Czar in Every Sense of the Word

Under HR 3200, fifty-one “Health Choices Commissioners” and their staffs could view your income tax information “upon written request from the Health Choices Commissioner or the head of a State-based health insurance exchange”. This to verify eligibility for government assistance in obtaining mandated health insurance. Under §431 of the Act, these bureaucrats would be privy to your filing status, modified adjusted gross income (interestingly, not your taxable income), number of dependents, “such other information as is prescribed … by regulation as might indicate whether the taxpayer is eligible for such affordability credits” (in other words, whatever they want to see), and “the taxable year with respect to which the preceding information relates or, if applicable, the fact that such information is not available”.

So not only do we have to worry about the misuse, leaking, theft and loss of our newly centralized medical records, we also have these geniuses – and their state-level czars-in-training – in possession of our tax records.

Gee, what could go wrong?

the Healthcare Crisis

Coverage, cost, portability, catastrophic care, tort reform, end of life, healthcare v sicknesscare, choice, pre-existing conditions, etcetera, ad nauseum. Part of why the healthcare debate is a zoo is because the healthcare legislation is a zoo. Too many things being addressed in one bill. 1,017 pages. Ridiculous.

If improving the American healthcare system is really the goal, it should be addressed along three avenues. Everything being argued over today could be categorized as either being cost-oriented, coverage-oriented or portability-oriented. Since we are constantly being told that if we do nothing, healthcare costs will destroy us, let’s address that one first.

Cost

General

Of the various reasons given by the White House as to why a revamping of healthcare must happen before lunch, the most consistent is cost – if nothing is done, we are told, healthcare will bankrupt the economy. While that Malthusian thought may or may not be true, it is increasingly clear that the proposed legislation in the House will snatch national bankruptcy from the jaws of the status quo. Any objective reading of the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, HR 3200, concludes that nothing in its 1,017 pages has anything to do with cost containment. Indeed, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will cost an additional $1 trillion to $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years. Remember that President Clinton told us the same thing on the eve of his attempt – “if we don’t do this, any other efforts to improve the economy will be for naught.” Well, the economy improved in spite (because?) of the failure of HillaryCare. The Chicken Little argument lacks credibility.

Cost is, however, a problem that can be addressed in absentia of dismantling the world’s preferred profound healthcare delivery system. The largest single factor in allowing healthcare costs to accelerate faster than general inflation is the third-party-payer dynamic. Markets merely quantify human behavior – if insurers are picking up the bill, and the employer is (tax-exempt) paying half the premiums, where is the incentive to hold down costs at the point of delivery? To hold down premium increases? Nobody is playing with their own money, vastly weakening any natural constraints on cost, and introducing the third-party payer from hell – federal government – won’t do anything to re-establish them. Indeed, with no need to show a profit and a bottomless pit of taxpayers from which to demand payment, any natural tendency for cost constraint will all but disappear.

It turns out that there is something that could be done to re-introduce market forces that wouldn’t cost the government (read: you and me) a dime – remove the prima facie unconstitutional bar to healthcare insurers from competing in interstate commerce. We can buy automobile insurance from a lizard in New Jersey, or life insurance from an elk in Massachusetts, why can’t we buy health insurance from another state?

We should also treat individuals like we do employers as far as protecting income spent on health insurance from taxation. While this provision would reduce tax revenues by that amount, it is a rounding error compared to the trillion-plus unfunded entitlement that is HR3200. Any given price defines its natural market as being between those who would pay more for more quality and those who can’t afford that price. Lowering price will include more at the lower margin. In other words, lowering the real cost of health insurance will allow more people to take advantage of the white market. That’s just how it works.

The first provision (interstate sales) reintroduces true competition (between private players), which always tends to lower cost and raise quality – look at what’s happened to largely uncovered Lasik eye surgery. The second provision (shielding insurance premiums from taxable income) is a necessary step in removing health insurance from being tied to employers. These provisions should be crafted, debated and voted separately, allowing them to be judged on their merits and not held hostage to each other (or any other non-germane provisions).

