Friday, May 29, 2009

Sotomayor nomination a move to weaken
the rule of law

The reaction to Judge Sonia Sotomayor as President Barack Obama’s first nominee for the United States Supreme Court has been interesting.

Predictably, the moment the nomination was announced, indeed, even before it was officially announced, the critics were out in force, and defenders of the nomination responded that a lot of the criticisms were petty and designed to focus attention away from Judge Sotomayor’s actual qualifications. She has been on the Circuit Court bench for a long time, and much has been made of the fact that she is the first Hispanic to be nominated to the highest court in the land. Administration officials and other supporters say Judge Sotomayor would bring more judicial experience to the Supreme Court than any justice confirmed in the past 70 years, a comment perhaps designed to shift focus away from her actual weaknesses.

There is the expectation that President Obama’s first pick will be confirmed regardless of, or perhaps in spite of, whatever the critics produce. We have a tendency in this country in recent years to bestow special deference to certain people based upon nothing more relevant than their race, gender, or other circumstances that are not relevant to the situation in question. If you are a minority, or have accomplished a good deal despite long odds, both of which describe Judge Sotomayor, that buys you a lot of favorable consideration, as well as the protection of a political correctness shield: criticize this woman, no matter how substantive the criticism, and you are a cad, a racist or a bigot.

"I think this is a bold and fairly masterful political stroke by President Obama," strategist Phil Musser told "This is not a pick that necessarily can be good politics for Republican senators. I mean, having older white senators up there grilling the first Hispanic – up-from-the-boot-straps, Hispanic Supreme Court nominee – that's a tough one for us OK, let's just be honest about that."

However, we cannot refuse to look into Judge Sotomayor just because she is a Hispanic, just because she overcame adversity, or just because she is a she.

A couple of remarks were made within ear-shot of recording devices that are on the record and must be discussed. One was an admission that higher level courts have become the place where policy is made, a concept at odds with the concept of a judiciary that interprets the law, leaving policy making to the Congress and the administration, and something critics jumped on. One law professor, however, defends this statement as a matter of rather unspectacular fact. Jonathan Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said Judge Sotomayor’s comment "seems to be nothing more than an observation that, as a practical matter, many policy disputes are resolved in the federal courts of appeals. This is an indisputably true observation.”

Leaving aside for the moment Prof. Adler’s defense of the judge’s comment as nothing surprising or out of the ordinary, another of her comments is far more troublesome. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” she said. Are wise Latina women with a richness of experience somehow better at applying the laws than white males whose experiences are less rich? Judge Sotomayor now says she chose her words poorly.

However, this comment seems to reflect the thinking of the president in choosing her for the position. In comments criticizing Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts back in 2007, then-Senator Obama said that "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that's the criteria by which I'm going to be selecting my judges."

"I strive never to forget the real world consequences of my decisions on individuals, business and government," Judge Sotomayor told those gathered at the White House for the nomination announcement.

But in many ways judges are pretty much black and white people, not so different from baseball umpires. Umpires have a set of rules which directs them in their work, judges have the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the land, and it is not within the authority of either to change the rules in the middle of the game.

Imagine if when calling balls and strikes, or close plays at the plate the home plate umpire empathized with the batter or runner instead of objectively calling pitches, or took into consideration the race or economic class of the player, and decided that since ol’ Vinny was a good guy who rose up from a bad home life, maybe he’d give him a walk instead of a strikeout? Or that Team A really needs a run worse than Team B needs an out, since Team A hasn’t won a game all season? Is this what the rule of law and the concept of justice are all about?

“But,” you may be saying, “baseball and the law are not the same thing. Baseball is just a game” That’s right, and the law is far more important, and is not a game. It is a deadly serious matter, and that’s why the law must be stable and free from the whims of judges.

Like viewing the U.S. Constitution as a so-called living document, the meaning of which changes with the tides, judges who inject empathy and other non-judicial elements into legal proceedings destroy the stability of our laws, destroying justice along the way.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The American Ideal cannot survive
without well informed citizens

How much do Americans know about U.S. history, the founding principles of their country, and how their government works?

The results of a study by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) titled “Our Fading Heritage: Americans Fail a Basic Test on Their History and Institutions” are not encouraging. A substantial majority did not know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; nearly four out of 10 think the Constitution gives the president the power to declare war; and almost 25 percent believe that the United Nations and Congress share foreign policy powers. These results show a dramatic dearth of understanding about their country of far too large a group of Americans.

