August 9, 2020, ~ Explosion (Cloud Obscured) ~ 桜島 Sakurajima Volcano, Japan

USA Today Calls For Mandatory Vaccinations

Bill Gates wants to alter everybody’s genetics What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine | Bill Gates As the US closes in on herd immunity, USA Today says people must be punished for not taking Bill Gates’ vaccine. … Continue reading →

via Real Climate Science

Bill Gates wants to alter everybody’s genetics

What you need to know about the COVID-19 vaccine | Bill Gates

As the US closes in on herd immunity, USA Today says people must be punished for not taking Bill Gates’ vaccine.

Compulsory vaccination for everyone is the only way to defeat COVID-19

Bill Gates says the same thing.

The White House plans to use the armed forces to distribute the vaccines.

Vaccine distribution will be ‘joint venture’ between CDC and Pentagon – POLITICOThis entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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August 8, 2020 at 05:07PM

Clinton/Obama Advisor : Conspiring To Produce An Unaware And Compliant Citizenry

Clinton/Obama Advisor : Conspiring To Produce An Unaware And Compliant Citizenry

we’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry

WikiLeaks – The Podesta Emails

Ivey was appointed chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, by then-President Bill Clinton, serving from 1998 to 2001. His “Challenge America” small-grant initiative is credited with restoring congressional confidence in the sometimes-embattled NEA.

He returned to Washington in 2007 as Team Leader in Arts and Humanities for the Barack Obama presidential transition. Ivey has written and lectured extensively about the importance of cultural policy and the value of cultural engagement in the pursuit of a high quality of life.

Bill Ivey – Wikipedia

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August 8, 2020 at 05:07PM

Biden vs. Trump: The Battle Over US Energy Policy and Its Consequences

Biden vs. Trump: The Battle Over US Energy Policy and Its Consequences

Reposted from Forbes by Tilak Doshi

With the US presidential elections less than 90 days away, US energy policy – which includes government regulations dealing with climate change – has emerged as one of the core issues. This is not only because the Democratic Party, in seeking to unseat incumbent President Trump, has itself elevated energy and climate change policies to its highest priority. Energy is the lifeblood of the modern economy – the “master resource” that affects the production and use of all other resources – and hence US energy policy will affect the livelihood of all Americans. And as the US has emerged as the world’s leading oil and gas producer over the past decade, the energy and climate policies adopted by the next US administration will also profoundly influence global economic and geopolitical affairs.

The Radical Democrats and The Vacillating Mr. Biden

In the run-up to the Democratic Party presidential primaries and caucuses, nearly everyone of the more than 20 major nominees supported first-term congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” which was her radical grand plan to save the planet from a presumed 12-year deadline to global extinction. On April 8, 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden became the presumptive Democratic nominee after Senator Bernie Sanders, the only other major candidate left, suspended his campaign and endorsed Mr. Biden a few days later. Rather than making the traditional move back to the centre after he secured the nomination, Mr. Biden has continued to move left especially on energy policy.

In May, it was announced that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will co-chair Joe Biden climate policy council as Biden took steps to “unify” the party with the Bernie Sander’s wing of radical progressives. In June, the Democratic National Committee signalled its shift towards extreme positions on energy and climate issues reflected by the views of Sanders and Cortez. The DNC Council on the Environment and Climate Crisis, stacked with progressive climate activists, pressed Mr. Biden to back “bold and urgent action to address the climate crisis.” The DNC 14-page plan calls for expenditures of up to $16 trillion over the next decade to speed the country away from fossil fuels. It includes getting to “near-zero” emissions by 2040, banning fracking, ending the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2030, denying federal permits for new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, ensuring 100% clean renewable energy by 2030 in electricity generation, buildings, and transportation, and re-imposing the ban on US crude oil exports and sharply curtailing exports of natural gas.

The DNC proposal more closely resembles Sanders’ climate plan in policies and scope than Mr. Biden’s, which called for a $1.7 trillion in climate spending over the next decade. Mr. Biden then announced a new plan in mid-July to spend $2 trillion over four years to significantly escalate the use of clean energy in the transportation, electricity and building sectors with a range of sweeping proposals to tackle climate change. Mr. Biden has vacillated, asserting “no new fracking” in his debate Bernie Sanders in March but backtracking in July in an interview in Pennsylvania where he said that he “wouldn’t put fracking on the chopping block” in response to a question about losing oil and gas jobs.

What A Biden Administration Would Wreak

Contradictory policy promises by politicians appealing to different constituencies in the election trail are nothing new. Once elections are won, pragmatism is expected to prevail as the real consequences of policy decisions become apparent. Furthermore, the US president’s powers to effect change are bound by constitutional limits. Even if the Democrats manage to flip the Senate while keeping the House, moderates from both parties in oil and gas-producing states such as Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas would be fearful of destroying jobs and tax-revenues while recovering from the devastating pandemic-induced lockdowns.

