|The Whatcom Excavator||
Tin pots still lust to sway and dominate citizens by imposing taxes on the most basic of all necessities: water. Subjects, take heart. Resistance to wrongful taxation is not necessarily futile. The Scrapbook wishes a happy 250th birthday to the start of the American Revolution, and so do WE.
A Stamp Too Far
Weekly Standard - The Scapbook
November 16, 2015, Vol. 21, No. 10
Two hundred and fifty years ago, the French and Indian War had just ended, and Britain’s Parliament was determined to find some way to maintain a standing army, to avoid putting 1,500 socially well-connected officers out of work. Their solution was to keep the Army in North America stationed as a buffer between the colonists and American Indians. Even though, said the colonists, no such buffer was needed.
The Army, of course, had to be paid for, and Parliament decided that the newly buffered colonists should do the paying. First came a sugar tax, which triggered a debate about the rights of Englishmen living in America: The fundamental law of Britain frowned on subjects being taxed without their consent, which was given by sending representatives to Parliament. A cry of “No Taxation Without Representation” was heard, which grew much louder a year later when word reached the colonies that a much more onerous stamp tax—a tax on all printed documents—would soon be enacted.
American colonists sent petitioners to London to seek redress of their grievances. They were ignored. The chancellor of the exchequer, Charles Townshend, addressed the effrontery of the Americans on the floor of the House of Commons: “Will these Americans, children planted by our care, nourished up by our indulgence, till they are grown to a degree of strength and opulence, and protected by our arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite?”
Isaac Barre, a Huguenot Irishman who had served with distinction during the French and Indian War, rose to the Americans’ defense:
“They planted by your care? No! Your oppressions planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated and inhospitable country, where they exposed themselves to almost all the hardships to which human nature is liable; and among others, to the cruelties of a savage foe, the most subtle, and I will take upon me to say, the most formidable of any people upon the face of the earth. . . .
“They nourished by your indulgence? They grew by your neglect of them. As soon as you began to care about them, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule them, in one department and another, who were perhaps the deputies of deputies to some member of this House, sent to spy out their liberties, to misrepresent their actions and to prey upon them; men whose behavior on many occasions has caused the blood of those sons of liberty to recoil within them. . . .
“They protected by your arms? They have nobly taken up arms in your defense, have exerted a valor, amidst their constant and laborious industry, for the defense of a country whose frontier while drenched in blood, while its interior parts yielded all its little savings to your emoluments. . . .
“The people, I believe, are as truly loyal as any subjects the king has; but a people jealous of their liberties and who will vindicate them if ever they should be violated.”
Barre’s warnings were ignored. The House of Commons passed the Stamp Act 205 to 49; it was implemented in America 250 years ago this week. Resistance to it was rapidly organized by a new, freedom-minded group which took its name from Barre’s speech: the Sons of Liberty.
The Scrapbook wishes a happy 250th birthday to the start of the American Revolution.
Whatcom County citizens with their lights on, those who are paying attention, have come to see that equal justice under the law as it was once known is Functionally Over. Kaput. That is, if you've got any moral or ethical core whatsoever. Those in power are bustin' their buttons and feeling their oats. Their cronies are, too.
Last year (or was it the year before?) a local conservative PAC (political action committee) named SAVE Whatcom filed a state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) report 2 days late, caused by a glitch related to a holiday. For their sins they were fined $1,500.00 and pilloried by the press. This year, radically environmental ReSources for Sustainable Communities, a powerful non-profit which is a regular government contractor yet sworn to be apolitical, launched off on a $51,213 spending spree into politics apparently without any intention to start a PAC as required by law. When the situation was exposed and they finally created the action committee, they filed their PDC report 64 days late. What were they fined? Zero. Zip. Nada. There's an old saying, "Fish rot from the head down." Arrogance and greed are corrupting this nation into a banana republic on every level.
Blue Bernie Sanders signs are popping up like mushrooms among the fall leaves in Bellingham this year. While Bellingrad is promoting itself as an up and coming mecca for bicyclists and sustainability pop-elites, there's a problem that stands out like a sore thumb. The difference between the "rich and poor" in Bellingham is huge. For all the Big D (for democrat) community development plans and programs, there's a lot of poverty.
