Russians blamed for Stuxnet, flee Iran 3

Which high-tech country might Iran turn to for help in ridding itself of the Stuxnet computer worm that is incapacitating its industrial-military complex? (See our posts A virus that might save us all, September 25, 2010, and Sound the trumpet, September 29, 2010.)

Germany? Siemens provided the systems that are under attack, but apparently will not or cannot come to the rescue.

Russia? Russians were employed to install the Siemens systems. But not only have they been unable to destroy the worm, they are now being accused of planting it, and are fleeing Iran as fast as they can.

Some of them say they hope to return when the trouble has blown over – which rather strongly indicates they were not responsible for causing it.

Here’s the latest Stuxnet-chaos news:

Dozens of Russian nuclear engineers, technicians and contractors are hurriedly departing Iran for home since local intelligence authorities began rounding up their compatriots as suspects of planting the Stuxnet malworm into their nuclear program.

Among them are the Russian personnel who built Iran’s first nuclear reactor at Bushehr which Tehran admits has been damaged by the virus.

One of the Russian nuclear staffers, questioned in Moscow Sunday, Oct. 3 by Western sources, confirmed that many of his Russian colleagues had decided to leave with their families after team members were detained for questioning at the beginning of last week. He refused to give his name because he and his colleagues intend to return to Iran if the trouble blows over and the detainees are quickly released after questioning.

Last Saturday, October 2, the Iranian Intelligence Minister, Heidar Moslehi, “announced that nuclear spies had been captured”, accused of sending “electronic worms through the internet”.  [Which is not how the attack was initiated according to more credible sources – JB.]

This was the first high-level Iranian admission that the Stuxnet virus had been planted by foreign elements to sabotage their entire nuclear program – and not just the Bushehr reactor. The comprehensive scale of the damage is attested to by the detention of Russian nuclear experts also at Natanz, Isfahan and Tehran.

“Hundreds of Russian scientists, engineers and technicians were responsible for installing the Siemens control systems in Iran’s nuclear complex and other facilities which proved most vulnerable to the cyber attack”, and as they were “the only foreigners with access to these heavily guarded plants”, they are prime suspects.

If it was not the Russians who worked this most inventive and effective form of sabotage ever contrived (and we don’t believe it was), those who did can now enjoy, as an extra cause for celebration, the discomfiture of the Russians. The real saboteurs, we guess, are laughing out of sheer Schadenfreude. And while we’re well aware that Stuxnet could ultimately be a threat to ourselves – to friend as well as foe just as nuclear weapons are – for the present we’re reasonably happy that this humiliating blow has been struck at the insufferable Iranian regime.

In fact, we confess, we are laughing too, and hope our readers feel like joining in.

How the world really works 1

The free market is the engine of our civilization. It works. Works best if it is not interfered with by government. Works as a spontaneous system of co-operation and division of labor.

On which subject, here is part of a splendid short essay by Jonah Goldberg. He writes:

No one in the world knows how to make the newspaper you are holding (and, if you’re reading this on your phone, computer, iPad or Kindle, no one knows how to make those things either).

Even the best editor in the world has no clue how to make a printing press or the ink, or how to operate a communications satellite.

This is hardly a new insight. In 1958, Leonard Read wrote one of the most famous essays in the history of libertarianism, “I, Pencil.” It begins, “I am a lead pencil — the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.” It is one of the most simple objects in human civilization. And yet, “not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.”

The pencil tells the story of its own creation. The wood comes from Oregon, or perhaps California. The lead, which is really graphite, is mined in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The eraser, which is not rubber but something called “factice” is “made by reacting rape-seed oil from the Dutch East Indies with sulfur chloride.”

To make a long story short, the simple act of collecting and combining the ingredients of a pencil involves the cooperation of thousands of experts in dozens of fields, from engineering and mining to chemistry and commodity trading. I suppose it’s possible for someone to master all of the knowledge and expertise to make a pencil all by themselves, but why would they?

