Friday, April 29, 2016

Thorner: Heartland Institute Panel: Vaping as a Public Policy ‘War’ – Part 2

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By Nancy Thorner –  

Public Health England last in August of 2015 became the first national government agency to endorse e-cigarettes as safer options for current smokers. Its report also dispelled several bogus anti-tobacco claims.  Why is it that e-Cigarettes are seen as life-savers by the UK Government, but condemned by the US?  Find out why by checking this recent article of Wednesday, April 13, 2016.

Brian Foitik, guest speaker at The Heartland Institute’s event about “The Vaping War” on Wednesday, April 20 (see Part 1), linked the “war” on vaping to a happening 52 years ago when the Surgeon General recognized tobacco as a health issue, where upon tobacco was taxed at all levels of government.  It was easy to levy a tax on tobacco because of the limited of individuals who smoked at the time.  Nevertheless, even after a 52-year campaign of educating the public about smoking and related health issues through word-of-mouth, negative advertising, and marketing restrictions, there are still 40+ million smokers in this nation.  450,000 will die every years from tobacco-related illnesses.  Although 70% of smokers want to quit; a majority have tried to quit but weren’t successful.

Even though many e-cigarette smokers begin vaping to wean themselves off tobacco products, why do e-cigarette smokers reap the same hatred from the non-smoking public as those who smoke tobacco cigarettes?   Might it be because people are taught not only to hate cigarettes, but also to hate the one who smokes them?  For these individuals a cigarette is a cigarette.  It matters not that one is a tobacco product and the other a vapor product that is not comparable to the thousands of toxic agents formed when tobacco is burned.

Vaping as a Consumer-Driven Business

As more and more individuals desire a product that is a safe and effective smoking cessation aid, the number of consumer driven vapor shops are growing proportionally.  There are 15,000 vapor shops.  All are new businesses; people are employed and property taxes are paid.  When there are people who want something, products are offered as a solution to the problem.  This is the free market at work.  Regulations and taxes only inhibit innovation in a free market system.

Pharmaceutical companies are able to come up with new products to help people stop smoking, but each new product must receive FDA approval, which requires an expensive and lengthy process to be able to market and sell a new product. Pharmaceutical companies do get a break from taxes.  As a result of ill-conceived tax breaks, the pharmaceutical industry pays just 5.6 percent of its profits in taxes.  After one product doesn’t work, repeat customers can be drawn back when a new cessation of smoking product is developed.  In contrast, the vaping community could ill afford, with its limited resources, to have each vaping product approved by the FDA.  Even a different vaping flavor would require new FDA approval at a great cost and with considerable approval time.

The vaping industry enjoyed a bit of a victory in a report dated April 14, 2016, when the House appropriations committee voted to approve an amendment to the FY 2017 Agricultural Appropriations bill that would change the predicate date for newly deemed tobacco products. Products on the market since 2007 would not have to retroactively go through the PMTA process.  As such vaping products would not be considered tobacco products. The bipartisan amendment by Rep. Tom Cole (R – OK) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D – GA) passed by a 31-19 vote.

Victoria Vasconcello, former long-time smoker and owner of Cignot Inc.

As already noted in Part 1, Ms. Vasconcello, as a former long-time smoker, has been in the vaping business since 2009.  She considers vaping as a consumer-driven solution to a problem; however, government is seeking to balance budgets by putting lives in jeopardy.  Victoria Vasconcello graciously relinquished most of her allotted speaking time, noting that Brian Fojtik had covered the vaping topic so thoroughly in his prior comments, likewise expressing that she wanted there to be ample time for a productive Question and Answer session.

In response to one of the question from the audience (questions were also submitted by those watching the live on-stream presentation) “What can the little guy do to have a presence in CASAA (Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternates)?” Ms. Vasconcello suggested joining the 135,000 member CASAA group and meeting with local legislators.  The science is out there to support the use of e-cigarettes.  Help legislators know what the science is.  Genuine fear develops from not knowing the truth.  Finally long time smokers have found something that helps them, and they are standing up and fighting with truth on their side.  Consumers do have power!

