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Free Thinkers Anonymous

Think with an open mind, question everything

Google vs. James Damore

The firing of engineer James Damore at Google has galvanized different views on the matter, from some criticizing the engineer who wrote the memo to others denouncing Google for it’s response (https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/07/google-fires-memo-author/). In truth though, there is blame to go around.

Contrary to the inflammatory headlines concerning James Damore’s circulated memo being “anti-diversity”, it was hardly the case in reality. Mr. Damore took the time in his 10-page submission to criticize the manner in which Google undertook it’s diversity efforts, pointing out that in the name of instituting diversity among it’s employee ranks (according to arbitrary quotas), the company…according to Mr. Damore…was diminishing respect for ideological diversity and adherence to merit in it’s practices (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3914586-Googles-Ideological-Echo-Chamber.html). Indeed Mr. Damore mentions biological and philosophical differences between men and women, but such a thing is not necessarily a product of not respecting other people. By firing Mr. Damore in response to such a memo, Google in fact validated many of his criticisms regarding the topic at hand. If it were truly a beacon of diversity as advertised, the act of merely voicing an alternative viewpoint wouldn’t have been a fire-able offense. By such logic, those who advocate for better practices for women in the workplace, like Sheryl Sandberg for example (https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/03/29/sheryl-sandberg-interview-lean-in-four-years-later/99749464/), would have been fired for just such a similar raising of biological differences. Coupled with recent news that some of Google’s managers keep “blacklists” on those that they disagree with (https://www.inc.com/sonya-mann/google-manifesto-blacklists.html), and the reality shows the company to be hardly the supposed champion of free thought and diversity it touts itself to be.

This doesn’t mean that Mr. Damore is without criticism himself necessarily. He has threatened to sue Google for firing him over the memo…which basically undercuts his arguments involving ideological diversity by muddying the line between public and private venues (assuming it isn’t a violation of any contractual agreement under when Mr. Damore was hired). The First Amendment doesn’t apply to a private company, only to the government. Otherwise, everyone would be entitled to the use of someone else’s microphone/platform…a violation of their expression and speech since it would involve the encroachment of the state to enforce. It is understandable to be angry at an employer over the act of firing you, but government force involving associations is hardly an answer.

All this showcases how for many people, on all aisles of ideological inquiry, diversity is more of a word in defense of what they believe to the exclusion of all else. Such a belief, instead of being an enlightened position, only showcases a lack of faith in one’s own values. After all, if one is assured of their ideological position (particularly when they champion the importance of free thought and diversity), the presence of alternative viewpoints shouldn’t be a threat. How is one to grow as a human being if they are never challenged, which can only come in a truly open environment of inquiry and debate? Something to think about.

Extra:

Perhaps what is also missed in cases like this is discussion of the legal structure that encourages companies to preemptively punish employees for their views rather than face lawsuits later. This doesn’t absolve Google of it’s hypocrisy, but definitely something to consider – https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/legal-background-might-have-shaped-incentives-google-memo-case

What to make of President Trump’s military transgender ban announcement?

As with most things President Trump does, the response to the news that transgender soldiers will no longer be allowed to serve in the military has involved multiple expressions, with the typical one usually involving charges of the move being unnecessary or an act of discrimination. Those who support the president’s tweet claim that such policy is needed as a result of medical costs. Which side is correct? Well, both in a way.

