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Volume 18, Issue 5: February 2, 2016

  1. Help Us Expose Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in California Government!
  2. Republicans Deficit-Finance Obamacare
  3. Climate Change and the Burden of Proof
  4. The China Diversion
  5. New Blog Posts
  6. Selected News Alerts

1) Help Us Expose Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in California Government!

The Independent Institute proudly announces the California Golden Fleece Awards to expose waste, fraud, and abuse in California government. Every quarter starting in April 2016, Independent will highlight a state or local spending program, tax, or regulation that fleeces California taxpayers, consumers, or businesses. On occasion, the awards will also feature a federal program that disproportionately harms Californians.

“The Fleece Awards will shine a spotlight on wasteful and abusive government activities that people across the political spectrum would agree violate common-sense principles of responsible government,” said Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan, founder and director of the California Golden Fleece Awards. “By increasing transparency, our goal is to inform the public so they can demand meaningful change and hold government accountable.”

We encourage people—both inside and outside of government—to send us Fleece candidates. Public participation will help make the California Golden Fleece Awards a more valuable resource. Learn more and submit your candidates at

California Dreaming: Lessons on How to Resolve America’s Public Pension Crisis, by Lawrence J. McQuillan


2) Republicans Deficit-Finance Obamacare

As 2015 came to a close, Republicans in Congress succeeded in postponing the implementation of three taxes in Obamacare: the 2.3 percent medical-device tax, the fee on all employer-based health insurance, and the tax on high-cost “Cadillac” health plans. On the surface, it looked like a GOP victory against the president’s health reform plan. On closer inspection, however, it was a concession to fiscal irresponsibility because the lawmakers failed to offset the revenue losses with spending cuts.

“Congress made not the slightest effort to match these tax delays with reduced spending,” writes Independent Institute Senior Fellow John R. Graham. “It could have.”

To make up the shortfall, Congress would have had to cut spending by $36 billion—less than one percent of the projected $3.6 trillion in federal outlays for 2016. “People who fantasize that these tax cuts alone are a down payment toward replacing Obamacare should be more mindful of how other deficit-funded entitlements have grown despite politicians’ perpetual promises of reform,” Graham continues. “Obamacare now joins Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security on this growing pile of unfunded liabilities.”

Obamacare Joins Pile of Unfunded Liabilities, by John R. Graham (Orange County Register, 1/21/16)

A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, by John C. Goodman


3) Climate Change and the Burden of Proof

Earth’s climate changes. As the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age show, climate change has been with us since long before the industrial era’s burning of fossil fuels, thanks to factors such as volcanic eruptions, solar influences, and atmosphere-ocean oscillations. The fact that climate change preceded any man-made contributions creates a logical responsibility for theories of climate change: it places the burden of proof on those who claim that fossil fuels are driving global warming, according to Independent Institute Research Fellow S. Fred Singer.

“In other words,” Singer writes, “alarmists must provide convincing observational evidence for anthropogenic climate change (ACC). They must do this by detailed comparison of the data with climate models.”

Unfortunately for the alarmists, temperature datasets collected from weather balloons and satellites in the global mid-troposphere fail to confirm the validity of their climate change models. And if the models don’t explain the data, too bad for the models. (Or as Johnnie Cochrane put it in a different context, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”). This does not mean that climate change poses no risks, however. According to Singer, the grave risk comes not from global warming, but from global cooling. “Many solar experts predict another [Little Ice Age] cooling within decades,” he writes. Our greatest related challenge may be to ensure that our food supplies, water, and energy are secure and sustainable. “The outlook for such adaption appears promising—provided there is adequate preparation,” Singer continues. “However, the coming cold period will test the survivability of our technological civilization.”

Climate Change: The Burden of Proof, by S. Fred Singer (American Thinker, 1/29/16)

Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate, by S. Fred Singer


4) The China Diversion

Donald Trump isn’t the only one demonizing China these days. The New York Times and other media outlets have also disparaged the policies of Asia’s largest nation—albeit without Trump’s bombast. Their subtle criticisms often focus on China’s growing economic ties to developing countries, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland, “because they are already gearing up for China to be the next rival superpower.”

Yet as Eland notes, trade is not a zero-sum game: By trading with developing countries, China is not only hastening their growth (and China’s own), it’s also helping to economically strengthen trading partners for the United States. And as China’s economic tide rises, poverty in those countries will diminish. Even China’s development of oil in the world’s hinterlands “may be a de facto subsidy for U.S. and other consumers of oil,” Eland writes.

As for China’s territorial disputes in the South China Sea, another subject of criticism, Eland notes that such conflicts are common and hardly warrant U.S. involvement. “Instead of inserting itself further into this petty regional squabbling by deliberately sending U.S. warships into the contested areas, the United States should stay out of such faraway bickering that doesn’t affect America’s vital interests.”

Donald Trump Is Not the Only One Demonizing China, by Ivan Eland (The Huffington Post, 1/25/16)

Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty, by Ivan Eland


6) Selected News Alerts

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