Concluding Thoughts

Support for the vaping community can be broadened by minimizing the arguments of center left groups.  Unfortunately, PR hasn’t been on the side of e-cigarettes to enable them to become mainstream, unlike in England where the government backs e-cigarettes for smokers.  There is limited money in the vaping community to get out the truth. This results in most of the studies being done by those who hold a con e-cigarette agenda.  The minds of the American people must be changed.  A New Poll Finds Americans’ Risk Perception of Vaping is All Wrong.  The vaping community just wants to compete!

As government is addicted to the money it receives from tobacco products, and this money is decreasing as smoking decreases, there are attempts being made to tax e-cigarettes to keep coffers filled. The good news is that there have been 500 pieces of legislation enacted which attempt to tax and restrict e-cigarette use, but only a few of them have passed.  It is ironic, however, that the Omnibus Bill Will Protect Cigarette Markets & Harm Public Health.  Letters to the Editor are a good way to educate the public about e-cigarettes.

Below are three articles that show how Chicago is dealing with e-cigarettes.  The e-cigarette tax referred to in the first article went into effect on January 1, 2016.

Chicago’s Deadly E-Cigarette Tax Takes Effect Tomorrow

Chicago Vaping Tax is About Cigarette Tax Dollars, Not Health

Rahm Emanuel’s E-Cig Tax Will Kill Smokers & Small Businesses

Following are additional note-worthy e-cigarette articles:

1.  Articles by Brad Radu, Heartland’s Senior Fellow who holds the Endowed Chair in Tobacco Harm Reduction Research at the University of Louisville.

2.  “Wall Street Journal” article published Monday, April 11, 2016.

In the article “Are E-Cigarettes a Healthy Way to Quit Smoking?”, both the pro and the con sides were presented.  Even though e-cigarette sales have been growing, they remain dwarfed by the $100 billion tobacco market. 

Jim Lakely, Communications Director at The Heartland Institute, served as moderator, describing The Heartland Institute as a free market think tank that fights for policies that increase freedom and liberty and promotes the free market.  Covering only domestic policies, Heartland is one of few think tanks that stands up for the rights of the smoker.

An announcement was made by Jim Lakely to join Heartland for the Grand Opening of the largest freedom library in Chicagoland. The Michael Parry Mazur Library, named after an economist who passed away in 1987 by his family in Mazur’s honor, is a rapidly growing research library containing an excellent collection of works on economics, history, political science, public policy, and related topics. The public is invited to attend on Wednesday, May 4, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 p.m. at Heartland headquarters, 3939 N. Wilke Road, Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004. Registration is free. See map: Google Maps.  Check this link for free registration for the event. 

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

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Saturday, April 16, 2016

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Mark Weyermuller said…

Any thing called smart is usually not smart, these meters are dangerous.

Excellent job Nancy Thorner on your reporting

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Friday, April 15, 2016

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By Nancy Thorner and Elvira Hasty – 

The following comes from a recent article by Timm Amundson on The Federalist: 

“Trump is usually rude and obnoxious. His demeanor can be arrogant and dismissive. At times, he comports himself as reckless and willing to lash out prematurely, prior to fully understanding all of the facts at hand. To put it simply, he is a wrecking ball.”

While a Trump supporter, Mr. Amundson apparently felt he first had to apologize to his “conservative elitist friends.”  Does this sounds similar to other articles you’d read about “conservatives” who dare support Donald Trump?  How sad that maintaining political correctness has become the expected standard of operation.

Since every human being is sinful and harbors many faults, the same tone exhibited in the opening paragraph could apply to most individuals.  Why then is it that only Donald Trump deserves this hate-filled treatment, not only from organizations whose purpose it is to destroy the Trump candidacy, but also among those who call the shots within the Republican establishment?

Did we encounter this during the administration of Bill Clinton? There is no need to remind those who lived through the Clinton years of his vulgarity? And what about the vulgarity exhibited by the Republican establishment.  Under the pretense of listening to conservatives, the establishment enthusiastically endorsed John McCain and Mitt Romney in the last two presidential elections?  Or of the recent vulgarity shown by the GOP establishment through constant threats of a brokered convention, aimed at suppressing the voice of the Party’s base? It all depends on what the meaning of vulgarity is?  Right? 