Tort Reform

The largest single factor in the doctor’s bottom line is malpractice insurance – which for some specialties can top $150,000 a year – and, as we know, the only way they can survive is to pass costs along to consumers (read: you and me). Aside from that direct cost, the threat of ruinous litigation is responsible for, conservatively, $178 billion being spent on defensive medicine – statistically unnecessary tests and redundant procedures. This all goes onto the bill before the costs of the actual indicated treatment and drugs are even considered.

States are beginning to tackle part of the problem on their own. Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Texas and West Virginia have instituted caps on non-economic (i.e., “pain and suffering”) awards in professional malpractice litigation (to between $250,000 and $400,000), and the results have been dramatic. Doctors are moving from uncapped states into states with caps, and professional (and therefore individual) insurance premiums are dropping in states with caps. Insurance companies are also moving into states with caps, further increasing competition[1].

This state-by-state approach is far superior to having a federal Congress set one-size-fits-all rules for the entire country. We have fifty laboratories with which to experiment and we should take advantage of that. The closer to the problem that you position problem-solving, the more accountable are the problem-solvers and the better chance you have of arriving at a workable result. This isn’t rocket science.

Pharmaceuticals

One of the public whipping boys on healthcare has always been the pharmaceutical industry – greedy, always placing profit above the lost souls dropping dead on their doorstep. It’s an easy sell.

Drugs are expensive.

What they won’t tell you is that, at average, it takes around two decades and a billion or so dollars to bring a new drug to market, and only one in three[2] new drugs actually make it to market. Critics compare how much a drug costs per pill versus how much a pill costs to produce, simply overlooking what it cost to develop the drug and build the facility to manufacture those pills. If these companies aren’t allowed to recoup these costs, how many companies do you think would undertake the research in the first place?

It is true that the sooner generics can come to market, the less expensive will be the gross national bill for drugs, and that could be addressed by revisiting the patents granted for pharmaceuticals. Drug makers routinely apply for patent extensions for trivial changes (sometimes just in the packaging), and they are routinely granted. This practice should be eliminated, and patent-life limited to 10 years for pharmaceuticals. This would bring generics to market sooner and allow drug makers to recover R&D costs while they have a monopoly.

Beyond that, there isn’t much that can be done that wouldn’t dry up the very drugs that some demand be given to all who need them. The world is on the brink of breakthroughs in gene therapy, nanobiologicals and space-based manufacturing, and America is leading those efforts. Sacrificing these advancements on an altar of demagoguery would be nearly as criminal as myopic.

Medicare

Over half of healthcare spending goes to the elderly, as healthcare maintenance naturally increases toward the end of life. Part of the bankrupting of Social Security and Medicare is that we do Social Security and Medicare exactly upside-down. Benefits (not contributions) should be means-tested, and contributions (not benefits) should be open-ended.

FICA and Medicare should not be cut-off at some arbitrary income level (and all FICA and Medicare revenues should be earmarked for Social Security and Medicare – not general revenues), and Social Security and Medicare benefits should be cut-off at, say, the national median income. Bill Gates (not to mention Members of Congress) do not need Social Security and Medicare, but they get them, and Bill Gates (not to mention Members of Congress) don’t contribute beyond $106,800 of taxable income. Why is that?

Those who know me, know that I am not a fan of “soaking the rich”. The fact is, we have two programs that aren’t going away but are going bankrupt, and that will affect us all. The purposes of both programs are admirable and can be said to be reasonable governmental responses to the problem of aging in a society of 300 million people. The problem is in how these programs are funded and administered.

Each of the provisions herein discussed should be crafted, debated and voted individually, each on their own merits. Much of the negative public reaction to ObamaCare is the vastness and breathless manner of approach – too many things being passed in one bill, and too quickly, to understand. This couldn’t have been more clearly demonstrated than the timely collapse of Cash-for-Clunkers. If government can’t get a simple rebate program right, how in the world is it going to responsibly revamp a sixth of the economy?! Each discrete segment of reform should be crafted, debated and voted separately. Each proposal standing or falling on its own merits.

We should put an end to 1,000-page bills that are voted but not read.


