Thursday, May 28, 2009

Carbon Conservativism

Conservatives and Libertarians are losing credibility by arguing that man made sources are not responsible for global warming. While I appreciate that the left has seized on the issue in order to seize our income and control of the economy, arguing against the underlying science is a long term losing proposition. Further, having done nothing about the issue when they controlled the Congress and the Presidency, the Republicans have paved the way for Henry Waxman's hair-brained, reward-your-buddies scheme that will actually do little to nothing to solve the problem. For scathing critiques of Waxman-Hartley also see the Reason article and Economist article.

First, I want to examine a little of the science. It is established fact that greenhouse gases, CO2, water vapor, ozone and methane, exist and cause the surface temperature of the earth to be about 57 deg F warmer than if they were not present. Hooray, it would be mighty cold without them. I worked the equations to determine this difference in a college level physics class well before the current debate. Further, the concentration of CO2 is increasing steadily and is now about 37% higher than a century ago, so it is not too far a stretch to believe that this will cause a warming of the earth's atmosphere. How much? Perhaps one degree Celsius. However, we continue to increase the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The historical record of the last million years has been dominated by ice ages, with relatively brief warming periods that occur on a 100,000 year cycle. We are currently in such a warming period, called the holocene that started about 10,000 years ago. During the warming period, the rise in carbon dioxide levels generally lagged the rise in temperature by 800 to 1100 years. While this proves that historically, CO2 did not cause the initial increase in temperatures, it is hypothesized that the rising carbon dioxide levels, released from warmer oceans, due to lower CO2 solubility created a positive feedback effect that caused temperatures to rise quickly.

Today, we appear to be in a historically anomalous time. The interglacial period has lasted almost as long as any for the last million years, so it is an open question as to whether the increased carbon dioxide will be overwhelmed by the natural forces that seem to be cooling the earth over the longer haul. More importantly, the surface temperatures of the earth have been very stable during the holocene; this very predictability has contributed to economic development. The argument on the left is that because we are dependent on temperature stability for our current economic structures, it would be disastrous to allow anthropegenic (man-made) global warming to upset the balance.

However, the balance is likely to be upset anyway, and it seems that the Waxman's proposal is to wreck the economy to in order to save it. However, because the main source of global warming is the burning of fossil fuels, which is associated with air pollution, it would still seem prudent to reduce carbon emissions in a way that does the least damage to the wealth of the planet, for the very reason that this wealth will be needed to adapt to climate changes that have probably become unstoppable for the time being. Because I believe in the power of deregulation and free markets to effect change, the proposal that makes the most sense is to phase in a carbon tax and offset the revenue with an equal phased reduction of the income tax. This has the advantage of not choosing favorites with respect to which alternative sources of non-carbonated energy should be used and minimizing the impact to the economy. Because it doesn't raise revenues nor reward favored groups, Democrats will never go for it. Republicans, you suck too, for not putting this in place when you had the chance. Now, we are all going to suffer.

I will post more on this topic at a later date.

I am calling out 'Dawg to comment. Other posters are welcome as well.

I leave you with a quote from Reason: "Man-made climate change may be a huge problem, but cap-and-trade proponents need to stop pretending that the solution will cost virtually nothing while producing more jobs than it destroys."

Obama Memo to Hecklers: I'm Popular, You're Not, So Shut Up Already

Concerned that hecklers are reminding the public that Obama has actually attempted to take a stand on some positions, Rahm Emmanuel has drafted a memo to would-be hecklers at future Obama speaking events. TLT has obtained a leaked copy on a memo that offers insight on the thinking of the new administration. Some quotes:

"Both the POTUS and the TOTUS must be seen at all times as the impartial and wise judges of all they survey. Reminding the audience of their actual position on abortion, for instance, distracts from the key message of Obama as head of a worldwide reunification movement, in which he constantly asks 'Why can't we all just get along?'"

Addressing potential hecklers, "You must remember that President Obama is very popular, and you are not. You should go home because you lack popular support on abortion for instance."
"You should consider that if your name becomes known, Democrat minions in state government will investigate you and lackeys in the press will smear you."
"As you know, Obama is the first black President. Publicly disagreeing with him will cause many to think you are racist, and if they don't, liberal bloggers will remind them that you are."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Third Party Payer and Prayer

Over the weekend, I was making a few calls to recent visitors to our church. One woman, a nurse named Anne asked for prayer for Melissa, an 18 year old. Melissa had been in and out of her large HMO's doctor's offices with pain in multiple parts of her body for the last nine months. (Just call this HMO K.) Finally, she was able to be seen at UCSD Medical Center and was told she has bone cancer that has spread throughout her body. They sent her home to die. Anne asks for prayer, because Melissa has no faith and is afraid of dying. Please join me in praying for her.

It also turns out that the doctors at K thought she was a teen hypochondriac trying to get pain meds. I am not alleging that she could have been saved by earlier treatment, but it seems to me that when doctors and hospitals are not being paid by the patient, we start to distort the relationship. The patients often seek treatments that might not if it was their own money. HMOs, in an effort to keep treatment affordable, erect barriers to obtaining specialty care. There are certainly enough horror stories about HMOs for us to see the worst effect of this phenomenom.

But rather than cast blame on HMOs or patients for that matter, I think we should reconsider third party payer for health care and insurance. Wouldn't we all be better served if the patient was the one with the power to decide how their health care dollars get spent and had an incentive to limit their own treatment because they would receive some cash back? Something to consider as we debate health care "reform." As discussed at Carpe Diem, health care costs for cosmetic surgey have been contained, because insurance doesn't cover this.

I know the left will object that some people will die because they can't afford treatment, but that is what catastrophic caps are for. As for the rest of the debate, I don't care what the left will say, the relationship is better and therefore the care will be better when the patient is truly seen as the customer.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Kim Outwits Obama - UN Outraged

UN High Commissioner for Intellectual Fairness, Clive Smith-Graves expressed outrage today at Kim Jong Il's punking of Barack Obama with his latest underground nuke test. "We strive for fairness in these battle of wits," explained the commissioner, "it's certainly beyond the pale for Kim to be engaged in such mental fisticuffs against an overmatched opponent." Only days before the test, the Obama administration was reportedly relaxed over the prospect of such a test. "I tell ya, they sucker punched us," said Rahm "Mickey" Emmanuel, Obama's handler. "Who'd a thunk that Kim saying he was going to conduct a test was any kind of warning. I tell ya, Obama has the talent to become a good fighter, but instead of that he's becoming a legbreaker to some cheap, second rate loanshark." When asked which loanshark he had in mind, Emmanuel declined to comment.

Smith-Graves explained that there are good reasons for UN rules for these sorts of affairs. "Allowing battles of wits to get out of hand can lead to real violence. It's like the class valedictorean teasing the schoolyard bully that he can't do his sums; the bully ends up breaking our hero's nose. I think we all have lived through this kind of situation," he sniffed. Asked what action the UN would be taking, Smith-Graves responded, "You know, the usual, feigned outrage, empty resolutions and private toasts that the U.S. has once again received it's well deserved comeuppance."