Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why is America so Violent? How Violent is America?

A few years ago, my wife-to-be at the time, Louella, and I were vacationing in France. We were visiting Avignon. On a beautiful spring day, we walked across the bridge to the town on the other side of the river that borders the city. We had no destination in mind but were just exploring. We happened to come across a regional trade fair set up in a large tent. We were not on a schedule and the admission was cheap, so we went in. Inside there were probably 50 or more vendors exhibiting their products and giving away samples: wines, cheeses, sausages, spice cakes and other goodies, all for free. It turned out to be a delightful day and was one of those things you just accidentally stumble upon, that make a trip memorable.

Many of the booths were representing vineyards and the vendors were offering wine tastings. Each had several wines and were generous with their samples. We spent a couple hours slowly making our way around the tent, visiting the exhibitors. Since the vendors were there for the day, they seemed to be in no hurry and were eager to engage in conversation and tell us about their vineyards and products. We felt like we were really getting to know the people and were having an experience that cannot be captured by simply visiting the tourist sites.

Many of the exhibitors spoke some English, while some of them were quite fluent. They wanted to know where in America we were from; what we did for a living and our impressions of France. Many of them had questions about life in America and American culture. One delightful man, after conversation about other things, asked me a question I did not know how to answer. Imitating a double holster quick draw, and accompanied by verbal sound effects, he asked, "Why America so violent a country?" What could I say?

How violent is America? How do we stack up in gun deaths compared to the rest of the world?

We are the 8th most deadly country in the world.

Below is a list of the 32 most deadliest countries. I ask you to look at those that are more deadly than the US: South Africa, a nation that has had violence rooted in the apartheid system and tribal conflict. Columbia, home of the drug cartels and drug wars. Guatemala. Paraguay. Zimbabwe! How does it feel to be ranked with third world dictatorships and with poor countries wracked by wars and rebellions?

Among industrialized Democracies, we are the most violent. The majority of European democracies don't even make the list. England, France, or Italy are not in the top 32. The U.S. has a rate of 3.6 gun deaths per 100,000, while Germany has a rate of 0.46. This is 1/7 that of the U.S. Spain's rate is 0.25, which is 1/14 that of the U.S. What is the reason that we are 14 times more deadly than Spain? It seems we just accept that is the kind of country we live in. Most civilized nations of the world would find our gun death rate unacceptable. I am embarrassed that my country is such a violent, deadly nation. We should not be happy about this statistic. Below are the rankings.

Firearm Homicide Rates per 100,000 people.
#1 South Africa: 74.5748
#2 Colombia: 51.7683
#3 Thailand: 33.0016
#4 Guatemala: 18.5
#5 Paraguay: 7.3508
#6 Zimbabwe: 4.746
#7 Mexico: 3.6622
#8 United States: 3.6
#9 Belarus: 3.31
#10 Barbados: 2.9963
#11 Uruguay: 2.5172
#12 Lithuania: 2.2463
#13 Slovakia: 2.1659
#14 Côte d'Ivoire: 2.068
#15 Estonia: 1.534
#16 Macedonia, Republic of: 1.2802
#17 Latvia: 1.2648
#18 Portugal: 0.8488
#19 Bulgaria: 0.7714
#20 Slovenia: 0.6036
#21 Germany: 0.4672
#22 Moldova: 0.4671
#23 Hungary: 0.44
#24 Poland: 0.4289
#25 Ukraine: 0.3495
#26 Australia: 0.3073
#27 Czech Republic: 0.2624
#28 Spain: 0.2456
#29 Azerbaijan: 0.2236
#30 New Zealand: 0.1827
#31 Chile: 0.1776
#32 Singapore: 0.0249

This list is from the website

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Barack Obama on Gun Violence

Barack Obama, the Presidential Democratic Party candidate, supports banning all guns in America. He is considered by those who have dealt with him, as a bit more than just a little, self-righteous.

At a recent rural elementary school assembly in East Texas, he asked the audience to be totally quiet. Then, in the silence, he started to slowly clap his hands once every few seconds, holding the audience in total silence. Then he said into the microphone, "Children, every time I clap my hands together, a child in America dies from gun violence."

Then, little Richard Earl, with a proud East Texas drawl, pierced the quiet and said: "'Well, dumb-ass, stop clapping!"

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Supreme Court Rules on the Second Amendment

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, in a 5-4 decision that Americans have a constitutional right to keep guns in their homes for self-defense. This is the first major ruling on the Second Amendment in our Nation's history. In the case before the court, the Court overturned a 32-year-old, Washington D.C. ban concerning the keeping of handguns in the home.

I am pleased the way the court ruled, but I am not a gun nut. I don’t think we need to be an armed society. This is not the old west. We do not need an armed populace; I believe the readily availability of guns causes more people to be killed. I know “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” but guns sure do make it easier to kill people. If teen gang members do not have guns they may throw rock at rival gang members instead. With guns, however, they kill rival gang members. Without guns, a bar room brawl may end up with someone having a broken nose. With guns, however, it ends with someone dead on the floor. Without guns, an altercation with your neighbor, or a domestic dispute, or road rage, may simply result in a "cussing out." With one or both of the parties armed, however, it may end with a fatal gunshot. For example, in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, more people die from gun-related deaths in a single year, than all the gun-related deaths in all the European nations combined in a year.

America is a very violent nation. If you look at a country-by-country comparison of gun deaths, America is one of the most deadly countries in the world. Of course, there are probably other factors than just guns alone, which make us such a violent nation. We have an underclass with a high crime rate; we are a more mobile society; people are not as grounded in their communities as they are in many other nations. In America, we are autonomous individuals, more so than any other place in the world. That is both a blessing and a curse. It is difficult to hold other variables constant, but the fact remains, we are a very violent society. Certainly our homicide rate, our accidental gun-death rate and our suicide rate has something to do with the availability of guns.

So, my pleasure in the Supreme Court's ruling is not because I love guns. I don't love guns, but I do love our Constitution. It is for this love, that I am so pleased with the ruling. I believe we will remain a free and great country if we honor the Constitution and thus, take our liberties seriously.

Admittedly the Second Amendment is awkwardly worded. It reads, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

What does that mean? I am not a legal scholar or an expert on Constitutional law, but it seems there are two ways to interpret that. One interpretation is that states have the right to a National Guard. Putting the text into context of what was meant by the meaning of words at the time however, it appears to mean something like this: “A group of citizens who are eligible for military service and who are capable of performing military service are essential to keeping our country free. Therefore, the right of people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

If the latter interpretation is what the founders intended to convey, then should not the people have the right to military weapons? Should they not have the right to bazookas, and machine guns, and flamethrowers? I think so. If the reason we have the right to have firearms is for a military purpose, then it stands to reason we should have the right to have military weapons.