[1] See Houston Chronicle, March 17 2005; The Perryman Group, The Impact of Judicial Reforms on Economic Activity in Texas Overall Economic Impact on State’s Economy; Scott Hensley, Doctors Flock to Texas After Tort Reform, in Wall Street Journal, May 19 2008.

[2] I’m considering only drugs that make it out of Level I testing. Most don’t get that far, but the decades and billions don’t really kick-in until after laboratory testing of the compound.

the Healthcare Chimera

Healthcare isn’t the focal point of public angst, it’s the lens through which public angst is being focused. What I see, as I listen to citizen after citizen in town hall after town hall, is a polity that senses it’s losing its country. Yes, there are pointed questions about the House bill (these unwashed masses are more conversant with the actual legislation than the Members are), but the overriding tone of these meetings is more “just leave us alone” than “how many doctors can dance on the head of a pin”. There are as many worried sentiments about the Constitution and the nation that our Founders formed than about the technicalities of healthcare delivery systems.

The August recess has been the catalyst for a perfect storm of convergent forces and emergent phenomena. TARP (the only part of this whole mess that was inherited from the Bush administration), the GM/Chrysler bailout, cap-and-trade (rammed through the House), and now healthcare … it’s just too much too quickly. The American people are being overwhelmed with fundamental changes faster than they can absorb them.

“Never waste a crisis” has run its course.

Our president waxes poetic about post-partisan governance while he oversees a House and Senate treating democracy like two lions and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. His “open and transparent” administration scoffs at the idea of reading the bills upon which they vote. He has yet to impose a program on us that enjoys a plurality of popular support. He vilified President Bush’s programs, but the only one he tried to reverse (Guantánamo) demonstrated his naïveté. His “blame America first” World Tour offended many who had great expectations of a charming, young and articulate president.

“Hope and change” has run its course.

President Obama’s “above the fray” approach to policy formulation has resulted in a “Pelosi administration” characterized by nasty partisanship and the demonizing of contrary views. His nationwide healthcare tour is a string of glittering-generality campaign speeches that only furthers the illusion of detachment. The appointment of some three dozen policy czars leaves one wondering just what aspect of governing the president knows about. The grab-bag of DVDs as a gift for Britain’s prime minister, the serial vetting miscues on potential appointees, the Cash-for-Clunkers debacle, the narc-on-your-neighbor “fishy” campaign, David Axelrod’s spamming of unwitting eMail recipients. All of this exhibits an amateurish grappling with the reigns of national power.

“Inexperience” is here for the duration.

An uneasy gut feeling of a government out of control has found expression in voters confronting their representatives over a heavy-handed healthcare policy. It didn’t help that the initial reaction of most elected officials was one of condescension and an elitist we-know-what’s-best-for-you attitude. It didn’t help when Pelosi called the questioners phony. It didn’t help when Representative Lee took a phone call in the middle of being asked a question.

Rightly or wrongly, there is a growing feeling that the meritocracy that built the freest and most prosperous society in history is being dismantled in front of their eyes, and this is the first chance that the people have had to question their government.

National Healthcare Lies Number 4 (with Apologies to TVNews)

TVNews has laid waste to three “fishy” claims forwarded by national healthcare proponents (we can all keep the insurance we have; all protestors are professional rabble-rousers; and, we can do better if we are all covered), and I would like to take on a fourth: preventive medicine will produce savings, absorbing some of the cost of universal coverage (government’s wringing waste, fraud and abuse out of the system will take care of the rest – Riiiiiiight).

The theory goes that by screening people for preventable conditions, we catch them early and forego more costly therapeutic care later. Sounds logical, right? Well, it turns out that testing everybody for everything would be prohibitively expensive, whether they catch anything or not. Add to that, most of the conditions that could be caught by testing require regimens that are more costly than the test, so even if we are saving money on that patient’s lifetime care, we are losing money on the “preventive” care. A definitive review of hundreds of studies, appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, concurs, noting that more than 80% of preventive measures net added to medical costs.

