs, which has always been one of the most valuable benefits of a college education.

Microaggressions are comments or questions that slight, snub, or insult someone, intentionally or unintentionally, in anything from casual conversation to formal discourse.

Yes, language matters, and some comments that people make are cringe worthy. But do we really need a list of DOs and DON’Ts handed out to students and reviewed like they were five-year olds being taught how to play nice with the other kids in the sandbox?

I recently reviewed a book: America’s Culture, Its Origins & Enemies by Tucsonan John Harmon McElroy. I recommend you read it.

The book takes you on an interesting journey through American history from first settlement by European colonists to what McElroy believes is now the “paramount danger to America.” McElroy’s history is not so much a “who did what, when”, but rather why things happened as they did and how that shaped our culture.

According to McElroy, the “paramount danger to America” is political correctness. He asserts that PC is influenced by Marxist philosophy and that PC “has taken over one of the major political parties and infiltrated the other and is exerting an increasing influence in the nation’s schools, churches, business enterprises, universities, media, government, and philanthropic institutions.”

So, do we all need sensitivity training or does free speech demand that we let bigots continue to demonstrate their own stupidity?

Climate Madness 2

by Jonathan DuHamel

Free speech is impacted by the cult of climatism. As I document in The Bankruptcy of Climate Science “Promoters of the carbon-dioxide-caused global warming myth want to protect their cash cow by prosecuting any who dare question the orthodoxy.”

The following are recent articles from various sources that deal with global warming. They illustrate how corrupt “climate science” is today and how it is almost purely political rather than scientific. Some stories are amusing, others are ominous.

We start with my favorite: a paper where the authors are exercised that there is not enough “gendered science.” Even study of glaciers must be politically correct:

Climate Craziness of the Week: ‘feminist glaciology’ in the climate change context

report by Anthony Watts

Paper title:

Glaciers, gender, and science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change research

Abstract from the publication Progress in Human Geography:

Glaciers are key icons of climate change and global environmental change. However, the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers – particularly related to epistemological questions about the production of glaciological knowledge – remain understudied. This paper thus proposes a feminist glaciology framework with four key components: 1) knowledge producers; (2) gendered science and knowledge; (3) systems of scientific domination; and (4) alternative representations of glaciers. Merging feminist postcolonial science studies and feminist political ecology, the feminist glaciology framework generates robust analysis of gender, power, and epistemologies in dynamic social-ecological systems, thereby leading to more just and equitable science and human-ice interactions. Read more from Watts and read Comments by William Briggs

The four authors, from the University of Oregon, demonstrate the state of political correctness in academia. How do they get funding for this type of research? Maybe it’s this:

Academics ‘regularly lie to get research grants’

By David Matthews

Academics routinely lie and exaggerate when telling funding agencies what impact their research will have, a series of candid interviews with scholars in the UK and Australia has suggested.

Their dismissive comments about the “charade” of impact statements brings to light what appears to be an open secret in academia – that academics simply do not take such projections seriously. A new study anonymously interviewed 50 senior academics from two research-intensive universities – one in the UK and one in Australia – who had experience writing “pathways to impact” (PIS) statements, as they are called in the UK, and in some cases had also reviewed such statements. It was normal to sensationalise (sic) and embellish impact claims, the study published in Studies in Higher Education found. Read more

Next, our U.S. Attorney General forgets about the First Amendment:

Attorney General Lynch Looks Into Prosecuting ‘Climate Change Deniers’

by Hans von Spakovsky, Daily Signal

In news that should shock and anger Americans, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told the Senate Judiciary Committee that not only has she discussed internally the possibility of pursuing civil actions against so-called “climate change deniers,” but she has “referred it to the FBI to consider whether or not it meets the criteria for which we could take action.” Read more

Brainwashed children and their lawyers:

Kids sue Obama for violating their constitutional ‘climate change’ rights

by Thomas Richard, Examiner.com

Backed by an environmental group and climate activist James Hansen, 21 kids appeared in an Oregon District Court, part of a lawsuit against President Obama for encouraging the use of fossil fuels. They also claim this is leading to increased global warming, which is a violation of their constitutional rights. Similar to a suit that was filed last summer in Massachusetts, in which the judge threw out the case, the children aged 8 to 19 seek to hold “President Obama and various federal agencies responsible for continued fossil fuel exploitation” and the “alleged failure to prevent the harmful impact of climate change.” Read more

The best laid plans:

Climate Craziness of the Week: Pumping sea level rise away onto Antarctica

reported by Anthony Watts

From the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

Future sea-level rise is a problem probably too big to be solved even by unprecedented geoengineering such as pumping water masses onto the Antarctic continent. The idea has been investigated by scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact. While the pumped water would certainly freeze to solid ice, the weight of it would speed up the ice-flow into the ocean at the Antarctic coast. To store the water for a millennium, it would have to be pumped at least 700 kilometer inland, the team found. Overall that would require more than one tenth of the present annual global energy supply to balance the current rate of sea-level rise. Read more (The Potsdam Institute is noted for its climate alarmism.)

