The Steroid-Pumped Version of “Taxes Are for the Little People” – Daniel J. Mitchell –

The Steroid-Pumped Version of “Taxes Are for the Little People” – Daniel J. Mitchell –

I’m not a big fan of international bureaucracies, mostly because they always seem to promote bad policy such as higher tax rates.

To add insult to injury, the bureaucrats who work at these organizations have created very comfortable lives for themselves while the rest of us pick up the tab, as documented here and here.

But the ultimate insult is that the overpaid and pampered bureaucrats receive tax-free salaries while they jet-set around the world pushing for higher taxes.

Yes, you read correctly. They demand higher taxes for everyone else, but their bloated salaries are exempt!

Here’s some of what the UK-based Guardian just reported about the head of the IMF.

“Taxes for thee, but not for me”

Christine Lagarde, the IMF boss who caused international outrage after she suggested in an interview with the Guardian on Friday that beleaguered Greeks might do well to pay their taxes, pays no taxes, it has emerged. As an official of an international institution, her salary of $467,940 (£298,675) a year plus $83,760 additional allowance a year is not subject to any taxes. …Lagarde, 56, receives a pay and benefits package worth more than American president Barack Obama earns from the United States government, and he pays taxes on it. The same applies to nearly all United Nations employees.

To make matters worse, these globe-trotting bureaucrats have figured out all sorts of ways of padding their pay.

Base salaries range from $46,000 to $80,521. Senior salaries range between $95,394 and $123,033 but these are topped up with adjustments for the cost of living in different countries. A UN worker based in Geneva, for example, will see their base salary increased by 106%, in Bonn by 50.6%, Paris 62% and Peshawar 38.6%. Even in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, one of the poorest areas of the world, a UN employee’s salary will be increased by 53.2%. Other benefits include rent subsidies, dependency allowances for spouses and children, education grants for school-age children and travel and shipping expenses, as well as subsidised medical insurance. For many years critics have complained that IMF, World Bank, and United Nations employees are able to live large at international taxpayers’ expense.

So how do these bureaucrats justify their lavish salaries and gold-plated benefits?

Officials from the various organisations have long maintained that the high salaries are a way of attracting talent from the private sector. In fact, most senior employees are recruited from government posts.

Kudos to the Guardian for exposing this nonsense, particularly the fraudulent claim that lavish compensation packages are need to attract and retain these incompetent bureaucrats.

But let me add to the Guardian’s analysis. In a recent email exchange with several people, I addressed this issue, specifically commenting on whether the head of the IMF, Ms. Lagarde, should get a giant salary because she could earn more money in the private sector. I wrote that there were two responses to this assertion.

1. She has genuine skills as a wealth creator. In which case, we should force her out of the IMF as soon as possible so her talents can be used productively rather than destructively.

2. She can get big bucks by trading on her connections and entering the world of corporatism. Work for KPMG, or the Carlyle Group, or some other entity that specializes in getting favorable deals for the elite. That’s not the private sector.

In either case, her salary in her current position should be zero. Unless we think she should be paid the value of her marginal product, in which case she probably owes the world’s taxpayers several hundred billion dollars.

In other words, it doesn’t matter whether Ms. Largarde’s ability to earn lots of money is the result of genuine ability or cronyism. Since the IMF is pursuing bad policy, her value in that position is below zero.

My Cato colleague Richard Rahn was correct when he wrote that it is the ultimate hypocrisy for tax-free bureaucrats to lobby for higher taxes on the rest of us.

And that’s why defunding these parasitic international bureaucracies is not just good fiscal policy and good economic policy, it’s also the morally just policy.

MILLOY: EPA’s statistics not science, but nonsense – Washington Times

MILLOY: EPA’s statistics not science, but nonsense – Washington Times.

Next to China’s, agency’s air quality numbers don’t add up

By Steve Milloy – The Washington Times

The Chinese city of Xi’an has some of the worst air quality in the world. Yet its air is significantly safer than the air in U.S. cities, according to a new study.

If you have trouble believing that, then you ought to have trouble believing Obama Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that U.S. ambient air quality is killing tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people per year.

Chinese researchers compared data on air pollution and death rates in Xi’an from 2004 to 2008. In 2006, the World Health Organization ranked Xi’an as having the second-worst air pollution in Asia, which means the second worst in the world. The Chinese just published their findings in the U.S. government journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Using the same sort of data and statistical analysis employed by EPA-funded air quality researchers, the Chinese researchers reported having statistically correlated every 10 microgram-per-cubic-meter’s worth of fine particulate matter (soot) in Xi’an’s air with a 0.2 percent increase in the city’s death rate.

While that sounds like a result in the statistically insignificant range – and it is – we’re going to overlook that normally fatal flaw and, instead, momentarily embrace the result so that we can compare it with what EPA-funded researchers claim about U.S. cities.

In a 2009 study of 112 U.S. cities, EPA-funded researchers reported that every 10 microgram-per-cubic-meter’s worth of fine particulate matter correlated with about a 1.0 percent increase in death rate. Once again this is, in reality, statistical noise. But in the fantasy world of EPA air quality science it is five times greater than what Chinese researchers reported from the second dirtiest-city in the world.

But there’s more. Just how dirty is the air in Xi’an?

