"...cut the top U.S. tax rate to 25% for individuals and corporations..."
This is a great proposal. Better would be to cap both at 25% in a constitutional amendment. Better still would be a constitutional amendment to cap spending at 18% of GDP. with a supermajority required to approve spending in excess of the limit.
States need to take some action on tax rates as well, particularly state capital gains taxes that tax false inflationary gains as ordinary income. If you want to increase revenues, you need to grow the economy. Blocking capital from flowing to its most productive use does not get you there.
On April 1, if we take no action, the U.S. will have the highest corporate income tax rate in the developed world.
"So, who thinks that Japan may be the final straw?"
FWIW, I do not. I think Japan will roar back stronger for this in spite of unthinkable tsunami fatalities. I don't quite see how they replace the electric power lost to reactors permanently shutdown but somehow they will. Freighters from Russia of liquid natural gas perhaps.
The damage we are doing with trillion dollar deficits I think is a slow invisible cancer, getting harder and harder to cure, but not an immediate fatal blow. Both the rise in interest rates and the rise in energy prices come from economic strength. As economic strength falters, those increases will slow and delay we sputter until we start thinking straight and decide to fix our negligently misguided policies. MHO.
My prediction that BHO will not be the nominee of his own party is totally wrong - so far, with about a year to go. A combination of two things would need to happen I think for Obama to throw in the towel, approvals dropping into the 30s and the emergence of a real, Republican challenger. Maybe neither will happen, we will see, but it is hard to see how approvals won't fall further with the events already set in motion. 62% want Obamcare repealed. Bumbling over Egypt, blathering over Ghadafy, dithering over Japan, not even present over a domestic energy crisis, handing deterrence to the Russians, clueless about the private economy etc. etc. VDH says it all so much better... -------------------------- http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/262335/president-hamlet-victor-hanson Victor Davis Hanson
March 17, 2011 12:00 A.M. President Hamlet Thinking out every possible side of a question can mean never acting on any of them.
More than 400 years ago, William Shakespeare wrote a riveting tragedy about a young, charismatic Danish prince who vowed to do the right thing in avenging his murdered father. That soon proved easier said than done. As a result, Hamlet couldn’t quite ever act in time — given all the ambiguities that such a sensitive prince first had to sort out. In the meantime, a lot of bodies piled up through his indecision and hesitancy.
President Obama wanted to give us all universal health care. But then he discovered that the country was broke and that most people did not like his massive federal takeover. So we got both his health care and, so far, more than 1,000 exemptions from his landmark plan for unions, corporations, and entire states.
The president wished to please his liberal supporters with more government redistributive programs and higher taxes on the wealthy. But such entitlements cost lots of money — more than $4 trillion in new borrowing in just three years – and scare to death the job-creating private sector. So the president not only borrows at record levels, but also sets up a commission to warn us that his borrowing will soon bankrupt the country. He damns the “fat-cat bankers” and the rich who “at some point” have made enough money, even as he courts them for campaign donations and begs their companies to start hiring new employees.
Obama warned us that we could not drill our way out of the ongoing gas crisis and needed instead to develop new green energy. As proof, he borrowed billions to promote wind and solar power, and stopped most new leases for fossil-fuel exploration in Alaska, the west, and offshore. But it turned out that we still need lots of oil as gas nears $4 a gallon. So the president brags that America is now pumping more oil under his green administration than ever before — but neglects to mention that this is true only because Presidents Clinton and Bush long ago approved the sort of oil leases that Obama had rejected.
President Obama wanted so much to discontinue George W. Bush’s war on terror that he banned the phrase “war on terror” altogether. He apologized to the Muslim world, promised to “reset” our foreign policy, and vowed to close Guantanamo Bay and stop the other nasty Bush antiterrorism protocols. But our “to be or not to be” Hamlet also wanted to continue to keep the country safe from another 9/11-style terrorist attack, so he kept Guantanamo open, quadrupled the number of Predator drone attacks, and either preserved or expanded all the Bush protocols that he had once derided.
Abroad, a new multilateral Obama wished to act only in concert with the United Nations and our allies. He vowed to respect the sovereignty of other countries and not “meddle” in their affairs by imposing American values. And yet the president also embraced eternal and universal human rights and wanted the United States to be on the right side of history. So he criticized our intervention to foster democracy in Iraq even as his vice president praised it. We surged in Afghanistan even as we posted deadlines to leave. We promised not to meddle to support Iranian protestors, and to meddle to support Egyptian protestors.
Hosni Mubarak was a dictator and was not a dictator, who had to leave yesterday, today, or maybe tomorrow. The situation in Libya is deemed “unacceptable,” but how exactly it could be made acceptable is never spelled out. Intervening there to support rebels is said to be good; but apparently so is supporting Saudi troops intervening in Bahrain to put down rebels and protect the status quo.
Middle East strongmen, the president tells us, are cruel and must leave. But the why and how of it all are also never stated. Are they supposed to flee only when protests reach a critical mass? In Egypt and Tunisia, but not in Saudi Arabia, Syria, or Iran?
President Obama has spent most of his life either in, or teaching, school — or making laws that he was not responsible for enforcing. His hope-and-change speeches were as moving in spirit as they were lacking in details.
But now Obama is chief executive, and learning, as did Prince Hamlet, that thinking out every possible side of a question can mean never acting on any of them — a sort of Shakespearean “prison” where “there is nothing either good or bad.” Worrying about pleasing everyone ensures pleasing no one. Once again such “conscience does make cowards of us all.”
Hamlets, past and present, are as admirable in theory as they are fickle — and often dangerous — in fact.
PC, Good points, I agree, and my gripe was with MSNBC mixing an unthinkable tsunami death toll with the extremely difficult ongoing effort to cool these shutdown reactors in a highly populated area. - Doug
Geithner: "there was no alternative except for Congress to raise the debt ceiling so that the government can keep borrowing."
The alternative for a country that knows how to take in $2.6 Trillion in revenues, would be to argue about how to spend that $2.6 Trillion - if we aren't paying back the other 14 Trillion, not argue about spending between 3.799 and 3.8 Trillion.
It used to be that markets would flinch and panic on just body language of people like a Fed chair or Treasury Secretary. Markets today seem to know about the hoax theory. The flashback shows that for people like Geithner and Joe Biden, when their lips move, meaningless words can come out. If these people have no idea what they mean by what they say, how can the markets guess.
I wrote then that countries like China, Saudi etc. do not use the US dollar as a favor to us, it is solely from the lack of a better alternative. I wonder what an IMF currency backed by Greece, Italy and a nuclear-free Germany would look like without US backing.
Journalism of the worst kind IMHO to mix up these stats. In a story about nuclear troubles, "At least 19 workers hurt, 20 exposed to radiation ... More than 5,300 officially listed as dead, but toll expected to top 10,000"
I wish to minimize nothing in any tragedy, but the first stat, 19 hurt, 20 exposed, is what we know so far about the nuclear disaster. The second stat (5300 dead, expected to top 10,000) has nothing to do with the nuclear plant damage.
We don't know the end of this developing tragedy but a news story should leave the reader more, not less, informed.
Chernobyl was a Soviet disaster built without protective enclosure and set off without an earthquake. Fukushima was shut down and damaged in perhaps the worst earthquake of Japan in 1100 years.
It is the Tsunami damage that is far, far, far worse than Chernobyl. The nuclear toll right now is completely unknown.
- Imagine if AMERICA had a great power strategy...
"Russia may be the one country that stands to gain from the various calamities in 2011. First, the general unrest in the Middle East has increased the price of oil by 18.5 percent. As the second largest oil exporter..."
- If the US strove to be the world's number one in oil (and natural gas) from now until the end of the brief fossil fuel era, a number of things would happen, energy prices would drop and stabilize, America's standard of living would actually increase, employment would improve, the global economy would improve, poverty would decline, reliance on Saudi would decrease, Russia would drop to 3rd and have to increase production to a fall in revenues and experience a decrease in 'power' over its trading partners and bullied neighbors. Who would want any of that?
"...interest rates are going to start really climbing, what investments do we avoid and what do we do to protect ourselves? What does a hunker down strategy look like?"
a) I am in R.E. Can't really get out. I am working on improving the quality of what I own and the intrinsic value for some future sale, as nominal values bounce and fall. Retail real estate for financed homeowners will go down proportionally with interest rates going up, because affordability is based on the monthly payment. Still there are some amazing buys out there now and in the next year in terms of cash buying distressed property. I see a fairly stable market at least here (maybe not where you are) right now, compared to the future(?), to sell quality homeowner property at some fair price. One theoretically could sell a home at today's retail, and buy at an amazing value on a distressed property to hunker down on if so inclined.
b) In the total real 'meltdown' scenario, a good friend tells me buy silver dimes instead of bars of gold or gold on paper. You might be able to buy a loaf of bread or an iodine sample with silver dimes. Show real gold and they might just kill you. Can't make change or conduct basic transactions with bullion.
c) Paper investments, I recommend a mutual fund like T Rowe Price Spectrum Income https://www3.troweprice.com/fb2/fbkweb/performance.do?ticker=RPSIX which is I think one of their more defensive funds. (I previously mentioned knowing someone managing large funds but cannot recommend their own or give out any information.) You are brave to still research companies and plan in and out strategies in a game run by pros. Even buy and hold of great companies is not foolproof. You can get in and out of a fund like the above any market day with no transaction fee. The costs (0.72%) are in the fund, not something you are charged at the beginning or end. They provide the professional management and the in and out strategies within the investment. The Spectrum series has other funds with other mixes. (I used to buy TRP's more aggressive growth stock funds - offensive strategies only.) Last time the market really tanked, the mgr of this fund was on the cover of Barrons for good performance. Regarding the future, I have no idea and certainly no inside information.
