Reason Foundation Study Details Depths of Green Energy Crony Capitalism

They're connected. By which I mean solar company's owners.The Reason Foundation (the
non-profit that publishes both this site and Reason magazine) has
released a new
report
today that really explores the terrible decisions made
by the Department of Energy in its green energy loan programs and
subsidies. This is the program that brought America Solyndra (and
several other similar cases that have gotten less attention.) They
summarize:

A new Reason Foundation study finds 22 out of 26 projects were
rated as “junk” grade investments before they were awarded
taxpayer-backed loans as part of the Department of Energy’s Section
1705 loan program, which was part of the 2009 stimulus bill that
focused on renewable energy, electric power transmission, and
biofuels projects.

The report also highlights taxpayer-backed loans given to
companies with ties to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former
Vice President Al Gore, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, and
a company founded by former Maine Gov. Angus Reid, who is now a
U.S. Senator. According to the Reason Foundation study, the
companies that spent the most on lobbying received the biggest
Section 1705 loans.

“These projects were rated by credit rating agencies as junk
investments with a high likelihood of failure, but the Department
of Energy didn’t seem to care because it was giving loans to the
firms that were well connected or were spending the most on
lobbying,” said Julian Morris, vice president of Reason Foundation
and co-author of the report.

Far from offering loans for all different types of energy
innovation, the lion’s share of the money went entirely to solar
projects. The study takes note of the relationship between the
amount of lobbying the companies reported and the size of the loan
guarantees they received:

 

Also of note: The completed projects so have far produced less
than 100 permanent jobs. They (and the uncompleted and troubled
products) produce thousands of temporary construction jobs (usually
handed out to connected unions via labor agreements), but they
don’t have to care whether the projects are financially viable once
their work is done.

Read the Reason Foundation’s summary
here
and the whole report is accessible here
(pdf).

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/reason-foundation-study-details-depths-o
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Young People Still Don’t Grasp Obamacare, Venezuela Goes Dark Again, State Department Loves Its Cocktails: P.M. Links

  • "Yeah, you just call that British lizard guy, right? He'll fix you right up."Those young people the
    Affordable Care Act needs in order to properly function
    have no idea
    what the heck it is. Guess those stupid frat boy
    ads aren’t working.
  • An engineer of the train that derailed in New York, killing
    four, reportedly told investigators he was
    falling asleep
    as the train approached a curve at more than
    twice the posted speed.
  • Venezuela has had another
    massive power outage
    , which the president is blaming on
    sabotage and not the nation’s economy collapsing or anything.
  • Intelligence reports suggest North Korea’s
    Kim Jong Un
    has removed an uncle from a top military post and
    executed two close aides for “corruption.”
  • The State Department spent around $400,000 last year on

    booze
    .
  • A well-known
    Egyptian blogger was arrested
    in the country’s new crackdown
    against dissent and demonstrations.

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content.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/young-people-still-dont-grasp-obamacare
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Ed Krayewski on Pope Francis' Condemnation of "Unfettered" Capitalism

frank popeIn the Evangelii Gaudium, the
first apostolic exhortation of his papacy, Pope Francis focused on
the church’s mission of evangelization, urging clergy and the laity
to “recover the original freshness of the Gospel.” In the new
pope’s missionary church, the “doors should always be open,” he
wrote. The 84-page document spanned Catholic topics from social
justice to interfaith dialogue, but Francis’ criticisms of free
markets, hardly new ground for him or for the Catholic
Church, opened the door for supporters of aggressive market
intervention by government to claim the pope as their own. But such
attempts, writes Ed Krayewski, rely on decontextualizing Pope
Francis’ words, which are inexorably intertwined with his religious
worldview, one that would benefit from and be strengthened by an
embrace of free market principles.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/ed-krayewski-on-pope-francis-condemnatio
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Ed Krayewski on Pope Francis’ Condemnation of “Unfettered” Capitalism

frank popeIn the Evangelii Gaudium, the
first apostolic exhortation of his papacy, Pope Francis focused on
the church’s mission of evangelization, urging clergy and the laity
to “recover the original freshness of the Gospel.” In the new
pope’s missionary church, the “doors should always be open,” he
wrote. The 84-page document spanned Catholic topics from social
justice to interfaith dialogue, but Francis’ criticisms of free
markets, hardly new ground for him or for the Catholic
Church, opened the door for supporters of aggressive market
intervention by government to claim the pope as their own. But such
attempts, writes Ed Krayewski, rely on decontextualizing Pope
Francis’ words, which are inexorably intertwined with his religious
worldview, one that would benefit from and be strengthened by an
embrace of free market principles.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/ed-krayewski-on-pope-francis-condemnatio
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23andMe: Now Come the Trial Lawyer Sharks and the Tort Lottery Players