More political correctness instead of science:

Science Is Turning Back To The Dark Ages

by Melanie Phillips, London Times

According to a new study, scientists’ claims that coral reefs are doomed by ocean acidification are overplayed. An “inherent bias” in scientific journals, says the editor of ICES Journal of Marine Science, has excluded research showing marine creatures are not being damaged.

Instead, he says, many studies have used flawed methods by subjecting such creatures to sudden increases in carbon dioxide that would never happen in real life. No surprises there. The claim that CO2 emissions are acidifying the oceans is a favourite of climate-change alarmists.

Man-made global warming theory has been propped up by studies that many scientists have dismissed as methodologically flawed, ideologically bent or even fraudulent. The problem of scientific integrity, however, goes far wider. Psychology, neuroscience, physics and other scientific areas have been convulsed by revelations of dodgy research. Source

If you don’t like the facts, then make up your own:

The Doctored Science Of Global Warming

Washington Times editorial

Pure science undertaken for science’s own sake is as rare as a rainbow. It’s certainly scarce in Washington, where the quest for knowledge is vulnerable to the bias of politics. Skeptics of President Obama’s climate change agenda say they see new evidence of fraud. If administration officials are colluding with scientists to cook the evidence, such as it might be, to demonstrate that the planet is warming, the skeptics deserve everyone’s thanks.

Whistleblowers within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) complained last year that a major study by agency researcher Thomas Karl, refuting evidence of a pause in global warming, had been rushed to publication. The implication was that the study was coordinated with Obama administration officials to add to the urgency of the president’s climate change agenda in advance of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. Republicans on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology issued a subpoena of records of NOAA communications dealing with the study. Read more

The next three stories result from increasing dependence in Europe and UK on undependable wind and solar energy which are raising electricity rates.

Green Madness I: High UK Energy Costs Could Force Steel Work Overseas

by Ben Glaze, The Mirror, (London)

A steel firm is threatening to move key equipment and jobs abroad – blaming Britain’s sky-high energy costs. The owners of Liberty Steel could shift production to India or the US – depriving the UK of up to 3,000 jobs, including a thousand highly-skilled posts in the struggling sector. The Gupta Family Group wants to move equipment from a former steelworks in Kent to its plant in South Wales. But the company warned the current cost of energy and insecurity of supply could delay the project and force it to move the factory overseas. Read more

Green Madness II: Households Face Higher Energy Bills To Keep The Lights

By Emily Gosden, The Telegraph (London)

Households face paying hundreds of millions of pounds in extra levies on their energy bills, under new plans to ensure Britain has enough power plants to keep the lights on. Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, unveiled plans to overhaul a crucial subsidy scheme that is designed to maintain secure electricity supplies, amid fears it was failing and could leave the UK at risk of blackouts.

The “capacity market” scheme is already due to run in winter 2018-19 and 2019-20, when energy firms will be paid almost £1 billion in subsidies each year to guarantee their coal, gas and nuclear power plants will be running. The payments will be funded through levies on energy bills, adding about £10 a year to a typical household electricity bill. Read more

Green Madness III: European Subsidies to Chinese Industries

Global Warming Policy Forum

Chinese wind turbine and solar manufacturers are increasingly dominant in the world markets, something that the EU did not fully anticipate when drawing up its policies. Indeed, in 2008, in modeling the impact of the Renewables Directive of 2009 its consultants dismissed as unlikely the “pessimistic export” scenario for Europe’s wind and solar industries. This was questionable at the time, and now appears to be a serious mistake. Read more

And in the U.S.:

$50 Million Renewable Energy Scam

by Eric Worrall

A Pennsylvania newspaper has reported details of a $50 million alleged renewable energy scam. More shocking is how easy it was, to allegedly defraud government subsidies. A $50 million local fraud case might not seem a big deal, but it should concern US taxpayers that there are other cases. Once fraudsters find an easily exploited systemic weakness, the situation can rapidly escalate. In 2010, Denmark lost 2% of their GDP, seven billion dollars, to out of control carbon credit fraud.

In this case, all the alleged criminals had to do, to get their hands on $50 million of federal money, was submit some paperwork, and find an engineer who was happy to pocket a fee without doing any work.