As measured by the Chinese researchers, the air in Xi’an is, on average, 9 to 10 times more polluted in terms of fine particulate matter than the two most polluted cities in the 112-city study.

That dirty Chinese air, according to EPA scientific practice, is safer than U.S. air by a factor of five. This is shocking. If air pollution really were deadly, one would expect to see this phenomena operating in high gear in the respiratory horror story that Xi’an should be.

Leaving the fantasy land of EPA air quality science and returning to the real world, clean U.S. air is axiomatically not more dangerous than filthy Chinese air and so some sort of explanation of these results is required.

The scientific and medical reality is that ambient air pollution – even as grimy, stinky, eye-watering and ugly as it is in China – does not kill or hasten death. Fine particulate matter was such a public health problem, in fact, that no one knew about it until EPA-funded researchers invented it in 1993 – 30 years after the Clean Air Act was enacted.

Since the Clinton administration, the agency has been using its invention to impose billions and billions of dollars of costs on our economy in return for the entirely imaginary benefit of tens of thousands of lives saved annually.

All this is of much more than mere academic interest given that it is this very sort of EPA junk science that underlies two new agency rules from 2011: July’s Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) and December’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) rule. Both rules aim to reduce emissions from the coal-fired power plants that provide about 45 percent of the nation’s electricity.

The EPA alleges that the rules’ reductions in ambient airborne fine particulate matter will save tens of thousands of lives annually and, as EPA values lives at about $8 million each, the agency further claims that the rules will provide hundreds of billions of dollars in “health benefits.”

But as the Chinese study shows, the EPA’s scientific claims and, by extension, its benefits claims about fine particulate matter ought to be very much open to question.

Against these phantom benefits are the very real costs of the CSAPR and MATS rules, amounting to tens of billions of dollars in utility compliance costs, lost jobs and higher energy prices. There’s also the prospect that coal plant shutdowns will reduce electricity reliability and lead to brownouts during heat waves.

Directly challenging the EPA on its fine particulate matter claims has been difficult as the agency has secured the key data in the hands of private university academics, who are out of congressional and Freedom of Information Act reach. The EPA is currently stonewalling an effort by Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland Republican, of the House Science Committee, to obtain the data in question.

The only good news in all this so far is that on Dec. 30, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit took the unusual step of staying the CSAPR rule pending its appeal. With any luck, a similar fate will befall MATS and a new, non-Obama EPA would then get to reconsider the rules in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Chinese data ought to embolden the 112th Congress’ unprecedented efforts to rein in the out-of-control EPA and its junk science.

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them” (Regnery, 2009).

MOORE: Obama holds back ethical Canadian oil – Washington Times


Athabasca Oil Sands NASA Earth Observatory ima...

Image via Wikipedia

MOORE: Obama holds back ethical Canadian oil – Washington Times.

Northern neighbors have top environmental standards

Given the unfortunate decision to delay approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast, it’s important that Americans understand where the oil they use comes from.

Canada is America’s top supplier of oil. Americans can be confident that oil from the Canadian oil sands comes from an industry that operates within a democratic society with world-class environmental and social standards.

I am very much in favor of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels by adopting technologies that use less of them, such as a better battery for cost-effective electric vehicles.

Yet I do find a degree of hypocrisy among activists who paint oil companies as environmental criminals while many of these same critics go about driving, flying and otherwise enjoying the benefits of living in a society that depends on oil for more than one-third of its energy.

Greenpeace has taken an aerial picture of a Canadian oil sands mining operation and falsely suggests this is the way it will always look – forever. Greenpeace fails to tell the public that the mine is a temporary disturbance and that by law, oil sands companies are required to return the site to nature, with native trees and shrubs and lakes.

I’ve traveled to some of these restored sites, and they’re beautiful. More than 300 wood bison roam on one such reclaimed site, where the herd is managed by the Fort McKay indigenous people.

In some areas, the oil lies well below the surface and the Canadian oil sands industry is using in situ (in place) drilling. By injecting steam to release the oil from the sand, the oil can be extracted with minimal disturbance to the surface environment.

Canadian oil producers must meet some of the toughest environmental and social standards on the planet.

Compared with the six largest oil exporters (Nigeria, Kuwait, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Saudi Arabia), Canada is far ahead on leading social and environmental indicators:

c The World Health Organization has just said Canada has some of the cleanest air in the world.

c Canada far outranks the top six oil exporters in terms of the country’s water quality and water impacts on ecosystems, according to Yale and Columbia universities.

c According to the International Labor Organization, Canada has one of thehighest female labor participation rates in the world.

c In its 2010 Freedom in the World report, Freedom House ranks Canada among the most free and democratic countries anywhere.

c Canada is one of the least corrupt countries on Earth based on Transparency International’s 2010 assessment.

Anti-oil sands activist groups like Greenpeace live in a dream world where they hope to replace fossil fuels, nuclear and hydro energy – by far the majority of the world’s energy supply – with unreliable, intermittent and expensive wind and solar power.

But we need oil now and we’ll need it for the foreseeable future, so it matters greatly where that oil comes from.

Patrick Moore is co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace and chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies. He is author “Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist” (Beatty Street Publishing, 2010).