Thanks to this study and other resources, those of us who wonder at and mourn the growing tendency for so many of our countrymen to abandon the principles upon which the United States was founded and embrace big-government and socialistic trends now have a better idea of why this is occurring.

Of course we already know some of the reasons: the modern news media have mostly abandoned the responsibility to report objectively, as they are bound by principle to do, and take sides in the stories they report. And there is the disturbing degree of historical error and intellectual dishonesty that exists in school textbooks, previously discussed here.

Another factor in this troubling development comes to us from columnist Walter Williams’ in a recent article titled “Fraud in Academia,” which explains how grade inflation is producing a group of college graduates who have high grade point averages, but whose basic knowledge is severely lacking.

Dr. Williams, who is professor of economics at George Mason University, wrote that if “grade inflation continues, a college bachelor’s degree will have just as much credibility as a high school diploma.”

He quotes Professor Thomas C. Reeves, who published an article for the National Association of Scholars, “The Happy Classroom: Grade Inflation Works.” In that article, Dr. Williams writes that “from 1991 to 2007, in public institutions, the average grade point average (GPA) rose, on a four-point scale, from 2.93 to 3.11. In private schools, the average GPA climbed from 3.09 to 3.30. Put within a historical perspective, in the 1930s, the average GPA was 2.35 (about a C-plus); whereby now it’s a B-plus.”

He goes on to say, “At Brown University, two-thirds of all letter grades given are A’s. At Harvard, 50 percent of all grades were either A or A- (up from 22 percent in 1966); 91 percent of seniors graduated with honors ... Eighty percent of the grades given at the University of Illinois are A’s and B’s. Fifty percent of students at Columbia University are on the Dean’s list. At Stanford University, where F grades used to be banned, only 6 percent of student grades were as low as a C.”

Dr. Williams further notes that, contrary to what most think, SAT scores have been declining for 40 years and a sizeable number of freshmen need remedial courses in math, writing or reading, identifying serious problems at lower educational levels. A recent survey found that “a third of students expected B’s just for attending class, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the assigned reading.”

This situation is so bad that “parents and employers should lower the average student’s grade by one letter, and interpret a C grade as an F,” Dr. Williams says.

Interviews conducted during and after the presidential campaign last year showed a disturbing number of voters with an abysmal lack of knowledge about both what the presidential candidates stood for, and how their government is supposed to work. It was clear to anyone willing and able to think about these results that a large number of voters were not knowledgeable enough to cast an informed vote.

Should we be surprised, then, that so many Americans, having been victims of intellectual dishonesty in school during their formative years, and victims of journalistic dishonesty as both children and adults, are intellectually unprepared, and thus unable, to reject the leftist demagoguery and efforts to fundamentally change America from its original grand design into just one more government-dependent, soft-headed, soul-less culture, like the weak socialist failures of Europe?

Our country cannot survive if instead of learning its basic principles and the true history of its origins and development in elementary schools, secondary schools, and colleges, large numbers of young, impressionable minds are being indoctrinated and propagandized with false teachings, and their education subverted by continuously lower expectations and lower standards.

Time was when getting an education was not only a worthy goal, but a difficult one to achieve; it took a lot of hard work to get through high school and college with good grades. But when you completed your education, whether with a high school diploma or a college degree, you had learned a lot along the way.

Dr. Williams, the ISI, Professor Reeves, et al, paint a picture of a culture gradually sinking into mediocrity, losing its soul to a philosophy of weakness and low expectations.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Justice Ginsburg illustrates the
problems of a liberal judiciary

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg defended the use of foreign law by American judges at a symposium at the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University not long ago. Her comments have spawned somewhat of a mild uproar, as not everyone agrees with her on this issue.

“I frankly don’t understand all the brouhaha lately from Congress and even from some of my colleagues about referring to foreign law,” she said. Justice Ginsberg, now the Court’s only female member, continued, “Why shouldn’t we look to the wisdom of a judge from abroad with at least as much ease as we would read a law review article written by a professor?”

Of course, if all one is doing is reading the wisdom of a judge from Germany, it isn’t so different from reading a law review article, and there is no reason not to read the German judge’s opinion. However, when one attempts to take the wisdom of a German judge applied to a case in a German court under the control of German law, and then apply it to a case in an American court covered by our Constitution and the laws enacted under it, we have entered into an entirely different realm.