Read more

Finally a message from the “do as I say, not as I do” department:

By Chris Deaton, Weekly Standard

Obama’s Carbon Admission: ‘I Have the World’s Largest Carbon Footprint’

President Obama once “ruefully” admitted to staff that he personally is the planet’s largest source of carbon emissions, according to an anecdote published in The Atlantic. That’s because of all his traveling. Read more

“The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.” -Michael Crichton

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

Carl Sagan


EPA Chief: Climate Regs Meant To Show “Leadership,” Not Fight Global Warming

As reported by the Daily Caller’s Michael Bastasch, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy told a congressional committee that her agency’s signature regulation aimed at tackling global warming was meant to show “leadership” rather than actually curb projected warming.

Trends in Extreme Weather Events since 1900

It is widely promulgated and believed that human-caused global warming comes with increases in both the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. A survey of official weather sites and the scientific literature provides strong evidence that the first half of the 20th century had more extreme weather than the second half, when anthropogenic global warming is claimed to have been mainly responsible for observed climate change. Read full paper

Frequency Of Hot Days Plummeting Across The US

by Tony Heller

The frequency of 90 degree days has plummeted across most of the US since the 1930’s, yet NOAA insists that hot weather is on the rise here. This is one of their greatest climate frauds. See graphs

NOAA Research Confirms The Dominance of Natural Climate Change: 1935 vs 2016

This article uses NOAA data to compare rates of warming for the period ending in Feb., 1935 versus the rates of warming for the period ending in Feb. 2015. The first part of the 20th century had a much higher rate of warming although that was supposed to be natural variation while the more recent period was supposed to be driven by CO2 emissions. See article and graphs.

NOAA: Number of major tornadoes in 2015 was ‘one of the lowest on record’ – Tornadoes below average for 4th year in a row –

‘The year finished with 481 tornadoes of EF-1 strength or greater, the fourth year in a row that has been below average. Perhaps more significantly, the number of EF-3 and stronger tornadoes was one of the lowest on record. You have to go back to 1987 to find fewer. There were no EF-5s at all, and only three EF-4s.’ Read more

NOAA Radiosonde Data Shows No Warming For 58 Years

In their “hottest year ever” press briefing, NOAA stated that they have a 58 year long radiosonde temperature record. But they only showed the last 37 years in the graph. Here is why they are hiding the rest of the data. The earlier data showed as much pre-1979 cooling as the post-1979 warming so there is no net change in temperature for the period. See graphs

Another alarmist pillar collapses – Greenland melting due to old soot feedback loops and albedo change – not AGW

by Anthony Watts

Greenland’s ice is getting darker, increasing risk of melting

Feedback loops from melting itself are driving changes in reflectivity

Greenland’s snowy surface has been getting darker over the past two decades, absorbing more heat from the sun and increasing snow melt, a new study of satellite data shows. That trend is likely to continue, with the surface’s reflectivity, or albedo, decreasing by as much as 10 percent by the end of the century, the study says.

While soot blowing in from wildfires contributes to the problem, it hasn’t been driving the change, the study finds. The real culprits are two feedback loops created by the melting itself. One of those processes isn’t visible to the human eye, but it is having a profound effect.

The results, published in the European Geosciences Union journal The Cryosphere, have global implications. Fresh meltwater pouring into the ocean from Greenland raises sea level and could affect ocean ecology and circulation.

The feedback loops work like this: During a warm summer with clear skies and lots of solar radiation pouring in, the surface starts to melt. As the top layers of fresh snow disappear, old impurities, like dust from erosion or soot that blew in years before, begin to appear, darkening the surface. A warm summer can remove enough snow to allow several years of impurities to concentrate at the surface as surrounding snow layers disappear. At the same time, as the snow melts and refreezes, the grains of snow get larger. This is because the meltwater acts like glue, sticking grains together when the surface refreezes. The larger grains create a less reflective surface that allows more solar radiation to be absorbed. The impact of grain size on albedo – the ratio between reflected and incoming solar radiation – is strong in the infrared range, where humans can’t see, but satellite instruments can detect the change. Read more

The Complicity of Journals and Magazines in Pushing Flawed IPCC Climate Science

Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball

The public face of climate science practiced by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and their offspring the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were for a political agenda and only secondarily for the money it engendered. However, their methods were made much more effective by magazines and journals who promoted their flawed science primarily for money and sometimes secondarily for politics. Magazines and Journals, often with considerable influence, latched on like giant sucker fish to further themselves not to promote truth, accuracy, and public understanding. Read more In this article, Dr. Ball specifically takes on Scientific American, Nature, Nature Climate Change, Science.