Americans should welcome a Trump presidency with open arms, not only for what he can accomplish, but also for replacing the vulgarity of the Obama family with the classy Trump family.  CNN presented an hour-long town hall meeting on Wednesday night, April 12, highlighting Donald Trump, the man, and his outstanding family.  It would be an astonishing transformation and welcomed in every corner of the world.
Religious individuals accept Donald Trump for his flaws, just as God accepts Christians and others, for we all have flaws. We have never heard bad words from Mr. Trump. The accusation of vulgarity comes from privileged elitists who have no respect for working people in places like Queens and Brooklyn where Trump was raised. As his son Donald Jr. has said:  Donald Trump is a blue collar billionaire.

Donald J. Trump recognizes that those who make this country run are working class Americans.  As a young man, Trump worked alongside construction workers.  He learned more from the working men and women than most congressmen have the opportunity to ever do.  Trump knows the working class and respects workers as individuals, unlike politicians who see them as an expendable collective mass who can be replaced by foreigners at lesser salaries in order to please fat-cat Republican Party donors.  Trump would end their gravy train!

Truth be told, it is not “vulgarity” that the GOP establishment and the media actually care about; it is the way Donald Trump’s honesty has damaged their political correct speeches, coupled with their lack of transparency in dealing with legislation. No more hiding behind “reaching out to Hispanics” (code phrase for welfare to illegals); no more hiding behind the “race card” that continues to hurt Black Americans living in Democratic cities; no more hiding behind the “feminist card” of being offended when a woman is not strong enough to face competition; no more hiding behind the “islamophobia charge” for wanting to vet Muslim immigrants; no more hiding behind “DREAM” for the Mexican children crossing the border illegally.  It will all end!

Donald Trump talks plainly and directly; he lets everyone know exactly what he thinks and what he’ll do to make America great again. And none of it includes the old politicians, the media, the lobbyists, the DC insiders. Finally the American people found a true patriot who is willing to sacrifice in order to stop the corruption of the D.C. bureaucracy. Welcome Donald Trump!  We’ve been waiting almost three decades.
For those who continue the mantra that Mr. Trump is not conservative, whatever it means these days, let me enumerate his position on our most pressing issues:
  1. Against illegal invasion of our country by securing the border building a WALL that Mexico will pay for.
  2. No amnesty. No sanctuary cities.
  3. Building a strong defense, with a feared military capacity.
  4. Support and help for our veterans, ending years of mistreatment.
  5. Support for our law enforcement agencies, such as the police and ICE.
  6. Stop the acceptance of Muslim immigrants until a time when we have a better understanding of the problem.  Best to build a safe zone in their countries.
  7. Destroy ISIS and fight radical Islam
  8. Rebuild our country infrastructure.
  9. Re-think and re-negotiate NATO and the expense of having our military all over the world.
  10. Reduce our over $19 Trillion debt.
  11. Eliminate waste by closing or reducing certain departments like Education.
  12. Reduce taxes for the low income and middle class Americans.
  13. Reduce regulations for businesses.
  14. Eliminate Common Core and make education local.
  15. Defend the Second Amendment.
  16. Repeal and replace Obamacare with private plans.
  17. Negotiate trade deals that are fair and take our country into account first.
  18. Bring jobs from overseas.
  19. Pro-life and support for our religious freedom rights.
  20. Become energy independent by exploiting all sources of energy production.
Which part of the above is not conservative?  But if the positions listed above are not conservative, then Thorner and Hasty cannot claim to be conservatives, yet at the same time stand in support of Trump. We need to stop labeling ourselves Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, and start by being American first.
Cruz supporters and others who genuinely hate Trump, continue to repeat that Trump is not serious about these positions because he once was “a Democrat.”  First, take a look at the table below that shows his political donations since 1989; keeping in mind that business people always give these donations to both parties.

Trump’s political contributions
Trump’s political contributions data is from https://www.opensecrets.org/ and http://www.followthemoney.org/. A breakdown of the data can be viewed here.
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Second, why is Trump being deceitful now, having been a businessman before his recent move to the political arena, while Cruz is perceived as the truth-teller after having served only a few years in the Senate?   What is the Cruz Senate record?  Ted Cruz voted in favor of amnesty; never proposed building a wall; voted for a very large increase of H-1B visas; favored neoconservatives in war expansions; never intervened for our veterans; and wrote with Paul Ryan an op-ed in WSJ in favor of TPP legislation.  Lately in his campaigning, Cruz seems to have changed his mind on several issues.
Donald Trump, unlike Ted Cruz, has already accomplished much in life. It cannot be disputed that Trump has built an excellent and successful business empire, but more importantly, he has raised incredibly bright, talented, articulate children who seemingly have good moral values.   By their fruits, you shall know them!