The court’s judicial conservatives — Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. and Justices Samuel A. Alito, Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — oppose the citation of foreign law in constitutional cases.

Justice Roberts addressed this situation at his confirmation hearing, saying, “If we’re relying on a decision from a German judge about what our Constitution means, no president accountable to the people appointed that judge and no Senate accountable to the people confirmed that judge, and yet he’s playing a role in shaping the law that binds the people in this country.”

Justice Ginsburg seems distracted by immaterialities, such as the fact that she is now the only woman on the Court. “I am there all alone, and it doesn’t look right,” she commented. But what the Court looks like is not at all important; what is important is the law, and the law of the land is the United States Constitution.

Justice Ginsburg is a judicial activist, and the problem with judicial activism is that it suspends the concrete judicial foundation set forth in the plain language of the United States Constitution in favor of a set of ideals based on personal opinion, changing social concepts and the emotional preferences of the moment. Liberals and activists euphemistically call this a “living Constitution,” which means that the Constitution doesn’t really mean what it says, it means whatever five of the nine Supreme Court Justices decide it means.

Using Judge Ginsburg’s rationale, why not use the “wisdom” of judges in Zimbabwe, China, Venezuela, Cuba or Saudi Arabia? And if there were judges on the Moon, Mars and Jupiter, why not use their wisdom, too?

It is such infidelity to the expressed intent of the Framers of our Constitution that has produced some of the most horrid legal decisions and interpretations in the history of the United States.

Justice Antonin Scalia is a strong voice for the "originalist" interpretation of our Constitution, which means adhering to the meaning of its content when it was adopted. Justice Scalia is a judicial conservative who believes those who wrote the Constitution meant what they said and said what they meant.

Justice Ginsburg, on the other hand, believes that revising the Constitutional interpretation to make it more "up to date" is the correct approach.

Justice Ginsburg and other proponents of the “living Constitution” might believe that the Constitution means whatever their moral and political intuitions tell them advances the cause of human progress. Originalists believe the Ginsburg view is manifestly incompatible with the core tenets of our constitutional republic.

American law is unique in its strong emphasis on solving important policy issues by the use of the rule of law. Our legal system and our Constitution become irrelevant if they are constantly subject to reinterpretation and revision every time popular opinion about important laws and social strictures changes.

We simply cannot abide that sort of judicial philosophy.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Here comes Obamacare: Be afraid. Be very afraid

“If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” That quip from satirist P.J. O’Rourke is more than just a funny twist on words, it provides a window into the future of health care, Barack Obama style.

President Obama believes that government is the solution to every problem. He portrays our health care system as wildly unfair and charges that medical costs present "one of the greatest threats not just to the well-being of our families ... but to the very foundation of our economy … We cannot delay this discussion any longer," Mr. Obama said.

But it is not just a discussion that Mr. Obama wants; he wants a comprehensive overhaul of US health care and by tying the health care system to the economy, he plays on economic uncertainties to strengthen his argument for reform. Americans who want improvements in the system are scared into supporting his radical plan. He is following Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s dictum, “never let a serious crisis go to waste.” And if the crisis isn’t serious enough, you can always make it seem worse than it is.

Mr. Obama cites the number of bankruptcies caused by medical costs to bolster the argument in favor of nationalized health care. "The cost of health care now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds,” says he. Sorry, Mr. President, that has been shown to be false.

The numbers simply don’t add up, and the way personal bankruptcies are defined further skews the numbers. A larger factor than high health care costs is people spending beyond their means.

Hardly anyone will argue that health care costs are not too high. But that fact alone does not justify nationalizing the system, duplicating the horrors that exist in other countries where health care is run by government. It is significant that Mr. Obama feels the need to exaggerate the situation in order to get people to support his radical idea for a government-run health care system. And if you don’t believe that is the ultimate goal, you are deluding yourself.

The President recently extracted agreement from health care insurers and providers to cut $2 trillion in costs over the next ten years, and Congress is trying to cut Medicare fees by 21 percent. Medicare saves money by paying doctors and hospitals less, and currently pays only about 50 percent of charges from hospitals. Further cuts in reimbursements will make it more difficult for hospitals to survive, will discourage people from entering or staying in the medical profession, and will create provider shortages.