While oil, natural gas and coal accounted for over 83% of total energy used in the US in 2019, wind, solar and new biofuels accounted for a paltry 6%. Punting  for “green jobs” that have yet to materialize and which would depend on massive government subsidies may sound uplifting during election campaigns focused on young environmentalists but are a poor substitute for economic performance in the real world.

Yet, it is clear that Mr. Biden, if elected, would be bound to undo most if not all of President Trump’s initiatives in energy and environmental affairs. As promised, he would take executive and regulatory actions aimed at ending fracking and oil and gas drilling activity in federal lands. A politicized Environmental Protection Agency – following the Obama administration’s modus operandi – would discourage the fossil fuels sector in countless ways through administrative and regulatory choke-holds. The blocking of oil and gas pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure would be enabled by activist environmentalists launching legal suits as in the recent case of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In his plan to “secure environmental justice and equitable economic opportunity in a clean energy future”, Biden committed to immediately re-join the Paris Agreement if elected president. This could potentially open up the US government to yet another avenue of judicial intervention by its own law courts. For example, the recent UK Court of Appeal decision to block London’s Heathrow airport expansion explicitly cited the Paris Agreement climate targets as the basis to reject government-approved infrastructure plans.

In the age of US-led oil abundance, conventional notions of geopolitical risk and perceptions of energy security have been upended. The surge in US oil and gas production which gathered pace in the past few years with President Trump’s “energy dominance” agenda has made the US less vulnerable to political and social upheavals in the Middle East and has increased its foreign policy leverage in achieving its strategic objectives. It has given the US greater latitude to support allies and sanction rivals. It has made it easier for the US to impose export sanctions on oil-producing adversaries such as Venezuela and Iran without the fear of a resulting spike in global oil prices or on US domestic gasoline prices.

By effectively making the US the “swing” producer in global oil markets, the fracking revolution has weakened the ability of OPEC and Russia to support crude oil prices by restraining output. A Biden presidency which would vacate the role of the US as the world’s leading oil and gas producer would no doubt be welcomed by Russia and the OPEC oil and gas exporters struggling with low energy prices.

Biden vs. Trump: The Odds

recent Gallup poll, taken over July 1 – 23, asked just over a 1,000 US adults: “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” A plurality, or 30%, chose “coronavirus/diseases” as the most important problem, followed by “the government/poor leadership” (23%), race relations/racism (16%), “unifying the country” (6%), and “crime/violence” (5%). Among economic problems, 9% of the respondents chose the “economy in general”, unemployment, and the wealth gap. Notably, “climate change/environment/pollution” — green issues central to the progressive agenda and embraced by Mr. Biden — came at the very bottom of the list, garnering just 1% support.

Whatever the state of Mr. Biden’s mental acuity, he must be aware of the risks of campaigning on the radical makeover of the US economy in the midst of a pandemic to meet an alleged “climate emergency”. In 2017, failed presidential-hopeful Hillary Clinton claimed her biggest regret was in doubling up on ex-President Obama’s ‘war on coal’ and stating in her campaign trail that “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business”. Mr. Biden must hope he will not have such regrets.

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August 8, 2020 at 04:22PM

Is the EU’s 30% climate budget greenwashing?

By Paul Homewood

Meanwhile the EU has been caught cheating! (Now, there’s a surprise): 

image

When then-defence minister for Germany Ursula von der Leyen ran for the European Union’s top job last year, she pitched herself as a climate enthusiast.
“We must go further. We must strive for more,” she said during her candidate speech at the European Parliament. “I want Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050.”
She got the job, and has been serving as European Commission president since December.
Under her leadership, the commission — though the initial proposal pre-dates her presidency — suggested spending 25% of the European Union’s seven-year budget and the coronavirus recovery package on “climate targets.”
The EU governments pushed for even more, and committed to spending 30% of the EU’s budget on climate — a 10% jump from the 2014-20 budget. With a total package of 1.8tn euros ($2.1tn), the climate tag comes in at 600bn euros.
But while that might sound good on paper, environmentalists remain sceptical.
“The problem is right now it’s turned into massive greenwashing,” said Berenice Dupeux, senior policy officer for agriculture at the European Environmental Bureau, a network of various environmental groups.
She said most of the spending that the EU counted under its climate umbrella — about 50% — isn’t actually to be spent on the environment: instead, they went to the union’s Common Agriculture Policy, without setting additional climate criteria.