The lessons one can draw from this fact are humbling. For starters, any healthy civilization, never mind any healthy economy, involves unfathomably vast amounts of harmonious cooperation.

These days there’s a lot of buzz about something called “cloud computing.” In brief, this is a new way of organizing computer technology so that most of the data storage and number crunching doesn’t actually take place in your own computer. Rather, everyone plugs into the computational equivalent of the electrical grid.

Do a Nexis search and you’ll find hundreds of articles insisting that this is a “revolutionary” advance in information organization. And in one sense, that’s obviously true. But in another this is simply an acceleration of how civilization has always worked. The information stored in an encyclopedia or textbook is a form of cloud computing. So is the expertise stored in your weatherman’s head. So are the intangible but no less real lessons accumulated over generations of trial and error and contained in everything from the alphabet to the U.S. Constitution

More relevant, the modern market economy is the greatest communal enterprise ever undertaken in the history of humanity. Friedrich Hayek did the heavy lifting on this point over half a century ago in his essay “The Use of Knowledge in Society.” The efficient pricing of markets allows millions of independent actors to decide for themselves how to allocate resources. According to Hayek, no central planner or bureaucrat could ever have enough knowledge to consistently and successfully guide all of those economic actions in a more efficient manner.

According to progressives, the financial crisis discredited “market fundamentalism” and created a burning need for a more cooperative society where “we’re all in it together.” It’s an ancient argument, with many noble intentions behind it. But it rests on a misunderstanding of one simple, astounding, irrefutable fact. The market economy is cooperative, and more successfully so than any alternative system ever conceived of, never mind put into practice. Admittedly it doesn’t feel that way, which is why everyone wants to find a better replacement for it. But they never will, for the same reason no one can make a pencil.

Find Leonard Read’s classic essay I, Pencil here, either to refresh your memory and enjoy it anew, or to learn its lesson for the first time. It is essential to the proper education of every generation.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, Industry, liberty by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 8, 2010

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Man said, “let there be light” 0

Christianity brought a thousand years of darkness down on Europe. Historically it proved to be one of the three cruelest creeds ever to afflict poor suffering mankind (the other two being Islam and Socialism in all its ruinous forms.)

The best thing that ever happened to the human race was the Enlightenment.

Joel Mokyr, professor of Economics and History at Northwestern University, has an article in City Journal which reminds us what it did for us all.

Here are parts of it:

The most hardy and irreversible effect of the Enlightenment [is]: it made us rich. It is by now a cliché to note how much better twenty-first-century people live than even the kings of three centuries back. In thousands of large and small things, material life today is immeasurably better than ever before. …  And without sounding too cocky about how progressive history is, or too triumphalist about Western culture as the crowning achievement of human development, I would like to suggest that what generated all this prosperity was the growth of certain ideas in the century after the British Glorious Revolution of 1688. …

The writers and thinkers whose work we call the Enlightenment were a motley crew of philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, physicians, and other intellectuals. They differed on many topics, but most of them agreed that improvement of the human condition was both possible and desirable. This sounds trite to us, but it is worth pointing out that in 1700, few people on this planet had much reason to believe that their lives would ever get better. For most, life was not much less short, brutish, and nasty than it had been 1,000 years earlier. The vicious religious wars that Europe had suffered for many decades had not improved things, and though there had been a few advances — the wider availability of books, for instance … — their impact on the overall quality of life remained marginal. An average Briton born in 1700 could expect to live about 35 years, spending his days doing hard physical work and his nights in a cold, crowded, vermin-ridden home.

