Tag Archives: Thomas Sowell

Green Energy: Learning from Recent European History to Re-Embrace Our American Philosophy

solar obama

by Whitney Pitcher

A post at Reason  on Tuesday noted the failings of green energy subsidies in Europe, highlighting the fact that Spain passed a law this month cutting subsidies to green energy companies. The Reuters article detailing the subsidy cuts notes a basic economic truth about the relationship between costs and prices:

Foreign investors poured money into Spanish wind and solar projects, drawn to generous subsidies during a decade-long economic boom that helped the country to become one of the biggest markets for investments in green energy.

The problem was that the cost of the subsidies were not passed on fully to consumers because that would have pushed prices to unprecedented highs.

Price may be what a consumer pays, but it isn’t necessarily the true cost of the product. Central planners often prey on the fact that citizens often do not distinguish between cost and price. Subsidies eventually cause a product to collapse under its own weight of its own cost. Over a decade ago, Thomas Sowell wrote an essay about the difference between cost and price in reference to health care. He notes:

 When politicians talk about “bringing down the cost of health care” they do not mean that they have found a way to produce the same health benefits with less medicine or less time spent by doctors treating patients.  They mean that they have some scheme for preventing these costs from being charged directly to the patient.

If these politicians were really going to bring down the cost of health care, they would have to do such things as stop so many medical resources from being diverted to enriching lawyers who win bogus lawsuits against doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. They would have to stop giving blanket subsidies to people who waste doctors’ time with trivial ailments that they would ask their local pharmacist about if they had to pay a doctor out of their own pockets.

The same principles apply to energy costs and prices. Governor Palin warned of Spain’s energy subsidy crisis nearly two years ago in a speech in India when she noted:

 So as government locks up land & we lose good jobs in the ‘Conventional Resource’ arena, you may hear that “green jobs” will be the saviour! But look around the world & try telling that to the thousands of English & Scottish workers who’ve lost jobs as a result of government investments in “green energy” projects. A recent UK study shows that for every “green job” created, nearly four jobs were lost elsewhere in the economy due to lack of affordable energy! Same story in Spain – investment in “green jobs” brought massive debt, skyrocketing energy costs & unemployment.

This push for ‘green’ at the expense of ‘conventional, reliable’ sources is not a credible energy policy or economic policy. It’s “Social Engineering” by Central Government Planners. And it leads to nothing but more debt & more job loss. And taxpayers will be stuck subsidizing the failure and paying more for energy.

Despite the lesson that Europe has taught America and that Governor Palin warned of two years ago, President Obama continued to push for more green energy subsidies in his recent State of the Union address, claiming that the price of solar energy has gone down. This may be the case relatively speaking, but even with those additional subsidies, solar energy will still more much more expensive that coal, nuclear and other more traditional sources of energy, and that’s according to the President’s own Energy Information Administration.  Even solar companies themselves are turning down subsidies from the government. In 2011, the world’s largest solar company, Solar Trust, turned down a more than $2 billion loan guarantee from the US government because it would be too risky. That company went bankrupt in 2012, even though the Obama administration fast tracked their land permits for energy development.

Margaret Thatcher once said that Europe was built on history and America was built on philosophy. She is right. Our leaders would do well to learn from Europe’s recent “green history” by eschewing the green socialism and corporatism of Europe and embracing again the pro market philosophy that founded this great nation by engaging in unsubsidized development of proven resources and sound policies that protect our future.

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Liberals Want to Put Tomatoes in Your Fruit Salad!

by Whitney Pitcher

Yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the United Nations. During part of his speech, he spoke about the “red line” which must be drawn to prevent Iran from developing and potentially using nuclear weapons. In doing so, he literally drew a red line on simple graphic of a bomb:

He spoke about how he was thankful that the United States had drawn red line previously when Iran wanted to block of the Strait of Hormuz, which would have prevented the transport of a good portion of oil from the Middle East.This “red line”caused Iran to back off.  He called for an additional red line to be drawn, as he depicted during his speech,  when it comes to Iran’s enrichment of uranium for nukes. As expected, the Left (including writers from The Atlantic and Buzzfeed) mocked the simplicity and straightforwardness of his pictorial example, indicating they he was unserious, and his illustration was childish. However, he made his point, and he did so clearly.