The comment concerning costs from the tweet seems to come from a RAND study that the Pentagon commissioned last year. In it, the conclusion was that including transgender soldiers in the military would lead to incurring anywhere from $2.4 to 8.4 million in increased medical costs (http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_briefs/RB9900/RB9909/RAND_RB9909.pdf). The number of serving transgender soldiers isn’t truly known, but various studies (the RAND study being one) estimate the number being around a few to several thousand. Interestingly, the same RAND study also looked at 18 countries which permitted transgender soldiers to join their armed forces, and didn’t find any problems with readiness or unit cohesion. Such an outcome therefore does undercut the supposed concern of disruption. Also, while there is indeed concern of budgetary bloat in the military, it doesn’t require something as excessive as an outright ban. It also ignores the vast bounty upon which much of military activity is based. The defense apparatus (DoD, VA, etc.) offers much in the way of expenditures and benefits which don’t line-up with battlefield concerns, as well as incompetence, inefficiency, and mismanagement with contracting, rank growth, endeavors overseas, and veterans care among other things. Such bloat covers billions…or even trillions…of dollars to reconsider (https://medium.com/war-is-boring/the-f-35-is-a-terrible-fighter-bomber-and-attacker-and-unfit-for-aircraft-carriers-c6e36763574b; http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/world-report/2013/07/24/the-pentagon-has-too-many-troops; https://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/withdrawing-overseas-bases-why-forward-deployed-military-posture; https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/va-improperly-spent-6-billion-on-care-for-veterans-senior-agency-leader-says/2015/05/13/ab8f131c-f5be-11e4-b2f3-af5479e6bbdd_story.html; http://nypost.com/2017/07/26/us-military-blows-millions-a-year-on-viagra-for-its-troops/; http://hotair.com/archives/2017/07/28/government-needs-end-military-freebies-recruitment-tactics/). If public officials and others are concerned with attempted abuse of medical procedures covered under military budgets, like the media-covered controversy of gender reassignment surgery, such freebies could simply be removed. Such a change seems much more viable than completely locking out capable individuals from serving their country irrespective of whether they are seeking aid or not….a collectivist form of punishment if there ever was one.

If nothing else, just as with the travel ban (and recent comments against the filibuster), this episode shows how much President Trump doesn’t much care for process. While he claimed in his tweet that he had sought the advice of his generals, it turned out that the Joint Chiefs and other defense officials were blind-sided by the announcement (http://thehill.com/policy/defense/344290-mattis-appalled-by-trump-tweets-announcing-transgender-military-ban-report). Therefore, they have refused to make any changes to policy until further notice. Indeed Trump isn’t constitutionally obligated to do so, being the commander-in-chief of the armed forces (Article II), but it usually isn’t a good idea to blindside those who will be tasked with making sure that policy is carried out. It also is rather unnecessarily rushed on the part of the president to announce such a change to military policy, when the Department of Defense was already reviewing it’s policy on transgender enlistees to determine if they affect “readiness and lethality”. It is set to release the review in December (http://redalertpolitics.com/2017/07/26/lgbt-gop-group-members-white-house-blindsided-trans-ban/). Such findings would have added to the data mentioned above, and therefore could potentially have offered more substance to the conversation. Perhaps it might have even given support and political cover to President Trump in a potential policy of reform. Instead, the chief executive decided to throw such proceedings out the window for a post on Twitter. Why? I don’t know. Then again, as I and many have come to experience over the past several months, there doesn’t seem to be much logic in a lot of what President Trump does. Unfortunately, that activity might serve to darken sentiment toward other forms of policy that could have positive implications, such as tax and regulatory reform. Not a good sign.

The spirit of innovation

Here are recent technological advances and discoveries that could aid in alleged issues of genetics, climate change, disease, energy, hunger, birth, safety, sexuality, medical costs, convenience, and production among other things. Such capabilities showcase why making sure our society remains as open and free a marketplace to growth, ideas, and endeavors as it can is so important, so that such outcomes are more likely to occur. Who knows what else lies around the corner.

CRISPR –

http://gizmodo.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-crispr-the-new-tool-1702114381

https://singularityhub.com/2017/04/26/crispr-pill-may-be-key-in-fight-against-antibiotic-resistance/

http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/crispr-eliminates-hiv-in-live-animals/81254287

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608350/first-human-embryos-edited-in-us/

Other genetic projects (DNA, aging molecules, gene therapy) –

http://bigstory.ap.org/e2931badb6f14e968c8241c3b756fbcd

Researcher Says He’s Found Molecule To Fight Aging

New gene therapy may ‘turn off’ asthma

Telemedicine and health care automation –

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-telemedicine-is-transforming-health-care-1466993402

http://theconversation.com/why-are-we-dragging-our-feet-when-more-automation-in-health-care-will-save-lives-75591

