Let's hear it for smaller, more focused, less costly government!
Climate conference (John Greer)
Delaware’s public schools (Ronald Russo)
Economic system (DE Sen. Bryant Richardson)
Video corner (George Washington)
Keeping busy – Advocacy of smaller, more focused, less costly government is a challenging undertaking, and SAFE’s efforts often fall short. But it’s comforting to feel that we’re fighting the good fight and in the thick of the action. Herewith some recent examples:
•Convinced that the federal government will never get its fiscal house in order without presidential leadership, SAFE has written (more than once) to the president and others urging that this issue be highlighted in the 2020 elections. For links to our latest round of letters, see Overcoming the addiction to deficits and debt, 8/26/19.
•Fans of the man-made global warming theory (MMGWT) had a similar idea, witness the scheduling of two townhalls on the climate “crisis” featuring hours of testimony by Democratic presidential candidates. They also unleashed climate strikes (demonstrations around the world) and a UN summit convened to urge accelerated action to reduce the use of fossil fuels. In our view, these efforts fell in the category of propaganda versus serious communication. Marketing the climate crisis, 9/16/19; When will the global warming debate be resolved? 9/23/19.
•SAFE tries to follow the scientific research on climate change rather than simply relying on our own instincts. Thus, John Greer recently attended a Heartland conference in Washington, DC. See the following story for his impressions.
We also appreciated a Heartland debate on climate change that was live-streamed from Times Square on the evening of Sept. 23. Scientists Patrick Michaels, Willie Soon & David Legates capably represented the climate realists side of the debate; scientists on the other side declined to participate (as has happened several times before). Moderator John Stossel compensated for the imbalance by posing questions based on the other side’s talking points.
•Did DNREC appreciate the appeal of its approval of a permit for Bloom Energy to upgrade the fuel cells at two sites for utility scale generation of electric power? Probably not, given the agency’s all-out efforts to get John Nichols’ appeal dismissed without responding to the asserted errors on the merits. The Environmental Appeals Board voted to dismiss the appeal at a hearing on September 24, and will now have 90 days to issue a written order explaining its decision.
Climate conference, John E. Greer, Jr., P.E. (ret) – Best Science & Winning Energy Policies were the themes of the 13th International Conference on Climate Change, which took place at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The 7/25/19 event was sponsored by the Heartland Institute and 16 co-sponsors. Over 300 attended in person, including me, and some 8,000 participated online.
There were speakers from five countries, drawn from government, industry, think tanks and academia. Here are some of the highlights.
Jay Lehr, Ph.D., received the "Dauntless Purveyor of Climate Truth Award" for a life's work centered on science education. Lehr helped establish the EPA during the Nixon administration to clean up air and water, but for the last 30 years has been opposing the agency’s excesses.
In accepting the award, Lehr spoke of The Climate Delusion myth "promulgated around the world by our educational institutions, politicians and the media" that the world is "threatened by the most important and harmless molecule...on Earth: carbon dioxide." "[T]he real effect of carbon dioxide on Earth's thermostat and sea level rise... is zero." The only evidence to the contrary are "climate models that are a joke." According to Lehr, "we are in a battle to protect our way of life. If we lose to the “Progressives,” look out for “a government capable of controlling every aspect of our lives."
David Legates, Ph.D., of the University of Delaware reviewed the history of publications by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), which focus on research overlooked or ignored by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The latest volume, coauthored by Legates, Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels, is a 768 page tome packed with citations, graphs and data, which assesses the costs and benefits of using fossil fuels by reviewing scientific & economic literature. LINK
The new volume concludes that "the IPCC and its national counterparts have not conducted proper cost-benefit analysis of fossil fuels, global warming, or regulations designed to force a transition away from fossil fuels. The global war on fossil fuels...was never founded on sound science or economics. The authors and contributors of [this study] urge the world's policymakers to acknowledge this truth and end that war."
According to Roy Spencer, Ph.D., principal research scientist at the U. of Alabama, "climate modelers build incorrect assumptions" that "produce false results suggesting humans will cause dangerous climate change." To date, the models have predicted far more warming than has actually occurred.
Craig Idso, Ph.D., of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change presented data showing people in countries with ready access to fossil fuels experience less hunger and malnutrition, longer lifespans, lower infant mortality rates and significantly higher per capita GDP than those in other countries.
Kevin Dayaratna, Ph.D., from Heritage and Benjamin Zycher, Ph.D., of American Enterprise Institute presented research showing the Green New Deal would cost trillions with only a minor impact on climate (e.g., reduce temperature rise less than 0.2 degrees C and sea level rise less than 2 cm by year 2100).
James Taylor of Heartland Institute said polls show Americans discount the risk of climate change and won’t pay much to fight it. "Republicans who have said we need to take action on climate change" have typically failed to win over the Left while losing the Right.
Jennifer Fielder, a Montana state Senator and CEO of the American Lands Council, blamed mismanagement and hands-off environmentalism for devastating fires on federal lands in recent years (7-10 million acres have burned annually versus some half million acres per year in the 1950s).
Weatherman Joe Bastardi described his long-time fascination with hurricanes and faulted the media for attributing every new storm to climate change He chronicled a long list of powerful storms that occurred before atmospheric CO2 levels began rising significantly.
See also Climate conference keynote speakers, award winners defend climate realism, Tim Benson, 8/7/19, and videos of all the speakers. LINK
Ex-Im Bank - SAFE is invited from time to time to join in coalition letters on policy issues. This enables us to show support for policies we agree with, and also promote SAFE as an organization. See, e.g., Coalition letter (Americans for Prosperity, et al.) urging Congress to let the Export-Import Bank expire, 9/12/19.
