Archive for March, 2011

Dedicated doctors are working very, very hard to make sure that Atomic Power Boy's tummy ache doesn't turn into severe diarrhea …

March 26th, 2011 No comments

For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s a very popular little little video that an artist put together a week and a half ago, in an effort to help kids get a handle on all of the nuclear news:


We’re still not out of the woods here; let’s hope the s**t doesn’t really start flying. In any event, the situation REALLY stinks!

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March 25th, 2011 No comments

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Ruh roh … looks like another hockey stick!

March 25th, 2011 No comments

Thank you, dear readers! 

Looks like some of you missed me while I’ve been distracted here in the Land That The Hand of God Smote:

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Don't miss! More clarity on central monetary destruction and kleptocracy: YouTube vid 'Quantitative Easing Explained'

March 25th, 2011 No comments

[Bob Murphy linked to this earlier, I post this for those of you who missed it or want to flip it to others.]

From the man who gave us the YouTube animated hit ‘Bank Bailouts Explained‘, this latest now has over 4 million views [also, see my posts on the roots of our financial mess in moral hazard generated by deposit insurance and lack of ‘Skin in the Game’ by executives, traders and shareholders!]


That annoying off-beat drummer: In response to the 'heretic' Dr. Curry, more on my pig-headed libertarian open-mindness on climate issues

March 24th, 2011 No comments

I alerted readers in January to a blog post on libertarianism and the environment by Dr. Judith Curry, who heads the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and is known for her work on hurricanes, Arctic ice dynamics and other climate-related topics.

Scientific American  noted last October, in “Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues; Why can’t we have a civil conversation about climate?“, that:

over the past year or so she has become better known for something that annoys, even infuriates, many of her scientific colleagues. Curry has been engaging actively with the climate change skeptic community, largely by participating on outsider blogs such as Climate Audit, the Air Vent and the Black­board. Along the way, she has come to question how climatologists react to those who question the science, no matter how well established it is. Although many of the skeptics recycle critiques that have long since been disproved, others, she believes, bring up valid points—and by lumping the good with the bad, climate researchers not only miss out on a chance to improve their science, they come across to the public as haughty. “Yes, there’s a lot of crankology out there,” Curry says. “But not all of it is. If only 1 percent of it or 10 percent of what the skeptics say is right, that is time well spent because we have just been too encumbered by groupthink.”

While I recommend that interested readers review the whole thread, I copy below my comments and some related:

Judith, a climate scientist friend kindly gave me gave me a head’s up to your post.

I have been blogging and commenting for quite some time on environmental and climate issues from a libertarian perspective, and have also spent considerable time on trying both to help libertarians engage productively on environmental issues and to help leftist-environmentalists understand where libertarians are coming from.

Sadly, it’s largely a messy tale, reflecting how fights over government policy tend toward zero-sum games that blunt cooperation, the success that fossil fuel and other corporate interests have had in gaming the system, and how our tribal human nature leads many to abandon critical thinking in favor of choosing and reflexively defending sides and positions.

I have been highly critical of many libertarians in perpetuating unproductive discord, and have been the resident environmentalist pain-in-the-neck at the Ludwig von Mises Institute (for libertarian economics), which kindly hosts my blog. In particular, even while try to build bridges I have been critical of the Cato Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Heartland Institute and MasterResource, which I view as being skewed by donations toward corporate agendas. There are of course some highly productive libertarians working on environmental and conservation matters; Terry Anderson and others at PERC (Properrty and Environment Research Center) have led the way on fisheries, water and other issues. (And then there are quasi-libertarians like Elinor Ostrom.)