Europe Pulls The Plug On Its Green Future

by Dr. Benny Peiser, The Australian .

As country after country abandons, curtails or reneges on once-generous support for renewable energy, Europe is beginning to realise that its green energy strategy is dying on the vine. Green dreams are giving way to hard economic realities.

Slowly but gradually, Europe is awakening to a green energy crisis, an economic and political debacle that is entirely self-inflicted.

The mainstream media, which used to encourage the renewables push enthusiastically, is beginning to sober up too. With more and more cracks beginning to appear, many newspapers are returning to their proper role as the fourth estate, exposing the pitfalls of Europe’s green-energy gamble and opening their pages for thorough analysis and debate. Today, European media is full of news and commentary about the problems of an ill-conceived strategy that is becoming increasingly shaky and divisive. Read more

Killing Coal Means Burying America’s Steel Industry Too

by Steven Capozzola

Let’s suppose that the U.S. coal industry were to be shut down, as Hillary Clinton hopes. What would that mean in practical terms?

First, energy costs would rise significantly, since renewables are hardly cost-effective.

Second, and more troubling—the U.S. would need to start importing the steel currently used to manufacture cars, military equipment, and whole host of other industrial products.

Why this sudden importation of steel? Because without sturdy electrical generation, it’s simply not possible to liquefy metal or power heavy-duty furnaces and machinery. And even more significant, it’s impossible to make steel without coal. That’s because steelmaking starts with metallurgical coal, which is used to make coke. Combining coke with iron ore yields steel.

Let’s be clear about this: The domestic steel industry is already struggling to stay competitive against subsidized imports. America’s steel producers simply can’t bear the twin, added expenses of higher energy costs and imported metallurgical coal. Real more

Could California’s massive Ivanpah solar power plant be forced to go dark?

By Cassandra Sweet, Wall Street Journal

A federally backed, $2.2 billion solar project in the California desert isn’t producing the electricity it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp., which says the solar plant may be forced to shut down if it doesn’t receive a break Thursday from state regulators.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System uses more than 170,000 mirrors mounted to the ground to reflect sunlight to 450-foot-high towers topped by boilers that heat up to create steam, which in turn is used to generate electricity.

But the unconventional solar-thermal project, financed with $1.5 billion in federal loans, has riled environmentalists by killing thousands of birds, many of which are burned to death — and has so far failed to produce the expected power.

PG&E is asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to overlook the shortfall and give Ivanpah another year to sort out its problems, warning that allowing its power contracts to default could force the facility to shut down. The commission’s staff is recommending that it grant the extension Thursday. Read more See more problems in Tasmania and Spain and in Germany

UPDATE: California electric utility regulators on March 17, approved a deal between Pacific Gas & Electric and the owners of Ivanpah solar plant that gives plant operators more time to increase electricity production. The plant’s owners have agreed to pay PG&E an undisclosed sum in exchange for getting time to improve the plant’s electricity output. In return, PG&E won’t declare that its power purchase agreement with the plant owners is in default. Source

EPA’s Own Data Blows Away Claims That Natural Gas Causes Global Warming


Green claims that America’s natural gas boom is contributing to global warming just got blown away by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data.

The Sierra Club and other environmental groups have long claimed that the environmental advantages of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are negated by increased methane emissions.

The EPA states that only carbon dioxide contributes more to global warming than methane, which is responsible for 10 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA’s own data shows that methane emissions have declined as fracking increased natural gas production, but the environmental agency still wants to regulate methane to reduce global warming.

“EPA claims that methane rules are needed to address climate change, yet the rule the agency is proposing would avoid a mere 0.004 degrees of warming by 2100,” Dr. Katie Brown, a spokeswoman for the energy industry group Energy In Depth, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Meanwhile, natural gas is the reason the United States has achieved such dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases, and EPA’s costly rules could end up curtailing progress. So is this really about emissions?” Read more


Wolf pack kills 19 Wyoming elk in one night

Fox News

A pack of wolves killed 19 elk in western Wyoming, according to state wildlife officials describing the slaughter as an extremely rare “surplus kill.” John Lund of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said it is not unusual for wolves to kill one or two elk a night in that part of the state but to have 19 killed in one night is rare. Lund said the culprits may be a pack of nine wolves known as the Rim Pack.

He said there is nothing the state can do about the wolves. The animals are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. “We can’t take any action proactively,” Lund told FoxNews. “It’s frustrating for state wildlife management.”