Thursday's ruling was limited and invites further litigation, but if the court should follow the logical trail of interpreting the Second Amendment to mean what I think it means, then what? Then, I think that we are stuck with the Second Amendment until we change it. And, that is the answer: Change it!

The meaning of the Constitution should be respected, but if we no longer like parts of it or find that a provision is outdated, we have it within our power to amend it. Those who see the courts as just another arena to change policies they don’t like, scare me. Actually, they scare me more than guns scare me. Ideally, I would like to see America have fewer guns in circulation rather than more guns. I would like to see reasonable gun control, but I fear allowing the Constitution to mean anything we want it to mean, more than I fear guns. It's a delicate balance.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Defeat the Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA)

Washington, DC - Congress is considering sweeping legislation that will provide new benefits for many Americans. The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA) is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates of the millions of Americans who lack any real skills or ambition.

"Roughly 50 percent of Americans do not possess the competence and drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society,'"said California Senator Barbara Boxer. "We can no longer stand by and allow People of Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant special favours to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing."

In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pointed to the success of the U.S. Postal Service, which has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without regard to performance. Approximately 74 percent of postal employees lack any job skills, making this agency the single largest U.S. employer of Persons of Inability.

Private-sector industries with good records of non-discrimination against the Inept include retail sales (72%), the airline industry (68%), and home improvement 'warehouse' stores (65%). At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has an excellent record of hiring Persons of Inability (63%). Under the Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million 'middle man' positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance. Mandatory non-performance- based raises and promotions will be given so as to guarantee upward mobility for even the most unremarkable employees.

The legislation provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability into middle-management positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire one clueless worker for every two talented hires. Finally, the AWNAA contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against the Non-abled, banning, for example, discriminatory interview questions such as, 'Do you have any skills or experience that relate to this job?''

As a Non-abled person, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them,' said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint , Michigan , due to her inability to remember rightey tightey, lefty loosey. 'This new law should be real good for people like me,'Gertz added.

With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. Said Senator Dick Durban (D-IL): 'As a Senator with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her adequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and a good salary for doing so.'

Note: I did not write this. The author is unknown.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Senator Obama's Father's Day Speech

Above is the video and below is the text of Senator Obama's Father's day speech delivered to the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago.

Good morning.

It’s good to be home on this Father’s Day with my girls, and it’s an honor to spend some time with all of you today in the house of our Lord. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus closes by saying, “Whoever hears these words of mine, and does them, shall be likened to a wise man who built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock.” [Matthew 7: 24-25]

Here at Apostolic, you are blessed to worship in a house that has been founded on the rock of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. But it is also built on another rock, another foundation — and that rock is Bishop Arthur Brazier. In 48 years, he has built this congregation from just a few hundred to more than 20,000 strong — a congregation that, because of his leadership, has braved the fierce winds and heavy rains of violence and poverty; joblessness and hopelessness. Because of his work and his ministry, there are more graduates and fewer gang members in the neighborhoods surrounding this church. There are more homes and fewer homeless. There is more community and less chaos because Bishop Brazier continued the march for justice that he began by Dr. King’s side all those years ago. He is the reason this house has stood tall for half a century. And on this Father’s Day, it must make him proud to know that the man now charged with keeping its foundation strong is his son and your new pastor, Reverend Byron Brazier.

Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation. They are teachers and coaches. They are mentors and role models. They are examples of success and the men who constantly push us toward it.

But if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing — missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.

You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled — doubled — since we were children. We know the statistics — that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.

How many times in the last year has this city lost a child at the hands of another child? How many times have our hearts stopped in the middle of the night with the sound of a gunshot or a siren? How many teenagers have we seen hanging around on street corners when they should be sitting in a classroom? How many are sitting in prison when they should be working, or at least looking for a job? How many in this generation are we willing to lose to poverty or violence or addiction? How many?

Yes, we need more cops on the street. Yes, we need fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more after-school programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities.

But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child — it’s the courage to raise one.

We need to help all the mothers out there who are raising these kids by themselves; the mothers who drop them off at school, go to work, pick up them up in the afternoon, work another shift, get dinner, make lunches, pay the bills, fix the house, and all the other things it takes both parents to do. So many of these women are doing a heroic job, but they need support. They need another parent. Their children need another parent. That’s what keeps their foundation strong. It’s what keeps the foundation of our country strong.

I know what it means to have an absent father, although my circumstances weren’t as tough as they are for many young people today. Even though my father left us when I was 2 years old, and I only knew him from the letters he wrote and the stories that my family told, I was luckier than most. I grew up in Hawaii, and had two wonderful grandparents from Kansas who poured everything they had into helping my mother raise my sister and me — who worked with her to teach us about love and respect and the obligations we have to one another. I screwed up more often than I should’ve, but I got plenty of second chances. And even though we didn’t have a lot of money, scholarships gave me the opportunity to go to some of the best schools in the country. A lot of kids don’t get these chances today. There is no margin for error in their lives. So my own story is different in that way.

Still, I know the toll that being a single parent took on my mother — how she struggled at times to the pay bills; to give us the things that other kids had; to play all the roles that both parents are supposed to play. And I know the toll it took on me. So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle — that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls; that if I could give them anything, I would give them that rock — that foundation — on which to build their lives. And that would be the greatest gift I could offer.

I say this knowing that I have been an imperfect father — knowing that I have made mistakes and will continue to make more; wishing that I could be home for my girls and my wife more than I am right now. I say this knowing all of these things because even as we are imperfect, even as we face difficult circumstances, there are still certain lessons we must strive to live and learn as fathers — whether we are black or white; rich or poor; from the South Side or the wealthiest suburb. The first is setting an example of excellence for our children — because if we want to set high expectations for them, we’ve got to set high expectations for ourselves. It’s great if you have a job; it’s even better if you have a college degree. It’s a wonderful thing if you are married and living in a home with your children, but don’t just sit in the house and watch “Sports Center” all weekend long. That’s why so many children are growing up in front of the television. As fathers and parents, we’ve got to spend more time with them, and help them with their homework, and replace the video game or the remote control with a book once in awhile. That’s how we build that foundation.

We know that education is everything to our children’s future. We know that they will no longer just compete for good jobs with children from Indiana, but children from India and China and all over the world. We know the work and the studying and the level of education that requires. You know, sometimes I’ll go to an eighth-grade graduation and there’s all that pomp and circumstance and gowns and flowers. And I think to myself, it’s just eighth grade. To really compete, they need to graduate high school, and then they need to graduate college, and they probably need a graduate degree, too. An eighth-grade education doesn’t cut it today. Let’s give them a handshake and tell them to get their butts back in the library!