Now let me state right here in front of God and everybody that I’m not saying preventive care is an evil plot and should be categorized with drowning kittens. I am saying that when Democrats tell you that it’s a way to cut medical costs, they’re lying to you. It will add cost on top of the trillion or so CBO tells us this bill already costs. This is precisely how government programs spin out of control. Most of their “cost saving” measures are more expensive than the “problem” they are intended to solve.

In the name of insuring 4% of the legal population, the world’s premier medical system will be trashed, the private health insurance and pharmaceutical industries will be destroyed, taxes will be raised on everything that doesn’t move (including the middle class), we will incur trillion-dollar deficits unless and until GDP growth tops 4 or 5%, and we will undergo a serious bout of inflation.

I’m about ready to ask Congress to stop helping me.

the Russians are Coming! the Russians are Coming!

In a scene reminiscent of the Cold War, two Russian fast attack submarines are “patrolling” off our East Coast. Back then, they would likely be loitering (submerged), awaiting the departure of one of our ballistic missile boats from refurbishing at the Groton [CT] yards. But today, it’s just Russia being Russia.

These patrols come as Moscow tries to shake off the embarrassment of the latest failed test shot of their new Bulava SLBM, test fired from an SSBN under the Arctic Ocean on July 15. The failed missile test was the sixth since 2005, and some experts see Russia’s assertiveness as a gambit by the military to prove its continued relevance[1]. These patrols also come on the heels of Biden being Biden.

The previous week, Vice President Joe Biden told The Wall Street Journal that Russia had economic and demographic problems that rendered it an asymptotically weakening force on the world stage[2]. The Russian psyche is very sensitive to public loss of face, and surfacing a couple of Akulas off the Georgia coast is a very Putin-esque, in-your-face way to demonstrate national potency.

Roughly equivalent to our Los Angeles-class subs, the Акџла (Akula, Russian for “Shark”) is an example of 80s technology tasked to locate and attack surface and subsurface shipping, and can (and these probably do) operate land-attack cruise missiles, deployable while submerged or running on the surface. The distinctive bulb atop a vertical tail fin stows the towed-array of high-fidelity sonar sensors. Akulas are sometimes bitterly called “Walker-class” submarines, referring to John Anthony Walker, who sold the Soviets 5-axis machine code for milling, grinding and polishing the super-quiet single-billet seven-bladed screw that allows far higher RPM without tell-tale cavitation.

Having said that, we have even quieter Seawolf– and Virginia-class (post-Los Angeles) boats, examples of which are probably in the baffles of the Akulas as I write, that include materials and hull topology details that have not yet been stolen from us (plus, our pumps and gears run quieter than Russian designs). So the presence of a couple of Russian fast attacks near our waters (they surfaced around 200 miles out at sea) does not present a national defense crisis, rather, like their occasional strategic bomber and strategic reconnaissance flights over Alaska and Canada, they are merely “showing the flag”. Remembering that the break-even point on the Russian economy requires $70 oil, and that their economy is way, way more thinly capitalized than ours (or PRC’s or India’s for that matter), none of these exercises can be sustained beyond the periodic “guess who’s coming to dinner” pop-ups.

Russia can cause us headaches (Europe, Iran), but not this far afield.


[1] See Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker, Russian Subs Patrolling Off East Coast of US, in New York Times, August 4 2009.

[2] A living, breathing example of PJ O’Rourke’s definition of a “gaffe” (when a politician inadvertently speaks the truth).

the Eventual Healthcare Proposal

When Members return from being barbecued on their August “recess”, one of two immediate results will present itself: either a statistically significant number of rank-and-file Democrats will inform the powers that be that their constituents will eat them alive if they pass the abomination currently awaiting a House vote; or, they will largely dismiss their constituents as evil morons, and proceed on the aforementioned abomination.

Understand something fundamental: President Obama will sign whatever bill gets through House-Senate conference. He has said he will veto anything that adds to the deficit, but that is a lie – he can’t figurehead this divisive debate and then refuse the results. This is why CBO’s scoring of the eventual bill will be of vital interest to the White House. Even if CBO concludes that the Act will add to the deficit and will increase spending on healthcare, Obama will simply get a second opinion (e.g., the White House’s Office of Management and Budget) and declare CBO as a biased and wrong assessment, and sign the bill. He has to. He’s staked too much on getting healthcare “reform”.