Panhandlers are regularly on station at I-5 intersections like Lakeway and Guide Meridian, and the food bank off Ohio often has lines that stretch for a block. More than half of all Bellingham housing is now rental, with a growing reliance on subsidy through tax-based programs and grants. Outright dependency is not decreasing. What's wrong with supporting those in need? You can't always get what you want ... you just might find ... you get what you need. What passes for "need" now is what benefits the majority; and that may cut some poor sods out of the picture altogether. This is a very frank article, written from the "progressive" perspective; and it has rather dark undertones in some ways.
WEALTH - Inequality Debate Looks in Wrong Direction
at Bloomberg, by Stephen L. Carter
October 15, 2015
Most of the talk generated by Tuesday’s [Oct 13] Democratic debate is about e-mails or enemies, but far more important were the efforts of the presidential candidates to explain what they would do about achieving another e-word: equality. More to the point, they talked about the problem of “inequality,” a word used eight times by the candidates and once by the moderator. And when they spoke of inequality, it was clear that their concern was the accumulation of wealth and power by the very wealthy.
Inequality is on everybody’s lips these days -- everybody on the left, anyway, and a lot of people in the center and on the right as well. But what if everybody’s wrong?
That’s the contention of “On Inequality,” a small, smart new volume by Princeton University philosopher Harry Frankfurt. At the very beginning, he states a simple but powerful thesis: “Our most fundamental challenge is not the fact that the incomes of Americans are widely unequal. It is, rather, the fact that too many of our people are poor.” Progressives, in other words, are shooting at the wrong target. The moral problem posed by the distribution of wealth isn’t inequality. It’s poverty.
These might seem like the same issue, but Frankfurt shows us with elan that they are not. Suppose, he says, there is a resource that will keep a person alive, but only if that person has five units of it. There are 10 people, and there are 40 units of the resource. If the resource is distributed equally, everybody gets four units -- and everybody dies. To insist on equality in that case, he argues, “would be morally grotesque.”
Fortunately, says Frankfurt, we don’t really try to promote equality. Even among those who worry about inequality, people adjust their consumption to their own assessments of their needs. They don’t reduce their consumption because it’s unfair for them to have money. This instinct he lauds: “A preoccupation with the condition of others ... leads a person away from understanding what he himself truly requires in order effectively to pursue his own most authentic needs, interests, and ambitions.”
Frankfurt suggests that the instinct that leads many to complain about inequality isn’t about equality at all: “What I believe they find intuitively to be morally objectionable ... is not that some of the individuals in those circumstances have less money than others. Rather, it is the fact that those with less have too little.”
He is on strong ground here. There is a tendency on the left to think of inequality principally as a problem of the rich having too much. Although not indifferent to that concern, Frankfurt contends that this worry is a distraction from the far more important goal of making sure that everyone has enough.
I think Frankfurt is right. He’s pointing to a genuine difficulty in the way the left too often sees the world. When I’ve tried to raise the issue of poverty with progressive acquaintances, I’ve been told repeatedly that there are more important issues to address. Over and over I’m assured that we can get around to poverty once we’ve dealt with, say, climate change or marriage equality. These are worthy causes -- but it’s discomfiting to see how far poverty has fallen on the liberal agenda.
Even when my progressive friends do bemoan inequality, they usually define the problem not as the poor having too little but as the rich having too much. Whereas I was raised to the liberalism of the 1960s, when assisting those worst off was first priority. And if you think the problems are the same, just glance at the income curve and cut off the very tip of the right tail -- that is, eliminate the superrich. The shape of the curve doesn’t change. The poor are just as poor as they were before.
One reason for the progressive obsession with curbing the power of wealth is a concern -- mentioned but not elaborated by Frankfurt -- that the rich can buy more political influence than they deserve. The academic literature has had trouble demonstrating that this effect exists, but let’s assume that it does.
My worry is that what’s really going on isn’t a struggle over the outsize influence of the very rich, but a struggle over who should exercise outsize influence. After all, the beneficiaries of a successful taming of the influence of the rich would be not the poor and downtrodden but the educated professional classes who have long dominated the academy and the news media.
Frankfurt himself is interested less in politics than in everyday life, and there he warns us not to measure our circumstances against those of others: “If a person has enough resources to provide for the satisfaction of his needs and interests, his resources are then entirely adequate; their adequacy does not depend in addition on the magnitude of the resources other people possess.” Progressives might shy from this language, but Frankfurt makes a useful point. What people deserve equally, he contends, is not equality in money but equality in respect. This might require making sure that everyone has a particular amount of a particular good, but it does not require making sure that everyone has the same amount of that good.