It’s up to us — as fathers and parents — to instill this ethic of excellence in our children. It’s up to us to say to our daughters, don’t ever let images on TV tell you what you are worth, because I expect you to dream without limit and reach for those goals. It’s up to us to tell our sons, those songs on the radio may glorify violence, but in my house we give glory to achievement, self-respect and hard work. It’s up to us to set these high expectations. And that means meeting those expectations ourselves. That means setting examples of excellence in our own lives.

The second thing we need to do as fathers is pass along the value of empathy to our children. Not sympathy, but empathy — the ability to stand in somebody else’s shoes; to look at the world through their eyes. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in “us,” that we forget about our obligations to one another. There’s a culture in our society that says remembering these obligations is somehow soft — that we can’t show weakness, and so therefore we can’t show kindness. But our young boys and girls see that. They see when you are ignoring or mistreating your wife. They see when you are inconsiderate at home; or when you are distant; or when you are thinking only of yourself. And so it’s no surprise when we see that behavior in our schools or on our streets. That’s why we pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them. We need to show our kids that you’re not strong by putting other people down — you’re strong by lifting them up. That’s our responsibility as fathers.

And by the way — it’s a responsibility that also extends to Washington. Because if fathers are doing their part; if they’re taking our responsibilities seriously to be there for their children, and set high expectations for them, and instill in them a sense of excellence and empathy, then our government should meet them halfway. We should be making it easier for fathers who make responsible choices and harder for those who avoid them.

We should get rid of the financial penalties we impose on married couples right now, and start making sure that every dime of child support goes directly to helping children instead of some bureaucrat. We should reward fathers who pay that child support with job training and job opportunities and a larger Earned Income Tax Credit that can help them pay the bills. We should expand programs where registered nurses visit expectant and new mothers and help them learn how to care for themselves before the baby is born and what to do after — programs that have helped increase father involvement, women’s employment and children’s readiness for school. We should help these new families care for their children by expanding maternity and paternity leave, and we should guarantee every worker more paid sick leave so they can stay home to take care of their child without losing their income.

We should take all of these steps to build a strong foundation for our children. But we should also know that even if we do; even if we meet our obligations as fathers and parents; even if Washington does its part, too, we will still face difficult challenges in our lives. There will still be days of struggle and heartache. The rains will still come and the winds will still blow. And that is why the final lesson we must learn as fathers is also the greatest gift we can pass on to our children — and that is the gift of hope. I’m not talking about an idle hope that’s little more than blind optimism or willful ignorance of the problems we face. I’m talking about hope as that spirit inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting for us if we’re willing to work for it and fight for it. If we are willing to believe.

I was answering questions at a town hall meeting in Wisconsin the other day and a young man raised his hand, and I figured he’d ask about college tuition or energy or maybe the war in Iraq. But instead he looked at me very seriously and he asked, “What does life mean to you?” Now, I have to admit that I wasn’t quite prepared for that one. I think I stammered for a little bit, but then I stopped and gave it some thought, and I said this: When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me — how do I make my way in the world, and how do I become successful and how do I get the things that I want. But now, my life revolves around my two little girls. And what I think about is what kind of world I’m leaving them. Are they living in a country where there’s a huge gap between a few who are wealthy and a whole bunch of people who are struggling every day? Are they living in a country that is still divided by race? A country where, because they’re girls, they don’t have as much opportunity as boys do? Are they living in a country where we are hated around the world because we don’t cooperate effectively with other nations? Are they living a world that is in grave danger because of what we’ve done to its climate? And what I’ve realized is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children — all of our children — a better world.

Even if it’s difficult. Even if the work seems great. Even if we don’t get very far in our lifetime. That is our ultimate responsibility as fathers and parents. We try. We hope. We do what we can to build our house upon the sturdiest rock. And when the winds come, and the rains fall, and they beat upon that house, we keep faith that our Father will be there to guide us, and watch over us, and protect us, and lead His children through the darkest of storms into light of a better day. That is my prayer for all of us on this Father’s Day, and that is my hope for this country in the years ahead. May God bless you and your children. Thank you.

Commentary: This is a great speech. I wish every man could hear it. I am equally as critical of White men who abandon their children as I am of Black men, but it is fitting that this speech was delivered to a Black audience where the destruction of the family and the resulting social problems are so severe. I could quibble with his specific prescriptions for government action. Some of his proposals I think are on target, but others I disagree with. His recognition of the problem however is important and long overdue. Also, it is important to recognize that there is a roll for government in addressing the problem.

Since this was a Father's Day speech I am not going to criticise him for not addressing the roll of mothers. Maybe next Mother's Day, he will tell single mothers that it is equally irresponsible to bring children into the world without a father in that child's life. Maybe he will say that there is no excuse for having multiple children by different men. Being a single mother is not something that just happens. Black women must also share the blame for the destruction of the Black family and the state of Black society.

I differ with Senator Obama on several important issues and am not supporting him for President, but if elected I hope he will aggressively pursue an agenda to address Black poverty and the state of the Black family. For too long we as a nation have simply ignored this problem. It is time to do something about it. Recognizing there is a problem is a place to start.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hundreds indicted in mortgage fraud probe

WASHINGTON - Federal authorities announced Thursday that more than 400 real estate industry players have been indicted since March — including dozens over the past two days — in nationwide crackdown on mortgage fraud that has contributed to the country’s housing crisis.
The FBI put the losses to homeowners and other borrowers who were victims in the schemes at over $1 billion.

Since March 1, 406 people have been arrested in the sting dubbed “Operation Malicious Mortgage” that saw 144 cases across the country. Sixty people were arrested on Wednesday alone, including in Chicago, Miami, Houston and a dozen other regions policed by the FBI. (link)

Comment: Fantastic! This calls for a beer! It is about time the authorities got serious about enforcing the law and putting some of these crooks in jail. While we may need some reform of existing laws, more than anything we need vigorous enforcement of the laws already on the books. The Justice Department is expected to ask Congress for more money so they can prosecute more mortgage fraud. The Justice Department should get all the money they need to bring these thieves to justice.

The article quoted above goes on to say that banks this year reported almost 53,000 cases of suspected mortgage fraud. The most common type of mortgage fraud was falsified income, followed by forged documents, and inflated appraisals. As a certified Loss Mitigation and Mortgage Default counselor, I routinely see this type of fraud. Another type of fraud I see, is that the closing documents show the buyer paid thousands of dollars at closing when they did not. The reason they do this is to show that the mortgage is for some lesser percentage of the sale price, when in fact the loan is 100% financing. The fraud is widespread. Mortgage companies were ripping off borrowers and their own investors, loan officers were ripping off the mortgage company they work for, and in collusion with the loan officers some borrowers were knowingly signing false mortgage documents and committing fraud.

