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Today in Bad Government

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July 01, 2009 – Comments (8)

Highlighting the worst in governments around the world for your enjoyment and education.

The Game is Rigged

Today in Bad Government (TBG) starts in America at the normally shill-tastic SmartMoney website, where Brigid McMenamin presents you with 10 Things Your Congressperson Won't Tell You.  Did you know that lobbying is the top career choice for departing Congresspersons. "According to a 2005 report by Public Citizen, since 1998 more than 43 percent of all eligible departing congresspeople went into lobbying." 

You also may not be aware that Congress gets far more options in Health Care than the Congressionally mandated Health Care package you get.  (And don't expect your Congressperson to sign up for Obama's new Health Care plan either. The chances of that happening are between zero and nothing.)  Oh, and there is gifts too!

"House ethics rules allow them to accept gifts, luxury jet rides, and free overnight trips of up to seven days abroad for meetings, factfinding missions, and speaking gigs, provided they’re related to official duties and not sponsored by lobbyists. Between 2000 and 2005, congresspeople and staff accepted 23,000 of these trips, often to vacation spots and worth nearly $50 million, according to the Center for Public Integrity."

Mission Accomplished

I couldn't imagine a day in Bad Government without a visit to Iraq, where the cadre of central planners and schemers of the local government declared yet another victory.  As American forces retreat from positions in Baghdad: 40 people are killed in Kirkuk by a truck bomb and international Oil & Gas companies start the lucrative process of haggling over Iraqi licensing agreements.  Shock and awe, indeed!

Collateral Damage

Continuing on the theme of sweet victory, the Afghan government thanked America for lying and covering up the deaths of dozens of civilians in Farah Province on May 5th.  After failing to verify that a targeted building was teeming with Taliban, a B-1 bomber pilot let loose and annihilated the fortification.  Though he didn't follow U.S. and Coalition targeting procedure, he will not be held accountable for his actions... in this lifetime.  Meanwhile, no one knows for sure who was in that building, since there was nothing left.  What we do know is that no one on the ground verified the target before our Cockpit Cowboy let loose from miles away.  Fog of war, I suppose.

You Sell Drugs Too?

Our next stop is Honduras, where President Zelaya won the Presidential election despite an approval rating in the 30% range (scary to think that Bush might have won in 2008 with similar numbers. Three cheers for democracy!)  The Honduran Army decided that their vote mattered most and ousted Zelaya in the middle of the night. As Zelaya was being courted off in his pajamas (hopefully they weren't footsie pajamas - now that would be embarrasing), rumors circulated that Zelaya had ties with the drug cartels.  TBG is calling bogus on this one.  Everyone knows that the drug cartels already own the Army.  Why would they oust one of their own? 

Vaccinate or Die

The esteemed doctors, er bureaucrats, of the Arkansas State Health Department are defending mandatory vaccinations.  "The law goes back 100 years," says this enlightened bureaucrat. Meanwhile, TIME magazine reminds us all that we are too stupid to understand serious health issues. TBG wonders when they're going to make soma available.

You Mean We're Supposed to Read the Bill Before We Vote?

Over the weekend, Congress passed a 1,200 page bill with a cute name - "Cap and Trade" - without reading a single word (until a failed filibuster forced these noble men and women to listen to about a quarter of the contents against their will.)   At least one guy thinks this is probably a bad idea.

Pakistan School of Economics

You've heard of the Chicago School, the Keynesians, and maybe even the Austrian School, but a new (well, not really) idea of economics is flourishing in Pakistan: deficit financing.

Pakistan’s domestic debt is mounting towards the Rs4 trillion mark — it has swelled to Rs3.884tn from July 2008 to May 09, 2009, a report said yesterday. In 11 months of the current financial year, the domestic debt had reflected an alarming increase of Rs618bn or 19%, which is the highest-ever growth in a year.

Hey, everybody else is doing it. What could possibly go wrong?

From Fascism to Socialism

England has finally decided it has had enough of government granted monopolies in the railroad business.  National Express, which was granted rights over the East Coast mainline, has been nationalized by the English government.   When a government granted monopoly fails to meet government mandated pension, health, and wage requirements; has no need to innovate; and suddenly can not compete for the customer's dollar, it is a failure of the free market. Got it?  And Santa Claus really exists too!

David in Qatar

8 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On July 01, 2009 at 9:19 AM, dbjella (< 20) wrote:

A little more sarcasm than normal :)  I enjoyed your blog.

