My op-ed in the Seattle Times today takes on the very controversial Net Neutrality issue. If you want background info on Net Neutrality, see here, here or here. Essentially though, backers of Net Neutrality think the issue boils down to, "who controls the Internet?," which I actually think is a misplaced premise. However, let's indulge them on this for the time being.
Vanpool Fact-of-the-Day #21: Commuters traveled an average of 12.2 miles in 1999 and 12.8 miles in 2006, a
five percent increase, despite regulations to force
compact development. Between 1980 and 2000, commuters who cross county lines to
get to work increased from 10.4 percent to 16.1 percent. As commuters move
farther from employment centers transportation costs grow and demand for vanpools becomes more attractive.
“Alaska and other airlines are undertaking these initiatives without the prodding of federal or state legislation or mandates. They are doing it because it was a way to stay in business. Saving fuel costs and being more environmentally friendly make good business sense. Market-based, free enterprise works.”
This is a great example of how the free-market, when left unfettered by government mandates, uses innovation and technology in a way that is a win-win for everyone.
We have written before about government policies that limit innovation or pick and choose winning technologies. Such policies assume lawmakers know which technologies are best. However, it is extremely difficult to know what practical technologies are on the horizon and public officials are notoriously bad at predicting what will work in the future.
Successful initiatives by Alaska Airlines, and others, serve as another reminder that policymakers should engage the creativity of families and businesses and look to encourage innovation in the technology marketplace, not restrict it.
Seattle weekly reporter Caleb Hannan blogged last week that King County Executive Candidate Susan Hutchison's environmental credentials were suspect because she contributed to the WPC's Center for the Environment.
To what do they object? They are unhappy because, they believe, we are "global warming denialists," and claim that we don't "believe in global warming." The only way they can come to this conclusion is by failing to do even a modicum of research.
In the past two years, I've written about climate change numerous times and testified by invitation in front of the legislature about the issue. Our position has been consistent for two years. In our Policy Guide, I advocated setting a carbon price to reduce CO2 emissions and cutting other taxes to offset this increase. It is a position supported by conservative economists like Reagan adviser Art Laffer,the head of President Obama's National Economic Council Larry Summers and Obama's director of the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orzag.
While we believe there is risk from climate change, we also believe that we should follow the science and that claims regarding 20 feet of sea level rise and other alarmist hyperbole are simply incorrect and untenable.
In fact, I've had two editorials published in the Seattle Times this year advocating that very position: a carbon price to reduce CO2 emissions. The Sightline Institute, a leading progressive think tank, even praised my position (even though they have faith that government can successfully pick and choose the best green technologies -- a faith I don't have).
The Seattle P-I made a similar mistake last week but when the error was brought to their attention corrected it immediately.
I've asked the Seattle Weekly editors to retract their blog post since it so obviously incorrect. They e-mailed on Sunday saying they were willing to correct errors but have not responded since then.
This is the problem with reporters whose understanding of an issue is limited by their politics and who don't feel the need to do their homework. They react reflexively rather than thoughtfully. We'll see if they follow the PI's lead and correct their error.
Update: October 21
Caleb wrote a very gracious blog entry today correcting our position on climate change. I'm sure the Weekly still would disagree with us on some elements of our position, but their correction was straightforward and sincere, and appreciated.
Our friends at the Cascade Policy Institute in Portland have put together a great new video on on climate policy outlining the risks of the current, government-heavy approach and the free-market alternative. Titled "Climate Chains" it interviews a number of experts on the issue...and me as well.
Vanpool fares would only need to rise about 50 percent to make vanpools self sufficient. On the other hand, Sound Transit’s bus fares would need to rise about 259 percent, and nearly 200 percent for the Sounder Commuter rail, to break even.
2002 and 2007, the public paid about $1.26 for every vanpool passenger trip
made in the Puget Sound region. In comparison, the public paid $5.13 for every
passenger trip on a Sound Transit bus and $10.66 for every passenger trip made
on the Sounder Commuter rail.