23andMeThe genotype screening company 23andMe received a
largely
unwarranted nastygram
last week from the regulators at the Food
and Drug Administration
ordering the company to stop marketing
its Personal Genome
Service. Sensing blood in the water, it was only a matter of time
before the trial lawyer sharks began circling. And so now the San
Diego Ankcorn Law Firm has filed a class action suit on behalf of
new 23andMe customer Lisa Casey.

Ms. Casey just purchased the service in September and it already
disappointed to the tune of $5 million. The winnings would go to
her, other distressed customers, and, of course, to her
hard-working trial attorneys. Ms. Casey’s lawsuit specifically
cites the FDA warning letter in her complaint as evidence that the
company has falsely and misleadingly advertised its genotyping
services.

Just as background, a 2007 study by the Pacific Research
Institute estimated that our dysfunctional tort liability system
costs each family a “tort
tax”
of nearly $10,000, totaling about $825 billion annually.
Between our regulators and our tort lawyers, it’s a wonder any new
products make it to market.

Go to
Gigaom
to review a copy of the lawsuit.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/23andme-now-come-the-trial-lawyer-sharks
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Botswana Again Ranked as the Least Corrupt Country in Africa

Today, Transparency International released its
annual Corruption
Perceptions Index
. This year, New Zealand and Denmark tied for
the least corrupt countries in the world, and Somalia, North Korea,
and Afghanistan were all given the same ranking at the bottom.
 

Unsurprisingly, conflict areas have
experienced worsening
corruption, and corruption remains high
in much of the Middle East and Africa.

Map from the 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index below:

 

While much of the survey’s findings might not be especially
striking, it is worth pointing out that Botswana has once again
been ranked as the least corrupt country in Africa. This year,
Botswana was ranked as less corrupt than many countries in Europe
such as Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece (which has improved upon
its 2012 score).

A press
release
from the government of Botswana cites a number of
bodies as contributing factors to Botswana’s comparatively
impressive ranking:

Botswana’s success in the annual survey over the years has been
attributed to our zero tolerance approach to corruption buttressed
by the putting into place of multiple oversight institution, such
as the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Public
Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB), the Competition
Authority and the Financial Intelligence Agency.

Botswana, as well as being the least corrupt country in Africa,
is also one of Africa’s freest economies. This year, the Heritage
Foundation ranked Botswana as the 30th most economically free
country in the world in their annual Index of Economic
Freedom
(the only African country to rank higher than Botswana
in this index was the island nation of Mauritius).

As
Scott Beaulier
, Associate Professor of Economics at Troy
University, has pointed out, some of the early market reforms
adopted by Botswana’s first president, Seretse Khama, were
motivated in part by a desire to reduce corruption (emphasis
mine):

Unlike other African leaders, Khama’s program simultaneously
adopted pro-market policies on several important margins. For
example, Khama’s new government promised low and stable taxes to
mining companies. His government opened the doors both to trade and
to people. Furthermore, he kept marginal income taxes low
to deter tax evasion and corruption.

It should not be a surprise that there is a relationship between
economic freedom and corruption, as Ambassador Terry Miller and
Anthony B. Kim pointed out in Chapter
1
of the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Economic
Freedom:

Corruption can infect all parts of an economy; there is a direct
relationship between the extent of government regulation or other
government intervention in economic activity and the amount of
corruption. Almost any government regulation can provide an
opportunity for bribery or graft. In addition, a government
regulation or restriction in one area may create an informal market
in another. For example, a country with high barriers to trade may
have laws that protect its domestic market and prevent the import
of foreign goods, but these barriers create incentives for
smuggling and a black market for the restricted products.

More from Reason.com on Africa, corruption, and capitalism
here, here, and here

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/botswana-again-ranked-as-the-least-corru
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Denver City Council Flip-Flops, Voting to Allow Pot Smoking in Front Yards

Last night the Denver City
Council, which last week
voted
to ban pot smoking in outdoor areas on private property
that are visible from streets or sidewalks,
reversed itself
. The council approved an amendment introduced
by Councilwoman Susan Shepherd that restores a provision protecting
marijuana consumption on private residential property, whether
indoor or outdoor, as long as the consumer has the owner’s consent.
Assuming the
current version of the ordinance
wins a second vote next
Monday, Denver residents will be allowed to consume marijuana on
their front porches, patios, and balconies.