The next hurdle we must face is the nasty battle between Trump and Cruz, which is also causing friends to disagree and take offense.   Our enemies delight in seeing our “soft spots” exposed, making it easier for them to push through their radical agenda. 
May we not forget that whether we are firmly planted on the side of the Cruz or Trump camp, either one would be so much better for America than either Socialist Sanders or Hillary, who has left a long trail of terrible mistakes in her quest for power.

 

 

Monday, April 11, 2016

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By Nancy Thorner –

As part of The Heartland Institute’s continuing series of book and movie events, specifically designed to showcase freedom, the book, “Drilling through the Core”, edited with an introduction by Peter W. Wood, was presented by the author on Wednesday, April 6 in the newly named Andrew Breitbart Freedom Center, located at Heartland’s Arlington Heights facility, 3939 North Wilke Road, Arlington Heights, IL 60004.

As noted on the back outside cover of “Drilling through the Core”

“For the first time in history Americans face the prospect of a unified set of national standards for 8-12 education.  While this goal sound reasonable, and Common Core has been presented as a state-led effort, it is anything but.  This book analyzes Common Core from the standpoint of it deleterious effects on curriculum — language arts, mathematics, history, and more — as well as its questionable legality, its roots in the aggressive spending of a few wealthy donors, its often-underestimated costs, and the untold damage it will wreck on American higher education.  At a time when more and more people are questioning the wisdom of federally-mandated one-size-fits-all solutions, “Drilling through the Core” offers well-considered arguments for stopping Common Core in its tracts.” 

Peter W. Wood is an anthropologist and former provost.  He was appointed president of the National Association of Scholars in January 2009.  Before that he served as NAS’s executive director (2007-2008) and as provost of the King’s College in New York City (2005-2007).  Wood is the author of several books, including “A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America Now” in 2007 and in 2003 “Diversity: The Invention of a Concept.”  

Peter Wood was introduced by Lennie Jarratt, Project Manager – Education Transformation at The Heartland Institute.

According to Peter Wood, “The Common Core Is Dead”.  It died of parental opposition, teacher opposition, political defection, and perhaps most importantly, flat-out academic failure.  But it would be foolish to think that dead things can’t hurt us.  Consider Bernie Sander’s resurrection of the Socialist economic theories, twenty-five years after the burial of the Soviet Union.  Dead things can likewise also take the living with them, as in the case of Jeb Bush with his unconditional support of Common Core, from which he realized sizable financial gains. 

Common Core was first perceived by architects, David Coleman and Jason Zimba, as a solution to the achievement gap between White and Asians on one hand, and Blacks and Hispanics on the other hand. Finding this concept difficult to sell to the general public, the achievement gap premise was changed.  Common Core would now make all students ready for college and careers.

According to Peter Wood, Common Core was never intended to raise standards.  Instead, it was a plan to establish a nationwide floor that would also be a ceiling.  In other words, Common Core “was anti-excellence wrapped in the gift wrap and tinsel of excellence.”

A study by the liberal Brookings Institution in March of this year found no evidence that Common Core State Standards have made much of a difference during the six-year period when NAEP scores have been stagnant.  The good news in the report is that Common Core does not appear to be the cause for the NAEP stagnation, as states not accepting Common Core suffered the same stagnation. 

This troubling stagnation, as explained by Mr. Wood, has its basis in the following: an increase of single-parent families (the top factor); family dysfunction; financial insecurity, and immigration, all of which will result in poor school performance, and which likewise prove that changing the standards for K-12 education was never going to change the level performance of students. Common Core’s fine-tuned curriculum has seemingly moved in the opposite direction, which explains why SAT and ACT scores have dipped in the Common Core era. 

Common Core Language Arts and Math Standards evaluated

There has been a decline of instruction in literature, to be replaced by non-fiction.  Why?  Because Common Core insists that students learn best from treating everything as informational texts, despite the ability of literature to teach students how to read beyond the literal text.  As such students learn how to see the forest and not just the pine needles.  Common Core leads students into the territory of pine needles.

