The Heartland Institute holds its 7th Emerging Issues Forum based on free-market principles

October 18, 2011

The Heartland Institute held its Seventh Emerging Issues Forum and 27th Anniversary Benefit Dinner on Thursday, October 13th.

In addressing the attendees, Heartland President Joseph Bast related how Heartland’s first budget was $24,000. By contrast, this year’s budget stands at $6 million with a staff of 41 here in Chicago.

Attending the forum were elected officials and legislators from many states, policy experts, and Heartland allies and supporters from around the country.

Panel discussions were the medium through which emerging issues were presented, each with a moderator, after which guests could ask questions directly of the panelists. Supplemental literature was distributed to add clarify to the presented issues, as were hand-outs prepared by panel experts.

Topics covered throughout the day included: “Can Tobacco Cure Smoking?; “The Future of Energy and Environment Policy; Budget and Taxes; Opportunities to Transform K-12 Education and “Obamacare: Repeal, Replace, Reform.” The forum experts were composed of individuals associated with the Heartland Institute and others brought in from around the country.

Given that every panel presentation was replete with great information, I found it difficult to zero in on the ones to feature in my writeup.

When it comes to political issues my interests are eclectic in nature. In writing I go from topic to another, drawn as I am to those issues I care deeply about. I count among them illegal immigration; the deplorable financial state of IL; union control of schools; the catastrophic nature of Obamacare; and the hoax of Global Warming.

Having spent much time in the past three years attempting to convince legislators, Chicagoland newspaper editors, and any one who would listen to my story about the premature dismantling of the Dual Zion Nuclear Plant, I followed my continuing interest in Nuclear Energy by zeroing in on “The Future of U.S. Energy is Indisputable,” presented by Jay Lehr, Ph.D. as the Keynote Breakfast speaker and Science Director at the Heartland Institute.

Jay Lehr, Ph.D. was introduced by John Northdurft , Government Relations Director at The Heartland Institute, as an internationally known renowned speaker and scientist who spends one hundred day a year on the road speaking. He has been with Heartland for fifteen years. At seventy five years of age, Lehr holds the record for skydiving once a month for the for the 34th year and is a Iron Man Triathlon winner in his age category. As an author and editor, Jay Lehr’s most recent edited work is the “Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia: Science, Technology, and Applications” — his 30th book — with three more volumes slated for his “Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia.” As an outspoken opponent of man-made global warming, Jay Lehr made these statements:

1. “There is no scientific evidence whatever that the use of fossil fuels in our country has any negative impact on our climate. Our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint are foolish. A simple volcanic eruption will cancel a decade of effort in this regard.

2. “The laws of physics in our universe make it absolutely impossible to ever harvest the earth’s winds or the sun’s ray in an economic manner that can contribute any useful portion of our electric grid and while we can create transportation fuels from agricultural crops, burning food for fuel will never make sense in a hungry world.

3. Without doubt as I stand here in 2011, the United States is by far the nation that is richest in energy resources in the entire world, soon to be number one in oil, already number one in natural gas, coal and nuclear power, while North American collectively can dwarf the rest of the world in energy resources.

Jay Lehr spoke about the late M. King Hubbert , a mentor and colleague of mine, who predicted 60 years ago that this country had reached its peak oil production. When this date didn’t pan out, the date for reaching peak oil production was moved forward a decade at a time. Today Hubbert’s prediction is without merit as the relatively simple technique of hydro-fracking, used successfully in the oil industry, can now be applied to shale gas with the ability to do horizontal drilling

Also discussed were the efforts being made by the EPA and the Department of Interior to block efforts to develop oil and natural gas, government preferring instead to spend billions of dollars for renewable wind and solar energy projects that will never prove to be useful.

Then there is the Bakken formation in North Dakota, perhaps the richest oil find in the world, where oil companies are being brought to trial because 28 small birds, not even endangered, were found dead in a sludge pit which many think was placed there by anti-oil environmentalists.

In regard to wind energy, Jay Lehr compared tracing wind energy as no different than Don Quixote jousting with Wind Mills. Why? Because the capital equipment costs to harvest the wind are too high, continuing to chase wind energy is no different that Don Quixote jousting with Wind Mills. To be remembered is that a fossil fuel plant must stand ready to back up the wind turbines when they fail to spin.

A similar situation applies to solar power plants. Jay Lehr is confident “that a decade from now thousands of windmills and fields of photo voltaic solar cells and mirror farms will sit inoperable for lack of funds, effectiveness and adequate maintenance, and the nation will then recognize our technical folly and financial futility.”

Jay Lehr reveals the following misconceived follies that stand in the way of convincing believers in Global Warming that the reduction of our carbon foot print through renewable energy makes no sense at all:

1. In charting the earth’s atmosphere, man’s contribution to the earth’s envelope of green house gas is barely one-tenth of one-percent.