That is what happened in places like Great Britain and Canada, where long wait times – often months or even years — to see primary care givers and specialists, and for medical procedures are common. In Canada, the best drugs to treat cancer and other illnesses are victims of expense cutting, and efforts to hold costs down by purchasing fewer medical devices like MRI scanners and CT scanners are also common. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that CT scanners per million people were 7.5 in Great Britain, 11.2 in Canada, and 32.2 in the US. MRIs were 5.4 per million in Great Britain, 5.5 in Canada, and 26.6 in the US.

If the cost of medical care is the pivotal factor, then cost cutting is the answer, and that inevitably means rationing care. We can already see this in the way Medicare reimbursements are designed and modified.

The president seems to have dreamed up this solution without answering the most important question: why are health care costs so high? That’s one question for which “government” really is the correct answer.

Politicians often impose little government fixes for things that are imperfect in the private sector, and since nothing is perfect there is ample opportunity for government mischief. These fixes generally make things worse, so the politicians impose additional government fixes, which make things worse yet, and then they are forced to rush in to save the day with a broadly intrusive and expensive government solution. Think: Amtrak, the US Postal Service and Medicare, financial failures all, subsidized by taxpayers.

One such effort at fixing the health care system is the U.S. Senate’s, “Expanding Health Care Coverage: Proposals to Provide Affordable Coverage to All Americans.” The description of policy options says, “Today, the cost of caring for the uninsured is largely borne by those with insurance; providers charge higher prices to patients with private coverage to make up for uncompensated care, and these costs are passed on to consumers in the form of increased premiums.” Funny, it doesn’t mention the “under-compensated” care of Medicare patients.

A good health care system has to work not only for those who receive care, but also for those who provide it and those who pay for it. We are too often willing to impose a radical new system to replace one that with just a little tweaking would be perfectly adequate. That is the situation we face today.

The Obama administration is rushing a massive, expensive government program through the Congress that will hurt taxpayers. The 95 percent of us who were promised a tax cut can kiss it goodbye.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

It was only a matter of time

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has finally done herself in. She’s accused the CIA of lying about aggressive interrogation techniques, and even the mainstream media isn’t buying it.

Madam Speaker has created for herself a twisted trail of inconsistent and contradictory statements about what she knew about interrogation methods and when she knew it.

And the only person buying her story is Nancy Pelosi. And maybe Mr. Pelosi.

She has committed a major political sin, which is not merely to have lied and mislead the public, which is commonplace in DC, but to have made herself the point of attention ahead of issues her party believes are more important.

She is a distraction and an embarrassment. Her days as Speaker are numbered.

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What to do with Barack Obama?

Try as I have to resist over-anxiously condemning Barack Obama’s every slip-up as a major gaff, and to cut the guy some slack, I am compelled to admit that after a little more than a hundred days in office our neophyte president has shown that he’s not up to the job, mounting up one failure and example of bad judgment after another. This is true even if you try to give the guy major benefit of the doubt while he tries to get his bearings.

There was that embarrassing series of botched nominees.

The “I’m-sorry-my-country’s-so-horrible” European tour.

Then, he bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia.

The huge budget deficit and the absurd amount of stimulus that won’t stimulate.

The numerous promises already broken.

Winning the war on terror by refusing to acknowledge it.

Inability to speak in public without a Teleprompter.

Laughing at tasteless and tacky jokes at the White House Correspondents dinner.

Realizing after solemnly pledging to do so that he really can’t close Gitmo, while tacitly admitting that George Bush was right to have the facility.

The list continues.

It’s really embarrassing; even some Democrats in the Congress are quietly whispering to each other in wonderment at the problems the new administration faces. And has caused.

However incompetent Barack Obama may be as President of the United States, the guy has to work somewhere, so here’s a thought: Let’s nominate him for Secretary General of the United Nations.

It’s a natural fit; they’re meant for each other.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The United States must end “tax cuts for the rich”

Some public officials have condemned “tax cuts for the rich,” because they say that wealthy taxpayers keep getting tax cuts, don’t pay their fair share and are getting off easy, while the rest of us are shouldering most of the tax burden.

Indeed, President Barack Obama won the election promising to change nearly everything about the United States, among which was the tax system. He promised to lower taxes for 95 percent of Americans, and plans to raise taxes on Americans making $250,000 a year or more.