Gm, Wow! We leave our own resources in the ground and our best technologies on hold, buy what we prohibit ourselves to build, leave the filthiest mining to the places with the worst standards, where they don't even allow testing. Ship the apparatus across the ocean and to the installations with fossil fuels, leave the rare earth mess behind, we set it all up here and with a ribbon cutting - and brag about zero emissions. Then we pay 5 fold for the energy, force out the rest of dirty manufacturing - back to wherever standards are the worst and out of our control. Next we push for world government and global taxes to tackle what we just caused. Mandate plastic in place of steel in our cars,mercury into lighting, and Lithium into everything. We drive SUVs to schools clearcut for asphalt parking, plant a tree and then do a bunch of high fives for our contributions to earth day.
The actual China photo today is eerily similar to a fictional one from British rock 35 years ago on the exact same subject: Crisis! What Crisis?
I was pleased to see that my Sen. Al Franken agrees with me that Net Neutrality is to the internet what PelosiObamaCare is to healthcare, capped with criminal penalties.
The analysis at the bottom yesterday by Ed Morrisey of Hot Air (and Townhall Northern Alliance Radio) is about the same as mine. The customer is the cable internet subscriber, not the content provider. If the highly demanded App is NetFlix and the download time is unacceptable or blocked, people will go elsewhere. Is grocery store required to sell a fresh orange or a bottle of soy sauce? No, but they would get very tired of people asking why something isn't available and go elsewhere. Our economic system of choice works better than the centrally dictated model. The beauty is that the worse the service is at the pseudo-monopoly, the more room they leave for alternatives will emerge. --------------------------------- http://hotair.com/archives/2011/03/15/conyers-obamacare-a-platform-for-government-takeover-of-health-care/
Senator Al Franken says that the charge that Net Neutrality amounts to a government takeover of the Internet is just as silly as claiming ObamaCare to be a government takeover of health care. And just to prove how Net Neutrality doesn’t amount to a government takeover, Franken wants government to respond to violations of Net Neutrality rules with criminal prosecution:
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) plans to introduce a bill that would make net neutrality violations a crime.
The Justice Department cannot take enforcement actions against cable and phone companies who block websites, according to experts and congressional Democrats.
Franken said in a speech at the South by Southwest conference on Monday that he is planning legislation that would amend antitrust laws to “call violations of net neutrality out for what they are: anti-competitive actions by powerful media conglomerates that represent violations of our anti-trust laws.”
Huh? Internet companies act in a competitive market; they have to compete for consumers, albeit in some cases in restricted markets. Wireless carriers, however, have a robustly competitive environment, and even the wired industry usually has two or three options for consumers in most cases. If one carrier starts blocking websites, consumers will vote with their feet and go to the provider who doesn’t restrict access to them.
It’s amazing to see how Franken can argue that Net Neutrality laws don’t mean a government takeover of the Internet and then demand that people who don’t play along get prosecuted for it.
U.S. stunned by latest undercover sting By A. Barton Hinkle Published: March 15, 2011
The nation was left reeling yesterday by the revelation that the presidential election of 2008 was a hoax. The shocking announcement came when White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Barack Obama has been working in secret with conservative provocateur James O'Keefe since 2007.
The long-running hoax is the most elaborate yet in a series of recent sting operations by primarily right-of-center gadflies that have embarrassed organizations including ACORN, Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio.
Those stunts, as well as the prank call to Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin that was captured on tape last month, proved to be sources of personal or institutional embarrassment. Historians warned yesterday that the latest caper may inspire a sense of national shame.
Origins of a hoax
Carney said the scam entailed pulling together demographic, social, cultural and policy characteristics to create the most exaggerated Democratic candidate possible without stepping over the line into caricature.
"By combining empty, touchy-feely slogans like 'hope' and 'change' with far-left-wing policy planks and presenting them in the person of a racial minority from a major Midwest city with an Ivy League background, we thought we might be able to make a good showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, maybe even capture the Democratic nomination," Carney told reporters. "But the entire country? No. We never, ever for even a second imagined the American people would elect someone who had served only half a term in the U.S. Senate to be the leader of the entire free world."
Obama won the presidency with 52.9 percent of the popular vote, defeating Republican nominee John McCain, who received 45.7 percent.
"All you guys in the press were so giddy about it," Carney continued, "we couldn't really just announce that the whole thing was a big fat joke, you know? I mean, how would that look?"
Contacted by phone, O'Keefe said he, too, was surprised the hoax had lasted as long as it did.
"I thought people would catch on in the early days, like with the clinging-to-guns stuff," said O'Keefe, referring to an incident at a San Francisco fundraiser in which candidate Obama said small-town Americans "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them."
O'Keefe said he also expected the ruse would be unmasked when Obama said that "under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket," and again when Obama claimed, "I've now been in 57 (U.S.) states," with "one left to go."
"We modeled the 57-states gaffe on Dan Quayle's 'potatoe' mistake," said O'Keefe, referring to a 1992 incident at a Trenton, N.J., elementary school in which then-Vice President Dan Quayle added an "e" to "potato." "We figured Obama would become a national laughingstock like Quayle, (but we) underestimated the tendency of the press and the public to forgive mistakes by people they like."
Victims of the fabrication stretch around the globe. "President" Obama has held numerous meetings with foreign heads of state, among them Chinese President Hu Jintao, leaders of NATO and the G8, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee also was taken in, awarding Obama the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2009 — only months after he had taken office and just weeks before he announced an escalation of the war in Afghanistan.
Reaction from abroad yesterday was swift.
"I'm not surprised," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"Well, that explains everything, doesn't it?" said British Prime Minister David Cameron. "I mean, really now."
A prank gone too far
As the 2008 campaign wore on, O'Keefe said, insiders grew worried Obama might actually win. They began dropping hints that the candidate was just a parody. They had him complain about the price of arugula to Iowa farmers. When that didn't work, Obama went bowling, scored a 37, and then joked that the almost impossibly poor performance "was like the Special Olympics or something."
"A few right-wing bloggers made a big deal out of it," O'Keefe said. "Nobody else seemed to notice."
The hint-dropping campaign intensified after Obama took office. Justin Whittemore, a former White House staffer who was part of the elaborate plot, said advisers began copying policy positions straight from The New York Times and the liberal Center for American Progress in an increasingly transparent attempt to provoke suspicion.
"We've tried everything," O'Keefe said. "Nationalizing health care, the stimulus, a $4 trillion budget, insane levels of debt, even high-speed rail. No matter how ridiculous a proposal we come up with, people take it seriously."
Asked why he is pulling the plug now, O'Keefe replied that the good of the country was at stake. "Things have gotten way out of hand," he said. "People are talking about a second term now. It's just gone way too far — even for me."
Thank you for the replies. I should remove foot from mouth until this settles, but attempts to discuss this previously never got this far.
I share the distrust of experts, but only for their own limitations, not bad motives. No one is an expert at forecasting a 9.1. That is 10,000 time stronger than anything in history in my part of the country and 100 times stronger than the one that dropped the Bay Bridge in 1989. Not just energy systems and cooling pumps failing, the coastline and storm sewers failed too. This is Pompei or Atlantis scale.
Meanwhile Germany closes 7 plants. Because an earthquake is forecast? No, because an election is coming.
My point is the math of the energy grid equation: a + b + c = d (coal + nuclear + solar and wind = the total). The contribution of solar and wind is near zero, already heavily subsidized and slow to grow. Coal is undesirable and very hard to increase. The total is VERY closely tied to our standard of living and way of life. The equals sign is non-negotiable, we can't print it and run a deficit. You can't remove b without some combination of changing the other variables in equal amounts, and the contribution of nuclear is enormous.
So we say build no new ones, just use the old ones? But it is the old ones that will pose the most danger. Tomorrows plants that are likely to be the safest ever.
Hundreds of courses, No cost, no credit. Available for about 10 years now and the course list keeps growing. Departments: * Aeronautics and Astronautics * Anthropology * Architecture * Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation * Biological Engineering * Biology * Brain and Cognitive Sciences * Chemical Engineering * Chemistry * Civil and Environmental Engineering * Comparative Media Studies * Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences * Economics * Electrical Engineering and Computer Science * Engineering Systems Division * Experimental Study Group * Foreign Languages and Literatures * Health Sciences and Technology * History * Linguistics and Philosophy * Literature * Materials Science and Engineering * Mathematics * Mechanical Engineering * Media Arts and Sciences * Music and Theater Arts * Nuclear Science and Engineering * Physics * Political Science * Science, Technology, and Society * Sloan School of Management * Special Programs * Supplemental Resources * Urban Studies and Planning * Women's and Gender Studies * Writing and Humanistic Studies
Must say, this catastrophe generated a long deserved conversation here and elsewhere.