2. It is CO2 that makes our planet habitable by supplying the lifeblood to vegetation which then become the food for human and animal life.

3. Wind and solar power would not reduce the carbon footprint because the equipment necessary to harvest the dispersed energies produce would produce as much carbon as the burning of fossil fuels.

Jay Lehr predicted that environmental fear mongers will keep doing everything possible to prevent cheap, and abundant energy in the years to come, as they have in decades past.

After a fact-filled and intense morning of listening to panel discussions on policy issues covering Tobacco, Environment and Budget and Taxes — followed by an afternoon of equal valuable discussions about Education and Healthcare — the time-out period of lunch became noteworthy through the remarks presented by Luncheon Speaker, David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute. His topic: “Bridging the Gap Between Philosophy and Public Policy.”

David Boaz joined Cato in 198l and has played a key role in the development of the Cato Institute and the libertarian movement. Mr. Boaz is the author of “Libertarianism: A Primer.” His latest book is “The Politics of Freedom.”

First off, and without hesitation, David Boaz suggested to those assembled that they read “Road to Serfdom” by Austrian-born economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek, written between the years 1940 – 1943. In his book Hayek “warned of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning.” Hayek also argues that the abandonment of individualism, classical liberalism, and freedom inevitably leads to socialist or fascist oppression and tyranny and the serfdom of the individual.

“The Road to Serfdom” is among the most influential and popular expositions of market libertarianism and remains a popular and influential work in contemporary discourse and a best seller.

Continuing with his remarks, Boaz claimed that progress toward liberty has happened despite the rise Hitler and Stalin and the welfare state here in the U.S. and in Western Europe. After all, the terrible challenges of Hitler and Stalin were defeated.

David Boaz believes that the world can be changed for the better, and that it is up to the U.S. to ensure that change continues and that bad change gets reversed.

As a proponent of “natural” liberty in defining the relationship of the individual to the government, David Boaz holds true to his libertarianism philosophy: “To live life as long as you don’t interfere with the life of another.”

In quoting his Chicago friend, the late Robert Novak, Boaz related a comment told him by Novak whenever Novak was called upon to gave a commencement address: “Always love your country, but never trust your government.”

As one also skeptical of government, Mr. Boaz suggested that sometimes the right action for government to take is to do nothing at all.

David Boaz offered these five principles which combine philosophy with private policy:

1. What belongs to you, you tend to take care of (your home). Things owned by no one or everyone is not taken care of (a public park).

2. People who want you to do something for a group of people will end up hurting other individuals (Government kept Chrysler in business in 1979 through a loan. Borrowing became difficult for ordinary individuals because all the money went to bail our Chrysler.).

3. If you encourage something you get more of it; if you discourage something you get less of it (We pay people to stay unemployed.).

4. Nobody spends money as wisely as when you spend your own money yourself (With our own money we can buy what we want, not what others think we want or need).

5. Government has nothing to give anybody unless it takes from someone else. (Ever dollar government spends came from someone else who now can’t spend it.)

David Boaz expounded upon the obvious in light of this nation’s present day economic morass, “It is always easier for government to spend money that isn’t theirs to spend (taxpayers’ money) than to curtail spending.”

In speaking about concentrated benefits and diffuse costs, Boaz criticized the culture of spending that exists in Washington, D.C., and how the longer legislators are in office the more likely they will vote for even more spending.

Another example cited by Boaz was Medicare. The idea of a Medicare was entertained in the administration of President Harry Truman, but Medicare didn’t come into being until the presidency of Lydon Johnson. Once the Medicare program passed and became law, there were no further discussions about Medicare. It became a done deal as first perceived, despite all its flaws.

In conclusion, David Boaz emphasized how the fight for liberty is never easy through verbal examples of past student uprisings in China in the early years of this present century.

Bringing the fight for freedom home to the shores of this nation, Boaz spoke of remarks intoned by Patrick Henry on the floor of the House on March 23, 1775, in which Patrick Henry stated unequivocally to other House members his argument telling why the oppressive yoke of the British needed to end in order to fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country.

Patrick Henry’s argument to the House in 1775 ended with these words:

“Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. Forbid it, Almighty God? I know not what course others may take; but for me, Give me liberty or give me Death.”

In closing David Boaz emphasized how freedom is not free, that it must be defended in every generation.

To the assembled Boaz offered this reminder, that no longer are we incarcerated for speaking out as were those who first fought for freedom in this nation. Accordingly, Boaz encouraged all assembled to spread the word to others through sharing books, information, and giving money to those candidates who are willing to fight to preserve freedom and who believe in the principles so eloquently expressed in our Constitution, remembering that freedom is God-given and not bestowed upon us through government mandates and policies 

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