Since you’ve expressed interest, allow me to load you up with a few links, to my exchanges with others such as John Quiggin, to my cajoling and castigating of libertarians, and to some of my views on climate/environment issues :

“Towards a productive libertarian approach on climate, energy and environmental issues ”

“John Quiggin plays Pin-the-tail-on-the-Donkey with “Libertarians and delusionism” ”

“A few more comments to John Quiggin on climate, libertarian principles and the enclosure of the commons ”

“A few more “delusional” thoughts to John Quiggin on partisan perceptions & libertarian opposition to collective action”

“To John Quiggin: Reassuring climate “delusions” help us all to avoid engaging with “enemies” in exploring common ground ”

“The Cliff Notes version of my stilted enviro-fascist view of corporations and government ”

The Road Not Taken II: Austrians strive for a self-comforting irrelevancy on climate change, the greatest commons problem / rent-seeking game of our age

For climate fever, take two open-air atom bombs & call me in the morning; “serious” libertarian suggestions from Kinsella & Reisman!?

Thanks, Dr. Reisman; or, How I Learned to Hate Enviros and Love Tantrums

“Escape from Reason: are Austrians conservatives, or neocons, on the environment? ”

“The Road Not Taken V: Libertarian hatred of misanthropic “watermelons” and the productive love of aloof ad-homs”

OMG – those ecofascists hate statist corps, too, and even want to – GASP – end that oh-so-libertarian state grant of limited liability!

“Who are the misanthropes – “Malthusians” or those who hate them? Rob Bradley and others resist good faith engagement despite obvious institutional failures/absence of property rights ”

On non-climate issues:

“Too Many or Too Few People? Does the market provide an answer? ”



  • Tokyo Tom, thanks much for your input. your post originally went to moderation owing to the large number of links.

    • Dr. Curry, thanks for your indulgence on this; given the time differences (bedtime now!) and my schedule tomorrow, I thought throwing out a few links might be useful (though I may be mistaken!!).


    • If I can add one further thought before I head off to bed, it would be that a key prerequisite (as Ostrom points out) for tackling commons issues like climate change that involves many players and countries is the need for TRUST, an element that is sadly lacking (a resource that libertarian analysis indicates is destroyed by squabbles over government) .

      Bill Gates, Roger Pielke, Avatar & the Climate (of distrust); or, Can we move from a tribal questioning of motives to win-win policies?

      On climate, myopic progressives console themselves by pointing out fossil $ behind science “skeptics”; but miss the same from left and ignore middle ground



One wee error in your intro:
“Sadly, it’s largely a messy tale, reflecting how fights over government policy tend toward zeronegative-sum games that blunt cooperation”
There. All fixed! ;)

Tom is someone who has managed to separate the difference between science and policy.

  • I am honored that you visit me, as you must be very busy in the Year of the Wabbit.

    Thanks, Eli, but it means that Tom is someone for whom the thrills of tribal comabt do not offset the woes of being the odd man out, if not “the enemy”.


Michael, Climate Etc. has technical threads and discussion threads. This is a discussion thread. I usually monitor things quite closely on technical threads, which are pretty much troll free. There have been excellent discussions with very knowledgeable skeptics on many of the technical threads. If you look at the denizens list, there are many people spending time here with serious credentials and wide ranging and varying professional experiences. This is not a place where mindless people bother hanging out.

What am I hoping to accomplish on discussion threads? I raise thorny topics on the discussion threads, at the interface between science and society. People challenge their own prejudices by arguing with people having different opinions. Invariably I learn something when people suggest interesting things to read (on this thread, i have found some of Tokyo Tom’s links to be interesting.)

Assuming i have time in the next day or do (which is not a good assumption, I’m afraid), i will do a Part II on this thread, picking out some points/ideas to focus on in a follow on thread. Once we get the heat out of the way, we often generate some light over here.

bob, I would be interested in a part II to this subject, and it would be great if Tokyo Tom or Rich wanted to do this, provided the topic was about how to deal with global environmental issues and potential tragedy of the commons issues.

