October 23, 2009

If Enviros Know What’s Good for Them ….

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:44 am

…. , which is indeed a very iffy proposition, they’ll put a muzzle on these folks really fast:

Save the planet: eat a dog?

The eco-pawprint of a pet dog is twice that of a 4.6-litre Land Cruiser driven 10,000 kilometres a year, researchers have found.

Victoria University professors Brenda and Robert Vale, architects who specialise in sustainable living, say pet owners should swap cats and dogs for creatures they can eat, such as chickens or rabbits, in their provocative new book Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living.

The couple have assessed the carbon emissions created bypopular pets, taking into account the ingredients of pet food and the land needed to create them.

….. Professor Vale says the title of the book is meant to shock, but the couple, who do not have a cat or dog, believe the reintroduction of non-carnivorous pets into urban areas would help slow down global warming.

“The title of the book is a little bit of a shock tactic, I think, but though we are not advocating eating anyone’s pet cat or dog there is certainly some truth in the fact that if we have edible pets like chickens for their eggs and meat, and rabbits and pigs, we will be compensating for the impact of other things on our environment.”

Professor Vale took her message to Wellington City Council last year, but councillors said banning traditional pets or letting people keep food animals in their homes were not acceptable options.

It’s one thing to talk about inconveniencing humans in the name of environmental purity. But getting between pet owners and their pets is more dangerous than getting between Chuckie Schumer and a microphone.`

On second thought, let’s find this couple a booking agent and send them on a U.S. tour. The enviro-nutty movement is what will end up being dead in just a few months.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘There May Be No Coping with Copenhagen’) Is Up (Also: Copenhagen and the Constitution)

GlobalWarmingIt’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Sunday morning (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

The succinct sub-headline: “Obama’s signature on a climate treaty in December could irretrievably compromise American sovereignty.”

_______________________

Copenhagen and the Constitution

The Copenhagen treaty’s “negotiating document” is here (2.1 mb PDF).

Read/peruse it for yourself and see if you agree with my core PJM paragraph:

From all appearances, agreeing to the COP would mean signing away a significant portion of our national sovereignty in the name of solving a problem that even former climate change cheerleaders are starting to doubt, which may just have been totally scientifically debunked, and whose origins are based on raw data that is apparently no longer available — all for the sole purpose of transferring vast amounts of wealth that will be spent on projects accomplishing very little of economic value, thus threatening to impoverish the entire world.

One person who is at least as concerned as I am about the treaty is Lord Christopher Monckton:

Transcript of the first half of Lord Monckton’s video excerpt:

…. At Copenhagen, this December, weeks away, a treaty will be signed. Your president will sign it. Most of the Third World countries will sign it because they think they’re going to get money out of it. Most of the left-wing regimes around the world like the European Union will rubber-stamp it. Virtually nobody won’t sign it.

I have read that treaty. And what it says is this: That a world government is going to be created. The word “government” appears as the first of three purposes of the new entity.

The second purpose is the transfer of wealth from the countries of the West to Third World countries in satisfaction of what is called coyly, “a climate debt” –because we’ve been burning CO2 and they haven’t and we’ve been screwing up the climate. We haven’t been screwing up the climate but that’s the line.

And the third purpose of this new entity, this government, if enforcement.

How many of you think that the word “election” or “democracy” or “vote” or “ballot” occurs anywhere in the 200 pages of that treaty? Quite right, it doesn’t appear once.

So at last, the communists who piled out of the Berlin Wall and into the environmental movement and took over Greenpeace so that my friends who funded it left within a year — because they’d captured it — now the apotheosis is at hand. They are about to impose a communist world government on the world.

You have a president who has very strong sympathies with that point of view. He’s going to sign. He’ll sign anything. He’s a Nobel Peace laureate; of course he’ll sign it.

And the trouble is this. If that treaty is signed, your Constitution says that it takes precedent over your Constitution. And you can’t resile from that treaty unless you get the agreement of all the other states (and) parties. And because you will be the biggest-paying country they’re not going to let you out. ….

Is it really that serious? Well, only two other things potentially stand in the way.

  • First, the U.S. Senate would have to ratify such a treaty. It would be dangerous to bet against that.
  • Second, Lord Monckton’s take on the superiority of the treaty over our Constitution has never been tested. It is, like many other things relating to our Founding Documents, incorrect on the merits but widely understood by modern legal “scholars” and supposedly settled “wisdom” to be the case.