In a separate action today, two former Bear Stearns mangers were arrested and charged with securities and wire fraud violations and taken away in handcuffs. I am delighted to see the big boys get charged with serious crimes as well as this arrest of the rank and file mortgage criminals. I hope they keep it up and arrest thousands more. I hope every clerk who ever falsified a document or forged a signature is losing sleep.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Obama's Father's Day Speech

Barrack Obama’s Father's Day speech was a breath of fresh air. The state of the Black family is such an incredibly sensitive matter, only a Black person can raise the issue. People tiptoe around the issue when discussing urban policy or anti-poverty initiatives. There is an assumption when talking of Black crime rates, or Black poverty, or Black homeownership rates, or Black school dropout rates that the disparity simply must be due to discrimination. It is considered impolite to point out that Blacks commit more crime, and have poorer credit ratings, and voluntarily drop out of school. To point these things out is considered “blaming the victim” if not downright racist. Political correctness keeps us from talking honestly about the problem of Black poverty.

For most of my adult life I have worked with poor people, and for the last 15 years or so, I have worked as a housing counselor. As a housing counselor, part of what I do is work with low-income people seeking homeownership. I help clients clean up their credit and improve their money management skills, allowing them to become qualified to get a mortgage. I have counseled hundreds of clients. Most of them have been Black, single mothers.

Unfortunately, as I have discovered, having children out of wedlock is the norm in the Black community. More Black children are born to single mothers than to intact families. Black, single mothers do not seem to expect to be married or receive child support. I have counseled women who themselves became single mothers at age 16. While in my counseling program, I have had these same mothers come to me and tell me their own 16-year-old daughter is now pregnant.

It is my conclusion that the primary reason for Black poverty is the self-destructive behavior of Blacks; the single most destructive behavior, in my estimation, is having children out of wedlock. Young boys are less likely to get into trouble and young girls are less likely to get pregnant when there is a father in the home. Also, poverty is a function of income. A family consisting of a household of a mother earning $20,000 a year and a father earning $20,000 and with two children can get by OK; a family consisting of a single mother earning $20,000 with two children is poor.

The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow certainly contributed to the state of the Black family, but the modern culprit is the legacy of the liberal welfare state. Welfare made fathers irrelevant. When mothers could get food stamps, public housing, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children if there was no father in the home, we destroyed the Black family and enslaved Blacks to institutional poverty. In The War on Poverty, poverty won. Welfare changed Black society for the worse.

Welfare reform was certainly an important development and a step in the direction of correcting the mistakes of the past. Unfortunately, it did not go far enough. Since the initial reform there has been backsliding and retreat on this front. Welfare reform alone, however, will not change the Black culture, nor will it change it rapidly. It will take time and a willingness to face the problem. Cultural norms and the way people think do not change overnight.

To make meaningful progress in ending Black poverty, there must be a change in the values of the Black community. I don’t pretend to know how to do this, but a place to start is for Black leaders to admit there is a serious problem within the culture and values of Black society. Blaming society for all of the problems of the Black community relieves the individual of personal responsibility. Black ministers need to challenge their parishioners to end self-destructive behavior. Black men should be shamed for abandoning their children. Single motherhood should not be celebrated. An out of wedlock birth needs to be viewed as a tragedy.

If elected President, Obama may very well end up like other Democrats, advancing the welfare state and keeping Blacks enslaved in poverty and dependency. But from what I read of his Father’s Day speech, he is saying exactly what needs to be said. One speech will not make much difference, but maybe the tide is turning. With a Black leader of Obama’s stature, maybe Black society can reform itself, and Blacks can change these aspects of their culture and join the mainstream of society.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Monday, June 16, 2008

Democrats Broken Promises on Gas Prices

Nancy, I thought you promised to bring down gas prices.

In 2006, in the lead up to the Congressional elections, Nancy Pelosi promised "a commonsense plan to bring down skyrocketing gas prices." At the time gas was $2.23 per gallon; now it is $4.00.

Many people are looking to find a culprit and are looking for a conspiracy. The primary cause of higher gas prices is due to an increased demand from developing countries, primarily China and India. However, if one wants someone to blame, the Democrats are the prime candidates. Democrats have blocked new American exploration, drilling and refineries for the last twenty years.

Nancy Pelosi is not such an idiot that she does not understand the cause of higher gas prices. Since, however, she promised "a commonsense plan to bring down skyrocketing gas prices," she should be held accountable. Nancy did you not promise to bring down gas prices?

This video was copied from youtube and was a production of rocketsfan34.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Obama on Absentee Fathers

Obama celebrated Fathers Day today by speaking to a Black Church in Chicago. Various news sources including The New York Times, USA Today and The Associated Press gave accounts of the speech. Here are snippets of the speech:

“Too many fathers are M.I.A, too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too
many lives and too many homes,”
“They have abandoned their responsibilities,
acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker
because of it.”
“More than half of all black children live in single-parent
“I know how hard it is to get kids to eat properly, but I
also know that folks are letting our children drink eight sodas a day, which
some parents do, or, you know, eat a bag of potato chips for lunch. Buy a little
desk or put that child at the kitchen table. Watch them do their
“We need families to raise our children. We need fathers to
realize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception. That doesn’t just
make you a father. What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. Any
fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise
a child that makes you a father.”

This is a breath of fresh air. The state of the black family is such a sensitive matter that only a Black person can raise the issue.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Friday, June 13, 2008

Maryland Couple Indicted in Fraud Probe

Scam Allegedly Cheated Lenders And Homeowners

By Ovetta WigginsWashington Post Staff WriterFriday, June 13, 2008; B01

Federal authorities charged a Prince George's County couple yesterday with running a $35 million foreclosure rescue operation that duped lenders and unsuspecting homeowners facing foreclosure, in what prosecutors described as one of the largest mortgage fraud schemes in Maryland history.

Joy Jackson, president of Metropolitan Money Store of Lanham, and her husband, Kurt Fordham, were arrested yesterday in North Carolina, U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said at a news conference at U.S. District Court in Greenbelt. Jackson, 40, and Fordham, 38, are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, six counts of money laundering, and 15 counts of mail fraud to obtain money and property from homeowners and lenders. (link)


I hope they get the book thrown at them! The maximum sentence they could get is 30 years in prison and a million dollar fine. These scum bags deserve the maximum sentence. This story was not carried in our local paper, and I have not read of any similar prosecution here in Tennessee. That's too bad. Every scam artist in the country should be living in fear of prosecution. If these stories were more widely published, it may have a deterrent effect.