So the question is: what will make it to Obama’s desk?

Fiscal Concerns

There will be no tort reform (most legislators are lawyers and the Democrats are in the pocket of trial lawyers), although defensive medicine is likely to be restricted (without Congress shouldering the legal exposure for patients contracting something not tested for). Guess what will happen to already surrealistic malpractice premiums. The net effect of this “cost cutting” tactic will be to discourage the practice of medicine – even fewer doctors to handle the now larger patient-pool.

It is unlikely to contain a public “option” (sub-prime insurance). At this writing, a government-run insurance policy is a deal-breaker with most Blue Dogs and nearly all Republicans. But as long as Democrats have the votes to pass anything, there is always the possibility that they will. Democrats are their own worst enemy in this conundrum. Members are paying the political price for having rammed through stimulus and budget bills that feature spending trillions in excess of funding. This has had two basic effects – the public now accepts the economy as being President Obama’s (with deficits dwarfing those “inherited” from President Bush); and that the public now fully understands what “never waste a crisis” actually means (and that they are the ones being “fooled” by such a strategy). The timing of the collapse of “Cash-for-Clunkers” (sub-prime cars) couldn’t have been worse – drastically under-disclosed cost, utter lack of oversight and reams of paperwork. Under these circumstances, virtually no Republicans and few Blue Dogs are likely to vote for anything containing a public “option”.

Another cost-driver has to do with drug prices, and I honestly don’t know what Congress will try to do here. If they set drug prices, the development of new drugs will all but cease (it requires around two decades and a billion or so dollars to bring a new drug to market, and if the developer isn’t allowed to recoup those costs, they will simply stop researching new drugs). If congress subsidizes the retail cost, healthcare costs (to the consumer) will lower, but deficits will rise. If they add all patients to the Bush drug plan, it will be the worst of both worlds (driving American pharmaceuticals out of business while raising deficits). If they do nothing, prescription drugs will remain an upward pressure on healthcare costs.

The third-party payer dynamic can be weakened in three ways. Health insurance can be made accessible across state lines like auto or life insurance. This will address the lack of downward cost incentives by widening the risk-pool, and by adding competitive pressures to premium pricing by insurers. In addition to geographically opening availability, policies should be homogenized among group members and individuals; and among employers and employees. In other words, you or I should be able to get the same coverage at the same price as a UAW member; and individuals should get the same tax breaks (or lack of them) as employers do regarding the cost of healthcare coverage. And lastly, individual healthcare accounts should be made available and (acceptable as “coverage”) for individuals to self-insure (tax-free), keeping any monies left over at year’s end (tax-free). This reintroduces the concept of the consumer paying for the purchase (first-party payer), reintroducing competitive pressures on price.

If these primary drivers of cost-rise – tort reform, premium cost, drug prices and third-party payer – aren’t addressed, whatever else the bill contains, healthcare costs will continue to rise unrestrained.

Political Concerns

The 800-pound gorilla in the room is abortion – there almost certainly has to be some language added that rejects mandatory funding of abortion (or penalizes refusal to perform them on demand). This also is an issue that crosses party lines by enough to jeopardize passage. A bill that allows (but does not mandate) funding for abortion will pass.

Any attempt to significantly increase the number of insured without increasing the number of doctors will result in rationing. Canadian-style long waiting lists for routine procedures. Any rationing scheme aimed at reducing costs will target the most expensive users of healthcare – the elderly. AMA and AARP are already paying a heavy price for backing the current proposal – many members very publicly dropping their memberships. The unwillingness of Congress to fix Medicare and Medicaid will work against any proposal that even looks like widening them to include millions more patients. It removes all credibility from claims of reducing cost and being “deficit neutral”. Democrats need to come up with something better than “no it won’t” in order to move people off of this complaint.

