May we see your license, please (E-15)

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A government-granted license is required to engage in many occupations, supposedly to protect the public from paying to hire people who lack the requisite knowledge, diligence or integrity to serve their needs. Occupational licensing, S. David Young, econliberty.org, accessed
10/18/18.

The argument in favor of licensing always has been that it protects the public from incompetents, charlatans, and quacks.

In the past quarter century, there has been a dramatic increase in occupational licensing requirements (generally at the state level), which have spread from learned professions like law and medicine to relatively mundane jobs. Occupational licensing linked to less economic mobility, Adam Millsap, forbes.com,
4/11/18.

From 1993 to 2012, states licensed dozens of occupations. For example, Florida required midwives, travel agents, funeral attendants, manicurists, and security guards to be licensed, along with several other occupations. *** Louisiana (59) and Arizona (54) licensed the most occupations from 1993 to 2012, while Kentucky (15) and Oklahoma (15) licensed the fewest.

Withal, a profession in which unqualified practitioners can do an extraordinary amount of harm may still be freely engaged in anywhere in the United States. Shouldn’t politicians be required to obtain a license before running for office and to periodically have it renewed? Not necessarily, because who would vet members of the licensing board, but with examples like the following the idea has some appeal.

A. Judgment – Shortly after Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida panhandle, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was busy trying to pin the blame on global warming (aka climate change) and attribute any disagreement on the subject to unjustifiable solicitude for the oil industry. Schumer: “If we did more on climate change, we’d have fewer of these hurricanes," Bridget Johnson, pjmedia.com, 10/11/18.

At some point, we have to acknowledge that the intensity of these storms is much greater than in past years and is a symptom of a changing climate. Climate change is real, it is being driven by human activity, it is happening right now. These are facts; they are not in dispute. Our scientists know it, our businesses know it, the world knows it, and the American people know.

This explanation of the storm damage was as full of holes as a block of Swiss cheese, in our view, betraying a basic misunderstanding of the subject matter.

First, we agree that climate change is happening; it has been happening throughout the life of this planet. But that doesn’t mean it is being primarily driven by human activity, nor that it will move inexorably in one direction, e.g., get steadily hotter.

Scientists don’t fully understand how the global climate system works, despite diligent study of the subject, and they can’t reliably predict what future global temperatures will be. Based on what they have learned to date, however, CO2 emissions as a result of burning fossil fuels do not appear to have played a major role in the current warming trend. Unless and until more convincing evidence is presented, the manmade global warming theory should be regarded as unproven. Midterm issues: Renewable energy, Section C,
9/10/18.

See further these thoughts on the subject by an eminent scientist, Dr. Richard Lindzen (MIT retired), youtube.com, video (5:04), 4/16/18.

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Second, property damage from hurricanes probably has increased, but the reason for this is more construction along the coast versus a trend towards increasingly powerful storms. Some extremely powerful storms have hit the United States over the years, including the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 that tore through the Florida Keys with 180 mph winds. Historic hurricanes (since 1502), hurricaneville.com, accessed 10/18/18.

The foregoing list doesn’t include a category two hurricane in 1878 that inflicted enormous damage from Cuba to New England including in Delaware. Gale of 1878, ifps.io, accessed
10/18/18.

The hurricane wrecked many ships and small boats in the Chesapeake Bay, while South Wilmington, Delaware, was flooded. In Middletown, damage was done to the Presbyterian church, Episcopal church, and the Delmarva Drying House. The long bridge over the St. Augustine creek and surrounding marsh was destroyed.

In short, there’s no reason to believe that humans could prevent or mitigate hurricane damage by investing more money in wind turbines and solar panels. And someone in Senator Schumer’s position should refrain from offering suggestions that, if taken seriously, could encourage misguided policy decisions.

Republicans aren’t immune to the notion that it is possible to combat global warming, stronger hurricanes, sea level rise, etc. Indeed, a bipartisan coalition in Congress is trying to drum up interest in a carbon tax and other policy initiatives to combat these alleged problems. How [Rep.] Francis Rooney became the latest Republican to care about climate change, Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner,
10/16/18.

We agree with some of Mr. Rooney’s points, namely (1) coal and nuclear power should not be subsidized (any more than wind or solar power), and (2) the federal government should stop providing flood insurance at below market rates, which encourages unwise coastal development. But sea level rise can’t be prevented by making more use of wind and solar power, any more than global warming can. Making sense of the debate about sea level rise,
10/13/14.

