Tag Archives: UN

My conversation with a leftist friend about basic economics and rent control

My conversation with a leftist friend about “Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy, 4th Edition“, by Thomas Sowell.

Him: I remember why I stopped reading that book when you asked me to read it.

Me: Why did you stop reading it?

Him: Because of the chapter on rent control.

Me: Chapter 3 is the chapter on price controls. It talks about rent control.

Him: I expect an economist to present both sides of rent control. He has to present the arguments for and against rent control.

Me: There are not two sides to rent control. There is only one side to rent control. He chose that because it is a clear cut example of the problems caused by price controls. Economists universally condemn rent control, across the ideological spectrum.

Him: No they don’t.

Me: The chair of the Department of Economics at Harvard University, Greg Mankiw, reports in his economics textbook that 93% of professional economists agree that rent control reduces housing supply and housing quality. It is the most agreed upon position among economists across the ideological spectrum, number one in his list of facts on which professional economists agree. And obviously they have reasons for agreeing on that, specifically the experience of trying rent control policies in different times and places. It has always failed.

Him: Somebody must like rent control, because they have it in New York city.

Me: Politicians and low-information voters support rent control. It makes politicians feel good, and it gets them elected, too – if the voters are economically illiterate enough, as they are in New York city.

Him: But what about global warming then? Isn’t the consensus against you there?

Me: There has been no global warming in the last 17 years, according to the New York Times. They were reporting on findings by the UN IPCC in 2013.

Him: The UN never said that. The New York Times never wrote that.

Me: Yes, they did. And I have the sources I can send them to you.

Him: I’ll bet you do. (walks away in a huff)

This is the relevant quote from the Greg Mankiw post from his survey of economists that appears in his textbook:

  1. A ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available. (93%)
  2. Tariffs and import quotas usually reduce general economic welfare. (93%)
  3. Flexible and floating exchange rates offer an effective international monetary arrangement. (90%)
  4. Fiscal policy (e.g., tax cut and/or government expenditure increase) has a significant stimulative impact on a less than fully employed economy. (90%)
  5. The United States should not restrict employers from outsourcing work to foreign countries. (90%)
  6. The United States should eliminate agricultural subsidies. (85%)
  7. Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises. (85%)
  8. If the federal budget is to be balanced, it should be done over the business cycle rather than yearly. (85%)
  9. The gap between Social Security funds and expenditures will become unsustainably large within the next fifty years if current policies remain unchanged. (85%)
  10. Cash payments increase the welfare of recipients to a greater degree than do transfers-in-kind of equal cash value. (84%)
  11. A large federal budget deficit has an adverse effect on the economy. (83%)
  12. A minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers. (79%)
  13. The government should restructure the welfare system along the lines of a “negative income tax.” (79%)
  14. Effluent taxes and marketable pollution permits represent a better approach to pollution control than imposition of pollution ceilings. (78%)

And this is the relevant quote from the New York Times article, dated September 2013:

The global warming crowd has a problem. For all of its warnings, and despite a steady escalation of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, the planet’s average surface temperature has remained pretty much the same for the last 15 years.

As you might guess, skeptics of warming were in full attack mode as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gathered in Sweden this week to approve its latest findings about our warming planet. The skeptics argue that this recent plateau illustrates what they always knew — that complex global climate models have no predictive capability and that, therefore, there is no proof of global warming, human-caused or not.

The author of the NYT article (a leftist) goes on to attempt to explain he is not concerned by the 17 year period of no significant warming, but the point is that the 17 year (not 15 year) period of no significant warming is A FACT acknowledged by the UN IPCC that has to be explained by those who believe in catastrophic man-made global warming. The IPCC may not like the temperature measurements, but those facts are not in doubt. The global warming crowd might make predictions about the future, but they made predictions about the past before, and we now know for a fact that those predictions (polar ice caps melting, Himalayans melting, significant global warming, etc.) were FALSE. They have been falsified by evidence, and that’s not in doubt.

Economic illiteracy is the problem

When people on the left voted for Barack Obama in 2012, they did not know based on evidence that they could keep their doctors and keep their health plans and that insurance premiums would drop $2500. They did not know it because the economic studies contradicted Obama’s words. They even believed Obama when he said that the Benghazi incident was caused by a Youtube video. Obama-supporters had a sincere belief in the words of his passionate speeches. They were impressed by the visuals of him talking to large crowds of young people. They believed him because they had feelings about him. And voting for him made them have good feelings about themselves. They felt that they were going to achieve good things by voting for this good man. They meant well, but they did not know. They did not have evidence.

