Obama’s Sneaky, Deadly, Costly Car Tax – Michelle Malkin – Townhall.com

 

Obama’s Sneaky, Deadly, Costly Car Tax – Michelle Malkin – Townhall.com.

While all eyes were on the Republican National Convention in Tampa and Hurricane Isaac on the Gulf Coast, the White House was quietly jacking up the price of automobiles and putting future drivers at risk.

Yes, the same cast of fable-tellers who falsely accused GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney of murdering a steelworker’s cancer-stricken wife is now directly imposing a draconian environmental regulation that will cost untold American lives.

On Tuesday, the administration announced that it had finalized “historic” new fuel efficiency standards. (Everything’s “historic” with these narcissists, isn’t it?) President Obama took a break from his historic fundraising drives to proclaim that “(by) the middle of the next decade, our cars will get nearly 55 miles per gallon, almost double what they get today. It’ll strengthen our nation’s energy security, it’s good for middle-class families, and it will help create an economy built to last.”

Jon Carson, director of Obama’s Office of Public Engagement, took to Twitter to hype how “auto companies support the higher fuel-efficiency standards” and how the rules crafted behind closed doors will “save consumers $8,000” per vehicle. His source for these claims? The New York Times, America’s Fishwrap of Record, which has acknowledged it allows the Obama campaign to have “veto power” over reporters’ quotes from campaign officials.

And whom did the Times cite for the claim that the rules will “save consumers $8,000”? Why, the administration, of course! “The administration estimated that the new standards would save Americans $1.7 trillion in fuel costs,” the Times dutifully regurgitated, “resulting in an average savings of more than $8,000 a vehicle by 2025.”

The Obama administration touts the support of the government-bailed-out auto industry for these reckless, expensive regs. What they want you to forget is that the “negotiations” (read: bullying) with White House environmental radicals date back to former Obama green czar Carol Browner’s tenure — when she infamously told auto industry execs “to put nothing in writing, ever” regarding their secret CAFE talks.

Obama’s number-massagers cite phony-baloney cost savings that rely on developing future fuel-saving technology. Given this crony government’s abysmal track record in “investing” in new technologies (cough — Solyndra — cough), we can safely dismiss that fantasy math. What is real for consumers is the $2,000 per vehicle added cost that the new fuel standards will impose now. That figure comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

War on Middle-Class Consumers, anyone?

Beyond the White House-media lapdog echo chamber, the economic and public safety objections to these sweeping rules are long grounded and well founded.

For years, free-market analysts and government statisticians have warned of the deadly effect of increasing corporate auto fuel economy standards (CAFE). Sam Kazman at the Competitive Enterprise Institute explained a decade ago: “(T)he evidence on this issue comes from no less a body than the National Academy of Sciences, which issued a report last August finding that CAFE contributes to between 1,300 and 2,600 traffic deaths per year. Given that this program has been in effect for more than two decades, its cumulative toll is staggering.”

H. Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis adds that NHTSA data indicate that “322 additional deaths per year occur as a direct result of reducing just 100 pounds from already downsized small cars, with half of the deaths attributed to small car collisions with light trucks/sport utility vehicles.” USA Today further calculated that the “size and weight reductions of passenger vehicles undertaken to meet current CAFE standards had resulted in more than 46,000 deaths.”

These lethal regulations should be wrapped in yellow police “CAUTION” tape. The tradeoffs are stark and simple: CAFE fuel standards clamp down on the production of larger, more crashworthy cars. Analysts from Harvard to the Brookings Institution to the federal government itself have arrived at the same conclusion: CAFE kills. Welcome to the bloody intersection between the Obama jobs death toll and the Obama green death toll.

 

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Are Americans Stupid? – Tea Party Nation

Are Americans Stupid? – Tea Party Nation.

By Alan Caruba

The most common opinion I hear is that “Americans are stupid.”

I think it would be more accurate to say they are often ignorant of things educated people are expected to know. Most certainly much of the news media leaves them uninformed or misinformed and our educational system—K through 12—has been doing a poor job for decades.

I, however, am more encouraged about American’s IQ. The rise of the Tea Party movement suggests quite a few Americans were paying attention when they attended school. In addition, polling data supports an encouraging picture of whether Americans are aware of the issues affecting their lives these days.

As of May 26, Rasmussen Reports said that 64% of likely voters prefer “a government with fewer services and lower taxes.” Just slightly more than half, 51%, think the government will go bankrupt. Few are fooled regarding the economy; 63% say the country is going in the wrong direction. In general, the majority has a good fix on what’s wrong and what has to be done.

That’s encouraging, but I also worry that too many likely voters and others do not know or do not possess a fundamental knowledge of math, science, and history. Their basic reading and writing skills often are minimal. Is it because they are less intelligent than earlier generations or, as I believe, they are poorly served in our nation’s schools.

If Congress, composed of our elected representatives, is an example, then it is clear that many Senators and Representatives are clueless when it comes to economics, science, history and other bodies of knowledge necessary to make informed decisions.

