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Some Practical Calculations Applied to Climate Alarmism

Here’s an interesting alternative view to the usual alarmism about the climate. Manhattan Institute Senior Scholar Oren Cass looks at a few studies with implausible conclusions. One predicts Iceland and Mongolia as future economic powerhouses.  Here’s another interesting finding from a government agency:

One Environmental Protection Agency study estimates the potential increase in extreme-temperature deaths by looking at city-specific effects. It assumes that a day counting as unusually hot for some city in 2000 will cause a similar mortality increase in that city in 2100, even if climate change makes it no longer unusual.

The result is a projection that a hot day will kill massive numbers in Northern cities by 2100—though such temperatures are already routine at lower latitudes with no such ill effects. Pittsburgh’s extreme-temperature mortality rate is supposed to be 75 times as high in 2100 as that of Phoenix in 2000, though Pittsburgh will not be as hot then as Phoenix was a century earlier.

But if Pittsburgh’s climate steadily warms over the coming century, it will not react to a 100-degree day in 2100 the same way it did in 2000. Even if it didn’t warm, we should assume that economic and technological advancement will make the city and its residents more resilient to heat than they are today.

The absence of this sort of discussion is what makes many of us skeptical of alarmism.  There are many steps between “the planet is warming” and “you have to restrain your economy and give up your freedom,” but we’re typically told that there’s no time for all that stuff.


A Core Problem in Need of Reckoning

An op-ed in today’s Providence Journal by Wendy Warcholik and Scott Moody explores a point that has been mentioned frequently on this site:

We, as a society, don’t discuss this nearly enough, but we’ve embarked on a major experiment that has disproportionately impacted our children. No scientist would have authorized such an experiment because of its clear ethical implications on a vulnerable population, yet American society has pursued it with abandon.

That experiment is the elevation of adult desires over the needs of children, which manifests itself in divorce, cohabitation, and out-of-wedlock births. These actions destroy a child’s sense of self and leaves them to fend for themselves before they are ready.

This trend contributes to myriad problems in our society, arguably including school shootings, opioid abuse, and suicide, among a vast array.

A recent article from the Catholic News Agency (CNA) presents the theme on the national scale:

One in two: that is the current number of children in the U.S. who are being raised by both their married biological parents throughout their childhood.

“This figure is based on the proportion of 17-and-18-year-old high school students who were reported to be living with both their married birth mothers and biological fathers in 2016,” noted a report issued by the Institute for Family Studies.

This family structure is associated with better outcomes for children, and the fact that it skews along racial and economic lines suggests that rigid inequality will continue to increase, no matter how many government programs or corporate pressure campaigns we pursue.

Sooner or later, we’re going to have to address the underlying causes of our problems, even if it means challenging the free-love ethos of the Me Generation.  The later we let that reckoning be, the harder it will be to fix and the more people we’ll allow to suffer.


Perpetual Contracts and Managing the State’s Decline

I’ve been slow to share it, here, but the recent Providence Journal editorial on the return of perpetual-contract legislation to the General Assembly is important to read and take to heart:

Like a painful rash that keeps returning, the idea of “evergreen contracts” is back before the Rhode Island General Assembly. Year after year, union leaders who want even more taxpayer money revive this campaign.

Under this special-interest measure, police, fire and teacher contracts would remain in effect indefinitely after they have expired. The idea is to weaken the bargaining position of local cities and towns and pry more money out of the taxpayers, already burdened with some of America’s most crushing property taxes.

A fair accounting of this policy suggests that Rhode Island’s insiders understand that they’re really just managing the decline of the state.  Theoretically, perpetual contracts could benefit either side, given the circumstances.  We all understand that when the economic pressure would be on lower compensation for unionized employees, they’ll just sit on their contracts until things improve.  When the economic pressure goes the other way, promoting higher pay, local governments could be the ones to sit on the contracts.