The relevant passages from the Constitution are these:

Article II, Sec. 2: “[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur….”

Article III, Sec. 2: “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority….”

Article VI: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

Article VI to the one-world government folks means that treaties automatically trump the Constitution. A reasoned reading of the Article really tells us that treaties change “the Law of the Land,” but that “the Law of the Land” is subject to the El Supremo document above all, the Constitution.

To see an expression of what the conventional wisdom has been, you can go back to John Foster Dulles, who was Secretary of State under President Eisenhower. No, he’s not normally seen as an anti-constitutionalist, but that’s actually the scary point. The view that follows has been considered “mainstream” by Washington’s elites for decades.

In an April 11, 1952 speech in Louisville less than a year before he became Secretary of State, Dulles told his American Bar Association audience that:

Treaties make international law and also they make domestic law. Under our Constitution, treaties become the supreme law of the land…. [T]reaty law can override the Constitution. Treaties, for example, … can cut across the rights given the people by their constitutional Bill of Rights.

Thus, the conventional “wisdom” is that any treaty, no matter how outrageous, will override the Constitution. To exemplify just one extreme from this point of view, as long as the President and 2/3 of the Senate agreed that our young people must be conscripted for two years to join United Nations peacekeepers and serve overseas in whatever capacity the UN thinks is appropriate, that would be that.

Unsurprisingly, the Founders in their writings, including Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton, totally disagree:

“I say the same as to the opinion of those who consider the grant of the treaty-making power as boundless. If it is, then we have no Constitution. If it has bounds, they can be no others than the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives. It specifies and delineates the operations permitted to the federal government, and gives all the powers necessary to carry these into execution. Whatever of these enumerated objects is proper for a law, Congress may make the law; whatever is proper to be executed by way of a treaty, the President and Senate may enter into the treaty; whatever is to be done by a judicial sentence, the judges may pass the sentence.” (Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Bergh 10:418-419. [1803])

++++++++++++++

As he debated the treaty making power which was granted to the President and Senate as found in the Constitution, James Madison addressed the logical limits to the treaty making power, and made this statement:

“Does it follow, because this power is given to Congress, that it is absolute and unlimited? I do not conceive that power is given to the President and Senate to dismember the empire, or to alienate any great, essential right. I do not think the whole legislative authority have this power. The exercise of the power must be consistent with the object of the delegation.” (James Madison, Jonathan Elliot, Debates on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol. 3, p.514)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Alexander Hamilton, one of the most forceful of the Federalists and one who often clashed with Jefferson, nevertheless agreed with his distinguished adversary on this important point. Hamilton wrote:

“The only constitutional exception to the power of making treaties is, that it shall not change the Constitution…. On natural principles, a treaty, which should manifestly betray or sacrifice primary interests of the state, would be null.”

“A treaty cannot be made,” Hamilton maintained, “which alters the Constitution of the country or which infringes any express exceptions to the power of the Constitution of the United States.”

The author of the linked item properly concludes that:

The Founding Fathers of this Nation unquestionably felt that the power to make treaties did not embrace the power to modify the Constitution. In their view, the treaty-making power was a limited grant of power that could not undermine or destroy individual God-given rights, or the structure or framework of the limited, carefully defined government they established.

In honest circumstances, Lord Monckton’s ultimate fears of lost sovereignty would be overblown. But we’re not in honest circumstances. If the Copenhagen agreement ever got through the Senate, the establishment’s repeated remonstrances that “Copenhagen is now the law of the land” would attempt to drown out sensible, Constitution-based opposition.

Such drown-outs have already been acceptable, or at least acquiesced to, in other areas:

  • Gay marriage has never been legalized in Massachusetts (“The Goodridge ruling resulted in a complete cave-in by politicians of both parties on this issue. Same-sex ‘marriage’ is still illegal in Massachusetts. On November 18, 2003 the court merely ruled that it was unconstitutional not to allow it, and gave the Legislature six months to ‘take such action as it may deem appropriate.’” The Legislature has never taken action.). Yet it’s supposedly a settled matter that it has.
  • The Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision is supposedly “the law of the land.” No it’s not; it’s a ruling in one case that has never been accompanied in most states by the enabling legislation required to overturn laws against the practice that have never been formally repealed in most if not all of them. Absent those legislative repeals, abortion is still illegal (it is probably also presumptively illegal because the practice violates the God-given entitlement to life recognized in the Declaration of Independence).
  • The Obama administration has simply seized unconstitutional powers in many areas, not the least of which involve taking over or intervening in the management of supposedly private businesses and recasting bankruptcy and contract law on the fly. Barely anyone has objected on constitutional grounds.