  • Not sure how you could reconcile the distance between these two. Yes, they are both Libertarians. But one sees the climate issue like so:

    Yeah, I deny the anthropogenic carbon dioxide global temperature forcing “hypothesis” (not that it deserves even the courtesy use of that term). It started out as an extraordinary – hell, preposterous – effort to account for a completely screwed interpretation of insufficient surface temperature data (gained initially, it appears, from Stevenson screen thermometers “sited next to a lamp” by way of all sorts of instrumental screw-ups related to urban heat island effect and similar artifact) thirty years ago, and has proceeded through those three decades not only without the development of convincing evidence supporting this brain-dead blunder but suffused with a continuing agglomeration of data-doctoring, book-cooking, code-jiggering, suppressio veri, suggestio falsi, peer-review-perverting, dissident-censoring, cork-screwing, back-stabbing, dirty-dealing, and bald-faced lying.

    and the other sees it a bit differently: [my emphasis added]

    On environmental issues in general and climate in particular, find me someone ranting about “Malthusians” or “environazis” or somesuch, and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t understand – or refuses to acknowledge – the difference between wealth-creating markets based on private property and/or voluntary interactions/contracts protected by law, and the tragedy of the commons situations that result when there are NO property rights (atmosphere, oceans) or when the pressures of developed markets swamp indigenous hunter-gather community rules.

    So what’s the deal? Here’s a perfect opportunity for skeptics to educate the supposedly market ignorant, but they refuse, preferring to focus instead on why concerned scientists must be wrong, how concerns by a broad swath of society about climate have become a matter of an irrational, deluded “religious” faith, or that those raising their concerns are “misanthropes” or worse.

    Some on the left likewise see libertarians and small-government conservatives as deluded.

    Both sides, it seems, prefer to fight – and to see themselves as right and the “others” as evil – rather than to reason

    While we should not regret that we cannot really constrain human nature very well, at least libertarian and others who profess to love markets ought to be paying attention to the inadequate institutional framework that is not only poisoning the political atmosphere, but posing risks to important globally and regionally shared open-access commons like the atmosphere and oceans (which are probably are in much more immediate and grave threat than the climate). And they also ought to recognize that there are important economic interests that profit from the current flawed institutional framework and have quite deliberately encouraged the current culture war.

    So, once again, ideological affiliations aside, there are people who look for ways to solve possible problems and people who look for reasons to ignore possible problems.

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By popular demand, more meta-thoughts on climate confusion

March 24th, 2011 No comments

Yes, I’m Worried in Tokyo, as I keep running across tweets like this:

Should Residents Of Tokyo Be Preparing For Massive Radiation Exposure? 12 Disturbing Facts To Cons..

But a rare comment to my recent, Yes-I’m-Still-Alive post asked me to comment on something the poster recently wrote regarding libertarian views on climate policy. As this is a topic that I have, with no great reluctance, addressed from time to time, I felt compelled to respond — and thought that some of you might be interested.

The comment I received:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 8:21 PM by gryposaurus

Hey Tom, If you get a chance, please check out this blog post I wrote about Jonathan Adler’s paper on climate change. [Note: this site hosts many layman-friendly explanations of climate science and reviews of arguments by ‘skeptics’.]


(I note that I have referred to libertarian law prof. Jonathan Adler several times.)

My response:

Thanks so much for your visit to LvMI – just to give me a comment?? – and your cross-link to your interesting post at Skeptical Science.

I’ve taken a quick look; my chief comment would be that you and the ‘libertarians’ you discuss have all missed that the status quo favors massive corporations whose very status is suspect from a libertarian standpoint: they are creatures of government that could not exist without govt in their present form, and that embody moral hazard via the govt grant of limited liability to shareholders.

Cato and other vocal ‘libertarian’ organizations are in fact corporate fronts and won’t bite the hand that feeds them, and thus avoid delving too deeply when they defend a ‘free market’ that is predominated by organizations that are not controlled by shareholders or communities and that are dedicated to extracting gains irregardless of costs that others may be forced to bear.

I also think a significant problem is groupthink – all around – as I’ve discussed w John Quiggin.

Here are a few places you can look to get a better handle on my thinking

The Cliff Notes version of my stilted enviro-fascist view of corporations and government

Judith Curry, climate scientist who is controversial because she talks with ‘skeptics’, wonders about “Libertarianism and the environment” (look for my comments in her linked post)

My posts re: Rob Bradley‘s ‘Master Resource’ (interchanges w John Quiggin) (is climate a religion, and whose?)

Probably another two related points worth making are that (i) our governments today richly deserve the mistrust that makes collective action impossible, and (ii) those interests which benefit by the most from the status quo are quite busy with the cynical game of sowing such mistrust and confusion (of course the “warmers” doo this too).