An example raised most commonly in the literature is health care. We might agree that everyone has the right to a particular standard of care without decreeing that everyone must be able to buy what the rich can buy. Frankfurt doesn’t discuss the example directly, but presumably he would come down in the first camp: that you can buy more health care than I is morally irrelevant as long as I can buy enough.
Before you cringe in horror, bear in mind that the Affordable Care Act is structured exactly on this model, and that even Senator Bernie Sanders, in Tuesday’s debate, referred to people’s right to “the health care that they need” -- not the health care that they want.
Frankfurt’s book is short -- 89 pages, not including the notes -- and his prose, as always, is highly engaging. The volume should be required reading for candidates of both parties, if only to get them to focus on his central point: For all our fine talk about inequality, what’s truly terrible in America is not that so few have so much. It’s that so many have so little.
The two candidates who didn’t use the word, Martin O’Malley and Jim Webb, certainly addressed the subject.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:
Stephen L Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org
WE don't run many stories about national politicos, but this article caught our collective eye. It reminded us of the mean-spirited suppression that has occurred (and continues to occur) locally. Simply honest (real) scientific facts are not particularly welcome in the shadow of WWU-Huxley. Panicky mantras sell better. Given the power of the bureaucratic machine - one can only say look out brothers and sisters. Tie-dyed tyranny is an intellectual and ethical affront, but dang if it's not enough for some. Hello, Spanish Inquisition with our justice system serving as grand inquisitor. Catch a whiff of Rhode Island Senator Whitehouse. Does this guy seem even remotely open-minded and objective? These politicians are Hell-bent on bullying honest scientists? Yes, indeed they are.
Elizabeth Warren isn’t the only one trying to silence her opponents.
Shut Up - Or We'll Shut You Down
Wall Street Journal - Oct 9, 2015 - Opinion
Elizabeth Warren recently drove out a think-tank scholar for having the nerve to report that a new federal regulation could cost billions, but the progressive censor movement is broad and growing. Advocates of climate regulation are urging the Obama Administration to investigate people who don’t share their views.
Last month George Mason Professor Jagadish Shukla and 19 others signed a letter to President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and White House science adviser John Holdren urging punishment for climate dissenters. “One additional tool—recently proposed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse—is a RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) investigation of corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change, as a means to forestall America’s response to climate change,” they wrote.
In other words, they want the feds to use a law created to prosecute the mafia against lawful businesses and scientists. In a May op-ed in the Washington Post, Mr. Whitehouse specifically cited Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who has published politically inconvenient research on changes in solar radiation.
The RICO threat is intended to shut down debate because it can inflict treble damages upon a defendant. Enacted to stop organized crime and specifically to prosecute individuals tied to loansharking and murder-for-hire, it was long seen as so powerful a tool that the government warned prosecutors to limit its use.
“The demand by Senator Whitehouse and the 20 climate scientists for legal persecution of people whose research on science and policy they disagree with represents a new low in the politicization of science,” says Georgia Tech’s [PhD professor of Earth and atmospheric science, Dr.] Judith Curry on the Fox News website. She should know, as one of seven academics investigated last winter by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D., Ariz.) for their climate research.
By the way, Mr. Shukla appears to have no problem taking money from the government to support his climate theories. Though it has since been taken down, the letter from the Shukla gang demanding a RICO assault was published on the website of the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES), a tax-exempt entity run by Mr. Shukla that the website says has also employed his wife and daughter. The House Science Committee says the outfit has received more than $25 million in federal grants since 2008. House Science Chairman Lamar Smith says the family’s earnings from IGES are “in addition to an annual salary of approximately $314,000 paid to Dr. Shukla by George Mason University.”
When we contacted George Mason to sort out these financial arrangements, the school suggested we contact Mr. Shukla directly. He hasn’t responded to our inquiries.
Meanwhile, Sen. Warren also doesn’t seem to want to live by the rules she enforces on others. Recall that she drove Robert Litan out of the Brookings Institution last week in part because his research on new financial regulations was funded by the asset manager Capital Group—which he clearly disclosed.
The website OpenSecrets.org says Ms. Warren has accepted more than $600,000 from the securities and investment industry, including more than $6,000 from Capital Group executives.
Perhaps she’d say it’s fine for her to use her Senate Banking Committee perch to rake in contributions from financial firms because she often disagrees with them. Then again, lawyers and law firms that benefit from her policy interventions have given her more than $2 million. She’s also collected more than $1.3 million from the education industry, which benefits from her campaign to expand education subsidies.