The Left does not like simplicity and brevity. We saw this in their reaction to Governor Palin’s “death panel” statement a few years ago. She used a short phrase to make a profound statement about government involvement and rationing in health care , and she was proven right with Obamacare’s inclusion of the Independent Payment Advisory Board for Medicare. President Reagan’s foreign policy could be simply summarized by two succinct phrases–“peace through strength” and “we win; they lose”, yet he was also mocked. However, Governor Palin and President Reagan had the Founders on their side. Thomas Jefferson once said, “[t]he most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do”. Brevity speaks more clearly than verbosity  It’s no wonder that the Constitution–the blueprint for our government–is a mere 7,000 words while the Obamacare law was more than 2,000 pages!

There is a saying that I like that states, “knowledge is knowing that tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad”. I’d like to take that saying a step further by saying that intellectualism is writing an 5,000 word essay of why tomatoes should be put in a fruit salad. Intellectualism is different than having knowledge or wisdom. It’s also different than intelligence. Rick Santorum was mocked recently by the Left for saying,” [w]e will never have the elite smart people on our side, because they believe they should have the power to tell you what to do.” He is right. The “smart” people–the intellectuals–think that they know better than us, and therefore, dictate to us through academia, the media, government, etc.They want to mandate us to not only put tomatoes in our fruit salad, but also to enjoy eating it.  Thomas Sowell wrote a whole book on this topic a few years ago–Intellectuals and Society–which in my opinion, is one of the most instructive and interesting books written in recent years. In that book, Sowell writes, “at the core of the notion of an intellectual is the dealer in ideas, as such–not the personal application of ideas”.Sure you can discuss the concept of a fruit salad with tomatoes, but actually doing it makes no sense. Inapplicable knowledge is useless, but applied knowledge is necessary. President Obama, who has presided over credit downgrades from multiple agencies, is seen as an intellectual, but Governor Palin, whose policies has led  Alaska  receiving three separate credit upgrades since 2008, is seen as an intellectual lightweight. Governor Palin is intelligent, but she is not an intellectual. This is a good thing.  To use an example I used once before in comparing President Obama and Governor Palin:

If you’ll excuse the personal anecdote, let me digress for a moment. My dad is a farmer turned city bus driver who has great mechanical skills. A good friend of mine received his degree in mechanical engineering and was one class away from having a second major in physics. My friend was fascinated by my dad’s ability to fix cars and farm machinery. My friend could complete all the calculus and understood the physics behind the mechanics of a car’s engine, but he could not change his oil much less fix a car. The intellectuals and pontificators of the world would likely gush over my friend’s engineering background while they would likely poo poo my dad’s high school education and career choices. However, my dad could fix a car while my friend couldn’t. I don’t say this to bash my friend, but to make a distinction between intellectualism and intelligence put into practice.

The Left would rather have Prime Minister Netanyahu wax at length about pussyfooting diplomacy and meaningless sanctions rather than use a clear and simple illustration. They would have preferred that Governor Palin praise the National Institute of Comparative Effectiveness (NICE) and their role in British healthcare than to make a succinct warning about rationing. The simplicity and rationality of their actual arguments though allow them to connect with the everyday person because their arguments are applicable, and they respect the intelligence of their audiences. Their fruit salads don’t have any tomatoes in them.

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No, Sarah Palin Did Not Compare Obama to Hitler

By Stacy Drake

What is it with the left and their friends in the media? Why is it that they cannot apply reason when processing information in regards to Sarah Palin? I’m just going to presume that it’s a political tactic designed to confuse possible future voters. Otherwise, I’d be left to believe that we have an unhealthy number of ignorant people in our society.

Last night, Governor Palin posted a link to a Thomas Sowell article called, “Is U.S. Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny?” In which Mr. Sowell said the following:

When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s, leading up to his taking power in the 1930s, he deliberately sought to activate people who did not normally pay much attention to politics.

Such people were a valuable addition to his political base, since they were particularly susceptible to Hitler’s rhetoric and had far less basis for questioning his assumptions or his conclusions.