CCP, GM, I agree, it is way too early to know the end result. My first instinct was right. Bury my head from news if we can't help, and wait until we know what happened. But that's not the coverage. It is meltdowns, explosions, evacuations and low level radiation announced every hour and on every site with absolutely no explanation of what on earth that means. A dental X-ray? That is hardly a measure as it is something that has changed ten-fold over the years. 1/10th of a CT scan? 0.1 r.e.m? A banana? An MIT scientist describes it as: "drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation." http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100079763/nuclear-power-some-perspective/
The problem with waiting to comment is that in 30 years since Three Mile Island, the conclusion of the studies is lost to our total inability to hold a focus.
I passed by a nuclear plant in Monticello MN today. 28 degrees and sunny with the Richter stuck where it has been every day since the plant was licensed 40 years ago, at 0.00. The forecast tomorrow: Richter 0.00. Not exactly pretty, but the plant powers 500,000 homes with a single reactor. I agree with shutting it down - after 500,000 nuclear opponent households agree to disconnect their homes. No one else will be affected. Power for 500,000 homes is dangerous no matter how you produce and distribute it.
I stand by my preface to that article as a prediction not a foregone conclusion, that the devastation was maybe thousand-fold more from seawater and natural disaster than from nuclear, while the coverage is equal perhaps heavier on the nuclear side. The end is not known, but so far more people died in Ted Kennedy's car - one too many.
That article (Tucker, WSJ) does not have all the facts but he gave the best description of what is happening that I have seen.
After the tragedy and damage passes, what we have had from a scientific and engineering perspective is an amazing test that money could not buy. 9.1 is several hundred times more force than is projected to be the maximum possible at our San Andreas facilities.
The CNN Money link http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/13/news/economy/nuclear_power_plants/index.htm?hpt=T1 at one point answers a question that Crafty posed in 2006 to start this thread: "tests have shown that the country's nuclear plants could withstand an impact from an airliner". What was learned from the tenacity of the truthers doubting that an airliner even hit the Pentagon is that an airliner disintegrates rather quickly and easily on a solid impact.
Once again, someone, anyone, please outline a better energy mix that works today with nuclear removed. How many 'trainloads' of coal to Japan? from where? China? will it take to replace nuclear's projected 50% contribution to electric power?
This might as well go under corruption since that is what is implied when we chart lobbying dollars against subsidies won.
a) Oil drilling is banned nearly everywhere in and around this country while we drive, fly and transport products everyday. It isn't necessarily a special favor sought to petition the government for the right to ask nicely for their industry to be legalized or to argue against banning it. If congress has the power to close your business, it seems you might have some right to ask them not to. The less cynical view is that these policies we make are based on the political views of the elected officials and the electorate more than from comparing piles of lobby dollars, but who knows.. My bias is toward legalizing production until we are ready to prohibit consumption.
b) Much of what were described as subsidies to the oil industry were in fact rules that allowed monies disbursed (sometimes called business expenses) to be counted against monies taken in to calculate taxable income. There are technical accounting issues at stake here that could easily be settled with a simpler tax code for all companies. Every company and industry fights to sort out what needs to be expensed over its useful life and what is expensed as it is incurred and paid. Considering congress' and the administration's willingness to shut down any and all energy production at any time and with every news story, I would think any assumption that an investment has a productive life beyond the current fiscal year is fatally flawed. My leaning is toward equal protection under the law, a bizarre concept that, if tried, would drastically reduce special interest lobbying of all types.
c) The slanted journalistic conclusion that oil companies pay low taxes always seems to ignore that we excise the f*ck out of their product at the pump. This is money the consumer is willing to pay that the producer does not receive, in what way is that not a tax on the oil and gas industry? The idea that it goes directly and exclusively to roads used begins to remind me of the social security lockbox. In years where where anti-energy interest groups allege an oil company has paid absolutely no tax, they always ignore the plethora of other taxes, excise taxes, property taxes, state taxes, employment taxes etc.etc. Just the need to lobby is a tax on the system IMO.
Previously, "...nuclear needs to take into account the external diseconomies both actual and possible attendant to the technology. Ask Japan, Russia, and Pennsylvania."
I am curious how Chernobyl Ukraine (a Soviet disaster built with no containment structure), Three Mile Island (no deaths or known health effect?) and Japan (where the tsunami devastation is perhaps headed to the tens of thousands and the nuclear radiation released during cooldown is roughly dental x-ray levels quickly dispersed?) all get cast together. Always open to evidence to the contrary. ------------------------------------------------
Even while thousands of people are reported dead or missing, whole neighborhoods lie in ruins, and gas and oil fires rage out of control, press coverage of the Japanese earthquake has quickly settled on the troubles at two nuclear reactors as the center of the catastrophe.
Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.), a longtime opponent of nuclear power, has warned of "another Chernobyl" and predicted "the same thing could happen here." In response, he has called for an immediate suspension of licensing procedures for the Westinghouse AP1000, a "Generation III" reactor that has been laboring through design review at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for seven years.
Before we respond with such panic, though, it would be useful to review exactly what is happening in Japan and what we have to fear from it.
The core of a nuclear reactor operates at about 550 degrees Fahrenheit, well below the temperature of a coal furnace and only slightly hotter than a kitchen oven. If anything unusual occurs, the control rods immediately drop, shutting off the nuclear reaction. You can't have a "runaway reactor," nor can a reactor explode like a nuclear bomb. A commercial reactor is to a bomb what Vaseline is to napalm. Although both are made from petroleum jelly, only one of them has potentially explosive material.
Once the reactor has shut down, there remains "decay heat" from traces of other radioactive isotopes. This can take more than a week to cool down, and the rods must be continually bathed in cooling waters to keep them from overheating.
On all Generation II reactors—the ones currently in operation—the cooling water is circulated by electric pumps. The new Generation III reactors such as the AP1000 have a simplified "passive" cooling system where the water circulates by natural convection with no pumping required.
If the pumps are knocked out in a Generation II reactor—as they were at Fukushima Daiichi by the tsunami—the water in the cooling system can overheat and evaporate. The resulting steam increases internal pressure that must be vented. There was a small release of radioactive steam at Three Mile Island in 1979, and there have also been a few releases at Fukushima Daiichi. These produce radiation at about the level of one dental X-ray in the immediate vicinity and quickly dissipate.
If the coolant continues to evaporate, the water level can fall below the level of the fuel rods, exposing them. This will cause a meltdown, meaning the fuel rods melt to the bottom of the steel pressure vessel.
Early speculation was that in a case like this the fuel might continue melting right through the steel and perhaps even through the concrete containment structure—the so-called China syndrome, where the fuel would melt all the way to China. But Three Mile Island proved this doesn't happen. The melted fuel rods simply aren't hot enough to melt steel or concrete.
The decay heat must still be absorbed, however, and as a last-ditch effort the emergency core cooling system can be activated to flood the entire containment structure with water. This will do considerable damage to the reactor but will prevent any further steam releases. The Japanese have now reportedly done this using seawater in at least two of the troubled reactors. These reactors will never be restarted.
None of this amounts to "another Chernobyl." The Chernobyl reactor had two crucial design flaws. First, it used graphite (carbon) instead of water to "moderate" the neutrons, which makes possible the nuclear reaction. The graphite caught fire in April 1986 and burned for four days. Water does not catch fire.
Second, Chernobyl had no containment structure. When the graphite caught fire, it spouted a plume of radioactive smoke that spread across the globe. A containment structure would have both smothered the fire and contained the radioactivity.
If a meltdown does occur in Japan, it will be a disaster for the Tokyo Electric Power Company but not for the general public. Whatever steam releases occur will have a negligible impact. Researchers have spent 30 years trying to find health effects from the steam releases at Three Mile Island and have come up with nothing. With all the death, devastation and disease now threatening tens of thousands in Japan, it is trivializing and almost obscene to spend so much time worrying about damage to a nuclear reactor.
What the Japanese earthquake has proved is that even the oldest containment structures can withstand the impact of one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history. The problem has been with the electrical pumps required to operate the cooling system. It would be tragic if the result of the Japanese accident were to prevent development of Generation III reactors, which eliminate this design flaw.
The Supreme Court and the health-care mandate muddle
By George F. Will Sunday, March 13, 2011
When the Supreme Court considers whether Congress has the constitutional power to compel individuals to buy health insurance, the argument supporting Congress may rest on a non sequitur and a semantic fiat. A judge's recent ruling argues that the insurance mandate must be constitutional because Obamacare would collapse without it. A forthcoming law review article agrees with this and with the judge's idea that, regarding commerce, being inactive is an activity.
Obamacare does indeed require the mandate: Because the law requires insurance companies to sell coverage to people regardless of their preexisting conditions, many people might delay buying insurance until they become sick. But is the fact that the mandate is crucial to the law's functioning dispositive?
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler's ruling (http://sblog.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/J.-Kessler-on-ACA-2-22-11.pdf) that the mandate is constitutional conflates moral, policy and constitutional considerations. She says that people who choose "not to purchase health insurance will benefit greatly when they become ill, as they surely will, from the free health care which must be provided by emergency rooms and hospitals to the sick and dying who show up on their doorstep." So "those who choose not to purchase health insurance will ultimately get a 'free ride' on the backs of those Americans who have made responsible choices to provide for the illness we all must face."