Somatic cell transformation –

https://phys.org/news/2016-04-scientists-skin-cells-human-sperm.html

http://www.nature.com/news/mouse-eggs-made-from-skin-cells-in-a-dish-1.20817

Molecular change/process tweaking –

http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-figured-out-how-to-turn-co2-into-solid-rock-within-months

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3945808/Scientists-tweak-photosynthesis-increase-crop-yield.html

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-31/swiss-pickles-set-to-benefit-from-first-carbon-capture-plant

Cleanup tech –

http://www.businessinsider.com/boyan-slat-ocean-cleanup-launch-2018-2017-5

http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/New-Recycling-Technique-Enables-Spent-Nuclear-Fuel-Rods-to-be-Used-Again.html

3d printing/production –

http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2017/04/25/3d-printing-consumers-future-ip/id=82533

http://www.power-eng.com/articles/print/volume-121/issue-4/departments/nuclear-reactions/print-that-part.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/hydrogen-metal-revolution-technology-space-rockets-superconductor-harvard-university-a7548221.html

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2017/nasas-van-allen-probes-spot-man-made-barrier-shrouding-earth

https://fee.org/articles/hack-your-pancreas-and-3d-print-your-smile/

http://www.theverge.com/2017/4/25/15421734/artificial-womb-fetus-biobag-uterus-lamb-sheep-birth-premie-preterm-infant

Autonomous/flying vehicles –

http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/181508-googles-self-driving-car-passes-700000-accident-free-miles-can-now-avoid-cyclists-stop-for-trains

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/29/crash-data-for-self-driving-cars-may-not-tell-whole-story.html

http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/24/technology/larry-page-flying-car/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-25/uber-self-driving-truck-packed-with-budweiser-makes-first-delivery-in-colorado

http://www.businessinsider.com/first-all-electric-autonomous-cargo-ship-yara-birkeland-2017-5

AI/robots –

https://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2017/06/03/robot-cop-dubai/#807281d6872b

http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/stu_bykofsky/sex-robots-are-real-and-theyre-all-made-in-the-u-s-20170713.html

https://www.cnet.com/news/why-drone-delivery-wins/

Blockchain –

https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2017/05/23/blockstack-unveils-a-browser-for-the-decentralized-web/

Genetic engineering –

http://www.popsci.com/genetically-modified-mosquito-knocks-out-dengue-brazilian-neighborhood

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/nature/fewer-pesticides-farming-with-gmos/

Microchip implants –

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-tech-implants-idUSKBN1AA2UZ

Claremont McKenna and the issue of speech on campuses

In the constant stories of how alternative views are punished on many campuses, nice to see some universities like Clearmont McKenna taking a stand toward upholding what institutions of education should be, venues of free inquiry and debate. Instead of allowing students to get away with blocking access to an event and speaker that they didn’t like, the college suspended and blocked degree access for those who violated institutional rules (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/07/18/claremont-mckenna-suspends-5-students-blocking-speech). Such a defense was probably put best by the University of Chicago, when they released letters to an incoming freshmen class last year. In them, the university proclaimed that “fostering the free exchange of ideas reinforces a related university priority…building a campus that welcomes people of all backgrounds.” (http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/univ-chicago-pushes-back-trigger-warnings-safe-spaces). Such an exchange ultimately involves even sharing peacefully those ideas which might be shocking or unpopular. If an idea is truly superior, it doesn’t need walls or boundaries erected around it against challenges, for it wins on it’s own merits. The students involved in the McKenna case took it upon themselves to get in the way of an event that was voluntarily set up by other groups on campus, and therefore showcased themselves not only to have little faith in the values they supposedly care about, but also to stand in opposition to educational prudence. Glad to see that Claremont McKenna took action, and hopefully others will join in that cause.

Are more privatized educational endeavors problematic?

