•First things first (immigration reform)
•Logical thinking (global warming)
•The acid test (War on Poverty)
•Coming attractions (budget showdown)
• SAFE Board
Results matter – Experience has shown that some public programs work far better than others. Here are some suggestions for improving the government’s batting average, citing problematic examples that will be further discussed in ensuing stories.
#Start by realistically assessing the existing situation instead of selectively focusing on information that supports a preferred point of view. Take the challenge of reforming the US immigration system, which many Americans believe must begin by “securing the border” to prevent a continuing influx of illegal immigrants.
The administration demurs, claiming considerable progress has already been made in curbing illegal immigration, but critics tend to attribute the statistical gains to reduced enforcement efforts. SAFE is inclined to side with the critics on this one.
#Aim for objectively verifiable, broadly-based benefits. Policy advocates typically claim to be doing this, but they often have other motives such as moral satisfaction and/or political gains. If potential advantages are being exaggerated while costs and other drawbacks are ignored or minimized, watch out.
Given the discrepancies between predicted and actual temperature trends, for example, the manmade global warming theory is looking less and less like an open-minded effort to explain climate changes.
#If programs or agencies don’t work, overhaul or terminate them. People in the private sector are not necessarily smarter than people in government, but they are more likely to be held accountable for failures.
Unprofitable business operations are overhauled, bought out, or shut down, while ineffective government programs remain in operation year after year. Consider the tremendous cost and unimpressive results of the War on Poverty since it was launched in 1964.
First things first – Granted that the United States is a nation of immigrants, its immigration system is a mess. The government has lost control over the number and type of immigrants that will be permitted. Scofflaws are jumping in line ahead of new arrivals who are seeking to comply with the legal requirements. Employers are shirking their responsibilities while obtaining cheap labor. Taxpayers will get stuck with the welfare/entitlements tab. Voter fraud will be hard to stop, particularly given resistance to verifying/updating voter records and requiring photo ID at the polls.
Many Americans believe reform must begin by “securing the border,” but others say great progress has been made in immigration law enforcement so it’s time to work on other issues. Thus, according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, illegal immigration is at its lowest level since 1972. Washington Times, 6/8/15.
Does the declining number of illegal immigrants caught and deported reflect reduced enforcement efforts, however, instead of real progress in securing the border? Illegal immigrant deportations plummet as amnesty hampers removal efforts, Washington Times, 4/25/15.
As for enforcing laws against hiring undocumented workers, the government seems to have thrown in the towel. Libertynewsnow.com, 6/17/15.
Logical thinking – According to the manmade global warming theory (MMGWT), average temperatures are rising due primarily to the burning of fossil fuels. Further increases in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide could supposedly cause the warming trend to spiral out of control. It is far from clear that human activity has become the primary driver of global temperatures, however, superseding natural factors that have driven global warming and cooling over the ages.
Available temperature records show a generally warming trend since the late 19th Century, but the warming has not been steady nor does it appear to be accelerating. Thus, satellite data show no significant increase in global surface temperatures since 1998, despite continuing increases in atmospheric CO2 levels (now about .04%).
Moreover, computer model projections of global warming that were generated a few years ago have proven quite inaccurate, which calls into question whether current projections of accelerating global warming are any more reliable. No wonder global warming alarmists have rebranded their issue as “climate change.”
Despite claims of an overwhelming scientific consensus, debate about the MMGWT is far from over. A recent Heartland Institute brochure (sent to your faithful editor by SAFE member Bill Day) identifies 58 experts (including such familiar names as Drs. David Legates & Willie Soon) who don’t believe global warming is a crisis and whose videotaped presentations are available on line. Heartland will provide a free copy of the poster, if you would like one, or sell you multiple copies to share with others. Global warming: Crisis or delusion? Heartland Institute, 11/14/14 (download PDF).
SAFE has no quarrel with “clean energy” sources (wind, solar, and hopefully nuclear power) or energy conservation, but we don’t believe a compelling case has been made for such measures to be mandated and/or subsidized by the government. As for calls to combat global warming in the name of social justice, note that the burdens of the proposed programs, e.g., higher energy prices & slower economic growth, would fall disproportionately on the poor.
At this point, as even global warming alarmists are beginning to admit, the MMGWT is looking more and more like a belief-based versus science-based theory. Commentary on papal warning that “global warming is manmade,” News Journal, 6/21/15.
Grumpy senior- Lord grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and friends to post my bail when I finally snap!
The acid test – How is it determined what programs and activities will be supported in our society and which will be overhauled or shut down? The basic rule is straightforward in the business world. Profitable operations/units are continued, while the laggards are not.
Lacking such a convenient standard in the public sector, management decisions are made on the basis of qualitative (often highly subjective) perceptions of how well things are going with a tendency to give established programs the benefit of the doubt. Government programs and agencies often continue operating (or keep growing), therefore, whether they are truly carrying their weight or not.