Against this grim backdrop, Enlightenment philosophers developed a belief in the capability of what they called “useful knowledge” to advance the state of humanity. The most influential proponent of this belief was the earlier English philosopher Francis Bacon, who had emphasized that knowledge of the physical environment was the key to material progress: “We cannot command Nature except by obeying her,” he wrote in 1620 in his New Organon. The agenda of what we would call “research and development” began to expand from the researcher’s interest alone … to include the hope that one day his knowledge could be put to good use. In 1671, one of the most eminent scientists of the age, Robert Boyle, wrote that “there is scarce any considerable physical truth, which is not, as it were, teeming with profitable inventions, and may not by human skill and industry, be made the fruitful mother of divers things useful.” The idea spread to other nations. …

To bring about the progress that they envisioned—to solve pragmatic problems of industry, agriculture, medicine, and navigation—European scientists realized that they needed to accumulate a solid body of knowledge and that this required, above all, reliable communications. They churned out encyclopedias, compendiums, dictionaries, and technical volumes—the search engines of their day—in which useful knowledge was organized, cataloged, classified, and made as available as possible. One of these tomes was Diderot’s Encyclopédie, perhaps the Enlightenment document par excellence. The age of Enlightenment was also the age of the “Republic of Science,” a transnational, informal community in which European scientists relied on an epistolary network to read, critique, translate, and sometimes plagiarize one another’s ideas and work.

The idea of material progress through the expansion of useful knowledge — what historians today call the Baconian program — slowly took root. The Royal Society, founded in London in 1660, was explicitly based on Bacon’s ideas. Its purpose, it claimed, was “to improve the knowledge of naturall things, and all useful Arts, Manufactures, Mechanick practises, Engines, and Inventions by Experiments.” But the movement experienced a veritable spurt during the eighteenth century, when private organizations were established throughout Britain to build bridges between those who knew things and those who made things. …

More and more manufacturers sought the advice of scientists and mathematicians …

The Baconian program proved unusually successful in Britain, and hence it led the world in industrial innovation. There were many reasons for this, not the least of them England’s union with Scotland in 1707. … The Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow were the Scottish Enlightenment’s versions of Harvard and MIT: rivals up to a point, but cooperating in generating the useful knowledge underlying new technology. They employed some of the greatest minds of the time—above all, Adam Smith. The philosopher David Hume, a friend of Smith’s, was twice denied a tenured professorship on account of his heterodox [ie atheist] beliefs. In an earlier age, he might have been in trouble with the law; but in enlightened Scotland, he lived a peaceful life as a librarian and civil servant. Another Scot and friend of Smith’s, Adam Ferguson, introduced the concept of civil society. Scotland did not just produce philosophers, either; it also exported to England many of its most talented engineers and chemists, above all James Watt. …

Optimism continued to abound about the potential of useful knowledge to improve the world. In 1780, one of the greatest figures of the Enlightenment, Benjamin Franklin, wrote in a letter that “the rapid progress true Science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon. It is impossible to imagine the Height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the Power of Man over Matter…”

The age of Enlightenment, of course, was also the age of Newton, whose discoveries made it possible to understand the movement of heavenly bodies. …

Advances in medicine proved similarly sporadic. Enlightened physicians were passionate about progress. How could they not be? Twenty out of every 100 babies perished in their first year; many young and talented women and men died prematurely of dreaded disease; adult life was often a sequence of disfiguring and debilitating sicknesses. “I see no reason to doubt that, by taking advantage of various and continual accessions as they accrue to science, the same power will be acquired over living, as it is at present exercised over some inanimate bodies,” wrote Thomas Beddoes, a learned English medic, in 1793. And there was at least one major success story in his lifetime: Edward Jenner’s discovery of the smallpox vaccine three years later. …

The Enlightenment’s contributions to long-term economic growth were not merely scientific, moreover. Many economists … have begun to see Enlightenment economic and political ideas as central to the process. … The idea that trade normally benefits both sides led to the growth of free trade after 1815 and was central to the establishment of free-trade areas in Europe and elsewhere after 1950. That understanding grew out of the Enlightenment and the thinking of such intellectual giants as Smith and Hume.

Even more important was the Enlightenment notion of freedom of expression. In our age, we think of technological change as natural and obvious; indeed, we consider its absence a source of concern. Not so in the past: inventors were seen as disrespectful, rebelling against the existing order, threatening the stability of the regime and the Church, and jeopardizing employment. In the eighteenth century, this notion slowly began to give way to tolerance, to the belief that those with odd notions should be allowed to subject them to a market test. Many novel ideas were experimented with, especially in medicine, in which new ways to fight disease were constantly being proposed and tried … Words like “heretic” to describe innovators began to disappear.