Instead of dealing with the understanding that the public school system has become increasingly problematic to families and students, the union American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten chose to offer only inflammatory rhetoric about school choice advocates, a demonstration of ad hominem argumentation (http://nypost.com/2017/07/21/teachers-union-president-calls-charter-schools-polite-cousin-of-segregation/). How the ability of people to have more control over the quality of their education is “racist” I have no idea. Contrary to her assertions over the so-called dangers of school choice, studies show such alternatives to have either neutral or positive results…with none finding anything negative (http://www.justfacts.com/education.asp#choice_gov; http://www.nheri.org/research/nheri-news/nationwide-study-finds-high-academic-achievement-by-the-homeschooled.html; https://fee.org/articles/3-reasons-to-support-school-choice/). This as opposed to public school sectors, which have produced stagnant results despite extensive budget support over the years (https://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/pa746_2.pdf; https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/12/how-do-american-students-compare-to-their-international-peers/509834/; http://www.gallup.com/poll/1612/education.aspx). On the subject of diversity, charter schools have been shown to be remarkably integrated and a boon for minority students (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgb.asp; http://www.publiccharters.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/The_Color_of_Success_Full_Report_20110402T222340.pdf; http://www.newschoolsforneworleans.org/education-in-nola/data-and-analysis-old/), while public schools have actually been shown to be increasingly segregated according to a report by the Government Accountability Office…perhaps because many are leaving for better options (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/05/17/gao-study-segregation-worsening-us-schools/84508438/).

Perhaps instead of demonizing those who seek alternative choices in the quality of their education, Ms. Weingarten should focus on the devolution of the public school moniker, and how the teacher unions…especially the organization she leads…have played a role in the mess, being more focused on political causes rather than educational success, and supporting bad teachers (http://freebeacon.com/issues/seven-unions-top-kochs-in-super-pac-spending-and-thats-just-the-money-we-know-about/; http://watchdog.org/240956/aft-union-politics-2015/; https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000083; http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-court-rejects-bid-to-end-teacher-tenure-in-california-marking-huge-win-for-unions-20160414-story.html; https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-teachers-no-one-wants-1499989012). Then again, perhaps that is too much to ask of those who have been all too comfortable to enjoy their power over struggling families and students.

Extra:

Some other ways that education is becoming more decentralized and diverse in application, particularly on the ever-budding information superhighway:

http://www.businessinsider.com/micro-schools-altschool-2016-1

http://mashable.com/2017/05/12/i-learned-more-from-youtube-than-professors/#ugjn0TDy9OqV

http://www.businessinsider.com/texas-teacher-got-rid-homework-2016-8

https://jrowberg.io/2017/03/13/learn-marketable-skills-online-udemy/

http://www.businessinsider.com/job-prep-online-courses-udemy-2017-1/#personal-branding-10

A good PBS program looking at the struggles of the education sector, and how some are trying to break through – http://www.pbs.org/wnet/school-inc/

Does raising the smoking age help with health issues?

With the passage of a new law, New Jersey joins a couple of other states (Hawaii and California) and districts in raising the smoking age (http://fox8.com/2017/07/22/new-jersey-raises-smoking-age-to-21/). This despite the fact that cited studies on the matter are mostly speculative, and that such a change is nothing less than a paternalist encroachment on individual liberty…particularly focused on what people decide to put in their own bodies.

The article above cites a 2015 National Institute of Medicine study that mentions alleged lives that would be saved by the law change (http://tobacco21.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Public-Health-Implications-of-Raising-the-Minimum-Age-of-Legal-Access-to-Tobacco-Products-Institute-of-Medicine.pdf)…but that is all that such statistics are, merely alleged. The study itself flatly admits that there is no baseline data that exists regarding the law changes (given the fact that the laws have been changed only recently in those few states and districts), and that other factors could be responsible for the decline in jurisdictions it considers…such as Needham, Massachusetts. Instead, it relies on models to try to anticipate teenagers getting cigarettes from retailers and older friends and family in a world with a nationwide smoking age of 21, and then tries to extend the rates of smoking and smoking related diseases out to the year 2100. Not only is such a thing obviously speculative, it also ignores the realities of the mechanics which take root in a prohibitionist marketplace. The change is also just as likely to provide the impetus for a black market to offer those who are underage the ability to garner cigarettes themselves. Alcohol laws concerning age could potentially offer a window into how such a thing could work out. Issues concerning binge drinking, fake IDs, and safety concerns have caused some campuses to begin reconsidering how age laws stand on the issue (https://fee.org/articles/lower-the-drinking-age/). Such a thing shouldn’t be a surprise considering how historical insight from previous attempts at prohibition, and how the current War on Drugs, have worked out concerning public safety concerns. An analysis conducted by the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study in 2015 found that teenage smoking rates have fallen across the United States independently of whether jurisdictions raise their smoking age (http://monitoringthefuture.org/pressreleases/15Ecigtbl.pdf).