Her disapproval is neither a legal argument nor pertinent to one. The question remains: Does Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce entitle it to create a health-care regime that requires the mandate? ad_icon
Mark Hall of Wake Forest University, in an article for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review (http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1747189), says there would be constitutional "uncertainty over the mandate in isolation." But it is "inextricably intertwined" with Obamacare's "other insurance regulations" - e.g., those pertaining to preexisting conditions - "which indisputably are constitutional." So the "strongest defense" of Congress's power to enact the mandate is "the acknowledged undesirability, if not impossibility" of the regulations regarding preexisting conditions, absent the mandate.
Hall says that the mandate "meets a high threshold of necessity to accomplish the overall reform scheme, clearly within congressional power, to create a market structure in which no one is ever again medically uninsurable." But unless we postulate that Congress has whatever power is required to create such a market structure, this question remains: Does the fact that Congress has the constitutional power to do X - say, guarantee universal access to insurance - make Y constitutional merely because Y is necessary for doing X?
Congress has the constitutional power to combat political corruption, the "appearance" thereof and the "circumvention" of laws for this purpose. But suppose Congress, exercising this power by regulating campaign finances, decides that abridging freedom of speech is necessary for its anti-corruption measures. This necessity, defined by this preference, does not make such abridgement constitutional. The Supreme Court said as much concerning McCain-Feingold.
The mandate's defenders note that the Constitution says Congress has the power to "make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution" its enumerated powers, one of which is to regulate interstate commerce. "Necessary and proper." An unconstitutional law is improper.
Does the mandate acquire derivative constitutionality merely by Congress making the mandate necessary for something Congress wants to do in the exercise of the enumerated power of regulating interstate commerce? If so, what would not acquire such constitutionality?
Madison's constitutional architecture for limited government will be vitiated unless the court places some limits on what constitutes commerce eligible for regulation. So the question becomes: Is the inactivity of not buying insurance a commercial activity Congress can proscribe because it has economic consequences?
Hall says it is unclear what constitutes "pure inaction." But virtually nothing qualifies as "pure" inactivity if, as he says, "the passivity of non-purchasing decisions does not rob them of their inherently economic nature." Judge Kessler disdains the distinction between activity and inactivity as "of little significance." Her Orwellian theory is that government can regulate the activity - the mental activity - of choosing not to participate in a commercial activity.
Hall perfunctorily says that "some limit" on Congress's commerce power "is necessary" but then says "democratic electoral constraint" - trusting "the political process itself to set limits" - will suffice to restrain government.
The question about the mandate is, however, whether a political institution has traduced constitutional limits placed on it. Because the Framers prudently doubted the sufficiency of "democratic electoral constraint" - because they were wary about "the political process" policing itself - the Constitution was written.
Bigdog, I sincerely hope my ramblings about my own views don't sound like I am attributing to you something you did not write. I never mean to do that. ------------------- GM's point of density is the first criteria for mass transit but there are others. such as whether travel patterns have linear qualities. That is not at all the case in our fully scattered metro.
GM/Denver study: Denver is 50% denser than our metro and far more linear (mountains run along one side of it) and the passenger cost is $1/mile mostly subsidized. That is obscene. One study of our LRT (MSP) suggested we could provide a new, leased Lexus to each person taking the train that didn't otherwise have a private vehicle option and save money over building low speed trains.
Accommodating more travel, not less, in cleaner smaller more efficient private vehicles (with room for your stuff) by free choice looks like the way forward to me. CNG hybrids perhaps if NG is still legal. If a significant part of transportation is going to plug in, then the grid needs to expand capacity accordingly (coal, nuclear, wind) to support that. Plug ins don't work in cold climates (or extremely hot ones). If it isn't a national strategy then it shouldn't be a federal subsidy. ------------------- I recently watched a convoy of trucks, at least 8 of them, delivering one giant wind turbine across central Nebraska. I would argue that the buildout, until fully in place, of going from 0% to 2% to 20% of electricity from wind sources will be a net increase, not a decrease, in demand and use of oil for transportation and electricity (coal, nuclear) for manufacturing. ------------------ Heritage is on the right track. We need progress now on quite a number of fronts. Our economy shouldn't be jostled every time a Mullah or a Muammar has a screw come loose. ------------------ Crafty, IMO hard to accept the need for nuclear without working through the need for abundant energy and the limitations of the alternatives. Only coal offers similar KW capability today for example. Remove nuclear and we get more coal, more mining issues, more CO2 emission, more train loads blocking traffic etc., or get economic meltdown IMO. The likelihood of anything like a 9.1 earthquake where I live or across most of this country (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/states/us_damage_eq.php) simply isn't measurable. The map may explain why Calif power companies own part of an AZ nuclear plant. Japan is like Calif only worse I suppose. http://www.mapsofworld.com/japan/earthquakes-history.html Still I doubt Japan can or will move entirely away from nuclear after this horrific disaster begins to pass.
I am all ears to hear a better energy mix that works today with nuclear removed.
re. BD, I am very pleased to have your view in the mix.
Public transportation, I can say that it doesn't work at all where I am or for what I do. If it is largely an urban/regional construct then it should be regionally financed - urban and regionally, not something people across the less populated heartland with their own financial challenges should be paying for. Those systems don't pay for themselves and most wouldn't be built without the 'free' federal money.
Wind energy: I am with BD on that to a point, with major limitations. (I am a big user of wind powered vehicles but not much work gets done when I am sailing.) Wind is about a 2% source of electricity now with heavy subsidies, probably a theoretical 20% source based on the most optimistic political views, one Stanford study said 33% theoretical, but with unrealistic assumptions. (That is electricity only, not all energy needs.) Wind generation reduces by those percentages the total power required from nuclear and coal, but it doesn't reduce the peak production capability required from coal and nuclear;the sweltering hot peak usage days tend not to be windy and trying to store the energy adds unacceptably to the cost. In other words, we still need to build all of it, clean coal, safe nuclear and whatever is coming next or get used to outages. The other main limitation: as the wind proportion of energy increases at 5 times the cost, say goodbye to the rest of manufacturing in this country. We can't compete now on basic labor costs and we won't be competitive on energy costs if we use our affluence to choose more expensive solutions. If we add to that burden an agreement to pay for third world upgrades and mandates, our overhead cost goes up even more.
Consumption: Again I am with you on that as far as it is voluntary rather than coerced. Artificially raising costs and refusing to produce available energy I put in the category of coercion. I posted elsewhere big steps I have taken on usage. A 40 mpg old Honda (oops, just died for now), no home AC for over 15 years, added 2 feet of attic insulation (unsubsidized), put a used 95% furnace in myself 1/3 the size of the old one, partitioned off rooms not in use from heat, and put spiral bulbs in dozens of houses at my expense, etc.
Still it is illegal for me to not drive to work (laws against absentee landlording) and my daughter's activities are something else - and that is with just one kid. Cutting out the optional trips is not always a great thing. I was a no-show last night to meet up with wonderful lifelong friends from 4 corners of a widely spread metro. Saved a drive, but nothing was gained by being a bum on that. Nor from having my daughter visit 4 wonderful grandparents less often - things like that make up our drives - roughly an hour round trip each time no matter who drives it. You won't do that on a bus or a train or a bicycle. The home school question is intriguing and I will guess your kids are younger, but the mass transit school bus doesn't even work for us anymore with all the activities before and after school.
At the start of kid sports we chose the local solution, 'recreational' soccer over 'traveling' soccer and biked the bike trail by our house to a huge park with plenty of kids and games for years. It was a great childhood and neighborhood experience, but not a path to the highest levels in that sport. Now she competes near the highest levels of 2 other sports and the transportation requirements are amazing and non-stop. Same goes for orchestra. We have instruments and music books in our home, but there is no proficiency without teaching and participation which means endless transportation. Free instruction from my sister, a professional viola player, is great but also a serious transportation event no matter where we do it. Can we do without that? Yes. Are we better off if we did? No. I posted in 'music' a classical piece by Holtz recently, left out this personal story: I was introduced to that when my daughter was part of 800 of the best youth musicians from across the state filling Orchestra Hall downtown with those amazing sounds, the stage full plus violins lining the aisles and brass from the balconies. I found out it was my Dad' favorite piece and has touched 4 generations in our family. Imagine the years of drives to lessons and rehearsals for 800 kids to make that amazing performance possible. Could we do without all that? Yes. Are we better off if we do? No. My point is that a free people fully developing and expressing their God given capabilities involves major individual mobility. Living on the edge of a metro on a lake in the land of lakes and not in an apartment is an amazing thing. For one thing, no AC required. No one uptown or downtown on the light rail steps out their door and sail 5 miles on the first tack. (They drive to the lake and use gas powered boats.) Participating and connecting with people from all over in sports, music, politics, is an amazing thing. Staying home is great (assuming it is heated with natural gas ) but freedom, affluence, and moving forward on quality of life also require serious levels of energy powered individual mobility IMHO. We aren't out here commuting the same line from the same neighborhoods at the same times to the same job locations, as the mass transit model would suggest.