We called Sen. Warren’s office to ask why the Senator isn’t living by the Warren standard. A press aide replied that among other alleged offenses, Mr. Litan had accepted “editorial input” from the sponsors of his research. Yes it’s true, as Mr. Litan has said forthrightly all along, he did accept comments from the sponsor. He has also maintained that the analysis and conclusions were his own and those of co-author Hal Singer.
If accepting “editorial input” is grounds for dismissal, academics or journalists wouldn’t be the only ones preparing resignation letters. Is Sen. Warren now going to tell us that a campaign donor has never made a suggestion to her about government policy?
The strategy of the progressive left is no longer to win public debates, but to forcibly silence their opponents. And to enforce a double standard in the bargain.
Have you seen these signs? The DOVE video (below) explains why a person should reject Council Propositions #9 and #10 to keep this county diverse. A fortune is being spent by organizations that want Bellingham to "rule." WE find DOVE's reasoning much better. Be wise, vote smart. Hang on to two-representatives in three districts. Council's 9 & 10 are a colossal ripoff.
Whatcom County has become very dearly united to the PSP (Puget Sound Partnership) and the funding-monkey they bring to the party, the EPA. Just a couple of days ago, WE discovered that "Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development Washington" (acronym: SEED - ever hear of them?) has been awarded a teensie environmental justice grant, a mere...
"... $30,000 to increase awareness and direct participation in renewable energy generation by agriculture producers through Renewable Energy Farm Walks. These on-farm education events will focus on renewable energy technology. The project goal is to provide peer-to-peer education and resources to farmers who need assistance on proper installation and usage." EPA sez, "Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the environmental decision-making process." Oh really? Fair treatment? Let any one of us make the same mistakes that the EPA does, and we’d be flayed alive. Meanwhile, it's a wonder to behold how the way these these bozos let themselves off.
They Did It Again: EPA Causes 2nd Toxic Spill in Colorado
Oops! We did it again. We screwed up a mine. We are really lame.
Trey Sanchez, Truth Revolt
October 9, 2015
Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency caused its second toxic spill from a mine in Colorado in just over two months. This time in Crested Butte, though on a much smaller scale than the one in Silverton in August that turned multiple river systems into a bright orange sludge pool.
As an EPA crew worked at the Standard Mine attempting to open a collapsed portal, at least 2,000 gallons of wastewater spilled into a creek that just so happens to lead to a nearby town's water supply, as noted at Liberty News.
The EPA is assuring that this "minor" spill will have "minimal" effects on the environment they are sworn to protect. Of course, time will tell of the full impact of this disaster.
Republican Rep. Scott Tipton of Colorado's 3rd congressional district says this latest incident brings up the same issues the last one did in questioning the federal agency's procedures:
"They told us things were going to be different. Now we have a spill. … We’ve apparently got a real challenge with the EPA, not only with notification but their accountability and their ability to adequately execute these types of cleanup projects… They’ve got resources. They’re the ones in charge of the program. And they’ve had two spills in my district alone. Is there a better way to approach this?"
As an added bonus, the EPA did not disclose the accident for two whole days.
Have you seen yellow signs popping up around the county that look like this?
WE did some dredging, and found the DOVE Whatcom Committee site. They have an informational sheet that explains what they feel citizens need to understand. Frankly, WE find this pretty forthright:
Whatcom Charter Amendments: Easy as 1, 2, 3!
Stop the Power Grab! Vote!
Have you tried doing anything non-trivial with your personal property lately? Our government is taking our rights, and selling them back to us as permits. That is a power grab. Vote power to the people! Here’s how:
Approve Charter Proposition #1
Charter Proposition No. 1 restores District Oriented Voting (DOV) for electing our County Council representatives. With DOV, you elect your two local council representatives from your district. Candidates only have to campaign in their districts, making elections more affordable. This lowers barriers to entry for a wider diversity of candidates, and takes some of the big money out of our local politics. DOV better reflects the diversity of citizens’ interests, needs and preferences for all of Whatcom County. Representatives are more likely to be directly accountable to the voters when they’re known to us.
Approve Charter Proposition #2
Charter Proposition No. 2 requires a unanimous vote for County Council to propose amendments that would override the wishes of the voters, when we pass an amendment with a 2/3 majority or more. This amendment is very narrowly focused on solving this one particular problem.
Approve Charter Proposition #3
Charter Proposition No. 3 requires a unanimous vote for County Council to propose amendments that would affect how council members themselves are elected; a conflict of interest. This amendment is very narrowly focused on solving this one particular problem.