In the end, such a change doesn’t match up on closer scrutiny. Instead, what this drive plays into is merely rescinding the rights of perfectly capable adults according to speculative theories…the calling card of a nanny state. In all the supposed concern that the adults in question get “better maturity and understanding” of the situation, there appeared to be none extended to the worry of whether they could attain those qualities toward taking out student loans, joining the military, getting married, casting a vote in an election, driving a car, etc. After all, those are all things that 18 year olds are able to do. If they are able to do those activities and face the consequences, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to enjoy a cigar and a beer too. Being able to make choices…even if they may be unwise…is part of what being an adult is, otherwise what is the significance of having an “age of majority” distinction at all? Adults of all ages should be able to enjoy their lives in peace without the state putting up needless roadblocks like this.

Jeffery Loria and the folly of public stadium deals

When looking for a dishonest business owner who has contempt for his customers, look no further than Miami Marlins owner (at least for now) Jeffery Loria. After running the Montreal Expos into the ground, and lucky to land a championship from the 2003 then-Florida Marlins team, he has developed a relationship of shortchanging team growth and competition, lying about his team’s financial fortunes, and going after his fans. When trying to convince public officials in Miami of the need for taxpayer money for a baseball stadium, Loria and other Marlins associates sobbed about the financial struggles the team supposedly had…before financial documents showed such a story to be spurious. The team had been making tens of millions of dollars of profit from MLB’s revenue sharing scheme (http://deadspin.com/5619235/florida-marlins-financial-documents/; http://www.fieldofschemes.com/news/archives/2010/08/4271_mlbleakgate_wat_4.html). Such news ultimately led to backlash from the public, leading to the dismissal of many public officials, including the recall and replacement of Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez, who had unquestionably backed the plan. After such dishonesty, and putting together a mediocre team, Loria set up a fire sale that sold most of the team’s top talent to other teams (https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/marlins/2012/11/13/blue-jays-marlins-trade-jose-reyes-josh-johnson-mark-buehrle/1703283/). Finally, to add insult to injury, he now has decided to punish fans through lawsuits…over reneging on a deal concerning season tickets that the team already violated (http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/miami-marlins-sue-fan-to-seize-his-property-in-broward-county-9475661). Most teams would avoid such a public relations nightmare, but given what Loria has done over the last few years, such a thing is a given by him.

I use to be a Marlins fan, enjoying what the team had to offer and basking in the glow of what was a fun championship season in 2003. However, as I began to become aware of what took place beyond the baseball field, it became clear how much the team under Loria’s direction couldn’t care about growing the franchise to new heights. He was more concerned with fleecing taxpayers and enriching himself than that. Learning about the dishonesty turned me off from supporting the team, and I haven’t been back since. Perhaps that will change as new leadership is set to come…whatever that is. However, perhaps I can’t be too harsh to Loria in one respect…he was perhaps the catalyst for helping me realize the cronyism inherent in the drive of teams lobbying public officials into supporting sports stadiums, and why such initiatives aren’t worth the support. While the conventional belief goes that public financing of sports stadiums will promote economic vitality and expansion, the economic data and the historical record shows such a thing to be far from the case…with many such expenditures not leading to any such bump in economic success, and empty husks left in their wake (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/if-you-build-it-they-might-not-come-the-risky-economics-of-sports-stadiums/260900/; http://www.businessinsider.com/2004-athens-olympics-venues-today-2015-7; http://www.businessinsider.com/brazil-world-cup-stadiums-one-year-later-2015-5). Never again will I support such sleaziness, which will cost Miami-Dade taxpayers more than $2.4 billion with interest by the time all bonds are paid off (http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/Marlin-Money-Pit-to-Cost-County-24-Billion.html).

