An Earth Day Education

April 21, 2017 wsj.com    Somehow life keeps getting better.

Just in time for Saturday’s Earth Day forecasts of environmental apocalypse, economist Mark Perry provides a helpful reminder of the accuracy of previous eco-prophecies. Specifically, he notes “18 spectacularly wrong predictions” made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970.

Perhaps because earlier predictions of catastrophe were off target, it’s clear that in 2017 many of Earth’s inhabitants are still not persuaded that their planet is doomed. But Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rogers may have a solution for this. She writes for CNN today a bout her organization’s “campaign to bring climate and environmental literacy to the world.”

Ms. Brown explains: “Climate literacy is now recognized universally as the engine for driving individual behavioral change, building consumer support for a green economy, creating green technologies and jobs, and promoting policy reforms at all levels of government. Recognizing the importance of an educated global population, the authors of the Paris Climate Agreement put climate education at its heart, calling on national governments to cooperate in taking measures to enhance climate education, training and access to information.”

This column would like to do its part by sharing a valuable history lesson, thanks to Mr. Perry and also t o my onetime colleague Ronald Bailey, who in a 2000 piece for Reason magazine looked back at the first Earth Day. Here’s what Mr. Bailey wrote on the 30th anniversary of that landmark eco-happening:

Imminent global famine caused by the explosion of the “population bomb” was the big issue on Earth Day 1970. Then–and now–the most prominent prophet of population doom was Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich. Dubbed “ecology’s angry lobbyist” by Life magazine, the gloomy Ehrlich was quoted everywhere. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” he confidently declared in an interview with then-radical journalist Peter Collier in the April 1970 Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

“Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Ehrlich in an essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe!,” which ran in the special Earth Day issue of the radical magazine Ramparts. “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” Ehrlich sketched out his most alarmist scenario for the Earth Day issue of The Progressive, assuring readers that between 1980 and 1989, some 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.”

Readers old enough to remember the 1980s should be forgiven if they can’t quite seem to recall a famine wiping out most of the world’s population. As Mr. Bailey noted in assessing the accuracy of Mr. Ehrlich’s predictions:

Time has not been gentle with these prophecies. It’s absolutely true that far too many people remain poor and hungry in the world–800 million people are still malnourished and nearly 1.2 billion live on less than a dollar a day–but we have not seen mass starvation around the world in the past three decades. Where we have seen famines, such as in Somalia and Ethiopia, they are invariably the result of war and political instability. Indeed, far from turning brown, the Green Revolution has never been so verdant. Food production has handily outpaced population growth and food today is cheaper and more abundant than ever before. Since 1970, the amount of food pe r person globally has increased by 26 percent, and as the International Food Policy Research Institute reported in October 1999, “World market prices for wheat, maize, and rice, adjusted for inflation, are the lowest they have been in the last century.”

Former Officials Hendrix, Tucker and Davis Offer Tutorial on Local Government: Session Three

The third in a series of free educational forums on understanding government will be held Thursday, April 27 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at City Space in downtown Charlottesville and will feature talks on local government by three former Charlottesville and Albemarle County officials with over a hundred years of government experience between them.State Government and its relation to Virginia communities.

Regionalism: Jurisdictions working together to develop effective solutions (April 27)

  • Chip Boyles, Executive Director, Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission
  • Diantha McKeel, Chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
  • Michael Signer, Charlottesville Mayor

 

The government sessions are a series of six forums on understanding government offered by the Democratic Road Forward PAC, which was established in 2003 by the late Delegate Mitch Van Yahres.

In reference to the PAC, former Charlottesville City Councilor and PAC president, Meredith Richards explained that the mission is to encourage and nurture government leadership at the grassroots in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area. “While some of our activities are partisan in nature,” she said, “others like the Understanding Government program are non-partisan and exist for the sole purpose of promoting good government and contributing to a well-informed citizenry.”

The Understanding Government forums will run every other Thursday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. from March 30 to June 8, with the first one held in City Council Chambers and the remaining forums at City Space in downtown Charlottesville.