Hearts and prayers out to the victims and families struggling in Japan. My own way of coping is to hide from disaster news coverage as it breaks. My nuclear post elsewhere is in the context of not knowing which way that conflicting story will break. I couldn't help though at peaking at this raw news footage in Japan of a helicopter rescue airlift and just the immense water force aftermath of the tsunami. I am deathly afraid of earthquakes, but this is something else horrific that follows...
Conjecture here but thank God for one thing that this is a first world country in an earthquake zone I am guessing built to handle something devastating like this better than a lot of other places might be.
Crafty, I am also very impressed with her insights and writings. In the category of either that great minds think (nearly) alike or look what famous people read the forum, I see (link below) that she describes her undergraduate degree as from "Beir Zeit [Palestinian University] on the Hudson" a.k.a. Columbia University.
I will guess that as part of Netanyahu head faking left, he is welcoming of the criticism from the right in Israel as part of that strategy. He cannot save his country by losing power. Strange of the US to sponsor a new nation born in a state of war with our best ally, and for the American Jewish vote to still mostly join politically with leftists, (I see GM already hit that note) but the Obama phenomenon is what it is - a wrong turn and a continuous contradiction. People here on the forum understood that from the beginning. It doesn't look like C.G. will be on Obama's international donor list. http://www.carolineglick.com/e/about.php
As this disaster settles it will be good to re-visit all questions regarding nuclear power. I recall Crafty presciently questioning nuclear with the example that a California plant is built on a fault line.
The Chernoble Ukraine disaster had to do with a Soviet lack of safety, not nuclear safeguards as we know them. I can't understand California's decision either to build on a fault line or to quit building, but buying electricity from Arizona maybe works for them. (It's still nuclear energy.)
When the rubble and grief settles, we still need power, probably all the sources and then some, but maybe a little smarter with the experience gained. Coal has its own problems and tragedies. Deepwater had a disaster. Natural gas has this big new question opened by the NY Times (no replies to my post on that).
The choice of not heating northern homes, or cooling desert or tropical homes or regressing our standard of living in other ways is no solution - inflating out tires in place of opening ANWR? Nuclear has a waste issue and radiation leak risk, but has huge output and is carbon-free. Failing to drill and refine screws up the oil and gasoline markets for everyone and enriches terror and enemy nations, no matter who we buy it from. Even new electric vehicles require the grid up and running to operate. Solar and wind contribute only a small amount and involve shipping products all over the planet - using oil. Ethanol turned into a bad joke, consuming farm land and diesel fuel while driving up food prices. Life is dangerous, complicated and full of risks. Looking forward to serious discussions here.
I will look further into that. For now, I am only conjuring up positive images of freedom and individualism from the wild west with maybe one sheriff and one deputy right there in the town, and negative images of the way things work now in Washington with lobbyists and staffers writing legislation for subcommittee hearings where 6th term incumbents can grandstand their pandering, backed by full federal enforcement across all the nation regardless of how bad the laws are. The goal used to be fiber to the home, now it is TSA to the home. I personally prefer the glory years of Silicon Valley running wild, when venture capitalists were winning and losing, but kicking ass technology-wise on all the state run economies in the world.
It is common for bureaucrats and regulators to lag behind innovation, and Republicans hardly need to lead the charge into taking down successful private businesses. As you point out, the Dems in congress and the Marxist panderers in the administration are already all over it. Very hard to get in front of them though I suspect McCain and Lindsay Graham may try to elbow in.
I don't follow the argument that Netflix with access to movies should ride free and protected on someone else's investment. If you force that in, you certainly lose unlimited low cost data plans for the rest of us. The alternative is allow the carriers to innovate data packet handling to accommodate all the increasing data intensive applications that their consumers are demanding. The government forced in how I already lost my low cost health plan to new rules coming to protect me, just like free checking disappears with stricter rules on bank service charges. When and where is it that regulators ever got it right?
What I have seen so far with carriers and content providers is that the companies with the best product and price points are winning market share. That scares a certain number of people who don't know freedom based capitalism.
What is the content that others are noticeably denied? My FREE browser and $15 unlimited data plan goes to any website in the world, as far as I know, a little slower than cable. My email has been free from the beginning and is better than ever. My searches are free and unlimited. Meanwhile, my home phone had a 60% tax on it the day I dropped it. 1000% oversight brought horrible service. My government water bill has more taxes than water in it. Alternatives are prohibited even though I am surrounded by water, from above, below and with a lake in 360 degrees.
The premise of the article is that consumers have no choice, there is only one toll bridge - no other way over the river. Implied is that no amount of innovation, investment or market competition will ever change that... without ... trumpet fanfare... new rules, new regulators and new agencies. I'm sorry but that is patently false IMHO.
All these people who hate their cable company should try canceling it - while its still legal to do that. Otherwise look at the wealth of entertainment and information that flows through it and appreciate it.
I can easily shop verizon, comcast, anything else and switch carriers right through a sprint connection. No one is blocking anything. If they make the content that I want hard to get, I can switch. The false monopoly argument assumes that internet has to come through the only set of wires to your home, ignoring that you maybe have 3 sets of wires to your house and everything is rapidly moving to wireless. My daughter's internet is through the neighbor's wifi. Hog their bandwidth and out she goes. With government internet, that arrangement would be highly illegal instead of neighborly and charitable. Where you have only one carrier is likely where some government program forced it in, rather than letting free people choose where they want to live based (partly) on services available.
To me, it is conceptual. There is nothing wrong that I think government would run better. IMO it is the exact same situation as health care. You can always point to something wrong, but most of that is already illegal. None of that logically leads to the other extreme, put big government in charge of making the most difficult healthcare decisions or controlling every aspect internal network data packet prioritization, billing and everything else. It just doesn't make things better.
The static assumption, just like health care, is that private innovation is done, now regulate the apparatus (that was built by private companies with private investments) to make sure everything is distributed evenly, fairly and miserably. It is self- fulfilling. When the regulatory industry takes over, they will be right - the innovation is done. They only know how to completely discard the principles of free enterprise and risk-based capitalism that made all this possible in the first place.
Thank you CCP, I read it and I disagree. For example, "most Americans have only one choice of high-speed broadband provider". I don't believe that. I have only used my cell carrier for internet since the day that became availaible. It works almost everywhere and they have competitors. They paid for their buildout of towers and the network. They run their network and I have the right to switch carriers. If they collude, that is anti-trust, already illegal. I have never given a dime to the monopoly cable carrier, but they also compete with the 'monopoly' phone company DSL and other options, and we are out in the very outskirts of a metro. In the City of Minneapolis, they have City of Minneapolis WiFi. For some reason, inside the city you don't see other wifi networks. Government internet makes me think of Tunisian shutdowns and China censorship, not the rampant innovations that used to come out of silicon valley.
For me, oversight? - yes. Government in charge (other than fighting off things like unfair business practices) - no.
CCP wrote: "first republican party meeting was in Wisconsin"
Very surprising that would be the center of action then, much less now. Besides the State Capital crisis, today the new national R party leader is out of Wisconsin, it is home of the biggest senate seat shift, a fiscally sound businessman Ron Johnson in for Russ Feingold. And one of the only conservative influential members of Washington media is from Green Bay, Wisc, WSJ Editorial Page Editor: Paul Gigot. If not for Packer fans (like Steeler fans clinging to God, guns, gays...), a beautiful part of the country.
Google deserves scrutiny for its business practices as it becomes nearly a monopoly and the article makes good points about the possibility of unfair practices. They need to walk a straight line on that. That is a separate issue from the idea that the government should control the internet - 'net nuetrality'.
Google's competitors have google-envy. Bing / Microsoft was caught up recently stealing google search results if not their algorithms.
I'm no fan of google's politics but the fact is Google built a better mousetrap right when we needed it, doing what previously wasn't possible. Their email is impressive too, and many other products, mostly free to use. They succeeded, so now we are supposed to take that away. We went through this with Microsoft just 10 years ago. The Clinton DOJ charged them and a judge declared they had a monopoly. He based the product category to include price - in other words it was determined that no one else sold all those capabilities for so low a price, thus the consumer is harmed - by the low cost provider. Wrong, the consumer was harmed by the slow, inept overpriced competitors not holding the leader to real competition. Likewise, Google searches and email and many other innovations are free to use, and that harms us.(?) Others need to make their innovations. Sometimes that takes a decade for someone else to drive a new innovation through the market to fill a void we don't even know. These innovations sprang from the idea that, if successful, they would be able to eek out a revenue stream from the traffic they generate for a pretty long time, and maybe even take a profit from their entrepreneurial risk and investment.
If Google (or Comcast etc.) is blocking someone else's ability to open their own site and offer their own searches and products on the internet with their own technology, code, algorithms, then that is another matter. Anyone can buy placement on google searches, they are called sponsored links. There has never been a better time for anyone to open n 'e-commerce site' or a better opportunity for a 'video programmer to distribute their programming over the Internet'. The Senator is pandering. Like Microsoft did before them, Google has made every other business on the planet more efficient and productive. Someone ask the Senator how that content would be distributednow without the pioneering work of these other companies building out the network that they ride on.
"Keep in mind that they are many forms of jihad, not just the bombers/shooters/headcutters. There are those who wage the jihad of the pen and tongue, those that raise money and support the jihad in other ways."