Loria’s actions should also serve as a reminder of the threat that occurs when we involve the intervention of public officials in the private sector. By himself, Loria would have been nothing more than a sports joke. Thanks to public officials, he became even more of a parasite. Insulated by taxpayer money, he had even more reason to not put his own money behind his useless promises. What is left is an empty shell of a franchise as he gets set to jump ship. Hopefully other teams don’t fall for such a con man.

Is net neutrality possible?

A couple of days ago, big name companies like Google and Facebook protested the removal of so-called net neutrality “privacy” regulations. How interesting that the companies that have benefited over their competitors from such regulations would come out protesting against removing them (https://www.forbes.com/sites/howardhomonoff/2016/10/31/fcc-ad-privacy-ups-facebook-google-and-downs-everyone-else/#6eb8e31f54ae). Then again, that is exactly what so-called “net neutrality” beckons. The argument of net neutrality basically involves the idea of the government regulating the Internet in order to, theoretically, make all information be sent at the same speed regardless of source, destination, and content with very limited exceptions for traffic that’s illegal, malicious, or unwanted. Supporters of such a move defend NN as necessary in order to “look out for the little guy” and to keep ISPs from “discriminating” according to the service provided. The concept sounds great on paper, but ultimately what defeats it is when such a concept has to be worked out.

A recent development from the FCC involves a plan to roll back the net neutrality policies that were implemented by the regulatory body during the Obama administration (http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/26/technology/fcc-net-neutrality/). For all the talk of such policies being needed for “fairness” (which of course is purposefully vague, as with any justification for regulatory schemes…and despite the fact that so-called privacy protections already exist for the Internet – https://fee.org/articles/net-neutrality-is-about-government-control-of-the-internet/), such policies run the risk of stifling growth and innovation (just as they did for the phone industry before it was deregulated, and other public utilities)….as well as punishing those companies that dare to expand internet access to others that bureaucrats don’t “approve” of (because I guess it is better for those not as well off to have no access to Internet connectivity rather than some, right?) (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2014/11/13/net-neutrality-is-a-bad-idea-supported-by-poor-analogies/; http://reason.com/archives/2014/11/12/net-neutrality-is-a-lousy-idea; http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshsteimle/2014/05/14/am-i-the-only-techie-against-net-neutrality/; http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2014/05/21/net_neutrality_is_a_bad_idea_thats_run_its_course_101068.html; http://www.cato.org/blog/net-neutrality-or-destroying-internet-innovation-investment; http://www.internetfreedomcoalition.com/?p=4342; https://www.wired.com/2015/05/backlash-facebooks-free-internet-service-grows/).

They also serve nothing less than giving large ISPs with political clout and influence, like Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, Google, and Facebook etc. more influence in rent-seeking (again why no one should be surprised why such companies are coming out against their removal), crowding out other forms of innovation and investment that could serve to potentially threaten the monoliths in the industry.¬† By consequence, this will in effect limit the choices and possibilities that potential customers can have (in effect, harming the “little guy” that NN proponents claim to want to help).

It is a sad truth that as regulatory creep has grown, companies are increasingly finding it profitable to lobby public officials, which of course is an advantage to larger corporations as they have the resources to do so over their smaller competitors (https://danieljmitchell.wordpress.com/2016/07/21/a-very-depressing-chart-on-creeping-cronyism-in-the-american-economy/). This raises a serious question as to how policy should work going forward. In the drive for “fairness”, some forces will end up getting more perks over others, in effect picking winners and losers. It would be wonderful if a world of neutral application of a private service existed, but that isn’t how the real world works. When dealing with scare resources and labor, how such goods and services get distributed should be connected to how effectively they can be harnessed. Such decisions are better left to those who actually operate in such a field, not public bureaucrats and political convenience. Policy should reflect that reality. The internet has developed quite fine without the need for central-planning. No reason to change that now.