Every President wants to look like he’s solving the problem of a poorly performing educational system. President Obama has a “Race to the Top” program that is typically just another excuse to give away money. His predecessor, President Bush, introduced “No Child Left Behind” legislation that imposed a regimen of constant testing that is an abject failure, ignoring the fact that children learn at different rates, and altering the entire educational system to “teach to the test.”

The federal government’s and the teachers’ union takeover of the nation’s educational system threatens any progress, any reform, any repair. The problem has roots that reach back to the 1960s, nor should anyone be surprised that many of those youthful radicals became part of academia, shaping the nation’s educational system.

The facts about education in America are well known and well established. It is no surprise that a recent Wall Street Journal article reported that the “School-Test Backlash Grows” as “the increasing role of standardized testing in U.S. classrooms is triggering pockets of rebellion across he country from school officials, teachers and parents who say the system is stifling teaching and learning.”

William Bennett, a former Secretary of Education, led the Empower America Education Project and, in 2000 as the new century dawned, he noted the following:

# American 12th graders rank 19th out of 21 industrialized countries in mathematics achievement, 16th out of 21 nations in science.

# Since 1983 more than ten million Americans have reached the 12th grade without having learned to read at a basic level. More than 20 million had reached their senior year unable to do basic math. Almost 25% had reached 12th grade without knowing the essentials of U.S. history.

In February 2012 The National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization released a report, “Restructuring Public Education for the 21st Century, noting that “Students in dozens of other countries, including China, South Korea, Germany and Finland, outperformed American students in reading, math and science, according to the Program for International Student Assessment results released in December 2010.” In the course of a single decade, they slid to a ranking of 23rd in science, 17th in reading, and 31st in math.”

The average dropout rate nationwide is between 30% and 40%. Urban centers report dropout rates as high as 80%. The Center concluded that “A six-hour school day and 190 day school year will not and cannot compete with other industrialized nations where students meet higher academic standards, have better prepared teachers, spend 30% to 50% more time in class, and are supported by a parental culture that expects and requires more from their children.”

In Wisconsin, it was the teachers’ union that was the most vocal in its opposition to changes in collective bargaining rules. A recall election of Gov. Scott Walker will occur on June 5th. The Heartland Institute just released a study of Gov. Walker’s reforms known as Act 10.

“Act 10 virtually eliminated [Wisconsin’s] $3.6 billion budget deficit … and provided school districts with measures previously unavailable to them to accomplish spending reductions,” writes report author Maureen Martin, a Wisconsin resident and general counsel and senior fellow for legal affairs at The Heartland Institute “Many districts have balanced their budgets for the first time in years” and “some even have surpluses and are hiring more teachers and reducing class size.”

Not only do the nation’s schools continue to pose an obstacle to the education of young Americans and by extension to the nation’s ability to compete in a world where other nations are emerging to challenge us, the nation’s school system has been turned into a threat to freedoms we take for granted.

Schools have become places where what children eat is of greater concern than what they learn. Students are tracked like criminals with educational data collection. A government mental health curricula through the third grade has been imposed. The widespread use of behavioral drugs for children who are bored by the daily straight jacket imposed is commonplace. Many middle and high schools are analogous to minimum security prisons.

As voters go to the polls in November, studies indicate that the majority will not know the names of their congressman or opposing candidates. Fully 45% do not know that each State elects two senators, 40% do not know the name of the vice president, and 63% cannot name the chief justice of the U.S.

This is ignorance, but it contributes to the impression of a nation of stupid people making critical decisions about who will lead it.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

A Failing Grade for America’s Educational System – Tea Party Nation

A Failing Grade for America’s Educational System – Tea Party Nation.

By Alan Caruba

Back in 2001 I wrote a four-part series on “The Subversion of Education in America” and more than a decade later not much has improved. The causes are easily identified. One is federal control and the other is the National Education Association (NEA) which, despite its name, is a union.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey became a nationally known figure when he took on the teacher’s union for the way contracts with generous pension and health benefits were bankrupting the State. Other civil service contracts also came under review for the same reason.

A recent headline in The Wall Street Journal caught my eye. “No-Child Law Faces Wave of Opt-Outs” reported that “Twenty-six more states asked to be excused from key requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, an exemption that would curb the education law’s impact considerably.” If the Obama administration grants waivers to all the new applicants, three quarters of the states would be exempt.

The federal Department of Education is a legacy of the failed Carter administration, signed into law on October 17, 1979 and given Cabinet level status. Generally speaking, the NEA made sure it was run to suit its purposes, not that of parents and students.

The best thing a new President and Congress could do for America would be to eliminate the DOE, returning the oversight of educational systems to the States. Clearly, when three quarters of them want out from the No Child program, something is very wrong with it.

Indeed, what is wrong is the notion that education is a one-size-fits-all proposition. Any parent and any teacher can tell you that children individually learn at different rates, have individual strengths and weaknesses that require something other than a federal straight-jacket. No Child is a legacy of the Bush43 administration; proof that no matter who’s in charge, education should not be a federal department.

What the federal government does is redistribute money and at a time when it is broke the notion of spending billions it does not have begs the question of who gets to waste it.