B. Diligence – Why is the government’s budget deficit soaring during an economic boom? The short answer is a bipartisan failure to cut spending plus a GOP tax cut (which in itself was appropriate, although it was irresponsible to resurrect scores of special interest tax breaks) that reduced government revenues. Midterm issues: Deficits and debt, 9/24/18.

The upward trend for the deficit was recently confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office. Federal deficit rose to $782 billion in [fiscal year] 2018, largest since 2012, Washington Examiner,
10/5/18.

[The CBO] expects the annual deficit to rise to $981 billion next year, or about 4.6 percent of GDP, and then eclipse the $1 trillion mark the year after that.

Hmm, sounds bad, so what are our political leaders planning to do about it?

Having unanimously opposed the tax cuts as a giveaway to affluent individuals and big corporations, Democrats envision major changes if they do well in the mid-term elections. The goal would not be to reduce the deficit, but rather to redirect the foregone revenue in a way more consistent with Democratic priorities, e.g., a big increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit and/or additional infrastructure spending. Kamala Harris and other prominent Democrats want to repeal Trump’s tax cuts and replace them with cash payments for the poor and working class, Yian Mui, cnbc.com,
10/19/18.

It’s rumored that Democrats might even threaten to block an increase in the debt ceiling (which is due to be reactivated next March) in an attempt to get their way. Growth is on the ballot, Wall Street Journal,
10/17/18.

Mr. Trump will have the veto pen, but Democrats are already planning to use the debt limit debate in 2019 to force him to accept higher tax rates on business and individuals. They might also pair higher taxes with more spending on public works that Mr. Trump promised in 2016.

For their part, Republicans don’t seem to have a coherent plan. House Speaker Paul Ryan will be leaving Congress in January, so he’s out of the picture, and it’s not clear who will be taking his place.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blamed soaring deficits on the lack of bipartisan support for trimming entitlement programs, not the Republican tax cuts. Perhaps, but he seems to be laying back and waiting for Democrats to make the first move on entitlements; whatever the results of the mid-term elections, they aren’t likely to do this. Mitch McConnell’s odd excuse for inaction on entitlement reform, Philip Klein, Washington Examiner,
10/16/18.

The fiscal recklessness that Republicans have shown while in power is only going to reinforce the view on the Left that Republicans are acting in bad faith when they voice concerns about rising debt. This means when Democrats are back in power, they are much less likely to want to talk entitlement reform or responsible budgeting with Republicans. Instead, they'll feel emboldened to go full speed ahead with ambitious new government programs, while feeling much less obligation to find ways to pay for them.

The president has shown interest in encouraging spending discipline, e.g., by recently asking his cabinet secretaries to cut expenditures in their respective operations. Trump asks cabinet agencies to cut 5 percent from budgets, S.A. Miller & Dave Boyer, Washington Times,
10/17/18.

President Trump asked his Cabinet secretaries Wednesday to cut their budgets by 5 percent, mindful that the government reported a $117 billion increase in the federal deficit just three weeks ahead of the midterm elections. “Get rid of the fat, get rid of the waste,” Mr. Trump said at a Cabinet meeting. “I’m sure everybody at this table can do it. It’ll have a huge impact. That’s a very, very important request that I’m making.”

Appropriation bills for Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education have already been enacted for fiscal year 2019, however, so the potential for immediate spending cuts seems quite limited. The president and his cabinet lack the power to cut spending without congressional support, moreover, which hasn’t been requested thus far.

Even if the president’s statement is largely for political effect, it still compares favorably to the evident lack of congressional interest in cutting wasteful spending. And sad to say, the American public has contributed to this attitude. Midterms to give Congress failing grade, Donald Lambro, Washington Times,
10/18/18.

Lawmakers listen only to arguments of the lobbyists and other special interest groups to keep [wasteful] programs funded, not the people whose incomes are taxed to fund them. The late Wisconsin Sen. William Proxmire, the last of the Senate’s penny-pinchers, once estimated that the ratio of those who testify each year in behalf of more spending vs. less is about a thousand to one.

Your faithful scribe was surprised by a response last week to a letter that SAFE sent the president in February. Whether our concerns will be addressed or not, the letter was evidently not rejected out of hand. Fix fiscal problem (President Trump),
2/26/18 (scroll down for response).

Note that SAFE sent individualized letters about the fiscal problem to half a dozen key players in February, and the president is the only recipient who has responded to date. SAFE to DC: Please fix this problem,
2/26/18. Wonder when we are going to hear from the others.

C. Integrity – All of our political leaders claim to be working for the common good, but this claim wears thin at times. For example, how can one explain the indifference to enforcing the immigration laws of the United States? Midterm issues: Immigration, 9/17/18.