Was President Trump right to walk away from the Paris climate agreement?

As expected, President Trump’s decision to walk away from the Paris climate agreement has triggered the typical responses from some that doing this will lead to the “destruction of the planet” and isolate the United States from future endeavors. However, such a response glosses over the fact that the deal was largely toothless. The Paris climate agreement was ultimately non-binding, and therefore had no real mechanism by which to hold countries to account for emissions. Developed nations like the United States were to basically subsidize others through almost $100 billion yearly taxpayer handouts…which were pitched as a “climate fund” (exactly what that would entail is left to bureaucrats…how transparent, eh?), while other nations like China and India aren’t given much in the same manner of expectation until around 2030. Add largely arbitrary temperature goals, and the agreement would really have been negligible in combating alleged climatic issues, while hamstringing our economy and sovereignty to the whims of extranational officials. As the agreement was never ratified by the Senate, it doesn’t have the level of enforcement of a treaty as per the Constitution (Article II). Therefore, while President Trump could have allowed the Senate to have a crack at the agreement, he was well within his right to back out of it as an executive agreement only has relevance so long as the office holder agrees with it. Trump could have made the process far quicker and straightforward by backing out of the equally spurious UNFCCC, but perhaps that was a step too far given the political environment (though it would have continued the economic boon this move has potentially made…if only he could see further economic benefits by liberalizing reform in other areas like trade and immigration).

What a lot of the fallout here has shown is that as much as many environmentalists claim to care about the health of the planet, they are quite fine to sign onto mediocre plans which will do little demonstrable improvement in circumstances…showcasing that such an agreement is more about virtue signaling than actual results. Trump’s decision doesn’t mean that the planet is doomed, if such a belief of anthropogenic global warming is even valid in the first place (still a debate despite the political diatribes…see my post on the actual topic to see why). It also is largely hypocritical on the part of European leaders to criticize the United States for not respecting the Paris agreement (despite the fact that a lot of them actually got to vote on whether to accept it or not, when we didn’t) when they continue to ignore their responsibilities under NATO as well as their own EU treaties.

Perhaps a better agreement might come to pass, but that hardly leaves the world in a poor position to combat alleged climate issues. After all, one might buy into the whole AGW crisis, and yet still feel that centralized, one-size-fits-all agreements are not the solution. What has aided humanity in combating economic and global issues in significant ways has been innovation and growth. By allowing our economies to grow and flourish as much as they can, the possibility of a cleaner and more prosperous world will be ever closer to us. That won’t come by crushing it under meaningless regulations like those of the Paris climate agreement, which simply make economic endeavors more expensive with little to show for it. Here is to seeing what comes next.

Extra:

http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/7-reasons-trump-right-scrap-paris-climate-deal

http://thefederalist.com/2017/04/18/president-trump-run-not-walk-away-paris-climate-treaty/

http://theweek.com/articles/702717/dont-cry-paris-agreement

http://reason.com/blog/2017/06/01/can-trump-unilaterally-withdraw-from-int

https://fee.org/articles/the-g-7s-outrageous-hypocrisy/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fast-growth-can-solve-climate-change/

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/a-climate-roadmap-for-president-trump/article/2628628

Those against this move by President Trump use the fact that big businesses like Exxon, Shell, and Goldman Sachs are against it (funny that they should mention that, since they claim not to like such companies…guess that flips back and forth depending on the subject). Then again, such a fact shouldn’t be surprising. Big businesses are better able to handle the emission “targets” of the Paris agreement…as well as lobbying on how the standards would be “worked out”, and therefore would be in a better financial…and political…position against their smaller competitors. For all the hoopla of Elon Musk leaving administration groups as a result of the agreement exit, no tears should be shed. Like many green energy businesses, he gets heavy subsidies from the government. A true crony¬† – http://www.nationalreview.com/article/419720/dont-believe-elon-musk-renewables-get-much-more-federal-subsidies-fossil-fuels-sean; http://dailysignal.com/2016/11/13/its-time-to-stop-spending-taxpayer-dollars-on-elon-musk-and-cronyism/

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