Candidate Events/Fundraisers

Note: ACRC has not endorsed any candidates in the 2017 Republican primary.  Announcements in this space are for the benefit of our membership.  We endeavor to include local events for all candidates that are submitted to us.
April 13 (Thursday) – 6:30pm – Senator Bryce Reeves, candidate for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor, will be featured at a private event at a home at Keswick Vineyards.  A presentation on the Leadership of Thomas Jefferson will be given in celebration of his 274th birthday.  For more information, please contact Tyler@BryceReeves.com
April 25 (Tuesday) – 7:30am to 9:00am – Join Delegate Rob Bell for breakfast to support his re-election campaign at Tiptop Restaurant.  Tickets are available for a $25 donation each; sponsorship giving levels are available.  For more information, please contact Rob@DelegateRobBell.com

Local Events of Interest

April 12 (Wednesday) – 1:30pm – The Senior Statesmen of Virginia host Luke Juday to discuss The Death and Life of Virginia Localities, exploring the trend of net migration losses from Virginia to other regions of the country.  Free and open to the public at the Senior Center, Room A, 1180 Pepsi Place.
April 12 (Wednesday) – 7:00pm – Americans for Prosperity will launch a new speakers series in Charlottesville.  This month’s topic is “Superman Economics: The Seen and Unseen of Big Government.”  Click HERE for more information.
April 13 (Thursday) – 7:00pm- The second in a series of forums on Understanding Government will explore the relationship between the state government and local communities. This non-partisan event will be held at CitySpace in downtown Charlottesville.
April 17 & 19 – The Drinking Water Testing Clinic provides people with private water systems access to affordable water testing. Must pre-register for $55 (includes testing).  For more information, click HERE or contact Nancy Bishop.
April 26 (Wednesday) – 11:30am – The Albemarle County Republican Women’s League (ARCWL) will host a luncheon at Glenmore Country Club for $24 per person.  Delegates Rob Bell and Steve Landes will review the recent legislative session and look ahead to the 2017 statewide elections.  For more information or to purchase your ticket, click HERE.

Republican Gubernatorial Primary Debate at Liberty University

SPECIAL INVITATION from ROBERT HURT 
Date:           Thursday, April 13, 2017
Time:          Doors open at 6:00pm.  Must be seated by 6:45pm.  Debate from 7-8pm.
Location:    Liberty University – Center for Music and Worship Arts Concert Hall
Parking:      Free parking in the Academic Commons Parking Garage (map below)
Ed Gillespie, Corey Stewart, and Frank Wagner meet in their only televised debate.
A reception will follow in honor of the candidates and Thomas Jefferson’s 274th birthday.
The debate is hosted by Liberty’s new Center for Law and Government, which is led by former Congressman Robert Hurt, in collaboration with the School of Law and the Helms School of Government.
It is the inaugural event for the Center for Law and Government, which was established to encourage debate and the free exchange of ideas with an eye toward promoting and preserving our founding principles of self-government, free enterprise, and the rule of law.

ACRC Monthly Breakfast This Saturday – April 8

Our guest speaker this month will be Delegate Glenn Davis (R – Virginia Beach), candidate for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor.  Delegate Davis is a small business owner and entrepreneur whose message focuses on job creation, tax reform, and education.
Breakfast will begin at 8:30 AM.  A hearty buffet is $11 or just coffee service for $6.  Please bring cash and remember that gratuity for our servers is not included.
Our speaker will begin at 9 AM.  We hope to see you there!
Sam’s Kitchen is located in the Woodbrook Shopping Center at 1863 Seminole Trail, Charlottesville, Virginia 22901.
Note: ACRC has not endorsed any candidates in the 2017 Republican primaries for statewide offices.  For the benefit of our membership, we endeavor to accommodate all primary candidates that request to address our members at one of our meetings. 

 

Upcoming ACRC Events and Calendar, Announcements and of Interest

April 8 – Monthly Breakfast
May 13 – Monthly Breakfast
May 16 – Business Meeting and Mass Meeting (local race nominations)
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND OF INTEREST
April 10 – 6pm to 8pm – The UVa College Republicans will host the NRA for a discussion of the 2A and current policy issues.  Clark Hall, Room 108.
April 12 – 7pm – Americans for Prosperity will launch a new speakers series in Charlottesville.  This month’s topic is “Superman Economics: The Seen and Unseen of Big Government.”  Click Here for more information.
April 13 – 6:30pm – Senator Bryce Reeves, candidate for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor, will be featured at a private event at a home at Keswick Vineyards.  A presentation on the Leadership of Thomas Jefferson will be given in celebration of his 274th birthday.  For more information, please contact Tyler@BryceReeves.com.