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Your favorite envirofascist has been shaken, not stirred, and remains Tweeting from Tokyo, despite the earthquakes (hundreds of them!) and fallout

March 21st, 2011 2 comments

I tweet here:

Since The Earthquake, I’ve managed to irk a liberal or two; see this “FEATURED” tweet at HuffPo:

news broken on twitter via @Shoq

.@Tokyo_Tom Please take your pretentious Mises rhetoric and shove it up your ass. You people have ruined America. Fuck you.


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I applaud a free society that makes reconstructive surgery more affordable, but not one that turns beauty into a lie

March 10th, 2011 1 comment

LvMI President Doug French brings us an interesting paean to specialization, cooperation and free markets, Plastic Surgery: A Free Society Is a Beautiful Society, that my cussed and contrary nature balks at.

Says Doug (emphasis added):

Cosmetic physicians don’t necessarily specialize in the procedures that are demanded by people of their own ethnicity, illustrating Ludwig von Mises’s point that the division of labor is a unifying influence. These doctors and their patients are comrades seeking beauty, just one tiny example of the division of labor making “friends out of enemies, peace out of war, society out of individuals.”

Plato couldn’t have fathomed cosmetic surgery or certainly the ability of working-class people being able to afford having their looks altered surgically. However, his insight assures us that, in a free society, the cost of cosmetic surgery would fall to allow everyone to have the body and face they want, making society free and beautiful.

While beauty IS definitely in the eye of the beholder, it ain’t skin deep. Chiselled bodies and naturally attractive faces tell us something about the physical, mental and genetic fitness of the individuals who sport them. There’s reason why we find beauty and being in good physical condition attractive (this is more or less encoded in our genes, though our fashion sense may differ somewhat by culture and era).

As we live in a word of others, it is not surprising that we may make efforts to “look good” – but those efforts that go beyond personal efforts to stay fit, or to be in top physical shape for a particular sport, can pose personal and social problems.

Should we likwise cheer on doping or surgical enhancements in sports, and cheating in school and business, or developments in cooperation and specialization that make smooth-talking and lying easier and harder to detect?

Even as I leave choices on cosmetics and cosmetic surgery to those providing and vending it, and have to say sorry, but I prefer to cheer on honesty and hard work over deceipt, in all its seductive forms.

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Charles Koch is absolutely right about ‘crony capitalism’ (WSJ). So why is he buying political influence?

March 5th, 2011 No comments

I really liked Charles Koch‘s March 1 editorial in the Wall Street Journal.

But why won’t he walk his own talk, as the Public Campaign Action Fund has noted? And why can’t we get a libertarian funder who is willing to walk away from government-granted favors, and find ways to grow a voluntary and responsible society?

I copy below their own March 1 challenge to Mr. Koch (emphasis added):

Watchdog on Charles Koch Op-ed: The Hypocrisy is Palpable

Washington, D.C.—Public Campaign Action Fund released background information today in response to Charles Koch’s Wall Street Journal op-ed bemoaning “crony capitalism” and “special favors.”

“Charles Koch’s op-ed today should be in The Onion, not the Wall Street Journal,” said David Donnelly, national campaigns director for Public Campaign Action Fund. “Koch Industries is the perfect example of absolutely everything Charles claims to hate about our current political system. The hypocrisy is palpable.”


In response to Koch Industries’ CEO Charles G. Koch’s opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal today, campaign finance watchdog Public Campaign Action Fund compared some of Koch’s statements with reality.


Koch: “Too many businesses have successfully lobbied for special favors and treatment by seeking mandates for their products, subsidies (in the form of cash payments from the government), and regulations or tariffs to keep more efficient competitors at bay.”