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#2) On July 01, 2009 at 9:42 AM, 4everlost (29.57) wrote:

You packed so much info into a relatively short post; way to go!  Look for my +1 rec above.

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#3) On July 01, 2009 at 11:07 AM, whereaminow (25.00) wrote:

Hey, what's Urdu for "We owe it to ourselves"?

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#4) On July 01, 2009 at 12:03 PM, charlesblazer (99.04) wrote:

President Zelaya was in violation of the Honduran Constitution, and the order for his ouster came from the Honduran judiciary and congress.  He then tried to use the army to seize power, despite the Constitution, but his top generals all resigned instead.  The remaining army followed the congress's order and had him removed, then immediately handed power back to the congress, who then immediately restored a new executive.  Not exactly a "coup."  More of an impeachment.

The real example of bad government here is the reaction of the OAS to the whole thing.

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#5) On July 01, 2009 at 12:07 PM, chk999 (99.97) wrote:

The fact that the congress critters are not subject to many of the bills they pass really chaps my hide. If the legislation is so good, let them eat their own cooking.

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#6) On July 01, 2009 at 2:52 PM, Option1307 (29.84) wrote:

Thanks for the awesome read David!

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#7) On July 01, 2009 at 6:47 PM, lucas1985 (< 20) wrote:

You've heard of the Chicago School, the Keynesians, and maybe even the Austrian School
There are many schools of though. You can learn about them in a website sponsored by the Department of Economics of the New School for Social Research (1)

Vaccinate or Die
The esteemed doctors, er bureaucrats, of the Arkansas State Health Department are defending mandatory vaccinations.  "The law goes back 100 years," says this enlightened bureaucrat. Meanwhile, TIME magazine reminds us all that we are too stupid to understand serious health issues. TBG wonders when they're going to make soma available
.
Now you're waging war against evidence-based medicine. It seems that stupidity and ideology have no limits.

Susan King, associate professor of paediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada writing in the British Medical Journal:
"Vaccination policies: individual rights v community health
We can't afford to be half hearted about vaccination programmes
Can the public and individual interests be served simultaneously? This can be achieved when a vaccine programme is started. At that point the disease incidence is high and the relative rate of vaccine adverse effects low. However as the vaccine programme becomes more successful in eradicating the disease, public and individual interests may diverge unless the vaccine has no adverse effects or the programme is so successful that the disease is eliminated and the vaccine programme can be discontinued. This was achieved for smallpox. However, in a voluntary programme it may always remain difficult to achieve a high enough uptake to achieve elimination for congenital rubella syndrome because some individuals will perceive the risks of vaccination as outweighing the benefits and decline vaccination. But one lesson from the Greek experience is not to introduce vaccination programmes half heartedly—either in terms of the evidence underlying the policy or in systematically promoting it."
(2)

Wikipedia on the mathematics of mass vaccination:
"If the proportion of the population that is immune exceeds the herd immunity level for the disease, then the disease can no longer persist in the population. Thus, if this level can be exceeded by vaccination, the disease can be eliminated. An example of this being successfully achieved worldwide is the global eradication of smallpox, with the last wild case in 1977. Currently, the WHO is carrying out a similar campaign of vaccination in an attempt to eradicate polio.

If the vaccine used is insufficiently effective or the required coverage cannot be reached (for example due to popular resistance) the programme may not be able to exceed qc. Such a programme can, however, disturb the balance of the infection without eliminating it, often causing unforeseen problems."
(3)

Ron Paul, a paradigmatic figure in the war against science, offers the following "arguments" against HR 2454 (4):

"The administration has pointed to Spain as a shining example of this type of progressive energy policy. Spain has been massively diverting capital from the private sector into politically favored environmental projects for the better part of a decade, and many in Washington apparently like what they see. However, under no circumstances should anyone serious about economic recovery emulate an economy that is now approaching 20 percent unemployment, where every green job created, eliminated 2.2 real jobs and cost around $800,000 each!"
Nonsense manufactured (5) by the Heritage Foundation (6) and the Institute for Energy Research (7) relying on the shoddy work (8) of a fellow of a Spanish, oil-funded, libertarian think tank with zero scholarship. When you go to the source, the lie is exposed.
José María Roig Aldasoro, the Regional Minister of Innovation, Enterprise and Employment for the Government of Navarra says:
"green investment “has created wealth, employment and technological development” in Spain:
    An article was published recently which has placed a doubt in renewable energy’s ability to create employment; it states that it destroys employment, and therefore, is a factor in the social impoverishment of a country. As I will demonstrate, this statement is completely untrue. In Navarre, the development of renewable energies, and above all wind energy, has created wealth, employment and technological development, and I can assert that this can be achieved in any other region or country.
Aldasoro explains the actual history of green job creation in Navarre:
    – 1994: Unemployment at 12.8%, first wind farm erected.