The Enlightenment, sadly, did not end barbarism and violence. But it did end poverty in much of the world that embraced it. Once the dust settled after the upheavals and violence of the French Revolution, Europe entered a century of economic growth (known as the pax Britannica) punctuated by a few relatively short and local wars. By 1914, countries that had experienced some kind of Enlightenment had become rich and industrialized, while those that had not, or that had resisted it successfully (such as Spain and Russia), remained behind. The “club” of rich countries formed the core of the industrialized world for most of the twentieth century.

As unlikely as it may seem, then, a fairly small community of intellectuals in a small corner of eighteenth-century Europe changed world history. Not only did they agree on the desirability of progress; they wrote a detailed program of how to implement it and then, astoundingly, carried it through. Today, we enjoy material comforts, access to information and entertainment, better health, seeing practically all our children reach adulthood (even if we elect to have fewer of them), and a reasonable expectation of many years in leisurely and economically secure retirement. … Without the Enlightenment, they would not have happened.

As David Hume did, so also Baruch Spinoza (not mentioned by Mokyr, but hugely important to his theme) unlocked the chains of religion – Christianity, Judaism, and belief in the supernatural generally – that bound mankind in superstitious dread, for those who let them.

The ideas of freedom and tolerance that inspired, and are enshrined in, the Constitution of the United States are essentially Enlightenment ideas.

Now, countering the real progress that the Enlightenment launched, socialist “progressivism” is threatening freedom, the gift of the Enlightenment out of which all others proceed.

And even more threatening is the ideology of Islam: a darkness never penetrated by the Enlightenment.

Will we let either or both succeed in bringing back the darkness?

The new-found riches of Afghanistan 0

The discovery in Afghanistan of vast deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, niobium, and lithium — used in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys – must change any prognostications made for that benighted country.

At last there’s something there that the world wants other than opium. Afghanistan will surely become richer, and may even be dragged into the 21st century. But will it be less strife-torn, or more?

How will it change American plans to withdraw troops? How will China act? How will Russia? How will Pakistan (part of the find being on its border)? How will India?

American officials fear resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, which could upset the United States, given its heavy investment in the region. After winning the bid for its Aynak copper mine in Logar Province, China clearly wants more, American officials said.

And who among the Afghans will profit most from it?

Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.

The corruption that is already rampant in the Karzai government could also be amplified by the new wealth, particularly if a handful of well-connected oligarchs, some with personal ties to the president, gain control of the resources. Just last year, Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights to develop its copper mine. …

Endless fights could erupt between the central government in Kabul and provincial and tribal leaders in mineral-rich districts.

Russians did the original prospecting that revealed the deposits, but the Soviets withdrew before they had time to assess their size, let alone exploit them. Americans found the Russian documentation and looked further.

In 2004, American geologists, sent to Afghanistan as part of a broader reconstruction effort, stumbled across an intriguing series of old charts and data at the library of the Afghan Geological Survey in Kabul that hinted at major mineral deposits in the country. They soon learned that the data had been collected by Soviet mining experts during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, but cast aside when the Soviets withdrew in 1989.

During the chaos of the 1990s, when Afghanistan was mired in civil war and later ruled by the Taliban, a small group of Afghan geologists protected the charts by taking them home, and returned them to the Geological Survey’s library only after the American invasion and the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

Armed with the old Russian charts, the United States Geological Survey began a series of aerial surveys of Afghanistan’s mineral resources in 2006, using advanced gravity and magnetic measuring equipment attached to an old Navy Orion P-3 aircraft that flew over about 70 percent of the country.