Regarding Common Core English Language Arts own standards, Mr. Wood knows of no college that would value an approach to literature that chops everything into fine pieces and then dissolves content so students come away not knowing why they read “Moby Dick” or any other book.  However, such a spoon diet of fragmented versions of great literature conforms to how Common Core views literature.  In its fragmented approach, Common Core is able to ward off literature as dangerously privilege or even elitist.   

Common Core math slows down the pace of math instruction.  Instead of third grade before pre-Common Core, when almost all state expected students to master basic addition and subtraction, Common core decided fourth grade would do.  Instead of 5th grade, the multiplication table and long division has been moved to the 6th grade.  Algebra is kicked up to the 9th grade.  Often there is no room for pre-calculus instruction, logarithms are barely mentions, parametric equations are absent, and Arithmetic series are omitted.  Adults can live without this mathematical knowledge, but the door is being shut for millions of students for careers in fields where a solid foundation in math is critical. 

The thinning out of math standards betrays the two main promises made by Common Core architects, already mentioned David Coleman and Jason Zimba, that the Standards would make students college and career ready, and that the Standards would be internationally bench marked to at least as high as the standards in countries that excel in math.  Last year the U.S. ranked a dismal 28th.   

Many parents have noticed that there children are being taught tediously complicated forms of computation in primary school, which are deliberately meant to drive a wedge between parent and child.  Geometry is now being taught in a way tried before in the Soviet Union in the 1980’s, where it was deemed a failure and discarded.

The aims of Common Core

As to what kind of people we want our children to become, as inferred by the nature of Common Core standards, the outcome is summarily set forth by Peter Wood:

Common Core aims to make children into well-organized utility-maximizers — people who do not waste time contemplating hard problems or dreaming big dreams, but who have a ready means to cut things down to the size they already know how to handle.  The perfect job for a Common Core graduate is probably coding. 

Parroting the confession made by one of the Common Core architect, Common Core defenders are now using the excuse that the initial  “college ready” promise of Common Core was meant to convey a readiness to attend a “community” college.

Peter Wood is adamant that Common Core is finished and that a resurrection by die-hard partisans can’t be achieved, for dead is dead!  Mr. Wood mused how the Common Core mess will be cleaned up; who will pay for it, and what will come next? 

Not so sure about “dead is dead”

Given the millions of dollars the Gates Foundation provided to set the stage for Common Core (some of which was used as bribe money to convince cash-strapped states to sign on to Common Core sight unseen) to the large investments spent in school districts on textbooks, teacher training, and computers to support the Common Core tests, the Common Core curriculum can’t be eliminated just by wishing it were so by waving a magic wand.

Consider what happened this past December when both the U.S. Senate and the House voted to continue this nation’s federal boondoggle in education.  Despite talking points about getting the feds out of creating standards, there is still a requirement that states continue to maintain high state standards, a clear nod to the continuation of the much-hated Common Core State Standards.  Furthermore, states must continue to submit their state plans for review and approval by the U. S. Secretary of Education.

Eagle Forum described the bill, “Every Student Succeeds”, as Common Core by a New Name and on Steroids.  Supported by the owners of the Common Core standards, the bill (S 1177) was guided through Congress by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

Concluding thoughts

Suggestions given by Mr. Wood as to how parents can survive waiting out the bad years ahead: 

1) Move children out of public schools.

2) Keep children in public schools but work extra hard at home to compensate for Common Core’s poor delivery of essential knowledge and it mis-channeling of children’s intellectual development. 

Peter Wood’s current focus is to make less harsh the upstream damage to higher education.  One of his battles will be to fight the continuing effort of the College Board, under David Coleman’s stewardship, to institutionalize as much of the Common Core as possible through the SAT’s and Advanced Placement examinations.

A live stream youtube video of the Patrick Wood event can be seen here

Upcoming Heartland events in April will feature F. W. Buckley, author of “The Way Back: Restoring the Promise of America” on Thursday, April 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 

On Wednesday, April 18, Brian Fojtik and Victoria Vasconcellos will speak about the impact the new “vapor wars” (e-cigarettes) have on science, public policy, business and jobs?