Monarch Butterfly Rebounds, Hopeful for Recovery

SustainableBusiness.com News

We are so happy to hear that after a year’s-worth of intense effort (and mild weather), monarch butterflies are rebounding, giving us hope for the future of these gorgeous pollinators.

This winter, hibernating monarchs covered almost 10 acres in Mexico, more than tripling from 2014, when they declined to their lowest levels ever at 1.65 acres. There are about 140 million monarchs, up from 35 million, says World Wildlife Fund. Source

The Plastic Pollution Scare just Fizzled

Eric Worrall

Scientists have discovered a species of bacteria capable of breaking down commonly used PET plastic. Read more


Washington’s despotic lawlessness

by Paul Driessen

Washington is out of control. Legislators, judges and unelected bureaucrats want to control our lives, livelihoods and living standards, with no accountability even for major errors, calculated deception, or deliberate, often illegal assaults on our liberties and on citizens who resist the advancing Leviathan.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is renowned for its annual Ten Thousand Commandments reports on federal rules. A scary but mesmerizing new analysis now maps how the Washington bureaucracy lawlessly imposes agendas that all too frequently contravene or disregard what We the People support, what is best for the nation, and even what Congress has enacted or refused to encode in legislation.

No one even knows how many Executive Branch agencies there are – estimates range from 60 to 438 – much less how many new rules they implement and impose each year. Officially, Crews says, they issued a staggering 3,554 new rules in 2014, while President Obama signed “only” 226 new laws enacted by Congress. Worse, of the 53,838 (!) formal final regulations included in the Federal Register from 2001 through 2014, only 160 (0.3%) received a “cost-benefit” analysis; we have no idea how the rest affect us.

Infinitely worse, this tip of the iceberg does not include tens of thousands of decrees issued in the form of:

* notices, bulletins, proclamations, circulars, guidance memos, and new or revised interpretations, policy statements and procedures;

* investigations, inquiries, warning letters, negotiated settlements to legal actions (often involving collusion between agencies and activist groups), explicit or veiled threats of legal action, armed agents raiding homes and businesses, or adverse publicity, coordinated with activists and the media; as well as

* blog posts, news releases, and emails or telephone calls to citizens or company employees. Read more

Unintended Consequences of Government Intervention

When policy starts with a respect for individual freedom and private property rights, and recognizes the limits of government action, then policymakers are apt to enhance markets and foster productivity. But big government and the regulatory/welfare state undermine individual responsibility, encourage rent seeking, and slow economic growth. A new, special issue of the Cato Journal considers the unintended consequences of government intervention by examining a number of public policies ranging from occupational licensing to the War on Poverty to the minimum wage and public education. Read it here

This State Offered Free College Education. Here’s What Happened.

BY Norbert Michel

Several politicians have recently been offering free goodies to voters. One of the most popular of these, oddly enough, is something that several state governments have already tackled: free college tuition.

The details vary by state, but Oregon, Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan, and Louisiana (among others) all use tax dollars to pay for at least some of their residents’ college tuition.

Louisiana provides a great case study for advocates of similar federal policies.

When the program was started, Louisiana public universities offered students a good value because they were relatively inexpensive. Now that Louisiana taxpayers have spent more than $2 billion on the program, tuition rates are out of reach for many students that don’t qualify for the program. Read full post


How to Spot Research Spin: The Case of the Not-So-Simple Abstract

by Hilda Bastian

Spin doctoring is deliberate manipulation. I don’t think everyday research spin is intended to deceive, though. Mostly it’s because researchers want to get attention for their work and so many others do it, it seems normal. Or they don’t know enough about minimizing bias. It takes a lot of effort to avoid bias in research reporting.

Research spin is when findings are made to look stronger or more positive than is justified by the study. You can do it by distracting people from negative results or limitations by getting them to focus on the outcomes you want – or even completely leaving out results that mess up the message you want to send. You can use words to exaggerate claims beyond what data support – or to minimize inconvenient results.

Good communication is important. Obscure communication makes it harder to work out what researchers actually did – and that can push people into simply relying on the researchers’ claims.

Good science should be transparent. The writing and data presentation should be a clear window into it. Ultimately, though, methodologically strong research reporting that avoids spin is far more critical an issue for good science than the use of jargon in abstracts.

The article gives examples of what to look out for. Read article

“The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.” —James Madison (1788)

“In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college.” —Joseph Sobran (1946-2010)

“A liberal’s paradise would be a place where everybody has guaranteed employment, free comprehensive healthcare, free education, free food, free housing, free clothing, free utilities, and only law enforcement has guns. And believe it or not, such a place does indeed already exist: It’s called Prison.” -Sheriff Joe Arpaio Maricopa County, Arizona

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