Why has illegal immigration been allowed to continue year after year? We suspect the status quo is acceptable to many Republicans, who are aware that businesses and farms appreciate a continuing supply of cheap imported labor. *** For their part, Democrats apparently see a continuing influx of low-income immigrants as a source of voters that can help them to win elections.

The latest development was a “caravan” of central Americans that originated (first reported around Oct. 14) in Honduras and swelled to an estimated 4,000 people – many of them youngsters - as it made its way through Guatemala. The plan was to traverse Mexico and come across the southern border of the US. Honduran migrant caravan grows to 4,000 amid spike in US border crossings, Julia Ainsley & Abigail Williams, nbcnews.com,
10/17/18.

The number of would-be immigrants wasn’t all that significant in relation to overall illegal border crossings, but the visual impact of the caravan photos was impressive.
Ibid.

In September, U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 41,400 undocumented immigrants, up from 37,544 in August, according to numbers not yet released publicly but obtained by NBC News.

It’s unclear how the caravan got started, but the timing so close to the midterm elections seemed calculated to embarrass the president and invite a ham-handed response that would sink some Republican candidates. In one report, a woman was quoted that the marchers were on their way to see the US president. Migrant caravan marches to border, invoking POTUS by name, Andrew West, constitution.com,
10/16/18.

“We’re going to drop in on Donald Trump. He has to take us in,” said Andrea Fernandez, 24, who said she is traveling with her three children because Honduras has high crime and few jobs, according to Yahoo News.

Who assured the people making this long and dangerous journey that they would be able to gain admittance to the US, who arranged the logistics including motor vehicles that were used to speed the marchers along much faster than they could have traveled on foot, and was it true that some of them were paid? GOP Rep. [Matt Gaetz, Florida] posts video showing people being paid to join Honduran caravan, Benjamin Arie, westernjournal.com,
10/17/18.

“Soros?” he continued, referring to one of the most infamous wealthy backers of liberal political movements, billionaire George Soros. “US-backed NGOs? Time to investigate the source!” Gaetz wrote.

The president pressured Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico to prevent the caravan from reaching the US, by threatening a cutoff of foreign aid, and, if necessary, closure of the US southern border. Trump threatens military blockade at the border as Honduran caravan approaches, Katelyn Caralle, Washington Examiner,
10/18/18.

When the caravan reached the southern border of Mexico, it was halted pending discussions between Mexico and the UN on how to handle the asylum requests of the would-be immigrants. Some of them turned back. Caravan migrants in limbo as UN, Mexico negotiate, Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner,
10/20/18.

Other marchers took a detour across the river, however, and continued their journey in Mexico. No doubt many of them will reach the US border in coming days, resulting in another showdown.
No one will stop us, only God”; Caravan swells to 5,000, advances toward US, AP, Washington Times, 10/21/18.

In addition to slamming the current minority party for allegedly favoring open borders, protecting sanctuary cities, etc., the president has charged that Democrats welcomed the caravan and may even have had something to do with it. Caravan situation is "sad on both sides," Trump tells Nevadans, Katelyn Caralle, Washington Examiner,
10/20/18.

“The Democrats want caravans, they like the caravans,” Trump told a crowd at a daytime rally in Nevada Saturday. “A lot of people say, ‘I wonder who started that caravan.’”

As the caravan is an embarrassment for this country, which promises little if any benefit, one might think that Democrats would be expressing support for the president’s efforts to turn it around and/or suggesting alternative ways to bolster border security. The only recent comment from a Democratic leader that we could find, however, was a putdown by the House Minority Leader. Donald Trump has “manhood issue” over border wall, says Nancy Pelosi, Greg Price, newsweek.com,
10/17/18.

President Donald Trump has a “manhood issue” when it comes to his proposed wall along the country’s shared southern border with Mexico, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. *** “It’s immoral, expensive, ineffective and not something people do between countries,” Pelosi said.

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Our political leaders should listen to both sides about the manmade global warming theory and avoid embracing this theory based on political considerations. They should also invest the necessary effort to solve the fiscal problem, which is basically a matter of balancing the budget, and support enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws (with whatever changes Congress may decide are needed).

Leaders who fail to measure up to these standards of judgment, diligence and integrity should be deemed to be practicing politics without a license and voted out of office at the earliest opportunity.

**********FEEDBACK**********

#Just got another link to the “caravan”... the timing seems to be aimed rather precisely at the Nov. 6 elections. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone like Soros was behind all this. – SAFE member (DE)

#Kudos to you on your budget letter and to the president for giving you a response. - SAFE member (DE)

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