With this disturbing backdrop, if the elites say that a Copenhagen agreement’s effect on the Constitution is what they say it is, who will stop them?

Positivity: Mother of ten to be honored for philanthropic leadership in Catholic education

Filed under: Education,Positivity — Tom @ 6:23 am

From Philadelphia:

Oct 23, 2009 / 03:38 am

A philanthropic mother of ten and grandmother of 28 will be honored for her work at the upcoming Tenth Annual Awards for Outstanding Catholic Leadership. The Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI) will present the award to Barbara Henkels on Nov. 13 in Drexel Hill, Penn.

CLI reports that Mrs. Henkels, with her late husband Paul, has worked “tirelessly” to promote “authentic Catholic education.” She has helped found two private Catholic elementary schools in the Philadelphia area and is a founding board member of Ave Maria University in Florida.

Mrs. Henkels also has served on a number of Catholic leadership boards, such as those of Cabrini College, St. Thomas Aquinas College and International Legatus. She is a past recipient of the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice papal medal and the Philopatrian St. John Newman Medal.

“Barbara’s commitment to Catholic leadership has inspired those in her hometown, the country and the world,” CLI said.

Go here for the rest of the story.

Year-end Deficit Report, Part 2: AP’s Crutsinger Misses ‘The Year of Going Galt’

AtlasWillShrug1009As I pointed out Monday night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger, in his Saturday morning report on the federal government’s full-year fiscal results, conveniently “forgot” about a major accounting change that enabled President Obama’s Treasury Department to report a final “deficit” of “only” $1.417 trillion.

That’s hundreds of billion of dollars lower than the $1.75 trillion expected in February. The change, which caused “investments” in financial institutions, General Motors, Chrysler, and other entities to be accounted for on a “net present value” (NPV) basis, had an initial impact of over $175 billion when first implemented. Crutsinger ignored the change, even though its implementation occurred after that February estimate.

Though the end of a fiscal year represents a perfect opportunity to extend readers’ understanding of how our government (sort of) works, Crutsinger also did not tell readers that the reported “deficit” is nowhere near the amount of the increase in the national debt that occurred during the fiscal year. As of September 30, the national debt was $11.910 trillion, or $1.885 trillion higher than the national debt a year earlier. That means that the most recent year’s “unreported deficit” was $468 billion.

One other area where Crutsinger erred was in his breezy opening paragraph assessment that the precipitous drop in cash receipts during the most recent fiscal year – officially understated for a reason I will note shortly — was entirely due to the recession:

The federal budget deficit has surged to an all-time high of $1.42 trillion as the recession caused tax revenues to plunge while the government was spending massive amounts to stabilize the financial system and jump-start the economy.

…. For 2009, the government collected $2.10 trillion in revenues, a 16.6 percent drop from 2008. That was the largest percentage decline on records going back nearly seven decades.

Not so, sir.

The first thing to understand is that the drop in receipts from economic activity was much worse.

The only reason the government is able to claim that receipts dropped by “only” 16.6% is that Treasury treated the $96 billion in economic stimulus payments made during calendar 2008 as “negative receipts” instead of more properly accounting for them as outlays. A case could be made for this treatment if every taxpayer had received a stimulus payment proportional to the amount of tax paid. But this isn’t what happened. Many higher-income tax payers did not get a stimulus check, while many lower-income filers who paid no tax at all still got one. By contrast, a similar mass-check payment program that occurred earlier this year involving payments that went to Social Security recipients was properly accounted for as outlays.

The properly stated degree of the receipts drop is 19.5%, as shown here:

USTrecsAndOutlaysFY09v08

Now that the full extent of the decline in receipts is clear, let’s look at how and when the drops occurred. Let’s start by looking at the situation quarter-by-quarter:

USTquarterlyCollectionsFY09

The fact of the matter is that this recession — where the drop in real GDP has been less than 4% — doesn’t fully explain why year-over-year quarterly receipts dropped by as much as 31% during the past fiscal year. Something else is at work here. Martin Crutsinger should have looked into what that something else might be.