Is it really true that taxpayers in the lower and middle earnings sectors are bearing the brunt of the federal tax burden while upper income earners keep having their share reduced through these “tax cuts for the rich,” bestowed upon them by politicians who favor rich people over the everyday folks out there working their fingers to the bone trying to get by?

In a word, “No.” Rather than seeing their share of the tax burden shrink because they are continually receiving tax cuts, the tax burden of the rich has grown steadily since 1980.

A report by The Tax Foundation last August gives a detailed picture of taxpayers in 2006, the most recent year for which complete data were available. The report tells us that Americans making $388,806 or more each year are in the top one percent of earners in adjusted gross income; those making $153,542 or more are in the top five percent; and those making $108,904 each year are in the top ten percent.

There were only 1.3 million filers in the top one percent, 6.6 million in the top five percent, and 13.3 million in the top ten percent.

In 1980 the top one percent paid 19 percent of all federal taxes, the top five percent paid about 37 percent and the top 10 percent paid just less than half of all taxes.

Those numbers had grown substantially by 2006, with the top one percent paying almost 40 percent, the top five percent paying 60 percent and the top ten percent paying about 71 percent. Over 26 years, “tax cuts for the rich” have increased the proportion of federal taxes paid by the rich by 42 percent, from 50 percent to 71 percent.

“But,” you may be thinking, “some Americans don’t make enough money to pay any taxes, and other taxpayers have to make up the difference.” But important questions of fairness arise when we try to avoid unnecessarily burdening those at the lower end of the earnings scale. “Where should the line be drawn; at what earnings level should income taxes no longer be collected?” And, “How much of total taxes should the wealthy be expected to pay?”

Those at the lower end of the scale have seen their portion of the tax burden drop dramatically. The bottom 80 percent of households (approximately 90 million) pays less than one-third of federal taxes while the top one percent (approximately 1.3 million) pays about 71 percent. The bottom 50 percent paid seven percent of the taxes in 1980, and just three percent in 2006. And, in 2004 the filers of 32 percent of returns paid no federal tax. That proportion increased from just 18 percent in 1984.

Since 1980 the bulk of taxes to support the activities of the federal government have been paid by fewer and fewer citizens, while more and more citizens pay nothing to support their government. Even the most starry-eyed liberal must realize that this trend cannot continue.

Mr. Obama said recently that “most Americans meet their responsibilities [to pay taxes] because they understand that it's an obligation of citizenship, necessary to pay the costs of our common defense and our mutual well-being.” He is correct that paying taxes is an obligation of citizenship, and there is no free ride. Or is there?

What about the 32 percent of households that paid no tax, not even $1 toward the support of their government? Can’t some of those households afford to pay something?

This problem centers on taxing the income of individuals and businesses. One school of thought holds that taxing someone on the fruits of their hard work is immoral. And our current earnings-based tax system somewhat endorses that sentiment: It taxes some of us, but does not tax others.

The US could make taxation much simpler, more efficient and more effective – and save a fortune in administrative costs for government, and tax preparation costs for individuals and businesses – through consumption taxes and use fees, and not taxing earnings.

Purchases of necessities like food, medicine and other basic needs can be exempt from taxation, so as to not unnecessarily burden those in the lower economic sectors, but tax the purchase of non-essential items.

That would be a truly proportional tax system, and a fair tax system: The more money you have, the more you spend, and the more you pay in taxes, and vice versa.

This system holds great advantages for taxpayers, but will remove a popular tool from the kit of politicians who like to use the tax code as a weapon.

And that’s why it will never become reality.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Hypocrisy on parade: Lefties go bonkers over
beauty queen’s opinion

Okay, so a contestant in a beauty contest expressed an opinion that ran contrary to the opinion the judge that asked the question wanted to hear? So what?

The openly gay judge (shown at right), who is obviously an intolerant member of the “Tolerant Left” in the US, has unleashed an attack on the contestant out of all proportion to the comment she made.

Unable to mount an intelligent argument against the contestant’s opinion, the lefties have begun an all out attack against the young woman, in a vicious attempt to bring her down.

Juvenile behavior such as this is now a major characteristic of the political left, which has demonstrated its intellectual bankruptcy and its elementary school playground mentality over recent months, as its adherents become petulant and petty in the face of ideas they cannot logically defeat.