    – 1998: Unemployment at 10%, 100 installed megawatts of wind power.

    – 2001: Unemployment at 6.8%, two R&D and worker-training centers are opened.

    – 2007: Unemployment of 4.76%, total of 100 new renewable-energy companies created, representing 5% of total GDP.
The report relies on bad numbers, grossly underestimating that Spain’s renewable program created only 50,000 jobs, when official estimates are 188,000. Indeed, the study is claiming that “government spending on renewable energy is less than half as efficient at job creation as private-sector spending,” the Wall Street Journal’s Keith Johnson explains. Critics neglect to say that “Spain’s support for renewable energy came out of existing tax revenues,” so “it’s hard to see how it could have edged out private-sector spending, especially when the Socialist government there has reduced corporate income-tax rates, most recently this past January.”"
(9)

More Ron Paul:
"In this global economy its easy enough for businesses to relocate to countries that are more politically friendly to economic growth. If our government continues to kick the economy while its down, it will be a long time before it gets back up. In fact, jobs are much more likely to go overseas, compounding our problems."
Let's go to the real word
"Countries implementing cap-and-trade systems for greenhouse gases may be able to use border taxes to protect domestic industries, after the World Trade Organization gave a cautious nod to such measures.
In a report to be published today, written jointly with the United Nations Environment Programme, the WTO said it was possible to implement border measures for environmental reasons under its rules.
"Rules permit, under certain conditions, the use of border tax adjustments on imported and exported products," said the WTO. "The objective of a border tax adjustment is to level the playing field between taxed domestic industries and untaxed foreign competition by ensuring that internal taxes on products are trade neutral."
(10)
"The House bill contains a provision, inserted in the middle of the night before the vote Friday, that requires the president, starting in 2020, to impose a “border adjustment” — or tariff — on certain goods from countries that do not act to limit their global warming emissions. The president can waive the tariffs only if he receives explicit permission from Congress.
The provision was added to secure the votes of Rust Belt lawmakers who were wavering on the bill because of fears of job losses in heavy industry.
In the floor debate on the bill Friday, one of its authors, Representative Sander M. Levin, Democrat of Michigan, said, “As we act, we can and must ensure that the U.S. energy-intensive industries are not placed at a competitive disadvantage by nations that have not made a similar commitment to reduce greenhouse gases.”
(11)
"There was some question about how the WTO would handle cap-and-trade — whether it would accept the need for carbon tariffs, if some countries (cough China cough) drag their feet, or whether it would adopt a purist free-trade rule. The answer seems to be in — the WTO is going to treat cap-and-trade the same way it treats VATs, with border taxes allowed if they can be seen as reducing distortions.
One way to think about this is to say that the price of emissions licenses is ultimately a tax on consumers — and consumers should pay the same tax on emissions tied to imports as they do on emissions tied to domestic production. (That’s the same reason you can charge VAT on imports.)"
(12)

More nonsense:
"And for what? Contrary to claims repeated over and over, there is no consensus in the scientific community that global warming is getting worse or that it is man-made. In fact over 30,000 scientists signed a petition recently directly disputing the claims on which this policy is based. Legitimate environmental claims should instead be directed towards the public sector.
Meanwhile Washington bureaucrats have classified the very air we exhale as a pollutant and have gone unchallenged in this incredible assertion. The logical consequence is that there will come a time when we will have to buy a government permit just to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from our own lungs!"