Delaware’s public schools – Ronald Russo spoke to the Retired Men’s Luncheon Club on September 20 about a plan to improve Delaware’s public schools. Currently associated with the Caesar Rodney Institute, Mr. Russo’s credentials include 18 years as principal of St. Marks High School and 14 years as founding president of the Charter School of Wilmington.
The quality of public schools affects us in many ways, including the health of the state economy, the taxes people pay, and where people choose to live. Thus many high-income workers in the Wilmington area live in southeastern Pennsylvania due, in part, to the public schools available there. The resulting shift in wealth and spending is DE’s loss and PA’s gain.
Objectively speaking, Delaware’s public schools are doing a mediocre job. National Education Progress testing indicates that some 60% of students are not attaining proficiency in English and math.
Some advocate spending more money on schools, but we’re already spending a lot. Annual operating outlays are roundly $15 thousand per student, and that doesn’t include capital expenditures.
If we’re spending a lot on public schools and getting mediocre results, what’s the problem? Don’t blame the teachers. Generally speaking, they are focused on the children and doing their level best to educate them.
School administrators make the budgets and determine how schools will be run, so if the money isn’t being spent well that’s where to look for a solution.
Around 1995, when Tom Carper was governor, a coalition of business and political leaders set a goal of improving the public schools. In recruiting Russo to lead a charter school that would emphasize science and math., DuPont CEO Ed Woolard described the public school system as a liability to the state economy. The envisioned solution was to start some charter schools and shift to local control.
Well said, because people do their best work when they can call the shots and are held accountable for results. As Steve Jobs once put it: “Don’t hire smart people and tell them what to do; let them tell us.”
Also notable is the Brookings Institution’s conclusion that the biggest obstacle to educational excellence is school boards and bureaucrats. Let’s “cut the power cord,” therefore, and empower building management (principals, etc.) to decide how their schools will be run.
Failure is not an option. If schools fail to please their customers (basically parents), they won’t prosper or long endure. And that’s as true today as it was in 1995.
One perceived solution for public school woes is to concentrate on “priority schools” – i.e., the worst schools in the system – hiring better talent and giving the new hires more control. But if such an approach is indicated for the worst schools, why not use it for all schools?
This leads to what Russo calls the “bold plan” of empowering building managers to run the show while the school district bureaucracies are given a far more limited role than at present. The foreseeable results are better operations and lower costs, how could anyone be against that?
The problem is power, which the current bosses don’t want to surrender. And one of their stock arguments is that charter schools have drained off the best students and left public schools with the dregs.
Note, however, that the percentage of Delaware students in non-public schools, formerly about 22%, has declined. Yes, there are more charter school students, although the state has blocked expansion of some successful charter schools such as the Charter School of Newark, but private school enrollment (especially in Catholic schools) is down by even more.
One initial step would be to consolidate school districts from 19 to a much lower number. Russo doesn’t have a firm conviction as to the “right” answer, but he would feel comfortable with five districts (2 for New Castle County, 1 each for Kent & Sussex, and a vo-tech district).
To sum up (“elevator speech”): Operate the public schools the same way that private and charter schools are currently being run. And if the enrollment of some public schools shrink because they aren’t meeting customer expectations, be prepared to close them.
It’s not necessary to get everything done in one fell swoop, A series of changes over time could achieve the same results without unifying the opposition. Russo has talked to union leaders, who are inclined to be supportive (teachers would be better off, why not?), and he is lining up sponsors in the General Assembly. A bill is being drafted, and it will likely be introduced in the next legislative session.
Will the Bold Plan be accepted? “I’ve been working on this project since 1995,” said Russo, and “at this point I’m seeing a glimmer of hope.” The talk ended with a lively Q&A session and well-deserved round of applause.
Economic system - In a blog entry about Socialism, we cited a recent essay by DE Senator Bryant Richardson. What’s all this talk about Socialism? 9/2/19. Sen. Richardson graciously reciprocated by boosting SAFE in his weekly bulletin. Remarks About Socialism & Free Enterprise Echoes, 9/13/19.
Video corner – Here’s another historical documentary, this one about the nation’s first president. Prager University video (5:27) on George Washington, LINK.
About SAFE - SAFE is a non-partisan, all-volunteer organization that was founded in 1996. We advocate smaller, more focused, lower cost government, to be achieved by cutting spending, restructuring “entitlements,” simplifying taxes, and rationalizing regulations.
SAFE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Andrew Betley, (302) 239-9679
John Greer, (302) 479-0485
Dan Kerrick, treasurer, (302) 521-4272
Steve McClain, (302) 998-3910
Jerry Martin, (302) 478-5064
John Nichols, (302) 378-0683
rycK Stout, (302) 478-9495
Bill Whipple, president, (302) 464-2688
For e-mail addresses see LINK.
The SAFE agenda is promoted through: (1) Our website, including issue statements, a weekly blog, and a “Delaware Chatter” microblog; (2) Letters to the editor, public events, legislative contacts, etc., which are also posted and/or recapped on the website; (3) This quarterly newsletter, available in print (since 1996) and now electronic editions; and (4) Posts on Twitter and/or Facebook (click icons on the website to access). SAFE dues are $10 per year for subscribers to the print edition of the newsletter and zero for electronic subscribers. Contributions are also appreciated and may be tax deductible (SAFE is a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization). To join SAFE, renew your membership, or make a contribution, please print and complete this form and mail it with your check to SAFE, 115 Dungarvan Drive, Wilmington, DE 19709. Thank you!