I described what I believed it was in July 2008. I came to this description after watching Democratic nominee-to-be Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid spend the previous weeks demonstrating total disinterest in or hostility towards getting this economy the energy it needs to function and promising to radically raise taxes on the most productive in the name of wealth redistribution. Here is what I wrote:

Businesses and investors are responding to their total lack of seriousness (about energy and taxes) by battening down the hatches and preparing for the worst.

The most productive people began to withdrew into their cocoon not because the economy was in a serious recession — at least as normal people define it (second quarter 2008′s annualized growth was +1.5%). What happened is that enough of them to matter started “going Galt.”

Looking back in April 2009 at the previous nine months, I wrote the following about what subsequently took place:

Starting in June (2008) and all the way through to Election Day, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid repeatedly told the country that they were ready, willing, and would soon be able to starve the country of the conventional sources of energy it needs to keep its economic engines running, regardless of the consequences, bowing before what may be the greatest hoax in human history. Enough high producers to make a difference believed them and abandoned their previous guarded optimism.

Starting in June and all the way through to Election Day, Pelosi, Obama, and Reid — but especially presidential nominee Obama — told the country that they were ready, willing, and would soon be able to punitively tax the 5% of the nation’s most productive so they could redistribute money to everyone else. Enough high producers to make a difference believed them and abandoned their previous guarded optimism.

In September, the decades-in-the-making, Democratic Party-driven housing and mortgage lending mess came to a head at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Washington then allowed itself to be blackmailed into a series of financial sector and other bailouts that appeared to be, and have turned out to be, seemingly endless. Enough high producers to make a difference headed for the lifeboats and abandoned what little optimism remained.

Enough high producers to make a difference abandoned their spring (2008) optimism, not because of then-current economic conditions, which were at worst mediocre. They did so because of their assessments of what economic conditions would be in the not-too-distant future, based on the perilous pronouncements of Pelosi, Obama, and Reid. Many of those who didn’t catch on during the summer did so after observing the reckless September-October actions of the Washington establishment.

As a result, they took steps that businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and investors ordinarily take when a serious recession takes hold — not hiring, not expanding, letting people go and not replacing them, making worn-out equipment last longer instead of buying new, and others — before the serious recession took hold. They deliberately downsized in response to stated promises by powerful government officials Pelosi, Obama, and Reid to penalize and punish them and the economy as a whole, if and when they gained power.

In other words, enough high producers to make a difference preemptively “went Galt.”

The horrid collections results of the first three calendar quarters of this year, especially the cliff-dive in individual income tax receipts, were at least as much the result of the “going Galt” phenomenon as they were of the recession itself.

The third calendar quarter’s shortfall of “only” 14.4% might appear to be cause for hope.

Nope. Thanks to this administration’s failure to do anything about the chronic uncertainty and fear it has injected into nearly every nook and cranny of the economy, the government’s collections shortfall has spread to what it gets through withholdings from workers’ paychecks:

UST4Q09v08ReceiptsRefunds

Year-over-year collections from withholdings fell over 10% during the most recent quarter, even though average quarterly unemployment increased “only” 3.5% during the intervening year. Many formerly well-paid employees are earning much less, paying not only less tax, but proportionally less as a percentage of their lowered income. Employees at the lower end of the pay scale are working fewer average hours. Given that most economists and other analysts both in and out of the government are saying that unemployment will stay high until at least late 2010, future year-over-year improvements in the withholdings number, which is by far the most important one on the list, are probably not on the horizon.

That’s especially true because the disincentives to work hard have increased significantly during this administration’s early months, and there are more possible disincentives on the horizon. This Forbes report by Janet Novack and Stephanie Fitch (“When Work Doesn’t Pay For The Middle Class”) explains how ugly the situation is in great detail.

What the Forbes pair is essentially telling us is that “Going Galt” has spread from the highest producers to above average and average ones. This, at least as much as the recession itself, explains why collections have cratered so severely, and why anyone expecting a robust recovery in money coming into the Treasury is probably setting themselves up for significant disappointment.

The establishment media’s failures to recognize and cover the “going Galt” phenomenon of the past 16 months, and the more recent “it isn’t worth it to work” trend, are two more significant journalistic oversights in a very, very long list of them.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.