The vote was 7 to 6, thanks to a switch by Councilman Albus
Brooks, who
told
The Denver Post he changed his mind after
hearing from community leaders during the Thanksgiving break and
thinking about the potential for discriminatory enforcement. “Their
concerns were about private property rights and overpolicing in
some of our neighborhoods,” Brooks said. “It’s a tough issue. Fear
sometimes causes us to protect and doesn’t allow our city to
grow.”

The council had already eliminated the widely ridiculed
smell
test
,” which would have prohibited pot smoking even in fenced
back yards if the odor could be detected by neighbors or
passers-by. It also nixed a ban on mere possession of marijuana in
parks and other recreation areas, which would have barred people
from carrying legally purchased cannabis on public biking and
walking trails. Likewise, the current version of the
bill allows mere possession on the 16th Street Mall, so that
people who buy marijuana there do not have to leave
immediately.

The bill does seem to prohibit marijuana consumption in outdoor
areas of bars and restaurants that are “clearly observable from a
public place,” such as patio tables adjoining a sidewalk. The state
legislature has amended the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act to
cover pot smoking inside bars and restaurants, and consumption will
not be allowed in or near marijuana retailers. That still leaves a
few possibilities for people hoping to consume marijuana in social
settings other than private residences. By its terms, the state
smoking ban does not cover vaporizers or edibles, and even pot
smoking might be legal in outdoor areas of Denver bars or
restaurants that are concealed from public view, such as courtyards
or fenced patios.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/denver-city-council-votes-to-allow-pot-s
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Sen. Schumer's Magical Legislative Forcefield Against 3D-Printed Guns

Sen. Charles SchumerSen. Charles Schumer (D-Any
Television Camera), dedicated foe of private ownership of firearms,
is deeply concerned that the Undetectable Firearms
Act
will sunset on December 9, 2013. He also thinks simply
renewing the law once again is insufficient to deal with the Dread
Scourge™ of 3D-printed plastic firearms that will soon be coming to
a playground near you unless much tougher restrictions are imposed.
His magical belief that just one more law will stop people from
printing whatever they damned well please in the privacy of their
workshops is a tad baffling—unless you realize that, after so many
years in government, he’s basically nuts.

The Hill
quotes Schumer as saying
, “The House bill is better than
nothing, but it’s not good enough. We absolutely must close the
loophole that allows anyone to legally make a gun that could be
rendered invisible by the easy removal of its metal part.” This
echoes a comment the senator made
last month
:

“3D printers are a miraculous technology that have the potential
to revolutionize manufacturing, but we need to make sure they are
not being used to make deadly, undetectable weapons.  By
attaching an extension of this bill to one of the several must pass
pieces of legislation, we can prevent an explosion of these silent
killers.”

His press release continues:

The existing law, the Undetectable Firearms Act, expires on
December 9th, 2013. Once expired, it will be perfectly legal to
print, sell, or carry a 3D plastic gun like any other gun. If the
legislation is not renewed, individuals will be able to easily
carry a 3D plastic gun through a metal detector and gain access to
an airplane, school, sporting event, courthouse or other government
buildings.

The temptation is to assume that Schumer doesn’t understand the
technology of 3D printing. Perhaps he believes printers are three
stories high, sit on street corners emitting clouds of steam, and
fire flares in the air when they produce objects he doesn’t
like.

In fact, though, it’s abvious that a leading contender for the
most annoying man in the United States Senate doesn’t understand
law. He thinks passing legislation through Congress, and
then getting it signed by the president, is equivalent to altering
gravity or the speed of light. Pass another bill, he suggests, and
manufacturing plastic guns will then become not just illegal, but
impossible.

This, needless to say, is not true. If nothing else, we may
finally have evidence that spending too long in public office
actually causes insanity. Years of ranting and unwatched Sunday
morning TV appearances really can lead people to believe that laws
have special powers beyond people’s agreement, or at least their
willingess to comply when in view of enforcers.

But the wonder and promise of 3D printers, as with so much
modern technology, is its small-scale and private nature. Once you
have a printer in your possession, it’s really impossible to tell
what you’re using it for. Even the materials they use are generic.
Are you using ABS plastic to print pistols? Or lawn gnomes? Who the
hell knows?