Our research indicates that not only are vanpools the most cost effective intercity transit solution, but users pay most of the cost. This formula suggests vanpools should be expanded. Our last report contains a set of recommendations that will include the following:
Saturate vanpool market before expanding other intercity modes
Phase in 100% cost recovery in 5-10 years
Standardize policies and pricing among the six agencies in the region
Conduct feasibility study on governance
Keep federal 5307 money earned by vanpools within the vanpool program
Increase public awareness, via VMAP recommendations
Stay tuned as we continue to release further research on Vanpools in the Puget Sound Region: The case for expanding vanpool programs to move the most people for the least cost
Taxpayers pay about 80 percent of
operating costs for light rail, buses and commuter rail, while users only cover
20 percent. In King County, vanpool passengers pay about 82 percent of
operating costs for the vanpool program, while taxpayers only have to fund the
remaining 18 percent.
are very inexpensive to operate. In between 2000 and 2007, the six regional
vanpool agencies spent $114 million to serve 837 million passenger miles. This
means operating costs were only .14 cents per mile.
On Sunday, October 18 at 5 PM, Washington Policy Center (WPC) is partnering with Irish filmmakers, Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, for a free showing of the film “Not Evil Just Wrong.”
“Not Evil Just Wrong” is a feature-length documentary which takes on the global warming alarmism and highlights errors in former Vice-President Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth.” This event is being coordinated with the filmmakers and hundreds of other groups nationwide to qualify this event for the World Record Premiere.
Last April WPC hosted an advanced viewing of the film with the producers of the film, Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney. The event was held at Rachel Carson Elementary School in Sammamish with an audience of more than 200. “Not Evil Just Wrong” looks at global warming hysteria, highlighting things such as the high cost of the ban on DDT and the millions in Africa and Asia who have died from malaria as a result. The film is an excellent commentary about the costs of thoughtless and politically-driven environmentalism.
This Sunday audiences will be able to attend premiere events at the following locations: · University of Washington, Sieg Hall 134 · Washington State University, TODD 216 · Eastern Washington University, Patterson 103 · Central Washington University, SURC Theater 210 · Gonzaga University, Jundt Auditorium 006 · Pacific Lutheran University, University Center (The Cave) · Seattle University, Admin 307 · North Bellevue Community Center, 4063 148th Ave NE, Bellevue
Weaknesses in the economy and financial markets—and the government’s response to them—have contributed to near-term increases in federal deficits, which reached a record level in fiscal year 2009. While a lot of attention has been given to the recent fiscal deterioration, the federal government faces even larger fiscal challenges that will persist long after the return of financial stability and economic growth. GAO’s simulations continue to show escalating levels of debt that illustrate that the long-term fiscal outlook remains unsustainable. In little over 10 years, debt held by the public as a percent of GDP un!
der our Alternative simulation is projected to exceed the historical high reached in the aftermath of World War II and grow at a steady rate thereafter . . .
Another way to measure the long-term fiscal challenge is the fiscal gap. The fiscal gap is the size of action needed—in terms of tax increases, spending reductions, or some combination of the two—for debt as a share of GDP to equal today’s ratio at the end of a certain period, such as 75 years. For example, under our Alternative simulation, the fiscal gap is 8.5 percent of GDP (or more than $62 trillion in present value dollars). This means that revenue would have to increase by about 47 percent or noninterest spending would have to be reduced by 33 percent on average over the next 75 years to keep debt at the end of the period from exceeding its level at the beginning of 2009 (40.8 percent of GDP).
Policymakers could phase in the policy changes so that the tax increases or spending cuts wou!
ld grow over time and allow people to adjust. However, the lon!
ger action to deal with the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook is delayed, the greater the risk that the eventual changes will be disruptive and destabilizing. Under our Alternative simulation, waiting even 10 years would require a revenue increase of about 58 percent, a noninterest spending cut of about 39 percent, or some combination of the two.
The Ninth Circuit Federal Appeals Court has ruled for Secretary of State Sam Reed in the dispute whether or not to release the R-71 petitions in response to a public records request. Here is the Court's order:
The court, after consideration of the record and briefs of the parties, and oral argument, has determined that the district court’s Order Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction (the “Preliminary Injunction Order”), filed September 10, 2009, relies on an incorrect legal standard and, therefore, must be reversed.
It is therefore ordered:
1. Appellants’ motion for a stay pending ap!
peal is granted and the Preliminary Injunction Order is hereby stayed, effective immediately, pending final resolution of these appeals.
2. An opinion setting forth the reasons for the court’s reversal of the Preliminary Injunction Order shall be issued expeditiously and in due course.