There is plenty of blame to go around for the mortgage crisis. Investors, mortgage companies, loan officers, appraisers, and borrowers are all at fault. A lot of mortgage companies made loans that should never have been made. Loan officers filled out fraudulent documents, and borrowers signed them unaware of what they were signing. Borrowers did not exercise caution and purchased much more house than they could afford and did not care about the details of their loan products. There were a lot of inflated appraisals. A lot of people committed fraud and many were irresponsible.

Now that we have the housing crisis, a new kind of fraud is occurring. The way the scam worked in this story is that the Money Store would use a "straw buyer" to purchase the home and tell the owners that they could continue living there and then buy it back after a year. Instead the scam artist in this story would borrow as much as possible against the home, stripping any remaining equity out of it, then stop making the payments and let it get foreclosed. The owner never got to buy it back.

I have heard of the same thing happening here. Another fraudulent occurrence is when "investors" buy homes at rock bottom prices from homeowners who are in default. Many times the homeowners would not have had to sell their home; There may have been workout options that would let the homeowner keep their home. Even if the homeowner could not keep the house, they may have been able to get the mortgage company to give them additional time to sell it. They could have then sold it at a reasonable, market price and at least gotten their equity out of it. The homeowners, however, are desperate and don't know there are other options are available.

Another thing occurring is there are a lot of phony counseling services. These false organizations contact homeowners who are in default. They tell the homeowners they are entitled to workout options, which can save their home. The organization then convinces the customer that they know how to negotiate settlements with mortgage companies, and for a fee, they will do so. They may charge $800 to open a case! Then, they do nothing at all for the customer. The next month, they call the customer and say they need another $600. The desperate customer pays the "counselor" the last money they have. This is money which could have gone to the mortgage company as part of a legitimate workout, or at least helped the customer move and find a place to rent.

Do not fall victim to these scam artists! I work for a HUD-approved, non-profit, housing counseling agency. If you live in Tennessee, call me and I will help you for free. If you live in another state, go to the HUD website and find a housing counselor in your area. If you have friends or family that may be facing mortgage default, don't let them be scammed. Help is available.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Thursday, June 12, 2008

That NAFTA Superhighway

If you get any of your news from any source other than the mainstream press you have probably heard about the NAFTA super highway. For the last couple years bloggers have been blogging about it and almost any political chat group has been chatting about it. I never took it seriously and dismissed it as mere fantasy from the tinfoil hat crowd. I reasoned that if a new roadway connecting Mexico, the US and Canada was being build to facilitate increased trade between our nations, that that would probably be a good thing and was nothing to get upset about.

It seemed that the same people who were alarmed about the NAFTA super highway were the same ones who want us to return to the gold standard, abolish the Federal Reserve and are always worry about the Council of Foreign Relations, the Bilderbergs, and the Illuminati. I was not alarmed. The John Birch Society folks and the other paranoid super patriots are generally harmless, good intentioned, conservative folks who just kind of went off the deep end on certain issues. I don’t get too worked up about them. Then I noticed that the kooky left, the folks who believe 911 was an inside job, started talking about the NAFTA highway also. It is amazing how often the kooky right and the kooky left share a lot of the same concerns.

With the advent of the Ron Paul campaign, the NAFT Superhighway began getting more and more publicity. Ron Paul’s opposition to it became a major part of his campaign. Next thing you know other conservatives, including Duncan Hunter, and Tom Tancredo, were taking positions pledging to stop it. Then the established responsible conservative publication Human Events started reporting on it. Then, CNN’s Lou Dobbs started reporting on it.

According to opponents of this NAFTA Superhighway, a secret organization run by shadowy government figures is in cahoots with foreign corporations who are determined to undermine American sovereignty. This group is supposedly building a ten-lane highway the width of several football fields, with freight and rail lines and oil and natural gas pipelines and electric power lines running alongside the roadway. It will run from deep in Mexico all the way into Canada with feeder roads connected to it throughout. That is not the extent of what they have planned however. This superhighway is just part of a bigger plot to form a North American Union with a single currency and open borders. The North American Union would be similar to the European Union. The organization that it putting this all together is something called the “Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America,” or the SPP.
The SPP does exist but it looks like just another little agency with a small bureaucracy. The purpose of the SPP is to facilitate increased security and prosperity among the US, Canada and Mexico. Other than maybe wasting a little money it appears nothing to be too concerned about.

Another entity that is part of this plot to build this roadway and take away our sovereignty is the America's SuperCorridor Organization (NASCO), which is a partnership of public and private entities. The map you see is their map but it is not showing a new highway at all, but shows the location of existing interstates. NASCO had been referring to these existing highways for years as the "NAFTA Superhighway,” They advocate improvements and promotion of this corridor. You can think of NASCO as a kind of regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Texas legislature has approved the development of a big ten-lane limited access toll road called will Trans Texas Corridor, which would parallel I-35 and stretch from the Mexican border to Oklahoma. I am not so sure what is so sinister about that. It may be a bad idea, but the elected representatives of the people of Texas think it is good idea, so who am I to say they are wrong. Quite frankly, I like the concept of funding new roadways by toll revenue.

I am not going to provide links to document this, if you are interested, just Google the terms, “NAFTA Superhighway”, “SPP”, “North American Union”, “NASCO” and “Trans Texas Corridor” and you will get about a half million hits. Read them. I see no evidence that there is anything to be concerned about. There is not a NAFTA Superhighway. There is nothing to be alarmed about. There is no grand plan to divide America by a roadway that is under the authority of a non-American entity. I do not see a threat to American sovereignty.

With a war in Iraq and the accompanying concern about mid-East stability, with a faltering economy, concern about global warming and energy security, and a housing crisis, I have more important things to worry about other than a fantasy highway.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette

City of Loma Linda bans smoking in most public places

LOMA LINDA, Calif. (AP) -- Smokers soon will have far fewer places where they can light up in Loma Linda. Council members on Tuesday passed an anti-smoking law that prohibits tobacco use in most of the city's public places.

The ordinance bans smoking on Loma Linda's public streets and sidewalks, in parks, restaurants, theaters and hospitals, as well as most of the city's motel and apartment units. The fine for a first offense will be $100 or less. The city of nearly 21,000 residents in San Bernardino County was founded in 1905 by Seventh-day Adventists. They typically abstain from alcohol, caffeine and meat.


When cigarettes are outlawed, only outlaws will have cigarettes.