The data from those flights was so promising that in 2007, the geologists returned for an even more sophisticated study, using an old British bomber equipped with instruments that offered a three-dimensional profile of mineral deposits below the earth’s surface. It was the most comprehensive geologic survey of Afghanistan ever conducted. …

But the results gathered dust for two more years, ignored by officials in both the American and Afghan governments. In 2009, a Pentagon task force that had created business development programs in Iraq was transferred to Afghanistan, and came upon the geological data. Until then, no one besides the geologists had bothered to look at the information — and no one had sought to translate the technical data to measure the potential economic value of the mineral deposits.

Soon, the Pentagon business development task force brought in teams of American mining experts to validate the survey’s findings …

Read it all – it’s a dramatic story.

Though probably not an introduction to a period of peace and co-operation.

Two too big to fail each other 0

To impress the (unbelieving) world with how hard the Obama administration is working to stop the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico since the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar notoriously announced that it would keep its “boot on the throat” of BP.

Obama and the Democrats generally like to pretend that Big Business is a wild destructive beast that has to be brutally tamed by government, as Salazar’s image implies.

But in fact, there is a symbiotic relationship between government and Big Business.

Big Business generally donates far more to the socialist parties of the Western world than to those that ideologically support the free market. Why? Because up to a point – a point that big businessmen are apparently too short-sighted to discern – high-taxing, high-spending big government is profitable for companies like BP.

And big government, while hypocritically heaping blame on them for its own failures, keeps its hand stretched out towards them.  

From the Washington Examiner:

Lobbying records show that BP is … a close friend of big government whenever it serves the company’s bottom line.

While BP has resisted some government interventions, it has lobbied for tax hikes, greenhouse gas restraints, the stimulus bill, the Wall Street bailout, and subsidies for oil pipelines, solar panels, natural gas and biofuels.

Now that BP’s oil rig has caused the biggest environmental disaster in American history, the Left is pulling the same bogus trick it did with Enron and AIG: Whenever a company earns universal ire, declare it the poster boy for the free market.

As Democrats fight to advance climate change policies, they are resorting to the misleading tactics they used in their health care and finance efforts: posing as the scourges of the special interests and tarring “reform” opponents as the stooges of big business.

Expect BP to be public enemy No. 1 in the climate debate.

There’s a problem: BP was a founding member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), a lobby dedicated to passing a cap-and-trade bill. As the nation’s largest producer of natural gas, BP saw many ways to profit from climate legislation, notably by persuading Congress to provide subsidies to coal-fired power plants that switched to gas.

In February, BP quit USCAP without giving much of a reason beyond saying the company could lobby more effectively on its own than in a coalition that is increasingly dominated by power companies. They made out particularly well in the House’s climate bill, while natural gas producers suffered.

But two months later, BP signed off on Kerry’s Senate climate bill, which was hardly a capitalist concoction. One provision BP explicitly backed, according to Congressional Quarterly and other media reports: a higher gas tax. The money would be earmarked for building more highways, thus inducing more driving and more gasoline consumption.

Elsewhere in the green arena, BP has lobbied for and profited from subsidies for biofuels and solar energy, two products that cannot break even without government support. Lobbying records show the company backing solar subsidies including federal funding for solar research. The U.S. Export-Import Bank, a federal agency, is currently financing a BP solar energy project in Argentina.

Ex-Im has also put up taxpayer cash to finance construction of the 1,094-mile Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline carrying oil from the Caspian Sea to Ceyhan, Turkey — again, profiting BP.

Lobbying records also show BP lobbying on Obama’s stimulus bill and Bush’s Wall Street bailout. …

BP has more Democratic lobbyists than Republicans.  … There’s no truth to Democratic portrayals of the oil company as an arm of the GOP.

Two patterns have emerged during Obama’s presidency: 1) Big business increasingly seeks profits through more government, and 2) Obama nonetheless paints opponents of his intervention as industry shills. BP is just the latest example of this tawdry sleight of hand.