“Useful idiots” was the term supposedly coined by V.I. Lenin to describe similarly unthinking supporters of his dictatorship in the Soviet Union.

Put differently, a democracy needs informed citizens if it is to thrive, or ultimately even survive.

In our times, American democracy is being dismantled, piece by piece, before our very eyes by the current administration in Washington, and few people seem to be concerned about it.

I think the point Mr. Sowell was trying to make is clear. Throughout history, despots have used “useful idiots” to grow their regime’s power and influence. He provided TWO examples of historical reference to back up his claim, by listing both Adolf Hitler and V.I. Lenin in the beginning of his post.

Yet somehow, the media missed this obvious point as the following article written by Andy Barr in Politico today proves, called “Sarah Palin praises column linking Obama, Hitler” (please note that the original title of this article was “Sarah Palin praises Hitler column” but I guess that meme wasn’t working for them) It says:

Former Alaska GOP Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday encouraged her supporters to read an article comparing the BP escrow fund to Nazism.

[…]

The article Palin points to was published on Monday and was widely criticized for writing that, like Adolph Hitler, President Barack Obama is stripping away the freedom of his citizens without mass protest.

Wait a second… Where did Lenin go? Why didn’t I see 1,000 tweets directed at Governor Palin from left-wing drones on Twitter (known as #p2) saying she compared Obama to Lenin? Where is the article form Politico or any other media outlet with the reference to Lenin? Perhaps it’s because they have a little soft spot for the former Communist dictator, and although Lenin is responsible for millions of deaths, it just doesn’t have the same punch as a reference to Hitler in their minds. I don’t know…

If the mental midgets on the left and in the media (sorry for the repetition) weren’t playing politics here and bothered to read the rest of Mr. Sowell’s piece, they would be able to see what his point was. Such as this:

With vastly expanded powers of government available at the discretion of politicians and bureaucrats, private individuals and organizations can be forced into accepting the imposition of powers that were never granted to the government by the Constitution.

If you believe that the end justifies the means, then you don’t believe in constitutional government.

And, without constitutional government, freedom cannot endure. There will always be a “crisis” — which, as the president’s chief of staff has said, cannot be allowed to “go to waste” as an opportunity to expand the government’s power.

That power will of course not be confined to BP or to the particular period of crisis that gave rise to the use of that power, much less to the particular issues.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt arbitrarily took the United States off the gold standard, he cited a law passed during the First World War to prevent trading with the country’s wartime enemies. But there was no war when FDR ended the gold standard’s restrictions on the printing of money.

Franklin D. Roosevelt! Now that’s THREE historical references that Mr. Sowell makes in his article talking about governmental power grabs. Yet, there where no “lamestream” articles with headlines that read “Sarah Palin praises column linking Obama, FDR.”

Well, we know that would never happen because FDR is a hero to the American left. Time magazine even mocked up a cover superimposing Barack Obama’s face on an old FDR photo, back in November of 2008.

Mr. Sowell’s piece ends this way:

At about the same time, during the worldwide Great Depression, the German Reichstag passed a law “for the relief of the German people.”

That law gave Hitler dictatorial powers that were used for things going far beyond the relief of the German people — indeed, powers that ultimately brought a rain of destruction down on the German people and on others.

If the agreement with BP was an isolated event, perhaps we might hope that it would not be a precedent. But there is nothing isolated about it.

The man appointed by President Obama to dispense BP’s money as the administration sees fit, to whomever it sees fit, is only the latest in a long line of presidentially appointed “czars” controlling different parts of the economy, without even having to be confirmed by the Senate, as Cabinet members are.

Those who cannot see beyond the immediate events to the issues of arbitrary power — vs. the rule of law and the preservation of freedom — are the “useful idiots” of our time. But useful to whom?

Useful idiots, indeed… They give away their identity by calling out Governor Palin for merely linking to this well written, well thought out article by my own favorite intellectual, Thomas Sowell. To try and pass a perceived notion of what she was linking to, rather than actually discussing the points made in the piece, the left proves themselves incapable on any honest debate.

For the record, Governor Palin replied tonight to all of this on her Twitter page. She said:

Lamestream media: I never compared Obama to Hitler. Quit making things up

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