However, everybody from the unions to municipal and school district leaders to the Providence Journal understands two things:

  • Economic flourishing isn’t in Rhode Island’s future unless the state can break insiders’ strangle hold on the state, and that doesn’t look likely, absent a terrible crash.
  • Interacting with that point, the deals that unionized government employees get in Rhode Island are so generous that it’s even less plausible to imagine circumstances in which Rhode Island’s economic growth would be so strong that the government would struggle to find people willing to work for that amount of remuneration.

Add in the fact that union employees can disrupt government services much more readily than government agencies and school districts can get out from under their unions, and it’s clear why this is such a one-sided issue.  At least the insecurity of a lapsing contract instills some discomfort among Rhode Island’s privileged class, which gives elected representatives a little leverage.  Whether or not they take advantage of that leverage — which hinges, in large part, on whether they were elected with the unions’ help — is another question.


The Imbalance of Perpetual Contracts


A State by Any Other Measure


The 1984 Version of #LoveWins

It’s difficult to believe that this isn’t fake, but Rod Dreher tends to be reliable, so there you go:



Yeah, yeah, there are something like 30,000 public high schools in the United States, each open for something like 36 weeks of the year, so a single flier in Atlanta, Georgia, can’t be taken as representative, even if this isn’t a joke or a prank.  But my how this jibes with the sense of progressives’ definition for “tolerance,” reminding me of my parody song, “Shout Down the Hate.”

If it is a joke, by the way, it’s awfully elaborate, involving (apparently) the school’s parent, teacher, and student association, which writes on its Facebook page:

Instead of demonizing and demoralizing students for their desire to protect themselves and bring some sanity to the wild west of America’s gun laws, how about harnessing that incredible energy? Grady High School in Atlanta is doing it.

Yup.  “Harnessing that incredible energy,” because (as the flier says) “individually we are different; together we are Grady!”  (Is that anything like being Negan?)


Rhode Island Has Less and Less Company with Its Estate Tax

Rachel Sheedy reports for Kiplinger that the state-level estate tax continues to evaporate from the United States of America:

Delaware is one of the latest states to bury its estate tax, which snared estates exceeding $5.49 million last year but has completely disappeared. New Jersey, too, has ditched its estate tax altogether, after hiking its exemption to $2 million in 2017 from its notoriously low, longtime exemption of $675,000.

That leaves 12 states (plus the District of Columbia) with state estate taxes on the books. And many of them are hiking exemptions for 2018, sparing more families from a tax bill when a loved one pass

So, the question on the table has become:  Will Rhode Island be the last state to slough off this relic of political philosophy that stands in the way of Americans who wish to improve their families’ lot and keep wealth churning throughout society?


Medicaid Expansion Not Working Out as States Had “Predicted”

Encouraging Virginians not to expand Medicaid to able-bodied, childless adults, Brooklyn Roberts looks at some results from states that have moved forward with the change:

As an example, let’s look at Oregon, a state that began expanding Medicaid in 2008. Officials there lacked funding for the total number of applicants, so they conducted a random lottery and selected enrollees from a waiting list, thus making Oregon an ideal state for study. What they found was that gaining Medicaid coverage increased health care usage and costs across a wide range of settings, and emergency room visits increased by 40 percent in the newly covered group. Proponents of the expansion argued the initial spike in ER visits was due to pent-up needs and would decrease as time went on.

That has not been the case. Oregon’s growth in Medicaid spending between 2012 and 2016 was 83.1 percent. A follow-up study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded the value of expansion for recipients was quite low — 20 to 40 cents per dollar of government spending.

So, the expansion increases health-care usage in ways that weren’t predicted by the officials who’ve implemented the expansion, and those officials have proven even more egregiously incorrect when it comes to predicting how many people would sign up.  (We could argue about whether that was a flaw in their methodology or something more like deception; after all, they’ve ushered a lot of people into Medicaid by rerouting them through health benefits exchanges that were supposed to sell plans for actual money.)

In Rhode Island, our government officials signed up for the expansion almost before it was officially offered.  We should force them to reconsider how they do things.

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