You are correct. Also the public in areas where they stone a rape victim. How does that happen? Still, whatever the numbers are, 1.5 billion Muslims. then that is a fact. Roughly 1.5 billion of those are not actively trying to attack us. Question is - what now? How do we sort it out, how do we root it out and how do we keep people favoring peaceful Islam, like Kundoz, in the discussion?
CCP: "Controversial" hearings. Thanks for that. One powerful feature of 'right wing radio' is the MSM montage. It is amazing how so many shows/ newscasts at so many 'different' outlets use the exact same words within minutes to tell one side of a story, with repetition ad nauseum.
I sympathize with the post in the Afghan topic (Kunduz) pointing out there are many, many, many peaceful Muslims. I see them about town here harming no one. Meanwhile, behind what is visible, I see that the FBI had 24 al Qaeda related arrests in Minneapolis last year. How can anyone especially the peaceful Muslims object to at least the concept of trying to find out where terrorism recruiting and the planning of violence on innocents is taking place - and to get it stopped.
I share the curiosity about Herman Cain as he keeps moving up my list.
Many people have great business experience. Not many of those are willing to also get involved in politics and take a stand on the issues of the day and the great principles of our country. There is a very limited list of conservative republicans available for leadership, probably none, that have a conventional road paved for them to the nomination or the Presidency, with past electoral success, serious executive level public sector experience, foreign policy experience, etc. at all much less not tainted by failures and mis-steps of the past. Private sector experience sets up a pretty good contrast to the current administration, especially if one sees the current group's public sector experience as unsuccessful.
"It's funny how the GOP likes to suggest black candidates with no experience as a viable replacement for President Obama. One black man in exchange for another, which is the height of racism."
First of all, the man is 65 years old with a WEALTH of real world experience, he grew up poor, has one wife (my snip at Newt), a Masters degree, A mathematician in the U.S. Navy, a successful career at Coca-cola, VP of Pillsbury, led a successful turnaround within Pillsbury's Burger King group, a successful turnaround and buyout of Godfather's Pizza, Chairman of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, then a career in issues commentary rising to be recognized as a leading conservative voice seriously considered for the Presidency. Mark me down as envious; the incumbent would be too if he understood our economic system.
Like hearing that brutally cold winters are caused by global warming, someone please help me here. The GOP is racist for excitement at the possibility of finding a black man (or Alaskan woman, Mormon or white midwest Governor) worthy of the Presidency to defeat this incumbent? Good grief. If so-called white tea party types wish for an authentic black conservative to defeat a duplicitous, wishy-washy, 'transformational progressive' Marxist, Leftist, Statist, doesn't that mean that the goal is to change the direction and quality, not the color, of the leadership?? What am I missing?
Telling that the author/accuser has a focus all about race while her target called racist, tea party type conservatism, has none.
Simple video from the Cato Institute that brings 60 billion down to the context of the deficit and the total spending. We are talking about cutting 1.6% off of spending that we just grew 100% in ten years. -------- Federal Spending has grown 8 times faster than median income. http://www.heritage.org/BudgetChartbook/growth-federal-spending
Yesterday it was NPR VP Ron Schiller out, the guy in the video. Last night I heard James O'Keefe (the film director) on Hugh Hewitt radio say there is more material coming. Today it is NPR CEO Vivian Schiller out (no relation). http://www.npr.org/2011/03/09/134389342/vivian-schiller-ceo-of-npr-steps-down?ps=cprs Isn't government bias media a little creepy in free economy? Which article authorizes that power of congress? I love the part where he says we would be better off without federal funding. Take him at his word.
From the NPR link: "...Vivian Schiller's resignation. I'm told by sources that she was forced out — that this was, I guess, the final shoe dropping, you could say." - No, there is more material coming that they know and we don't. The final shoe is total government divestiture.
In the information disclosed about the group to NPR, they are working to spread Sharia Law across the globe. What could go wrong with that, can we count on your donation??
MERS is Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (?) "simplifies the way mortgage ownership and servicing rights are originated, sold and tracked. Created by the real estate finance industry, MERS eliminates the need to prepare and record assignments when trading residential and commercial mortgage loans." http://www.mersinc.org/
I am blown away by the (correct) answer to the 1099 question regarding debt cancellation. (There are exceptions always with the IRS and in the Debt Relief Act.) My (wrong) answer would have been no, you are also canceling the ownership of that asset and not writing off that offsetting loss. If I needed more deductions I think I would try to declare my losses in values as theft by swindle from the governing bodies of our economy - also not allowed. http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=174034,00.html http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=179414,00.html How does the IRS expect to collect from people not able to make a house payment?
(Long answer to a long post. Read the state summarizes at the end if the rest gets too long.)
If true, the NY Times piece posted by Crafty 2/27/2011 is very significant because natural gas is the cleaner with substitute, has U.S. and North American origins, and solves a big part of the energy challenge. If false the allegations are significant as well because it will still become talking points for anti-energy types, stall exploration and extraction back into a climate change style cultural conflict.
Plenty of sources are responding to the story, I'm sure each will be attacked for motives. -------- WSJ has a nice story on natural gas expansion yesterday: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703752404576178740650203046.html?KEYWORDS=ohio%20and%20gas -------- API site: http://www.api.org/policy/exploration/hydraulicfracturing/ Hydraulic fracturing is a technology used in the United States to help produce more than 7 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The technology has been used since the 1940s in more than 1 million wells in the United States. Its continued use is critically important to producing at home more of the oil and natural gas the nation will be consuming in the decades ahead. Even though America has abundant natural gas resources, most cannot be produced without this technology. Studies estimate that up to 80 percent of natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will require hydraulic fracturing.
Groundwater Protection through Proper Well Construction
Hydraulic fracturing makes it possible to produce oil and natural gas in places where conventional technologies are ineffective. It uses water pressure, under tight controls, to create fractures in rock that allow the oil and natural gas it contains to escape and flow out of a well. Hydraulic fracturing is well-regulated and safe, and it has a proven track record.
In 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded, “the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into coal-bed methane wells pose little or no threat to (underground drinking water).” The agency, in a review of incidents of drinking water well contamination, found “no confirmed cases linked to fracturing fluid injection of CBM (coalbed methane) wells or subsequent underground movement of fracturing fluid.” See EPA's Evaluation of Impacts to Underground Sources of Drinking Water by Hydraulic Fracturing. http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/pdfs/cbmstudy_attach_uic_exec_summ.pdf On average, 99.5% of the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing are a combination of freshwater and compounds, which are injected into deep shale gas formations and then confined by thousands of feet of rock. --------- http://marcelluscoalition.org/2011/02/drilling-down-into-ny-times-story-on-wastewater/
Drilling Down into NY Times Story on Wastewater February 28, 2011
Five areas report fails to provide proper context, information on Pa.’s regulatory oversight
Yesterday’s New York Times included a story highly critical of the regulatory framework governing waste water treatment and disposal from natural gas exploration in Pennsylvania. While raising some valid questions about water monitoring, this article – seven months in the making – lacks context, offers misleading comparisons and in some cases put forth information that is not supported by the facts.
NY Times Myth: “[Pennsylvania] is the only state that has allowed drillers to discharge much of their waste through sewage treatment plants into rivers.”
* Pennsylvania leads the nation in waste water recycling; vast majority of produced water reused in drilling operations: “State environmental regulators say that nearly 70 percent of the wastewater produced by Marcellus Shale wells is being reused or recycled. The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, puts the number higher, saying that on average 90 percent of the water that returns to the surface is recycled.” (Scranton Times-Tribune, 2/27/11)
* Industry moving towards 100 percent recycling, zero discharge: “It makes sense to reuse this water,” said Ron Schlicher, an engineer consulting for the treatment company. “The goal here is to strive for 100-percent reuse, so we don’t have to discharge.” (Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, 10/28/10)
* Marcellus operators recycling majority of waste water: “…all of the state’s biggest drillers say they are now recycling a majority of the wastewater produced by their wells in new fracturing jobs, rather than sending it to treatment plants. Hanger said about 70 percent of the wastewater is now being recycled …” (Associated Press, 1/4/11)
* Recycling of waste water to be norm for Marcellus Shale gas wells (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 10/20/09)
NY Times Myth: “Gas producers are generally left to police themselves when it comes to spills. In Pennsylvania, regulators do not perform unannounced inspections to check for signs of spills. Gas producers report their own spills, write their own spill response plans and lead their own cleanup efforts.”