The continued use of “47-million uninsured” indicates that Democrats are willing to force the self-insured to take a policy at their own expense, while covering illegal aliens on the taxpayers’ dime. The 8% payroll tax in lieu of offering coverage for employees is bound to give many small businesses a choice they can’t survive, driving many employers out of business, worsening unemployment numbers just as they should be on the brink of improving (leaving many more people without insurance and without the means to buy it). The sooner Democrats disavow literal universal coverage, the sooner they will gain votes in both Houses of Congress.

The sheer scope of the program bothers many people – reinventing the automobile because a tire is low. Any program this large, this complex and this dependent on political appointees is going to make people nervous, and this is highlighted by the increase in the number of those who now think their current coverage and healthcare are either “good” or “excellent”. Even those who agree that something should be done about healthcare look at what is being proposed and say “Yikes!”

These four concerns (and probably others) need to be addressed in a way that satiates Blue Dogs and Republicans but doesn’t place a large number of Democrats at risk next year (all of the House and a third of the Senate are up for re-election). The DNC hasn’t forgotten that HillaryCare cost the Democrats dearly in the 1994 mid-terms.

And lastly, we shouldn’t forget that once this nightmare is over, here comes cap-and-trade!

Meet Your New Зеленыи цвет Без перевода Цaр (Green Jobs Czar)

Despite the fact that he hasn’t (and has admitted that he can’t) defined just what exactly a “Green Job” is, Van Jones (JD) is President Obama’s Czar of them. Having started his career as a staunch critic of capitalism, the Oakland [CA] neighborhood organizer is the president and founder of Green For All, a national NGO dedicated to “building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.” Dr Jones also founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, a California NGO working for alternatives to violence and incarceration.

Speaking to the East Bay Express, Dr Jones said he first became radicalized in the wake of the 1992 Rodney King riots.

“I met all these young radical people of color – I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. And it was, like, ‘This is what I need to be a part of’.’ I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary. I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th. By August, I was a communist[1].”

Dr Jones will work with agencies and departments to advance the administration’s climate and energy initiatives, with a special focus on improving vulnerable communities, according to a White House statement. But there are a few questions raised – first, about the role of Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor. A proponent of green jobs, it was thought that the responsibility would fall to her, but Climate Progress (a blog run by Jones’ think tank, the Center for American Progress) assures us that, yes, both positions are necessary. “The Labor Secretary can’t tell any other Cabinet officer or agency what to do – so if you want to coordinate a crosscutting initiative that affects so many different departments, including energy, EPA, Commerce, and so on – you need to do this out of the White House[2].” President Obama obviously isn’t interested in the input if his Secretaries of “Energy, EPA, Commerce, and so on”, rather someone to direct them what to do.

Am I the only one seeing a pattern here? With our banking system and automotive industry already in government hands and Washington clutching at healthcare and energy, we now have three rabid anti-capitalists assigned to oversee science and technology, cap-and-trade, and our promised conversion into “a Green Economy”.

Gee, what could go wrong?


[1] The New Face of Environmentalism, in East Bay Express, January 25 2007.

[2] See Maura Judkis, Obama Drafts Van Jones as Green Jobs Adviser, in US News & World Report, March 10 2009.

Meet Your New Мoщнocть Цaр (Energy Czar)

Until President-Elect Obama picked Carol M Browner (JD) as his “Global Warming Advisor” (now Energy Czar), she was listed as one of fourteen leaders of the Commission for a Sustainable World Society, a subsidiary of Socialist International, which calls for “global governance” and says rich countries must shrink their economies to address climate change.

“Does she agree with the group’s positions on global governance – that the US should abdicate its international leadership to international organizations? Does she support its position that the international community should be the ultimate arbiter of climate change policy?” asked Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for House Minority Leader John A Boehner (R-OH). “These are questions that merit answers – especially when you consider this group’s deep skepticism about America’s ability to be a force for positive change in the world,” she said[1].

Even after being hand-fed the question, I’m not aware of any reporter or legislator asking it of the administration.

She served as President Clinton’s EPA Administrator, and got in a bit of a snit when she erased her computer’s hard drive despite a court order from Judge Lamberth on January 19, as the Clinton administration was leaving office, that instructed EPA to preserve all documents[2]. This in response to a Landmark Legal Foundation Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in the fall (of 2001) seeking documents detailing agency contacts with outside groups concerning last-minute environmental regulations the Clinton administration was imposing before leaving office.