- Scientific consensus (a must to develop policy):
Naomi Oreskes, Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California San Diego says in Science journal:
"Policy-makers and the media, particularly in the United States, frequently assert that climate science is highly uncertain. Some have used this as an argument against adopting strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, while discussing a major U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report on the risks of climate change, then-EPA administrator Christine Whitman argued, "As [the report] went through review, there was less consensus on the science and conclusions on climate change". Some corporations whose revenues might be adversely affected by controls on carbon dioxide emissions have also alleged major uncertainties in the science. Such statements suggest that there might be substantive disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. This is not the case.
That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change".
The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.
Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point.
This analysis shows that scientists publishing in the peer-reviewed literature agree with IPCC, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public statements of their professional societies
. Politicians, economists, journalists, and others may have the impression of confusion, disagreement, or discord among climate scientists, but that impression is incorrect.
The scientific consensus might, of course, be wrong. If the history of science teaches anything, it is humility, and no one can be faulted for failing to act on what is not known. But our grandchildren will surely blame us if they find that we understood the reality of anthropogenic climate change and failed to do anything about it.
Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open. But there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Climate scientists have repeatedly tried to make this clear. It is time for the rest of us to listen."
(13)

A poll performed by Peter Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman at Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago received replies from 3,146 of the 10,257 polled Earth scientists. Results were analyzed globally and by specialization. 96.2% of climatologists who are active in climate research believe that mean global temperatures have risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and 97.4% believe that human activity is a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures. Among all respondents, 90% agreed that temperatures have risen compared to pre-1800 levels, and 80% agreed that humans significantly influence the global temperature. Petroleum geologists and meteorologists were among the biggest doubters, with only 47 percent and 64 percent, respectively, believing in human involvement. A summary from the survey states that:
    "It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes."
(14)

Wikipedia on the scientific opinion on climate change:
"This article documents current scientific opinion on climate change as given by synthesis reports, scientific bodies of national or international standing, and surveys of opinion among climate scientists. It does not document the views of individual scientists, individual universities, or laboratories, nor self-selected lists of individuals such as petitions.
National and international science academies and professional societies have assessed the current scientific opinion, in particular recent global warming. These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 that
    An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system... There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.
Since 2007 no scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion.
A few organizations hold non-committal positions."
(15)

- The 30,000+ dissenting scientists:
This number comes from a bogus petition called the Oregon Petition. It's so full of BS that you would be better served reading the sources (16, 17, 18, 19) It's now being recycled (20) by the Heartland Institute (21)

- CO2 as a pollutant:
CO2 is a natural byproduct of metabolism, like faeces and urine. Yet, the EPA regulates the content of coliforms (a broad class of bacteria which live in the digestive tracts of humans and many animals) in tap water (22) So, a natural byproduct can be a pollutant too. CO2 also exists in nature, like arsenic and mercury. You know something about mercury and arsenic, do you?

 

1-  http://homepage.newschool.edu/het/thought.htm
2-  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1117187
3-  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_modelling_of_infectious_disease#The_mathematics_of_mass_vaccination
4-  http://www.24hgold.com/english/news-gold-silver-cap-and-trade-will-lead-to-capital-flight.aspx?article=2158023982G10020&redirect=false&contributor=Ron+Paul
5-  http://climateprogress.org/2009/05/04/heritage-foundation-green-jobs-dirty-energy-exxonmobil/
6-  http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heritage_Foundation
7-  http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Institute_for_Energy_Research
8-  http://www.juandemariana.org/pdf/090327-employment-public-aid-renewable.pdf (PDF)
9-  http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/letter-from-navarra-ministerapril-2009.pdf (PDF)
10- http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d9d8ad2e-61e9-11de-9e03-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1
11- http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/us/politics/29climate.html?hp
12- http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/the-wto-is-making-sense/
13- http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686
14- http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2009/2009EO030002.shtml
15- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change#Doran_and_Kendall_Zimmerman.2C_2009
16- http://www.realclimate.org/wiki/index.php?title=OISM
17- http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2004/05/oregonpetition.php
18- http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Oregon_Institute_of_Science_and_Medicine
19- http://www.desmogblog.com/flawed-oregon-petition-rises-again
20- http://www.nipccreport.org/
21- http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heartland_Institute
22- http://www.epa.gov/OGWDW/disinfection/tcr/basicinformation.html

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#8) On July 02, 2009 at 2:35 AM, whereaminow (25.00) wrote:

Thanks for all the rec's everyone. I'm glad you enjoyed it. In a perverse way, this stuff always cracks me up.

dbjella,

This is me in a good mood :) Glad you liked it.

4everlost and Option1307,

Thanks! Hope you like the next one just as much.

charlesblazer,

Thanks for the info on Honduras. I certainly don't have the whole story. Good addition.

chk999,

Ain't that the truth! 

David in Qatar

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