Last October a new rule went into effect in Nashville and now most of the honky tonks of Nashville are smoke-free. I smoke a pipe so I don't have a craving to smoke the same way a cigarette smoker does, but sitting in a bar, listening to live county music and drinking a beer is when I most want to light up. Since the ban went into effect I find I have a whole lot less desire to go out. Dim lights, thick smoke and loud, loud music just seem to go together.

If I would have still been in the Metro Council, I would not have supported the ban on smoking in bars. I think it should be left up to the individual bar owner to set his own rules about smoking and the the customer can decide if he wants to visit that establishment or not. Nevertheless, while I don't like it and wouldn't have voted for it, I can understand the second hand smoke argument for banning smoking in enclosed places. Prohibiting smoking outdoors, however, is punitive and discriminatory and I do not see the logic used to ban it, other than people just find it offensive. I don't think we should have the right not to be offended.

Some people just can't stand it if other people are having fun. People like banning activity of which they disapprove. Strip clubs are often banned under the guise of health and safety regulations. Zoning and permitting are often used to prohibit activity that is otherwise legal. Regulations supported by the Baptist and the liquor industry keep wine out of Tennessee grocery stores.

Where are the lobbyist for the merchants of death when you need them. If this ban can stand, then the good citizens of Loma Linda may next ban coffee drinking in public. If the tobacco industry will establish a non-profit entity to legally challenge irrational smoking bans like this, I will donate ten dollars. Maybe smokers ought to converge on Loma Linda and have a massive smoke-in.

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Republicans have a "Branding" Problem

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

Monday, June 9, 2008

Buy your Carbon Off-sets Here

Buy your Carbon Off-Sets Here!

Live Guilt Free, Get Your Certificate Suitable For Framing.
Show your friends how responsible you are.
Makes great Gifts!

$5.50 per Ton, this week only !

For only $5.50, I will give you a certificate saying that you have my permission to spew one ton of carbon into the air and not have a dirty conscience.

Projects funded by purchase of offsets, include the following:

Preservation of the tree in my front yard

Forgoing auto trips from Nashville to Knoxville. I can forgo up to 3 trips a day.

For $42,000 worth of offsets, I will trade my low gas-mileage car for a high mileage hybrid.

Purchase our “Green Elephant Special”:
2 tons of carbon off-set for only $9.50.

    Disgruntled Republican Enterprises also has a bridge in Brooklyn for sale. Also we have clients in Nigeria who are looking for Americans who will help them dispose of millions of dollars by putting it in their checking account. Disgruntled Republican Ministries also has miracle prayer cloths for sale. We accept cash, checks, money orders, and paypal.

    Stumble Upon Toolbar
    My Zimbio
    Top Stories

    The great carbon bazaar

    By Mark Gregory Business correspondent, BBC World Service, India

    Evidence of serious flaws in the multi-billion dollar global market for carbon credits has been uncovered by a BBC World Service investigation. The credits are generated by a United Nations-run scheme called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
    The mechanism gives firms in developing countries financial incentives to cut greenhouse gas emissions. But in some cases, carbon credits are paid to projects that would have been realized without external funding.

    The BBC World Service investigation found examples of projects in India where this appeared to be the case. Arguably, this defeats the whole point of the CDM scheme, set up under the Kyoto climate change protocol, as these projects are getting money for nothing. The findings reinforce doubts that the CDM is leading to real emission cuts, which is not good news for the effort to combat climate change. (Link)


    The Kyoto Protocol has been the world’s most ambitious effort to combat global warming and unfortunately it has been a dismal failure. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 by the United Nations Framework on Climate change and since then 187 countries have ratified the treaty but not the United States.

    The Kyoto treaty requires each industrialized county that is a party to the treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level specified for each of them. Collectively they must reduce their greenhouse emissions to 5% less than the 1990 level of emission. While some countries are on track to reduce their emissions to their treaty obligated level, many others are not and with China and India exempt from emission reduction requirements, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

    Unfortunately even for some of those countries that are meeting their treaty obligations on-paper, their is reason to doubt that they are in actuality having any impact on greenhouse gas emissions. That is because many of them are meeting their reduction level by purchasing carbon offsets.

    The logic of this ability to purchase offsets, is that whether you reduce emissions in your own country or you help another country reduce their emissions, the effect is the same. Unfortunately, the Clean Development Mechanism has been riddled with scandal. If you will read the above article, it gives examples of how the program is working in reality.

    Carbon offsets sound good in theory. In practice most carbon offsets, whether the foreign CDM offsets or private sector carbon offsets, are a shell game, a scam and a con.

    When Congress was debating the recently defeated Cap and Trade legislation, Senator Bob Corker offered an amendment that would delete foreign offsets from the bill. Unless there is a major reform of the CDM, then any American Cap and Trade system must not allow foreign offsets. Before the US considers ratifying Kyoto, the CDM must be reformed.

    Stumble Upon Toolbar
    My Zimbio
    Top Stories

    Friday, June 6, 2008

    Environmentalist who Oppose Cap and Trade

    I followed closely the arguments about the Lieberman-Warner Cap and Trade bill which was defeated in the U.S. Senate today. One of the things that surprised me was the lukewarm support from environmentalist and liberal activist for this legislation. I would have assumed they would have made a big push to get this bill passed and would have rallied the troops. Instead, what I found was, at best, a half-hearted support. I did not see much passion.

    While most of the environmental and liberal organizations did half-heatedly endorse the Lieberman-Warner Cap and Trade bill, not all did so. Among environmentalist there are some who oppose nuclear energy more than they oppose CO2 emissions and do not want any bill passed that would make nuclear energy more attractive as would be the case with a Cap and Trade bill.

    Some environmentalists opposed Lieberman-Warner cap and trade because they think the greenhouse emissions cap is not sufficiently stringent. Some liberals opposed the bill because they perceive that the burden of curtailing global warming would fall heaviest on the poor, and their concern for “economic justice” out weighs their concern for the environment. Other environmental groups had the same criticism as did some conservatives and opposed the bill simply because it was a bad bill.

    Among the environmental groups opposing the bill were Friends of the Earth,, CREDO Mobile, Greenpeace, and Public Citizen.

    Creedo Mobile is an organization that funds liberal causes by providing cell phone and other services and giving a share of their profits to liberal causes. Since 1985 they have distributed over $60 million dollars to various organizations. Consider the following from Creedo Mobile on why they are opposing Lieberman Warner:

    In the end, the goal of a cap and trade system is similar to that of a carbon tax - raise the cost of activities that generate CO2 relative to other activities so that producers and consumers choose to generate less. Many who advocate for a cap and trade system do so over a tax on two grounds - a majority of CO2 emissions come from a relatively small number of producers or companies, and in the American political climate, the notion of imposing taxes is thought to be toxic. But rest assured, a successful cap and trade system only works if it has the economic impact of imposing a tax on CO2.