If somebody wants to print and “carry a 3D plastic gun through a
metal detector,” the Undetectable Firearms Act simply won’t play a
role in the matter. Good people won’t pose a threat to others
whether or not the law is on the books, and bad people won’t be
deterred by the law. Under the circumstances, the good people may
be thankful they can sneak their plastic guns through, too, in
order to deal with any predators who show up.

But Schumer seems unlikely to agree. He’s fully invested in his
belief that laws have magical powers, and can actually change
what’s possible in the world. If anybody can disabuse him of that
notion, it might save us all a lot of hassle.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/sen-schumers-magical-legislative-forcefi
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Sen. Schumer’s Magical Legislative Forcefield Against 3D-Printed Guns

Sen. Charles SchumerSen. Charles Schumer (D-Any
Television Camera), dedicated foe of private ownership of firearms,
is deeply concerned that the Undetectable Firearms
Act
will sunset on December 9, 2013. He also thinks simply
renewing the law once again is insufficient to deal with the Dread
Scourge™ of 3D-printed plastic firearms that will soon be coming to
a playground near you unless much tougher restrictions are imposed.
His magical belief that just one more law will stop people from
printing whatever they damned well please in the privacy of their
workshops is a tad baffling—unless you realize that, after so many
years in government, he’s basically nuts.

The Hill
quotes Schumer as saying
, “The House bill is better than
nothing, but it’s not good enough. We absolutely must close the
loophole that allows anyone to legally make a gun that could be
rendered invisible by the easy removal of its metal part.” This
echoes a comment the senator made
last month
:

“3D printers are a miraculous technology that have the potential
to revolutionize manufacturing, but we need to make sure they are
not being used to make deadly, undetectable weapons.  By
attaching an extension of this bill to one of the several must pass
pieces of legislation, we can prevent an explosion of these silent
killers.”

His press release continues:

The existing law, the Undetectable Firearms Act, expires on
December 9th, 2013. Once expired, it will be perfectly legal to
print, sell, or carry a 3D plastic gun like any other gun. If the
legislation is not renewed, individuals will be able to easily
carry a 3D plastic gun through a metal detector and gain access to
an airplane, school, sporting event, courthouse or other government
buildings.

The temptation is to assume that Schumer doesn’t understand the
technology of 3D printing. Perhaps he believes printers are three
stories high, sit on street corners emitting clouds of steam, and
fire flares in the air when they produce objects he doesn’t
like.

In fact, though, it’s abvious that a leading contender for the
most annoying man in the United States Senate doesn’t understand
law. He thinks passing legislation through Congress, and
then getting it signed by the president, is equivalent to altering
gravity or the speed of light. Pass another bill, he suggests, and
manufacturing plastic guns will then become not just illegal, but
impossible.

This, needless to say, is not true. If nothing else, we may
finally have evidence that spending too long in public office
actually causes insanity. Years of ranting and unwatched Sunday
morning TV appearances really can lead people to believe that laws
have special powers beyond people’s agreement, or at least their
willingess to comply when in view of enforcers.

But the wonder and promise of 3D printers, as with so much
modern technology, is its small-scale and private nature. Once you
have a printer in your possession, it’s really impossible to tell
what you’re using it for. Even the materials they use are generic.
Are you using ABS plastic to print pistols? Or lawn gnomes? Who the
hell knows?

If somebody wants to print and “carry a 3D plastic gun through a
metal detector,” the Undetectable Firearms Act simply won’t play a
role in the matter. Good people won’t pose a threat to others
whether or not the law is on the books, and bad people won’t be
deterred by the law. Under the circumstances, the good people may
be thankful they can sneak their plastic guns through, too, in
order to deal with any predators who show up.

But Schumer seems unlikely to agree. He’s fully invested in his
belief that laws have magical powers, and can actually change
what’s possible in the world. If anybody can disabuse him of that
notion, it might save us all a lot of hassle.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/sen-schumers-magical-legislative-forcefi
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Gene Healy Says Negotiating with Iran is Better than War

There aren’t a lot of great choices when it comes
to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. Essentially, there are two: war
or diplomacy. It’s very much worth trying to prevent Iran from
going nuclear, but not because of the fanciful scenarios some hawks
advance, like a suicidal first strike on Israel or “a nuclear
suitcase” in New York, says Gene Healy.

View this article.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/03/gene-healy-says-negotiating-with-iran-is
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