Archive for August, 2007

Global Warming: The Real Inconvenient Truth

It has been interesting watching Al Gore doggedly fight his battle over the last 15+ years to convince us about the perils and causes of global warming. His battle has hit its stride with a gathering momentum with accolades such as the Academy Award bestowed upon him for his Inconvenient Truth.

Back in the early 1990’s I recall a Boston Globe interview of Gore. At one point the interviewer asked Gore what he thought about the scientists who did not accept the idea of global warming being caused by human activities. He said, “I wish I could find a way to shut them up.” (!) [I don’t have the article and can’t find it online but the quote is burned into my memory.] Over the years Gore and his allies have managed to create the impression that virtually all reputable atmospheric scientists agree global warming is caused by our release of carbon dioxide. Scientists who disagree are depicted as being on the take from the oil companies. Now that the Gore contingent have created the impression of a scientific consensus, Gore claims that fighting global warming is a moral issue. In other words, if you disagree with him, you’re not only wrong but also immoral!

Gore’s campaign to “shut up” dissenting scientists has been almost completely successful.

Robert Bidinotto’s work in Reader’s Digest originally convinced me that global warming was sham but for while I started to have doubts based on the constant media claims that climatologists agreed on the human-driven cause of global warming. I decided to conduct my own research from which a different picture emerged. Recently I read two books which I’ll discuss in a separate blog, both of which I found through www.junkscience.com.

I learned that there is no consensus among scientists and that there are other theories which match the data much better than man-made carbon dioxide. The information in these books is not all that hard to find. So why do Gore and his followers persist in advocating that we are to blame? I think the following quote from the former Canadian Environment Minister Christine Stewart sheds light on their motive.

“No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits…. Climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.” Source: Calgary Herald, 14 December 1998.

It all comes down to a new way to make us (the U.S. in particular and the West in general) feel guilty for our material success in order to soften us for their solutions of taxing emissions, changing our life style and bringing us down to the level of countries that don’t suffer from these “problems,” thanks to their policies of punitive taxation, heavy regulation and government control (or strangling) of their economies.

Most Americans buy into some of the propaganda and react maybe by recycling more or car-pooling. But they still buy their SUV’s and dream to live in a large home and maybe even own a private jet. In other words, to live in a style that Gore enjoys!

Health Care Debate

I recently had an e-mail dialog with a friend of mine who wants nationalized health care. Before this exchange I didn’t know much about it except that the health care industry isn’t really a free market. I learned while responding to my friend’s claims (and his recommendation to see Michael Moore’s mockumentary Sicko) how unfree the market really is. Below are extracts of my e-mails to him.

The problem is that we already have a semi-socialized system of health care. Making it fully socialized will only make it worse. The statistics show that people in countries with national health care have to wait for months or years for procedures or tests that we can have done here tomorrow without waiting. As a result, people die in these counties waiting for life saving procedures. My wife’s brother had stomach surgery in Bermuda which has a system modeled on England. The sutures did not hold, allowing his disgestive waste to leak into his body. He ran a temperature for days while his stomach bloated and the doctors took a “don’t worry, be happy” approach. Fortunately his manager chartered a medivac jet from the U.S. and had my brother-in-law flown to Rhodel Island Hospital. Doctors there said he was within 24 hours of dying had he stayed in Bermuda.

I don’t agree that health care is a right for reasons that take too long to spell out in an e-mail. Here it is in a very short nutshell: when you claim a “right” to something you’re basically saying you have a right to the time and abilities of other people, which means basically to enslave them. Third, I don’t believe Michael Moore. Even people on his side of the political fence have major problems with his way of presenting “facts.”

I agree: a caring society SHOULD take care of those who can’t take care of themselves … voluntarily, not by government. It’s too easy for all of us to foist the job of taking care of people onto the government (which means onto others via taxation) instead of doing something ourselves.

I also have a couple of practical reasons why I don’t want the government to run health care.