    One of the reasons that many companies like the cap and trade system is that setting it up is a fundamentally political act, subject to all the good and bad that is decision making in Washington, D.C. Coalitions are formed, front groups created, lobbyists hired, Senate campaigns funded. All to ensure that someone else has to pay the tax, or, in the case of cap and trade, to argue over the cap (the lower the cap, the lower the implicit tax, and vice versa). Also to fight over whether or not the initial allocation of CO2 permits are distributed based on current pollution or auctioned off, and if auctioned off, who gets the revenue (the equivalent of who gets to spend the tax revenue). (link)

    Creedo is exactly right. A cap and trade is essentially a tax and the Congress picks the winners and losers who pay it. In addition, it creates a massive bureaucracy and may be devastating to the economy. Despite grave misgivings about the efficacy of cap and trade, I was willing to swallow hard and accept it, if the cap and trade could be modified along the lines proposed
    by Senator Bob Corker.

    I am pleased to see that the environmental community did not all fall in lock-step in support of this flawed proposal. With even liberals agreeing that a carbon tax is superior to a cap and trade, I am thinking that a gas tax may actually be a possibility. Perhaps it is time to hold firm for a gas tax and pull the plug on cap and trade.

    Stumble Upon Toolbar
    My Zimbio
    Top Stories

    Bob Corker on Lieberman-Warner:

    "This bill misses the mark."

    The 500-plus-page Lieberman-Warner Cap and Trade bill that was defeated in the U. S Senate today was a very complex bill and was fatally flawed. If you are unsure of the features of the bill and what was wrong with it, I urge you to watch this 16 minute clip of Senator Bob Corker’s Senate presentation.

    Cap and Trade is dead for this session of Congress, but unless Congress develops the wisdom to offer a Carbon Tax, a Cap and Trade in some form is probably in our future. Everyone who cares about the issue of global warming needs to become conversant about the features of cap and trade. We can only hope that the next version of Cap and Trade is cured of the defects of the Lieberman-Warner bill.

    Corker accepts the science of global warming. He does not demigod the bill, but calmly and clearly explains how cap and trade would work and what is wrong with the Lieberman-Warner bill. He explains that, “27% of the allocations in this bill go to entities that nothing to do with emitting carbons.” And, he says, “This bill transfers 6.7 trillion dollars in wealth.”

    He argues that the foreign carbon offsets are fraudulent and should be deleted from the bill. “I am open to discussing cap and trade legislation that takes the country in the right direction,” says Corker. “This bill misses the mark.”

    Stumble Upon Toolbar
    My Zimbio
    Top Stories

    Wednesday, June 4, 2008

    Ms Clinton, It is over.

    Stumble Upon Toolbar
    My Zimbio
    Top Stories

    Tuesday, June 3, 2008


    Corker Seeks to Return More Money Directly to American Citizens, Prevent Massive Government Expansion, Keep More U.S. Dollars at Home

    May 28, 2008, JASPER, TN – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today announced his plans to introduce three amendments to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008, S. 3036, when it comes to the Senate floor for debate next week. The crux of the Corker amendments is to get more money returned directly to the pockets of the American people who will bear the brunt of the costs associated with cap-and-trade.

    “I believe we should return more money directly to the pockets of American citizens, prevent massive government expansion, and keep more U.S. dollars at home rather than sending them overseas,” said Corker.

    Specifically, the Corker amendments would (1) provide direct relief to American consumers bearing the brunt of the cap-and-trade program’s costs; (2) increase direct reimbursement to the American people by eliminating free allowances—worth over a TRILLION dollars—to entities that have nothing to do with reducing carbon emissions; and (3) eliminate the use of international offsets to meet emissions reductions.

    “Since day one, my goal has been to support a bill that addresses climate security AND energy security in a balanced way. This bill is not that and, in my opinion, is not ready for prime time,” said Corker. “While it does focus on climate change, unfortunately it is also a huge spending bill that uses non-discretionary spending—funded in essence by a tax on the American people—to spend TRILLIONS of dollars on new and existing government programs.

    “If a cap-and-trade bill becomes law, every single American will pay more for gasoline, more for electricity, more for food, more for everything they buy as a result. I believe that any money generated from a cap-and-trade system should be put back in the pockets of American citizens burdened with these additional costs. Additionally, I believe we need to increase the amount of allowances that are auctioned, rather than giving them away for free to other entities who are supposed to use the value of those allowances to benefit the public. In my view, American citizens would be better served receiving relief directly rather than relying on middlemen to provide that relief through a massive government expansion."

    Corker has joined with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to offer a third amendment which will eliminate the use of international offsets to meet emissions reductions. “We should eliminate all international offsets as a way for emitters to comply with the U.S. carbon cap,” said Corker. “There are serious questions about the integrity of many of these projects, and it is difficult to determine whether these projects would have occurred anyway. In addition, these offsets would have a distorting affect on the U.S. cap-and-trade market and would lead to even more American dollars being spent overseas in countries like China, instead of in America.”

    Noting that climate change and cap-and-trade would be significant issues facing Congress, Corker has spent his first 16 months in office delving into the complexity of the policy. Last May 2007, he traveled to Europe with Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to meet with European Union officials, carbon traders, representatives from the utility industry, and cement manufacturers. In July, Corker went to Greenland with Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to view the effects of climate change. He has also spent countless hours with Tennessee-based industry, conservation groups, and experts discussing the impacts of climate change legislation, and in April, Corker began making presentations to his colleagues outlining his concerns with the bill.

    Congratulations to Senator Corker for proposing these common sense amendments to the Cap and Trade bill. Maybe you can make a purse out of a sow's ear.

    It is clear that a Cap and Trade bill will not pass this year. The House has not even taken up the measure and President Bush has said he will veto a Cap and Trade bill if it does pass Congress. At this time, their does not appear to be 60 votes in the Senate to bring any Cap and Trade bill to a vote. With gas approaching $4 a gallon and politician talking about cutting the gas tax and with general concern about the economy, we cannot expect politician to have the courage to pass a bill that will acutally increase energy cost. Also, we can expect an outpouring of opposition once the public becomes aware of the pocketbook impact of a Cap and Trade bill. In addition, the environmentalist community has not been aggressive in selling the concept or rallying the trooops.