 

Former Officials Hendrix, Tucker and Davis Offer Tutorial on Local Government: Session Two

The second in a series of free educational forums on understanding government will be held Thursday, April 13 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at City Space in downtown Charlottesville and will feature talks on local government by three former Charlottesville and Albemarle County officials with over a hundred years of government experience between them.State Government and its relation to Virginia communities

  • John Thomas, former Director, Virginia Institute of Government at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at UVA
  • Delegate David Toscano, 57th District representative, Virginia House of Delegates
  • David Blount, Legislative Liaison, Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission

The government sessions are a series of six forums on understanding government offered by the Democratic Road Forward PAC, which was established in 2003 by the late Delegate Mitch Van Yahres.

In reference to the PAC, former Charlottesville City Councilor and PAC president, Meredith Richards explained that the mission is to encourage and nurture government leadership at the grassroots in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area. “While some of our activities are partisan in nature,” she said, “others like the Understanding Government program are non-partisan and exist for the sole purpose of promoting good government and contributing to a well-informed citizenry.”

The Understanding Government forums will run every other Thursday evening from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. from March 30 to June 8, with the first one held in City Council Chambers and the remaining forums at City Space in downtown Charlottesville.

Our Federal Budget in Perspective

Here we put the federal budget in perspective, because perspective, when numbers get into the billions or trillions, is difficult. We simply can’’t comprehend such large figures so below we will show federal taxes, spending, and debt broken down per family to make them more comprehensible. All the figures for income and spending given are for fiscal 2016. The debt figure is as of the end of 2016 and the household count is from the Census Bureau.

The percentage listed is the percentage of total federal spending, and figures are rounded to the nearest hundred dollars for simplicity. Differences between the itemized figures and the totals are due to rounding.

Federal Income:

  • Personal Income Taxes: 40% or about $12,300 per family. Obviously most of us pay this, but approximately half of U.S. taxpayers owe no income taxes due to various exemptions, deductions, and credits. This means the other half (on average) are paying double.
  • Social Security, Medicare, etc. Taxes: 29% or about $8,900 per family. Most retirement taxes are ostensibly paid half by the worker and half by the company, but this is a fiction. The company isn’t concerned with what workers take home; their concern is how much it costs to employ them. Thus the “company’s” share of the taxes would otherwise be available to pay to the workers. Further, there is no “lock box” or separate accounts or investments waiting for workers when they retire. All of these taxes are spent either on current retirees or other government programs.
  • Corporate Income Taxes: 8% or about $2,400 per family. While economists disagree on the exact breakdown, there is no question we all pay this in some combination of three ways, 1) as a worker through lower wages, 2) as a consumer through higher prices, or 3) as an investor through lower returns. There isn’t any place else for the funds to come from. Also, as with the next item, there are large inefficiencies as companies lobby furiously and structure themselves suboptimally (in economic terms) to try to reduce their taxes.
  • Excise, Customs, Estate, Gift, and Miscellaneous Taxes: 8% or about $2,400 per family. The estate and gift taxes are particularly inefficient because they cause large (relative to the revenue) non-productive expenditures (from people trying to avoid them) and/or inefficiencies (from economic dislocations).
  • Borrowing: 15% or about $4,700 per family. We pay interest on this as do our children and their children until it is paid off (or we default). Financing more than a seventh of our spending is obviously not optimal.
  • Grand Total: about $26,000 of tax income and another $4,700 borrowed per family at the federal level alone.

Federal Spending:

  • Income Security & Health: 27% or $8,200 per family. This category includes Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment compensation, assisted housing and social services, and other welfare programs.
  • Social Security: 24% or about $7,300 per family. Our current seniors had their social security taxes spent to fund the previous generation’s retirement, so this is funded out of current taxes.
  • National Defense: 15% or about $4,700 per family.
  • Medicare: 15% or about $4,700 per family.
  • Interest on the accumulated debt: 6% or about $1,900 per family. Fortunately, the federal government is considered an extremely good credit risk and current interest rates are extremely low. This will probably not be true for an extended period of time.
  • Other: 12% or about $3,800 per family.
  • Grand total: about $30,600 spent on behalf of your family.

Federal Debt:

  • Net Public Debt: about $14.4 trillion or about $115,000 per family.
  • Gross Public Debt: about $20.0 trillion or $159,000 per family. This includes the net public debt, but adds another $5.1 trillion that the government owes to itself. For example, current Social Security “surpluses” are invested in Treasuries, which in reality means it is lent to the rest of the government to spend now.