  1. The government has created a lot of the problems with its attempt to “fix” things. The solution is not to keep adding more “fixes.” (We have nothing like a free market in health care now; it is heavily regulated and getting more so by the day. Medicare causes further problems because the government dictates what it will pay for procedures. Since the government mandated “price” doesn’t cover the hospital’s cost they just shift these costs to us, thus increasing our health care costs. This is a free market? Plus the government with the blessing of the AMA restricts the number of people who can become doctors which results in higher salaries.)
  2. If you’re dissatisfied with something you have the option to switch HMO’s or move to something else like Blue Cross. Having the government run health care means it becomes a monolithic, faceless monopoly. If we don’t like how it’s run where else are we going to go? (In fact, in England and in Canada, people who run into the bureaucratic brick walls of government have resorted to a fledgling and growing alternate market to get what they need, at extra expense.)
  3. The government bureaucrats who run health care would become subject to corruption and influence peddling as companies and the rich use their money to get what they want while we are helpless to do anything about it. I’ve dealt with the bureaucracy of my HMO and with government bureaucracies. I’ll take battling with a private bureaucracy any day because I can always threaten to take my business elsewhere. That kind of threat does not exist with a government bureaucrat. This is the fatal flaw of regulation that is well documented by liberal historian Gabriel Kolko in his book The Triumph of Conservatism (which is not a good thing in Kolko’s mind). In his book he shows how businessmen flock to regulators, even campaigning to have their industry regulated (like Melon did with the steel industry), so that they can keep out competition and they can use their money to buy the favor of the regulators and government officials.
  4. The government does such a good job running other things (like building bridges across the Mississippi and the Big Dig in Boston which killed a woman when one of the ceiling panels broke loose due to poor quality epoxy (!?) and crushed her car).

Regarding the alleged “right” to health care and your claim that this is implied in our constitution, it we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Doesn’t say anything about having a right to particular goods or services because we don’t have the right to demand that other people to provide them for the reason I stated before. Also doesn’t say we have the right to happiness (who is going to provide it?), only the right to pursue happiness. Big difference. The Founding Fathers were brilliant in realizing this critical and often misunderstood distinction. The rights in the constitution apply to the freedom for us to think and act in order to pursue happiness.

The ONLY exception to this is people who are absolutely unable to provide anything for themselves, like kids with severe Down syndrome and with no families to support them. In the lottery of life we aren’t responsible for being born with all of our faculties. We are responsible for what we do with them. And I think we should acknowledge the fact that we lucked out in the lottery of life by supporting those who absolutely can’t live on their own ever. I’m not talking about inconveniences and normal challenges of living. I’m talking about people who would die on their own and do not have the means to solve their plight if someone didn’t step in. That is a very small population of people that could be handled by voluntary charity and a very small governmental support (and would not take much in taxes).

The position I have taken above is mine. Conservatives are OK with limited welfare because they accept the altruistic philosophy of their religious beliefs while libertarians do not accept any welfare rights for other reasons. (Pure altruism says we do not have the right to exist for our own sakes, that we must live for only others, that we must sacrifice our interests to everyone else.) My position comes from a perspective that I have not seen anywhere in my reading. It is the result of my own independent thinking on the subject.

As we wind down on our discussion of this issue and at the risk of belaboring this topic, let me finally cover Moore’s claim that we rank 37th. There are major problems with how the World Health Organization (an entity of the U.N.). It is designed so that it automatically relegates the U.S. to a lower ranking because its weighting favors countries with socialized medicine. As a result countries like Columbia, Oman, Morocco, Cyprus, Andorra, Malta, and the United Arab Emirates rank AHEAD of us!

As David Gratzer of the Manhattan Institute says: “But before packing up your daughter for the long plane ride to South America, remember that the WHO criteria are soft – and ideological. Nations are marked down for having private medicine or user fees. Fairness – that is, everyone gets the same treatment regardless of income – is important. Competition, WHO officials believe, is bad since it leads to “fragmentation and duplication in health services.” If the criteria aren’t skewed enough, the WHO report also considers how well countries perform compared to what experts feel they ought to be doing. It’s a bit like giving a gold medal to the eighth fastest runner because he has the shortest legs and tried harder.”

The only way the U.S. could ever rank much higher is to completely socialize health care, a prescription that is worse than the illness.


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