Cooling it 3

Michael Mann’s “hockey stick graph” was constructed with computers (“garbage in, garbage out”) to “prove” that a wonderfully steady climate prevailed over the world for nearly a thousand years and then suddenly, in the twentieth century, Modern Industrial Man with his disgraceful appetite for material things that make his life longer, pleasanter and easier, started polluting the air and water and  earth with disgusting “emissions” that heated the planet, which is now set to become so hot that … Oh, all sorts of dire consequences will follow. And drastic, impoverishing remedies must be hastily applied world-wide by diktat. The population of the world must shrink, so have no children and die early. If you insist on surviving, go back to living hand to mouth like your primitive ancestors.

We may be exaggerating a little, but not diverging from the broad  truth.

A report by The Science and Environmental Policy Project points out:

The first two assessment reports of the UN IPCC included charts showing temperature change for the last 1000 years that included the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. The Summary for Policymakers of the 2001 Third Assessment Report eliminated these temperature changes and substituted Mann’s now infamous “hockey stick” graph produced by statistical techniques that purport to show that temperatures were relatively stable for about 900 years then shot up in the 20th Century. The results of a computer model trumps physical evidence. The research was “peer reviewed” but not available for independent review. …

If Mr. Mann had been open with his research data and methods, and permitted their review by independent scientists, his errors may have been appropriately corrected in a scientific setting rather than in a political one. Instead, he chose to withhold the information. It is imperative to understand the full extent to which Mann’s now discredited study distorted the climate and energy policies of the US government – at great cost to the taxpayer and energy consumer.

Commenting on this, John Hinderaker writes at PowerLine:

It is a remarkable fact that warmists claim the right to keep their data secret and avoid any critical assessment of their work, while at the same time demanding that every country in the world fashion its energy policies on the basis of their alleged findings. No doubt there is a precedent, somewhere, for such arrogance. But I am not sure there is any precedent, anywhere, for governments being stupid enough to accede to such unreasonable demands.

Yes, it would be a far better, though probably harder, aim for the citizens of democracies to lower the level of stupidity in their governments, rather than the temperature of the earth.

Saving it again 0

Spreading menace 1

As we’ve said before and will say again, whatever  government does, it does badly.

Which is one of the reasons why the less any government is allowed to do, the better for the country.

Case in point: The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting from the Horizon rig’s explosion and sinking, might have been stopped from spreading if the coast guard had had the equipment that the government had known for years would be needed for just such a contingency.

A good plan was made, but the equipment to carry it out was not obtained.

Read about it here. We quote:

If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land.

Made of flame-retardant fabric, each boom has two pumps that push water through its 500-foot length. Two boats tow the U-shaped boom through an oil slick, gathering up about 75,000 gallons of oil at a time. That oil is dragged away from the larger spill, ignited and burns within an hour …

The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand.

The “In-Situ Burn” plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms.

But in order to conduct a successful test burn eight days after the Deepwater Horizon well began releasing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf, officials had to purchase one from a company in Illinois.

When federal officials called, Elastec/American Marine shipped the only boom it had in stock

At federal officials’ behest, the company began calling customers in other countries and asking if the U.S. government could borrow their fire booms for a few days …

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour …  That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.

In the days after the rig sank, U.S Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said the government had all the assets it needed. She did not discuss why officials waited more than a week to conduct a test burn.

At the time, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oil spill response coordinator Ron Gouguet — who helped craft the 1994 plan — told the [Alabama] Press-Register that officials had pre-approval for burning. “The whole reason the plan was created was so we could pull the trigger right away.”

Gouguet speculated that burning could have captured 95 percent of the oil as it spilled from the well. …

Meanwhile the oil goes on spreading, and so does the government.

Al Gore and the sale of indulgences 3

In the dark ages, when Papacy held control of men’s consciences and few dared to think, one method which she practiced to supply herself with money was the sale of indulgences. The indulgence was a permission to sin and yet be free from its consequences. … Succeeding Popes and councils … argued that if they had a right to remit sins for service to the church, they had also the right to remit them for money for the church … and concluded that if they had a right to remit past sins for money, they had the same right to remit, or excuse, or grant indulgence for sins of the future. … It was the sale of these future indulgences for money which … gave rise to the Reformation movement, called Protestant, because of their protests and objections to this and other evils recognized in Papacy.