Before the 2012 election, people on the right pointed to evidence from studies (like this one) showing that Obama was lying, but his supporters were apparently not interested in economic studies. They want to preserve the feelings of being good people. They want to preserve the belief that you can embrace policies that sound good, and that words that sound good will necessarily lead to good results for people who are at a disadvantage. I don’t question the motives of people on the left – they mean well. But meaning well doesn’t produce good results without knowledge of economics. In economics, policies that sound appealing to well-meaning liberals (rent control, tariffs, protectionism, minimum wage, trillion-dollar deficits) actually produce bad results for poor people. And we know this for a fact from our experience across different times and places.

If we can get people to accept the authority of our observations of policy experimentation in different times and places over and above their feelings and intuitions, then we can save this country.

Republicans will introduce bill to de-fund the pro-abortion UNFPA

Rep. Renee Ellmers
Rep. Renee Ellmers

From Life News.

Excerpt:

Legislation that would cut federal taxpayer funding for the pro-abortion UNFPA agency will get a hearing in a House committee next week, after Republicans put forward the bill following a vote from people saying they wanted it.

Spurred on by a public vote in which pro-life advocates said cutting funding for the pro-abortion UNFPA agency was their top desire, Congressional Republicans filed legislation over the summer to yank millions from the UN organization.

Rep. Renee Ellmers, of North Carolina, introduced the bill and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a pro-life Florida Republican, has announced a markup of H.R. 2059 will take place Wednesday.

“This is going to save American taxpayers $400 million dollars over a 10 year period and it’s just another part of what we’re doing here in Washington to cut wasteful spending that we see happening,” Ellmers said in a video introducing the bill. “And I am very excited to be part of this program and each week we will have more cuts coming forward.”

The legislation would result in cutting the funding President Barack Obama put in place for the UNFPA, an agency that promotes abortion and works hand-in-hand with family planning officials in China enforcing the one-child, forced-abortion policy.

After Obama restored the funding, Rep. Chris Smith tried to offer an amendment to revert the language back to the original ban on such funding, but House Democrats blocked him from doing so. Then, pro-life Sen. Roger Wicker offered a similar amendment but the Senate defeated it.

[…]Since fiscal year 1985, a policy known as “the Kemp-Kasten Amendment” has been included in every foreign aid appropriations bill.  Kemp-Kasten specifies that funds may not be “made available to any organization or program which, as determined by the President of the United States, supports or participates in the management of a program of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.” Citing Kemp-Kasten, Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush cut off funding to the UNFPA from 1986 to 1993.

President Bill Clinton resumed funding for UNFPA at the beginning of his presidency, but signed a foreign aid appropriations bill for FY99 that zeroed out funding for UNFPA.

Citing Kemp-Kasten, President George W. Bush cut off funding to UNFPA for fiscal years 2002-2008.  In 2008 Secretary of State Colin Powell explained the reason for withholding funds saying, “UNFPA’s support of, and involvement in, China’s population-planning activities allows the Chinese government to implement more effectively its program of coercive abortion. Therefore, it is not permissible to continue funding UNFPA at this time.”

Republicans aren’t giving up on the the twin goal of reducing spending AND protecting the unborn from violence.

New edition of British atlas exaggerates global warming effects by 1500%

From the radically leftist New York Times. (H/T Dennis Prager)

Excerpt:

The news release promoting the latest edition of Britain’s influential Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World hailed it as “the Greatest Book on Earth.”

Not the way climate scientists see it.

“Fiasco” was the word chosen by one scientist in an e-mail to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., alerting his colleagues to erroneous claims made by the publishers of the atlas (whose name derives from The Times of London) about the speed at which Greenland’s glaciers are melting.

He also feared that a map in the atlas, along with news accounts repeating an error in the news release, could pull climate scientists into another vortex of damaging controversy.

The news release, echoed by the news media, claimed that Greenland had lost 15 percent of its permanent ice cover from 1999 to 2011. That translates to 125,000 cubic miles, according to a rough calculation by Etienne Berthier, a glaciologist with the University of Toulouse, enough melted ice to raise sea levels three to five feet.

The corresponding map in the atlas itself indicated that significant portions of Greenland’s coastline had become ice-free.

Glaciologists, previously bruised by an exaggerated claim about the melting of Himalayan glaciers in a 2007 United Nations report that became fodder for global warming skeptics, mobilized as a truth squad.

On blogs, on radio programs and in newspaper columns, they stated emphatically that Greenland has not lost 15 percent of its ice cover in recent years. The retreat, they said, is more like one-tenth of 1 percent. They were quick to add that nobody at the atlas had consulted them.

“It was a case where, really, the community came together really fast with both barrels blazing,” said Mark Serreze, director of the snow and ice center in Colorado. “Everyone had some real bad memories of this whole fiasco that had to do with Himalayan glaciers. No one wanted to see that again.”

The glaciers error in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Climate Change, although just a footnote, led to a torrent of criticism focused on climate scientists after it was identified early in 2010.

I blogged about the Himalayan fraud here.

I also wrote before about how Greenland used to be much less cold during the Medieval Warming Period.