For example, the War on Poverty has consumed over $19 trillion (in constant 2014 dollars) since 1964, with little apparent reduction in the poverty rate or improvement in social conditions. Numerous welfare programs have been established under this banner, all with the best of intentions. The federal government bears 100% of the cost for some programs, e.g., food stamps, while others like Medicaid operate with federal/state funding. Safeguards against program abuse or overall cost increases are weak, and welfare beneficiaries tend to become trapped in long-term dependency to their ultimate detriment. Are we winning yet? Cato Institute, 10/20/14.
Paradoxically, low skilled residents are dropping out of the workforce and subsisting on government benefits, while low skilled immigrants are coming into the country – in many cases illegally – to take jobs that Americans supposedly don’t want. It’s hard to see any overall benefit in such a situation although some analysts have purported to find one.
There isn’t much evidence that the nation’s political leaders are rethinking the War on Poverty. More effort is seemingly being invested in proposing new programs to alleviate poverty, which probably wouldn’t work any better than the existing programs. In our opinion, the time has come to focus on cutting the government’s losses!
Uncle Sam says – Did Americans need a nearly 700-word article on how to roast marshmallows? Maybe not, but the US Fire Service provided one anyway. Sample tips: the roasting stick should be “at least 30 inches” long and “some experts advocate a 10-foot rule between young children and a campfire.” The Blaze, 8/29/14.
Coming attractions – Some observers say Congress is working better currently than it has in years, but count us as skeptics. While there is much to be said for civility and bipartisan cooperation, many big problems are still being swept under the rug. Thus, Congress has failed to counteract dubious actions like executive amnesty (DHS), the Clean Power Plan (EPA), and net neutrality regulations (FCC). Objections to such actions will therefore have to be hashed out in the courts, a slow, expensive and ineffective way of addressing them.
And then there is the fiscal problem. With a majority in both houses, Republicans were able to pass a budget resolution this year. It was hailed as providing a plan to eliminate deficits without raising taxes, albeit taking nearly 10 years to achieve the goal, which would surely be a step in the right direction. However, the battle is just beginning.
By filibustering authorization bills in the Senate and brandishing presidential veto threats, the minority hopes to raise spending and possibly achieve tax increases as well. If Republicans balk, the impasse would be resolved by starting Fiscal Year 2016 (begins Oct. 1) with a continuing resolution in order to avert another “government shutdown” like the one in 2013. There must be a better way to run things, but no one seems to have found it!
Not done yet – In the last stanza of “The Woods,” Robert Frost captures the sense of obligation that can motivate people to resist diversions and pursue their longer-term goals. We can relate to that!
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
SAFE Participation – Your hardworking editor strives to represent the views and expertise of SAFE members, both in Delaware and elsewhere, and would love to hear from you. For example:
If you know someone who might enjoy receiving this newsletter, say a family member, send their name and e-mail address to email@example.com so we can put them on the electronic distribution list (no cost or obligation).
Submit a story for this newsletter on any topic related to the SAFE agenda, ideally about 500 words in length. Or send us a book review or previously published letter to the editor for SAFE’s website.
Video corner: (A) Judicial (2:04) –Made in March when King v. Burwell was argued (decision was published on June 25), this Heritage video puts human faces on opponents, supporters, and the justices; (B) Nature (4:50) – National Geographic presents a stunning variety of wildlife in natural habitats, from insects to whales; (C) Nostalgia (4:34) – Here’s a collage of people, advertising, technology, low prices, and tunes from a bygone era (the 1950s) that some readers may remember “like it was yesterday.”
Andrew Betley, (302) 239-9679
Edgar Fasig, treasurer, (302) 999-0611
Dan Kerrick, (302) 658-7101
Steve McClain, (302) 998-3910
Jerry Martin, (302) 478-5064
rycK Stout, (302) 478-9495
Bill Whipple, president, (302) 464-2688
And here are the directors' e-mail addresses
About SAFE - SAFE is a non-partisan, all-volunteer organization that was founded in 1996. We advocate smaller, more focused, lower cost government, to be achieved by cutting spending, restructuring “entitlements,” simplifying taxes, and rationalizing regulations. The SAFE agenda is promoted through: (1) Our website, including policy statements, a weekly blog, and a Delaware Chatter microblog; (2) Letters to the editor, public events, legislative contacts, etc; (3) This quarterly newsletter, available in print (since 1996) and now electronic editions; and (4) Posts on Twitter and/or Facebook (click icons on the website to access).
SAFE dues are $10 per year for subscribers to the print edition of the newsletter and zero for electronic subscribers. Contributions are also appreciated and may be tax deductible (SAFE is a Section 501(c)(3) non-profit organization).
To join SAFE, renew your membership, or make a contribution, please print and complete this form and mail it with your check to SAFE, 214 N. Spring Valley Road, Wilmington, DE 19807. Thank you!