*

We do not believe that CO2 is a pollutant; that the earth is warming to any degree that should trouble us; that the planet is warmed by human activity; that a despotic world authority is needed to regulate human activity on the pretext of saving the planet from warming; that the wealth of the First World should be redistributed to the Third World; or that anybody’s wealth should be redistributed to Al Gore.

In the name of Climate Change, the new mysticism, Al Gore and his conspirators are selling indulgences. You pay them so you can carry on with living, manufacturing, traveling and so on, all the normal activities which they say is threatening Planet Earth. Ostensibly you are buying a certain amount of some Third Worlder’s CO2 ration, as determined by Al Gore and his conspirators, because you are exceeding your own ration, as determined by them. Some of what you pay will go to a Third Worlder, they say. Most of what you pay will go to Al Gore and his conspirators.

From Investor’s Business Daily:

While senators froth over Goldman Sachs and derivatives, a climate trading scheme being run out of the Chicago Climate Exchange would make Bernie Madoff blush. Its trail leads to the White House.

Lost in the recent headlines was Al Gore‘s appearance Monday in Denver at the annual meeting of the Council of Foundations, an association of the nation’s philanthropic leaders.

“Time’s running out (on climate change),” Gore told them. “We have to get our act together. You have a unique role in getting our act together.”

Gore was right that foundations will play a key role in keeping the climate scam alive as evidence of outright climate fraud grows, just as they were critical in the beginning when the Joyce Foundation in 2000 and 2001 provided the seed money to start the Chicago Climate Exchange. It started trading in 2003, and what it trades is, essentially, air. More specifically perhaps, hot air.

The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) advertises itself as “North America’s only cap-and-trade system for all six greenhouse gases, with global affiliates and projects worldwide.” Barack Obama served on the board of the Joyce Foundation from 1994 to 2002 when the CCX startup grants were issued. As president, pushing cap-and-trade is one of his highest priorities. Now isn’t that special? …

The CCX provides the mechanism in trading the very pollution permits and carbon offsets the administration’s cap-and-trade proposals would impose by government mandate.

Thanks to Fox News’ Glenn Beck, we have learned a lot about CCX, not the least of which is that its founder, Richard Sandor, says he knew Obama well back in the day when the Joyce Foundation awarded money to the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, where Sandor was a research professor.

Sandor estimates that climate trading could be “a $10 trillion dollar market.” It could very well be, if cap-and-trade measures like Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Boxer are signed into law, making energy prices skyrocket, and as companies buy and sell permits to emit those six “greenhouse” gases.

So lucrative does this market appear, it attracted the attention of London-based Generation Investment Management, which purchased a stake in CCX and is now the fifth-largest shareholder.

As we noted last year, Gore is co-founder of Generation Investment Management, which sells carbon offsets of dubious value that let rich polluters continue to pollute with a clear conscience.

Other founders include former Goldman Sachs partner David Blood, as well as Mark Ferguson and Peter Harris, also of Goldman Sachs. In 2006, CCX received a big boost when another investor bought a 10% stake on the prospect of making a great deal of money for itself. That investor was Goldman Sachs, now under the gun for selling financial instruments it knew were doomed to fail.

The actual mechanism for trading on the exchange was purchased and patented by none other than Franklin Raines, who was CEO of Fannie Mae at the time.

Raines profited handsomely to the tune of some $90 million by buying and bundling bad mortgages that led to the collapse of the American economy. …

The climate trading scheme being stitched together here will do more damage than Goldman Sachs, AIG and Fannie Mae combined. But it will bring power and money to its architects.