  • Koch Industries, its executives, and its PAC donated $11,002,235 since 1989 to federal candidates, parties, and political committees.
  • The largest individual donors from all Koch-related donations were Charles and David Koch and their wives, who together contributed $2.8 million over the same time period. Of that, just $1,500 went to Democrats.
  • Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have received $630,950 in Koch-related donations. House Appropriations members have received $656,115.
  • Koch Industries, its subsidiaries, and their PACs and employees donated $8,743,220 to state candidates, political parties, and committees since 2003.
  • Koch Industries has spent $49,520,500 lobbying the federal government in just the last five years, for an average of nearly $10 million per year. In 2008, they spent more than $20 million lobbying the federal government.
  • In January this year, Koch Industries hired seven lobbyists in Madison, Wisconsin.


Koch: “Crony capitalism is much easier than competing in an open market. But it erodes our overall standard of living and stifles entrepreneurs by rewarding the politically favored rather than those who provide what consumers want.”


  • Koch Industries, like other oil companies, benefits from the massive federal subsidies from the federal government. President Obama has proposed eliminating them, which will save taxpayers $43 billion over the next ten years.
  • Nowhere in his op-ed does Koch mention the subsidies.
  • Oil and gas interests like Koch donated $27,582,799 in the 2010 election cycle. The largest source was Koch-related donations at $1,911,212.
  • Seventy-one percent went to Republicans, who have almost exclusively opposed ending subsidies, with just 22 percent going to Democrats, who almost all supported ending the subsidies.
  • For Koch-related donations, 93 percent went to the GOP and six percent went to the Democrats.


Mr. Koch, along with his brother David, has played an outsized role in the political showdown in Wisconsin between Governor Scott Walker and state employees:

  • An organization the Koch brothers founded, Americans for Prosperity is running $342,200 worth of television adverting in the state.
  • Their political action committee was among the top donors to Walker’s campaign, giving $43,000.
  • Last week, a blogger impersonated David Koch and spoke with Walker for 20 minutes about strategy. The embarrassing prank unveiled the tremendous influence and access the Koch brothers have.
  • Koch Industries gave more than $1.2 million to the Republican Governors Association, which spent $5 million to elect Walker in 2010 according to the organization’s website.

Except where otherwise noted, campaign finance and lobbying data in this fact sheet can be found at the websites for Center for Responsive Politics for federal figures and the National Institute for Money in State Politics for state figures.

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Producers of "Story of Stuff" bring us 'Citizens United' For Corporations Are People Too;how long before thinking libertarians rush out to bash Lefties and defend corporations?

March 4th, 2011 No comments

On March 1, former Greenpeacer Annie Leornard and the makers of “The Story of Stuff” rolled out a new video: “The Story of Citizens United v. FEC”

The new video addresses last year’s Citizens United v. FEC ruling by an activist ‘conservative’ Supreme Court that overthrew more than a half-century of federal election laws and held in effect that the Founding Fathers must have meant that the corporations they so despised (the property of shareholders and both creatures of government and beneficiaries of grants of limited shareholder liability and other government largess, e.g., the East India Tea Company) are “persons” for the purpose of “free speech” under the Fourth Amendment.

Yes, the new video is flawed too, but it still seems like an honest – though skewed – effort to make sense of corporations and their proper role in government.

Let me ask anyone who looks at the video to ask themselves: would there be a Left wing, pro-government agenda on the five topics the video lists – Good Jobs, Healthcare, Safe Products, Clean Air & Water, and Responsible Government – if government had not first started favoring elites by creating “legal entity” corporations whose purposed owners, the shareholders, were absolved by government for any liability whatsoever for damages caused by “corporate” acts? It seems to me that if we want the Left to back away from the fight with corporations over the wheel of government, we have to strike at the real root – the government enabled aspects of corporations that set them up as moral-hazard embodied zombies detached from personal responsibility and communities.

Can I look forward to an ‘insightful’ post by a deep Austrian thinker on this latest video to show up soon on the pages of LvMI? Expectation of disappointment Hope springs eternal!

More about The Story of Stuff Project and film funders here and here; their website indicates that they have a group on the WiserEarth global collaboration platform which I am learning of for the first time. LvMI supporters, participants and fans looking to expand the Austrian message might check out this facility to see if it has any good ideas on functionality (we, too, all want to “Discover, Connect, Share and Collaborate”, right?)

Here’s the  video:


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