In 2010, the government “invested” $3.5 billion “in an effort to fix the nation’s bottom five percent of public schools and in 2011 it spent another $546 million through the School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. The funds were available to schools that were “eligible for up to an unprecedented $6 million per school over a three-year period to implement one of four reform models.”

Don’t expect much. It has been known for decades that schools in highly segregated, low-income, urban areas; those with more than half of their students representing African-American and Latino populations are the ones in trouble. Their problems are, as often as not, related to cultural attitudes and language difficulties. The student’s problems begin in their homes and transfer into the classrooms.

Minimum Security Prisons

Our schools have been turned into minimum security prisons with increasingly intrusive policies regarding every aspect of student’s lives, from the lunch they bring to school to proposed intervention in their lives off campus. Pre-school programs, often mandatory, have a long history of failure. Parents are under pressure to transfer their control over the lives of their children to schools. It is authoritarian. It is un-American.

So what was deemed an important DOE priority in 2011? Last year it was crowing about its “Green Ribbon Schools” program “to recognize schools that have taken great strides in greening their curricula, buildings, school grounds and overall building operations.” Slapping some solar panels on the roofs of schools does nothing to improve the quality of teaching and learning in the classrooms below.

As for curricula, it just means more indoctrination regarding phony environmental claims about global warming, melting ice caps, endangered species and other specious science. In April, new so-called science standards from the National Research Council will require students be taught the usual Al Gore version of climate change.

The NEA wants you to know that “the teaching profession has changed dramatically over the past fifty years.” That’s why it is sponsoring National Teacher Day on May 3rd. Astonishingly, the NEA admits that “45% of new teachers abandon the profession in their first five years”; apparently without understanding why.

Part of the answer is the poor quality of education they receive at the university level to prepare them to teach. Part of the answer, as the NEA notes, has to do with the “nearly one-quarter of school districts (that) do not require new teachers to have certification for what they are teaching.” Part of the answer is the union requirement involving tenure, making it nearly impossible to fire an incompetant teacher.

How bad are our nation’s schools despite the federal largess and their “greening”? In a report issued in February, the National Center for Policy Analysis, “Restructuring Public Education for the 21st Century”, noted that “Students in dozens of other countries, including China, South Korea, Germany and Finland, outperformed American students in reading, math, and science, according to the Program for International Student Assessment in 2010.

“The United States ranked 23rd in science, 17th in reading, and—worst of all—31st in math.” The dropout rate nationwide wavers between 30 percent and 40 percent with urban center dropout rates as high as 80 percent.

As for those who do graduate, some 76 percent, those who go onto a college education as often as not must first take remedial courses to bring them to a level where they can begin to acquire a higher education.

What happens then? According to the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, “61 percent of folks with a student loan are not paying” whether they are in school or have graduated. That adds up to an $870 billion outstanding balance, akin in ways to the nation’s mortgage crisis. Will public funds be tapped to “bail out” colleges and universities? Probably.

The nation’s educational systems are imploding from pre-school to kindergarten, elementary to middle to high school. Entire generations are either dropping out or graduating without the skill levels to compete in a world where students in other nations are learning how to run circles around their American counterparts.

© Alan Caruba, 2012

Killing Jobs, Cost Won’t Stop Obama EPA – Bob Beauprez – Townhall Finance

Killing Jobs, Cost Won’t Stop Obama EPA – Bob Beauprez – Townhall Finance.

Air quality has improved dramatically in America since 1980.  

According to the EPA nitrogen dioxide emissions are down 40%, sulfur dioxide dropped by 56%, and lead emissions by a whopping 96%.  And, these improvements happened while the population grew by 22% and energy consumption jumped 19%.  

This would seem ample reason for the government to leave well enough alone, but that’s not the case for the current Administration.   The Obama EPA is preparing to implement two major new air quality regulations that will cost consumers hundreds of billions of dollars more in their energy bills and destroy great numbers of American jobs.  

H. Sterling Burnett and Kenney Meier of the National Center for Policy Analysis have looked at the ramifications of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.  

They concluded that because of higher costs and power plant closures by 2020 these two new regulations could destroy another 1.4 million jobs, and drive up electricity costs for consumers by 11.5% and some businesses could see as much as a 35% increase.  

Environmental activists like the current EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson, always claim improved air quality will translate to significant health benefits, but Burnett and Meier found those claims to be dramatically overstated.  That’s because very little of the targeted pollutants actually come from the air we breathe.  

According to the researchers, “completely eliminating all U.S. power plant pollution would reduce hospital visits resulting from serious respiratory and cardiovascular health events by only 0.4 percent to 1.6 percent, according to estimates in a study commissioned by the Clean Air Task Force, an activist group.”  

With little to gain and considerable additional cost to be borne by business and consumers alike and with the U.S. economy in serious disrepair, Burnett and Meier say these new regulations are “arguably unnecessary.”  Reasonable people would likely arrive at the same conclusion, but don’t look for the Obama Administration to back off any time soon – or ever.  

After all, Obama declared war on the coal industry.  In January of 2008, candidate Obama said, “If somebody wants to build a coal fired plant they can.  It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”  

And, job destruction and higher energy costs won’t stop him from his mission.