* Flashback — DEP Inspector visits drilling site, unannounced, finds leaky valve on storage tank: “A DEP inspector discovered the spill while inspecting the well pad. The inspector found that the bottom valve on a 21,000-gallon fracking fluid tank was open and discharging fluid off the well pad. No one else was present at the pad, which has one producing Marcellus well.” (DEP press release, 11/22/10)
* In 2010 alone, DEP oversight staff performed nearly 5,000 inspections at Marcellus Shale drilling locations, a more than 100 percent increase over the previous year. (DEP Year End Workload Report, accessed 2/27/11)
* Pennsylvania recognized for having “well managed” hydraulic fracturing regulatory program: “A targeted review of the Pennsylvania program regulating the hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells has been completed by a multi-stakeholder group, which has concluded that the program is, over all, well-managed, professional and meeting its program objectives.” (STRONGER press release, 9/24/10)
* Pennsylvania hired more than 110 new inspectors, oversight personnel in last two years: “DEP was hit with layoffs after the overdue state budget was enacted in October, but the agency’s oil and gas division is considered exempt from layoffs or hiring freezes, added Mr. Hanger. All told, 193 agency employees work full time on oil and gas regulatory issues.” (Scranton Times-Tribune,1/29/11)
* Former PA Sec. of Environmental Protection details strong regulatory oversight and enforcement: “[The DEP] hired in 2009 and twice in 2010. We opened a new drilling staff office in Williamsport in 2009 and another in Scranton during 2010. Pennsylvania is the only state that has hired substantial or any staff for its drilling operation. The NYT does not say that, because it does not fit its narrative of lax Pennsylvania regulation. Indeed, the reporter deliberately did not include a long list of actions by DEP that represented strong enforcement.” (John Hanger blog, 2/27/11)
NY Times Myth: “But the relatively new drilling method — known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking — carries significant environmental risks. It involves injecting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas.
* Does The Times Read The Times? According to an NY Times fact-check, from last week: “The method of drilling is not called ‘hydraulic fracturing.’ Fracturing, or ‘fracking’ is a process that is one part of drilling a well and producing oil or gas. Fracturing has been used by drillers for around 60 years.” (New York Times, 2/24/11)
NY Times fails to provide proper context: “Drilling companies were issued roughly 3,300 Marcellus gas-well permits in Pennsylvania last year, up from just 117 in 2007.”
* Like most information, without context, readers can and will be lead to think something that is not entirely accurate. While the reporter is correct in stating 3,300 Marcellus permits were issued, he fails to state that less than half that number of wells were actually drilled. According to state data, between January 1 and December 31, 2010, 1,446 Marcellus wells were drilled. (DEP Year End Workload Report, accessed 2/27/11)
NY Times fails to provide proper context, again: “The risks are particularly severe in Pennsylvania, which has seen a sharp increase in drilling, with roughly 71,000 active gas wells, up from about 36,000 in 2000.”
* Of those 71,000 active natural gas wells in Pennsylvania wells, only 2,498 are horizontal Marcellus wells – or 3.5 percent of all wells in Pennsylvania. (DEP Year End Workload Report, accessed 2/27/11)
Bonus Fact Check
NY Times quotes former Pa. DEP secretary…
… But the reporter never actually interviewed top environmental regulator for story about environmental regulations in Pennsylvania: “[T]hough I am quoted in the piece, this reporter never interviewed me prior to the publication of the Sunday article… As Secretary, I was interviewed hundreds and probably thousands of times. I made myself totally accessible to reporters. My staff knew that I was available to reporters. This reporter today says he asked Governor Corbett’s administration at DEP on January 21st, three days after Governor Rendell and I left office, to confirm the quotation that the reporter strung together (sic) from some other source.” (John Hanger blog, 2/27/11) ---------- Hydraulic Fracturing –15 Statements from Regulatory Officials http://www.hydraulicfracturing.com/Documents/Hydraulic_Fracturing_SGEIS_comments.pdf
"In recent months, the states have become aware of press reports and websites alleging that six states have documented over one thousand incidents of ground water contamination resulting from the practice of hydraulic fracturing. Such reports are not accurate." - President of the Ground Water Protection Council
"After 25 years of investigating dtizen complainls of contamination, DMRM geologists have not documented a single inddent involVing contamination of ground water attributed to hydraulic fracturing." - Ohio Department of Natural Resources
After review of DEP's complaint database and interviews with regional staff that investigate groundwater contamination related to oil and gas activities, no groundwater pollution or disruption of underground sources of drinking water has been attributed to hydraulic fracturing of deep gas fonnations. - Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
"we have found no example of contamination of usable water where the cause was claimed to. be hydraUlic fracturing." - New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department
"I can state with authority that there have been no documented cases of drinking water contamination caused by such hydraulic fracturing operations in our State." - STATE OIL AND GAS BOARD OF ALABAMA
"Though hydraulic fracturing has becn used for over 50 years in Texas, our records do not indicate a single documented contamination case associated with hydraulic fracturing." - chief regulatory agency over oil and gas activities in Texas
"There have been no verified cases of harm to ground water in the State of Alaska as a result of hydraulic fracturing." - Commissioner Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
"To the knowledge of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission staff, there has been no verified instance of harm to groundwater caused by hydraulic fracturing in Colorado."
"There have been no instances where the Division of Oil and Gas has verified that harm to groundwater has ever been found to be the result of hydraulic fracturing in Indiana." - Director Indiana Department of Natural Resources
"The Louisiana Office of Conservation is unaware of any instance of harm to groundwater in the State of Louisiana caused by the practice of hydraulic fracturing."
"My agency, the Office of Geological Survey (OGS) of the Department of Environmental Quality, regulates oil and gas exploration and production in Michigan. Hydraulic fracturing has been utilized extensively for many years in Michigan, in both deep formations and in the relatively shallow Antrim Shale formation. There are about 9,900 Antrim wells in Michigan producing natural gas at depths of 500 to 2000 feet. Hydraulic fracturing has been used in virtually every Antrim well. There is no indication that hydraulic fracturing has ever caused damage to ground water or other resources in Michigan."
"No documented cases of groundwater contamination from fracture stimulations in Wyoming."
A book out of print but often referred to with regard to Ayers and Obama, I came across the list today FWIW:
RULE 1: “Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have.” Power is derived from 2 main sources – money and people. “Have-Nots” must build power from flesh and blood. (These are two things of which there is a plentiful supply. Government and corporations always have a difficult time appealing to people, and usually do so almost exclusively with economic arguments.)
RULE 2: “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” It results in confusion, fear and retreat. Feeling secure adds to the backbone of anyone. (Organizations under attack wonder why radicals don’t address the “real” issues. This is why. They avoid things with which they have no knowledge.)
RULE 3: “Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy.” Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)
RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity’s very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)
RULE 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions. (Pretty crude, rude and mean, huh? They want to create anger and fear.)
RULE 6: “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” They’ll keep doing it without urging and come back to do more. They’re doing their thing, and will even suggest better ones. (Radical activists, in this sense, are no different that any other human being. We all avoid “un-fun” activities, and but we revel at and enjoy the ones that work and bring results.)
RULE 7: “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” Don’t become old news. (Even radical activists get bored. So to keep them excited and involved, organizers are constantly coming up with new tactics.)
RULE 8: “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)
RULE 9: “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist. (Perception is reality. Large organizations always prepare a worst-case scenario, something that may be furthest from the activists’ minds. The upshot is that the organization will expend enormous time and energy, creating in its own collective mind the direst of conclusions. The possibilities can easily poison the mind and result in demoralization.)
RULE 10: “If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through and become a positive.” Violence from the other side can win the public to your side because the public sympathizes with the underdog. (Unions used this tactic. Peaceful [albeit loud] demonstrations during the heyday of unions in the early to mid-20th Century incurred management’s wrath, often in the form of violence that eventually brought public sympathy to their side.)
RULE 11: “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” Never let the enemy score points because you’re caught without a solution to the problem. (Old saw: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Activist organizations have an agenda, and their strategy is to hold a place at the table, to be given a forum to wield their power. So, they have to have a compromise solution.)
Crafty, You make a great point regarding margin. On stocks I believe it is currently 25% overall http://www.sec.gov/investor/pubs/margin.htm, stricter depending on brokerage account rules. My belief in the right to offer 140 for a barrel in a month means that you in fact contractually have to pay 140 for a barrel in a month, beg, borrow or steal.
If we had responsible supply strategies IMO the natural market spike from turmoil in Libya would take oil maybe from $27 to $28 dollars and we would be begging private companies in Alaska, Florida or California to increase production to cover the shortage instead of the dictatorship/Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - and 'ugo Chavez.
In my own slanted political view I have come to believe I can generally find a core falsehood in the first sentence or first premise of almost any liberal attack piece. However, in the story that GM covered about Huckabee that liberals would run hard with, it is true. The story of Newt's personal failings is true. The story of Palin quitting the her highest post is true. And this piece by Michael Kinsley, as liberal as they come, about Mitt Romney flip flopping and lacking core convictions is true. We need to put a little more pressure on our opponents than that to win.
JDN, Thank you. The crime deserves punishment, but the attacks on pursuing profits only muddle that issue. It is moral absence, not greed or desire to make a good living, that 'begets illegal activity'.
"Frankly, in my opinion "white collar crime" is not nearly punished as severely as it should be; it is difficult to prove..."
It gets punished when convicted but financial law enforcement seems inept. Also the 'watchdog media' is a thing of the past, all chasing the same false stories, it seems to me. No one in the financial press for example uncovered anything about Enron except their own political hatred until after it was spiraling downward.
Agreed, insider trading is no joke, it undermines markets which is/was our economic system, I would call it akin to treason. Like Hillary's corrupt commodity futures. It undermines everyone who trusts the market and places a trade. I posted a personal friend story of taking a company from scratch to going public to selling for an amazing price. No real player like him, even with a great sense of humor, cracks so much as a joke about how things are going in the company outside of what goes out to everyone in a conference call. For 2 years as a rumored takeover target we tried to tease him for information. I have a first cousin managing one of the market's largest mutual fund companies for decades. You will get more of his view by googling him than he would tell his own mother in a private phone call.