Reject Council Proposition #9
Council Proposition No. 9 (the five district amendment) leaves many elements undefined. If approved by the voters, it will be up to the courts or special committees to fill in many unknowns. We should not have to pass this to find out what is in it. Let’s work out the details first, and then vote on it. Reject this; it needs better definition.
Reject Council Proposition #10
Council Proposition No. 10 is supposed to equalize the authority of the Charter Review Commission (CRC) and the County Council, by requiring a supermajority vote in either body to submit any charter amendment proposal to the voters.
There's a bit of good news in the short story below. But take a moment to read this closely. Despite the title, which looked good at first, the last paragraph says,
"Aside from sustainability, the committee’s recommendations included taxing dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television."
Seriously? Tax dessert? Monitor how long you sit in front of the TV? How, exactly, would Big Brother propose to do that? Our public servants are being PAID to do this, far and near. Yes, near.
Puget Sound Partnership's nanny statists have already been busy in Whatcom County developing a system for bureaucrats to use to measure "Human Wellbeing" locally. Yes, siree. County planning wants to use "metrics" to judge one's "cultural wellbeing" (your culture, or my culture?) and even (gasp) "good governance." Indeed! (WE promise to find and post the actual report written by Kelly Biedenweg the lead social scientist with the Puget Sound Institute, UW Tacoma, who lists "environmental psychology" as a part of her skill set. The thing will curl your hair. It refers to rural residents as some sort of sad subset that will have to be dealt with as a minority.) Among other things, the urbanites feel that all points not within walking distance of (a) an organic food stand or (b) the Food Co-Op is a "food desert." Gotta dig the climate-related terminology. Repeat after WE: The people must be managed for their own good. The people must be managed for their own good. The people must be managed...
Feds Cave, Remove Sustainability From Dietary Guidelines
Panel had recommended 'plant-based' diets
By Elizabeth Harrington - October 7, 2015
Washington Free Beacon
The Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services announced they would not include sustainability in their nutrition guidelines for Americans, backing away from a report that recommended plant-based diets in order to help forestall climate change.
The decision came a day before USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell were set for a grilling from Congress on the new “Dietary Guidelines For Americans.” The secretaries are testifying before the House Agriculture Committee Wednesday morning.
The committee crafting the guidelines, which influence government food programs, had been criticized for being politically motivated after incorporating environmentalism into nutrition policy.
“There has been some discussion this year about whether we would include the goal of sustainability as a factor in developing dietary guidelines,” Vilsack and Burwell said in a joint blog post Tuesday. “(Sustainability in this context means evaluating the environmental impact of a food source. Some of the things we eat, for example, require more resources to raise than others.) Issues of the environment and sustainability are critically important and they are addressed in a number of initiatives within the Administration.”
“In terms of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), we will remain within the scope of our mandate in the 1990 National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act (NNMRRA), which is to provide ‘nutritional and dietary information and guidelines’… ‘based on the preponderance of the scientific and medical knowledge,’” the officials said.
“The final 2015 Guidelines are still being drafted, but because this is a matter of scope, we do not believe that the 2015 DGAs are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability,” they added.
The federal panel tasked with creating the guidelines, which are updated every five years, included a subcommittee on sustainability for the first time. The inclusion led to a call for Americans to eat less meat to lower carbon footprints when their report of recommendations was sent to HHS and USDA this February.
The report received nearly 30,000 comments during the public comment period, which had to be extended after members of Congress voiced concern that the committee had “greatly exceeded their scope in developing recommendations” by adding sustainability.
The North American Meat Institute (NAMI), a critic of the panel’s recommendations, praised the decision to drop sustainability.
“As NAMI has noted in previous comments, while sustainability is an important food issue, it was outside of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s scope and expertise and would be more appropriately addressed by a panel of sustainability experts that understands the complexity of the issue,” said Barry Carpenter, the group’s president. “It is reassuring that Secretaries Vilsack and Burwell have taken a strong stance to keep the Dietary Guidelines focused on nutrition and health.”
HHS and USDA are still reviewing the panel’s report of recommendations, and the final guidelines will not be completed until later this year.
Aside from sustainability, the committee’s recommendations included taxing dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.
What a novel and absolutely liberal view of Whatcom County! This is a vibrant place where diversity and uniqueness are not only appreciated but unifying. Citizens rightfully want our representative government to reflect a wide range of views. WE applaud DOVE for this uplifting video about improving the key strength of this community, which is respect for our beautiful differences. WE like how this ends, saying "...ensure we all have a voice" [by voting for county charter amendments 1, 2 and 3]. Who would want less?
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