Browner said she asked technicians “to clean up the computer, and in my particular instance, it meant (although she did not mention) my son’s computer games. I had no idea what else may have been on that computer since I didn’t use it regularly.” Browner testified she could not recall ever hearing about the FOIA lawsuit, even though it had dragged on for months, was reported in news accounts, and e-mails showed many of her top aides had discussed it.

The Landmark Legal Foundation offered Browner’s deposition – as well as other testimony indicating a deputy erased his computer files on 2 February, two weeks after the court order – as evidence the agency violated Lamberth’s record preservation order. “It is difficult to imagine a more thorough evisceration of the FOIA, and the court’s authority in enforcing this statute, than this case,” the group said in seeking civil contempt penalties against Browner and other officials.

Browner said she doesn’t think her action affected the case because she seldom used her computer – except for occasional word processing or travel reservations. A rather odd interpretation from someone holding a Juris Doctorate.

More recently, this July Dr Browner ordered auto industry executives “to put nothing in writing, ever” regarding secret negotiations she orchestrated regarding a deal to increase federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards[3]. Federal law requires officials to preserve documents concerning significant policy decisions, so instructing participants in a policy negotiation concerning a major federal policy change could be viewed as a criminal act.

So we have an avowed socialist setting policy for 7.14% of the economy (energy), coming on the heels of an attempt to convert 14.28% of the economy (healthcare) into a command sector, who exhibits a pattern of contempt for preserving records.

Again I have to ask, are there no non-radical liberals out there who pay their taxes, and thus could be appointed without scaring the bejesus out of ordinary folks? 

 


[1] See Stephen Dinan, Obama climate czar has socialist ties, in Washington Times, January 12 2009.

[2] See John Solomon, EPA Head Browner Asked for Computer Files to Be Deleted, Associated Press, June 29 2001.

[3] See Mark Tapscott, “Put nothing in writing,” Browner told auto execs on secret White House CAFE talks, in Washington Examiner, July 9 2009.

Meet Your New Presidential Science Advisor

John P Holdren (PhD) is schooled in Physics, Aerospace Engineering and Environmental Science, but has made his name in the latter – radical environmentalism, and I don’t use the descriptor “radical” loosely.

In 1977, Dr Holdren praised an earlier article espousing the idea that trees should have legal standing to sue in courts of law[1]. In that article, Professor [Law] Stone plainly states: “I am quite seriously proposing that we give legal rights to forests, oceans, rivers and other so-called ‘natural objects’ in the environment – indeed, to the natural environment as a whole.” Calling the essay “tightly reasoned”, Dr Holdren agrees that there are “obvious advantages of giving natural objects standing, just as such inanimate objects as corporations, trusts, and ships are now held to have legal rights and duties.”

Also in 1977, Dr Holdren co-authored a college text with Paul and Anne Ehrlich[2] of Population Bomb[3] fame. In it, they argue for placing caps on the US economy itself – and working toward zero economic growth as well as zero population growth. “The critical question,” they hold, “is how to get around the extraordinary vested interests that would be unalterably opposed to maximum income limits and (if possible) even more opposed to direct taxation of wealth … Greed and the desire for power are extraordinarily strong forces against any serious attempts to curb income and wealth.” This is also the tome in which Dr Holdren supports population control via sterilants in the water – the involuntary (and clandestine) sterilizing of “segments” of the population.

What has he been doing lately? Teaching, of course.

Of all the working and teaching scientists out there, this socialist who believes in forced sterilization and that trees should be able to sue people is the one whose judgment and vision President Obama trusts to advise him on matters of science and technology policy.


[1] Christopher D Stone, Should Trees Have Standing?, in Southern California Law Review, 1972.

[2] John P Holdren, Paul R Ehrlich and Anne H Ehrlich, Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment, 1977.

[3] In which the Ehrlichs argued that by 2000 Western Civilization would have collapsed and that food riots would dominate the globe.