But a lot of these publicized cases about making or losing a lot of money don't involve a real, underlying crime. The facts determine that.
My view (recapping) is that foreclosure is quite a good thing. It allows a financial mistake to get corrected. Hinder that and you hinder the process in the first place - of home ownership. Without mortgage what is the largest deduction, mortgage interest. Without foreclosure, what is the meaning of a lien against the property in the event of default.
Foreclosure (please correct me if I am wrong) involves a choice of remedies. When the lender successfully forecloses, takes title to the property, the borrower is released from the obligation they were unable/unwilling to pay. They may get a blemish on their record, but they no longer owe the money that they contractually agreed to pay. The lender gets back what is left from their mistake and the property gets a new family to move in and call home.
As a buyer of foreclosures, my bias in the value rollercoaster is mixed. 100% of my life savings is in R.E. so the runaway value episode was interesting like a fairy tale reminiscent of runaway tech stocks that had no revenues or profits. I would tell people who asked that rental homes were not 30% overvalued, they were 3 fold too high for their economic value. Unfortunately I was right. My average in Minneapolis foreclosures now is to pay 15 cents on the dollar of what the 2005-2007 buyer paid.
That said, I witnessed rundown properties bought at inflated peak prices where no one made any attempt after closing at renovation or move-in. If there was any investigation or law enforcement I believe we would find a criminal trail tying the players involved to a string of heists that landed on the taxpayer of the future.
As a landlord I get to hear the personal financial story of the applicants. One in particular touched me with sincerity. She was blaming no one for her foreclosure. She said she should have known her house payment would go from the $1100 to $1700 at the end of the end of the year, during a time of completely flat interest rates. She said it was probably in there (the loan document) somewhere and she should have read it more carefully. As anti-government as I am, I would say yes it should have been required on the top half of the first page in print as large as her name. Especially so considering that we find out that we are the guarantor of all these loans. I believe in the right of private companies to make promotions, but not to hide real costs, take their full compensation and leave us with garbage disguised as home ownership. - Comments?
Not Glen Beck directly, but I have a bone to pick with his radio show guest host Joe "Pags" Pagliarulo yesterday who if understood correctly advocated a ban on speculators making a market for oil futures.
That type of economic illiteracy sets us back centuries, I hope the real host is setting the record straight.
The last time gasoline spiked like this was the Katrina aftermath. By allowing gas prices to adjust upward during a supply interruption, no American went to a gas station unable to buy gas. Instead what they found was no waiting. The scarce resource was allocated to its most valuable use.
My judgment is that a gallon of gas is worth about a dollar including our excessive taxation. The rest is the electoral penalty for allowing these buffoons for all of these years to prevent us from producing quantities of energy similar to what we use. Distorting that argument, blaming the market, to such a vast audience does quite a disservice .
JDN, Your post is in quotes but no source, author, link. I usually find it through google - don't make us work that hard. Your title says "Crime does pay...." but the post doesn't mention a crime. Please clarify. Thank you.
From the piece "Prosecutors are coming to the conclusion that it's difficult, maybe impossible, to put people in jail for greed and irrational exuberance." - I hope so.
CCP, I watched most of that segment. Quite a standoff. I thought she was daring him to take her off the air for not answering his questions. She was determined to make a point (quoted below) and repeat that point, and in a way her point was relevant to every question that he asked. Bachmann has gone through this before, I think it was with Chris Matthews who was determined to get her to say un-American with reference to anything to do with candidate Barack Obama. Once she said the word, they chopped off all chance for context or explanation and the media ran full speed in all directions with their sound bite. Here she did the opposite, walked in with a smile and a script and gave them only one sound bite to play no matter how bizarre the questions.
I defend her plenty but she is not going to be the next President; she doesn't have crossover appeal. More likely would just split conservative vote. If she feels she has broad enough appeal she can run uphill for senate in MN against little Amy, a Hillary clone who is Al Franken's senior senator.
"shameless begging" - That is a regular feature in the paper with rotating leaders for authors. That is a good title for the page. Tomorrow it will be Chairman of General Motors or head of the Wisconsin Teachers Union.
"Given the Natural Rights basis for our Constitution, how do we articulate that in a way that can fly on the international stage, especially viz the Muslim world?"
"The concept of natural rights is utterly incompatible with islamic theology." ---------------
How you win that argument in the Middle East is what they call above my pay grade, what I am saying is that, win or lose, you start making that argument, like Williams did, clearly, loudly and consistently - to everyone that will listen.
If the leader of the free world believed in the American principles - it would start there. It should come from the Vice President too, it should come from the Secretary of State. It should come in a Cairo-2 speech and it should come from the leader of the opposition party in the United States / next President of the United States - whoever wants to step forward and take on that role. It should come from the General Secretary of the United Nations and from every member of the Security Council. Communist China like Obama may have a problem with hypocrisy, but give it a try - let's proclaim some principles larger than the false choice of mob-rule or dictatorship.
Crafty wrote 'natural rights' rather than God-given rights. Call them common sense or human rights if we want, we don't need to know or agree on the origin (IMO). Use logic for persuasion. Freedom to be Muslim inside your being and to associate with like minded and to not have to hide your beliefs comes from the same freedom of religion that an atheist, a Jew and a Christian also need to be free. Either you have that freedom or you don't. You don't take a majority vote religion and then force what can't be forced on all, you allow it's free expression in all its forms - universally, in order to secure your own. Someone should make these arguments, we used to call that role 'leader of the free world' - cf. "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!"
I wrote previously about Egypt that we had a team that helped draft a constitution in other difficult places, Iraq and in Afghanistan, with some success and I'm sure some failure and some lessons learned. We could be offering expertise to all sides behind scenes while laying out the broad principles publicly.
Maybe we lose these argument and all hell breaks loose. That is different than not trying.
On a recent cross country drive I had a nice 3 hour opportunity to be lectured on the radio by Prof. Walter E. Williams of George Mason University who made the point that nearly everything good about the American system has to do with preventing rule by democracy i.e. the majority. We are a constitutional Republic and all the little intricacies of our Republic like the electoral college, different branches of government, the bill of rights, independent judiciary, the bicameral legislature, the limits on congressional powers, individual rights, states rights, due process, etc. etc are all intended to be protections against rule by democracy. The word democracy is not found in our constitution where the key provisions start with the phrase "Congress shall make no law..."
Bush never could articulate the value of tax cuts, but world peace rests on ability of someone to start articulating the difference between mob rule 'spreading democracy across the Middle East' and advancing liberty with true consent of the governed. Case in point, if majorities emerge in Egypt to authorize the burning of Coptic churches, is that consent of the governed - for the Coptic Christians??
This looks like Libertarian Issues, but he is talking directly how what we have learned here applies to our American foreign policy toward change in the Middle East. We keep saying it wrong and then hope they get it right. Instead we lead falsely by example. Obama opposes limits on government at every turn, for example by forcing health care change on everyone because 50.1% want that (really about 44%). ------
It is truly disgusting for me to hear politicians, national and international talking heads and pseudo-academics praising the Middle East stirrings as democracy movements. We also hear democracy as the description of our own political system. Like the founders of our nation, I find democracy and majority rule a contemptible form of government.
You say, "Whoa, Williams, you really have to explain yourself this time!"
I'll begin by quoting our founders on democracy. James Madison, in Federalist Paper No. 10, said that in a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual." At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Virginia Gov. Edmund Randolph said, "... that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy." John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Alexander Hamilton said, "We are now forming a Republican form of government. Real Liberty is not found in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments. If we incline too much to democracy, we shall soon shoot into a monarchy, or some other form of dictatorship."
The word “democracy” appears nowhere in the two most fundamental documents of our nation -- the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Our Constitution's Article IV, Section 4, guarantees "to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government." If you don't want to bother reading our founding documents, just ask yourself: Does our pledge of allegiance to the flag say to "the democracy for which it stands," or to "the Republic for which it stands"? Or, did Julia Ward Howe make a mistake in titling her Civil War song "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"? Should she have titled it "The Battle Hymn of the Democracy"?
What's the difference between republican and democratic forms of government? John Adams captured the essence when he said, "You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe." That means Congress does not grant us rights; their (Marc: sic) job is to protect our natural or God-given rights.
For example, the Constitution's First Amendment doesn't say Congress shall grant us freedom of speech, the press and religion. It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..."
Contrast the framers' vision of a republic with that of a democracy. Webster defines a democracy as "government by the people; especially: rule of the majority." In a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. As in a monarchy, the law is whatever the government determines it to be. Laws do not represent reason. They represent force. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Unlike that envisioned under a republican form of government, rights are seen as privileges and permissions that are granted by government and can be rescinded by government.
To highlight the offensiveness to liberty that democracy and majority rule is, just ask yourself how many decisions in your life would you like to be made democratically. How about what car you drive, where you live, whom you marry, whether you have turkey or ham for Thanksgiving dinner? If those decisions were made through a democratic process, the average person would see it as tyranny and not personal liberty. Is it no less tyranny for the democratic process to determine whether you purchase health insurance or set aside money for retirement? Both for ourselves, and our fellow man around the globe, we should be advocating liberty, not the democracy that we've become where a roguish Congress does anything upon which they can muster a majority vote.