    Despite the grim outlook for this session of Congress, a Cap and Trade bill may very well be in our future. McCain, Obama and Clinton are all supporting some version and Democrats, who have been more friendly to environmental causes, will more than likely gain seats in the next Congress. Working on the bill now, even though it will not pass this year, is an extremely important part of the process so that the final bill is a bill that will actually achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse emissions without destroying the economy.

    Cap and Trade as now drafted is not a bill worth passing. It would be extremely costly and probably accomplish little. Also, there are numerous amendments pending which, if passed, would weaken the bill and benefit special interest and actually make this bad bill even worse. One of the major problems with the bill is that it gives away too many credits rather than selling them. Corker's amendmends will correct some of the major defects of the Cap and Trade proposal. It is my hope that the final bill is a bill that is worthy of supporting.

    Keep up the good work, Senator.

    Stumble Upon Toolbar
    My Zimbio
    Top Stories

    Sunday, June 1, 2008

    Five Myths About the Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Legislation

    Starting tomorrow the United States Senate will begin debate of the Lieberman-Warner Cap and Trade bill. It is my hope that a good Cap and Trade bill emerges and is passed. Unfortunately, I have doubts that a good bill will emerge. There are too many interests who will want the bill drawn in such a way as to benefit them that I suspect the final product will be flawed. When Congress must pick winners and losers, the pubic usually looses. A simple carbon tax would be much less costly and much less subject to special interest manipulation. Unfortunately a Carbon Tax bill is not before us and a Cap and Trade bill is.

    The Heritage Foundation, a respected Conservative think-tank has come out against the Lieberman-Warner bill. Ben Lieberman, a Senior Policy Analyst for Energy and Environment in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation has produced a short analysis of the bill called Five Myths About the Lieberman-Warner Global Warming Legislation. You can expect this study to be the talking points that will be repeated over and over again by the bills opponents. I am posting that report and responding:

    Myth #1: LW would not be expensive.

    Fact: Simply put, LW works like a massive energy tax. By restricting carbon dioxide emissions from coal, oil, and natural gas--with a freeze at 2005 levels beginning in 2012, to a 70 percent reduction in 2050--the bill forces down supply and thus boosts the price of energy. In fact, if energy prices did not go up, then the targets in the bill would not be met. As energy is the economy's lifeblood, and 85 percent of it comes from these fossil fuels, the impact will be substantial. Cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) losses could reach $4.8 trillion by 2030, according to an analysis conducted by the Heritage Foundation. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Environmental Protection Agency, Charles River Associates, and the National Association of Manufacturers have all conducted studies predicting significant economic burdens on consumers should the bill be enacted.

    Response: I think this is exactly correct. Any effective effort to combat global warming is going to be expensive. Also, it does work like a massive energy tax. One of my criticisms of the environmentalist is that they have soft-pedaled the sacrifice and cost that it will take to address the problem.

    Myth #2: The costs fall on industry, not consumers.

    Fact: Virtually all the burden imposed by LW falls upon consumers. The bill will spur net job losses well into the hundreds of thousands, and possibly nearing one million. Particularly hard hit is the manufacturing sector where over one million jobs will be lost by 2022 and two million by 2027. The losses in household incomes could reach $1,026 per year by 2015. Annual household energy-price increases could hit $1,000 by 2030, including a 29 percent increase in the price of gasoline from 2008 levels.

    Response: This is true. Anytime government puts an additional burden on industry, the burden is born by consumers. I do not know the accuracy of the cost to the economy of the bill, but will assume the estimates are correct.

    Myth #3: Global warming is a crisis that must be addressed at all costs.

    Fact: Global warming is a concern, not a crisis. Both the seriousness and the imminence of the threat are overstated. For example, the recent United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report estimates 7 to 23 inches of sea level rise by the end of the century--far less than the widely popularized claims of 18 to 20 feet and little more than ongoing trends over the past several centuries. The attempt to link Hurricane Katrina with climate change is directly contradicted by the World Meteorological Organization and many scientists. Overall, current and expected future temperatures are far from unprecedented, and are highly unlikely to lead to catastrophes.

    Response: Not true. Global warming is a crisis. While there are dissenting voices, the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community is that it is a serious and imminent threat. Read the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report. That report clearly says global warming is a serious threat and we have only a few years to do something about it. Global warming is real, and by the time the worse effects occur it may be too late to reverse them. It is only because the consequences of doing nothing are so serious that a costly undertaking like cap and trade or a carbon tax should be contemplated.

    Myth #4: LW effectively addresses the threat of climate change.

    Fact: Even assuming the worst of global warming, LW reduces the threat by a minuscule amount. The bill reduces emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the United States only. China has overtaken America as the world's largest emitter, and its emissions growth is several times greater than that of the U.S. India and other fast-developing nations are on a similar trajectory. Thus, the unilateral impact of the bill on global emissions would be inconsequential. At most, it would reduce the earth's future temperature by one or two tenths of a degree Celsius--too small to even verify. In other words, LW is all economic pain for no environmental gain.

    Response: This is a legitimate problem. If we reduce our own emission, that will do little to curtail global warming unless we can get China and India on board. However, if the US acts responsibly to curtail its global warming emissions, then we can speak with moral authority and attempt to negotiate treaties that will bring China and India on board.

    Myth #5: LW's cap-and-trade approach is a proven success.

    Fact: Critics of the cap-and-trade approach in LW, in which emissions are capped and regulated entities may trade their rights to emit, point to the European Union's substantial difficulties since initiating its own cap-and-trade program in 2005. Most E.U. nations are not on track to meet their targets, and many are seeing their emissions rise faster than those in the U.S. The program is furthermore plagued by accusations of fraud and unfairness. LW essentially adopts the European approach wholesale.

    Response: This is true regarding the European Cap and Trade but not true about Cap and Trade in general. Just because Europe got it wrong does not mean that we cannot get it right. It is not the concept that is flawed, but the design of the final product. We know that a Cap and Trade system can work. If you recall when Acid Rain was a problem, it was solved by the use of a system of Cap and Trade. In addressing the problem of Acid Rain, Cap and Trade was a proven success.

    Conclusion: Overall, the Lieberman-Warner bill promises substantial hardship for the economy overall, for jobs, and for energy costs. Given current economic concerns and energy prices, this is the last thing the American people need. At the same time, the environmental benefits would likely be small to nonexistent. The Lieberman-Warner bill fails any reasonable cost-benefit test.

    My Conclusion: If passed into law the Lieberman-Warner bill will cause substantial hardship. If the final product has so many loopholes that it is ineffective then it does not deserve to be passed. However, if the final proposal is a good bill that substantially curtails global warming emission then the benefit of avoiding the consequences of global warming makes the cost acceptable.

    Stumble Upon Toolbar
    My Zimbio
    Top Stories