Certainty of decline, probability of catastrophe 0

Read only a few pages of HR3200,The Affordable Health Care Choices Act 2009, and once you’ve got the gist of what they’re saying let your eye wander over a hundred or so more, and you’ll know beyond all doubt that you are now owned by the government. The link:

http://thomas.loc.gov/

To put it bluntly, this act has changed the USA into the USSA – the United Socialist States of America:

Here is part of Mark Steyn’s must-read article on the immediate and future costs of it:

On the day President Barack Obama signed Obamacare into law, Verizon sent an e-mail to all its employees, warning that the company’s costs “will increase in the short term.” And in the medium term? Well, U.S. corporations that are able to do so will get out of their prescription drugs plans and toss their retirees onto the Medicare pile. So far just three companies – Deere, Caterpillar and Valero Energy – have calculated that the loss of the deduction will add a combined $265 million to their costs. There are an additional 3,500 businesses presently claiming the break. The cost to taxpayers of that 28 percent benefit is about $665 per person. The cost to taxpayers of equivalent Medicare coverage is about $1,200 per person.

So we’re roughly doubling the cost of covering an estimated 5 million retirees.

Now admittedly the above scenario has not been, as they say, officially “scored” by the Congressional Budget Office, by comparison with whom Little Orphan Annie singing “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow” sounds like Morrisey covering “Gloomy Sunday.” Incidentally, has the CBO ever run the numbers for projected savings if the entire CBO were laid off and replaced by a children’s magician with an assistant in spangled tights from whose cleavage he plucked entirely random numbers? Just a thought.

This single component of “health” “care” “reform” neatly encompasses all the broader trends about where we’re headed – not just in terms of increased costs (both to businesses and individual taxpayers) and worse care (for those retirees bounced from company plans into Medicare), but also in the remorseless governmentalization of American life and the disincentivization of the private sector. As we see, even the very modest attempts made by Congress to constrain the 2003 prescription drug plan prove unable to prevent its expansion and metastasization. The one thing that can be said for certain is that, whatever claims are made for Obamacare, it will lead to more people depending on government for their health arrangements. Those 5 million retirees are only the advance guard. And, if you’re one of those optimistic souls whose confidence in the CBO is unbounded, let’s meet up in three years’ time and see who was correct – the bureaucrats passing out the federal happy juice, or the real businesses already making real business decisions about Obamacare.

Can we afford this? No. Even on the official numbers, we’re projected to add to the existing $8 trillion in debt another $12 trillion over the next decade. What could we do? Tax those big bad corporations a bit more? Medtronic has just announced that the new Obamacare taxes on its products could force it to lay off 1,000 workers. What do those guys do? Well, they develop products such as the recently approved pacemaker that’s safe for MRI scans or the InterStim bladder control device. So that’s a thousand fewer people who’ll be working on new stuff. Well, so what? The public won’t miss what they never knew they had. So, again, the effect is one of disincentivization – in this case, of innovation.

If existing tax structures can’t cover the costs, what can we do? Start a new tax! The VATman cometh. VAT is Euro-speak for “value added tax.” … This is yet another imposition on businesses, taking time away from wealth creation and reallocating it to government paperwork. If the Democrats hold Congress this fall, I would figure on VAT sooner rather than later.

All of the above is pretty much a safe bet. What about the imponderables? Even Obama hasn’t yet asked the CBO to cost out, say, what happens to the price of oil when the Straits of Hormuz are under a de facto Iranian nuclear umbrella – as they will be soon, because the former global hyperpower, which now gets mad over a few hundred housing units in Jerusalem, is blasé and insouciant about the wilder shores of the mullahs’ dreams. Or suppose, as seems to be happening, the Sino-Iranian alliance were to result in a reorientation of global oil relationships, or the Russo-Iranian friendship bloomed to such a degree that, between Moscow’s control of Europe’s gas supply and Tehran’s new role as Middle Eastern superpower, the economy of the entire developed world becomes dependent on an alliance profoundly hostile to it.

Which is to say that right now the future lies somewhere between the certainty of decline and the probability of catastrophe. What can stop it? Not a lot. But now that your “pro-life” Democratic congressman has sold out, you might want to quit calling Washington and try your state capital. If the Commerce Clause can legitimize the “individual mandate,” then there is no republic, not in any meaningful sense. If you don’t like the sound of that, maybe it’s time for a constitutional convention.

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