The idiotic response to the beauty contestant’s comment is only the latest of a long list of stupid and intolerant behavior by the “Tolerant Left.”

Message to liberals: Boys and girls, here in the United States we believe in and subscribe to the idea of freedom of thought and freedom of speech. We can think whatever we want, and we can express those ideas, no matter what you think. Grow up, and try to develop some substantive opposition to ideas that differ from yours, and quit being such a bunch of goofy, intolerant boobs.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Doing the wrong thing for the right reason

A TV spot running currently shows the faces of people wearing hardhats who have lost their jobs. A man appears and tells us that thousands of people in this one zip code lost their jobs when the steel plant they worked in closed, as we are shown the empty steel plant building.

The ad says that “green jobs” like making wind turbines and solar panels will create new jobs, fill the empty plant with new equipment and a new purpose, and put these people back to work. It ends with the words “Carbon caps equal hardhats” on the screen, and the man’s voice saying, “We can’t afford not to do carbon caps right now.”

It’s true that the unemployment rate has hit 8.5 percent for the first time in quite a while, and it is a natural response to want to find ways to put people back to work. The message from this ad is a simple one: If we just build wind turbines and solar panels, we can put a lot of Americans back to work. Voila! Problem solved.

Not so fast.

Just as spending money on pork barrel projects and calling it “stimulus” is a poor solution to the economic problem, creating jobs just to create jobs is a poor solution to the unemployment problem. All spending is not equal and all jobs are not equal. Job creation is a natural economic process and jobs must be created in response to an economic need, or they will not last long. Following the advice of that TV spot and implementing cap-and-trade for no better reason than just to create jobs is sheer folly.

But then folly and the U.S. government are good friends; the auto and banking industries are in trouble to a large degree because of government meddling.

Let’s agree that there were management problems in both industries that were major factors in the current distress. But we also cannot overlook the role government played in these problems.

It was Congress, remember, that was responsible for pressuring banks to make home loans to people who were not qualified borrowers. It was Congress that changed the regulations that allowed mortgage banks and commercial banks to merge functions, setting up the conditions for the mortgage banking crisis. And it was Congress that ignored administration warnings of a looming crisis in the banking industry five years ago.

When government imposed its wisdom on the people and the auto industry, “guiding” all of us toward cars designed to please government and putting into effect mandates on fuel efficiency, safety and other things that raised costs, it contributed to the current crisis.

And while we watch quietly, some of us eagerly applauding the increasing encroachment of our government, it will yet again force its will on the people, implementing an energy policy that will intensify an already highly stressed economic situation.

By abandoning conventional energy sources like coal, oil and natural gas, the sources for which abundant reserves exist and the infrastructure for which is already in place; by putting regulations into effect that make those energy sources more expensive; and by forcing new technologies into the marketplace on the hotly debated, and scientifically unproved premise of impending environmental disaster, our reasonably stable energy system will become more expensive and less dependable. New technologies, like solar and wind power, are insufficiently developed and thus not ready to play a significant role. They are expensive, and wind turbines, as we have seen locally, are frequently unpopular with the people.

The cap-and-trade system touted in the TV spot, the one President Barack Obama is so wedded to, is a mechanism to force these new and undeveloped energy technologies into the energy market; government yet again imposing its wisdom on the people.

Even under the best of circumstances cap-and-trade will be very costly to consumers.

The Weekly Standard reported on a study by MIT that estimated that between 2015 and 2050, cap-and-trade would raise an average of $366 billion in revenues each year for the government. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But that money has to come from somewhere, and guess where: from cap-and- trade auction fees from companies that burn fossil fuels. And guess who ultimately pays those? American consumers.

After a computation error was corrected, the MIT study shows that cap-and- trade could cost American households an average of more than $3,900 a year, so, contrary to what the TV spot proclaims, we can’t afford to do carbon caps right now.

This situation also presents an interesting conflict between campaign promises from the new president. Mr. Obama promised change in all sorts of things, among which is the national energy policy and its supposed relationship to the environment. And he also promised a tax cut for 95 percent of Americans. But if the cost to the average household is $3,900 a year, a tax cut will be substantially negated, if not wiped out completely.

As time passes, Mr. Obama’s shiny armor is becoming more and more tarnished. The faster that tarnish spreads, the better the chance that the country will escape his dangerous ideas.

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