And a large chunk of that money was paid out as direct payment to farmers to support their income, she said.
Yet, as the commission expects farmers to respect environmental regulations the EU had put in place, it automatically counts 20% of direct payments as going towards the climate target.
But as standards were simply the bare minimum, Dupeux said, and no one checked what the farmers use the money for, the percentage didn’t reflect reality.
Dupreux alleged that much of this approach, which she said lacked scientific evidence, stemmed from political pressure.
The commission is often dependent on the approval of the 27 governments in the bloc,
so its rules aimed at striking a balance between the different interests.
The national agricultural ministers, in turn, wouldn’t agree on cutting funding from direct farmers and financing pure climate activities instead, she said.
“Politically, they will not survive if they do that. They don’t want to touch the pot of money that is spent for social issues and shift it to climate,” she said.
The European Commission rejected the allegation. “This is the biggest green investment package the world has ever seen,” a commission spokesperson said. “The ambitions for a greener, more digital and more resilient Europe will remain guiding principles of the Next Generation EU and the next long-term budget.”
The spokesperson said that it followed a “clear and well-established” methodology to measure progress, namely the so-called Rio markers.
The Rio markers measure whether reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the principal objective of an activity, a secondary but significant objective, or if it does not target climate change at all.
Depending on that assessment, it attributes how many per cent of a spending activity went to climate.
For Dupeux, the EU’s use of this method failed to produce any tangible results as it didn’t look into the actual effects a project had on climate.
Markus Trilling, finance and subsidies policy co-ordinator at Climate Action Network, echoed her assessment and said that much clearer benchmarks were needed to assess what projects and investments the money should be spent on.
The current budget approach to climate, he said, “is an accounting exercise rather than a strategic, forward-looking planning approach.”
But the commission said its agricultural policy required EU countries to put sufficient emphasis on climate. “Member states will have the legal obligation to clearly show greater ambition than at present with regard to care for the environment and climate,” a spokesperson said.
The EU’s cohesion fund — a tool to narrow economic and development differences between the member states — was slightly better regulated for climate expenditures, Trilling said, as countries have to commit to specific climate-related project.
After agricultural policy, the cohesion fund is the pot of money where most of the EU’s climate-related money goes.
But also this fund left much room for improvement, with little checks being implemented on how the projects contributed to climate targets in reality, he said.
The 30% of spending going towards the climate target also apply to the EU’s 750-bn-euro coronavirus economic recovery funds.
Separate from the EU’s long-term budget, this fund leaves it in the hands of EU countries how the money is spent and gives the EU commission only minor leverage on the spending.
Trilling said it was now crucial that countries lived up to their climate promise also in the recovery funds and proposed spending plans that reflected this.
“If member states don’t put significant amount into the clean transition, you can flush the 30 per cent down the toilet,” he said.

https://gulf-times.com/story/670001/Is-the-EU-s-30-climate-budget-greenwashing

Despite the EU’s protestations, it has been obvious from the start that no country would accept a cut in farming subsidies via the CAP, in order to fight climate change. A bit of climate window dressing will convince nobody.

The other pots of money, such as the Cohesion and Coronavirus Funds, will be little better. The EU has never had any real control over how the money it hands out is spent, and tens of billions are wasted or worse every year, thanks to lax controls both at EU and national level.

Notionally some of this money might rub off in projects to fight climate change, but the eco-activists at Climate Action Network and the European Environmental Bureau, I suspect, won’t be holding their breath!

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August 8, 2020 at 01:21PM

Study: Some Children Find Nature Experiences Distressing Because of Climate Change

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t CFACT – According to a new study, children are so upset by climate change they don’t enjoy contact with nature. The study authors advocate more research into helping children cope with climate change and environmental degradation.

The abstract of the study;

Childhood nature connection and constructive hope: A review of research on connecting with nature and coping with environmental loss

Louise Chawla
First published: 05 August 2020

Within a generation, children’s lives have largely moved indoors, with the loss of free‐ranging exploration of the nearby natural world, even as research indicates that direct experiences of nature in childhood contribute to care for nature across the life span.

In response, many conservation organizations advocate connecting children with nature, and there has been rising interest in measuring young people’s connectedness with nature, understanding how it relates to their well‐being and stewardship behaviour and creating programs to increase connection.

This article reviews the literature on these topics, covering both quantitative and qualitative studies. It notes that this research emphasizes positive experiences and emotions, even as global environmental changes and biodiversity loss accelerate.

Young people’s emotions of worry, frustration and sadness as they learn about environmental degradation also express their understanding that they are connected to the biosphere. Therefore this review includes research on how young people cope with information about large‐scale environmental problems, and it identifies practices to sustain hope.

The review concludes by suggesting how research on connection with nature and coping with environmental change can benefit from integration.

Read more: https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/pan3.10128

Here’s a radical idea; how about society eases off abusing children by filling their minds with miserable scientifically unsound predictions of imminent climate catastrophe, so they can just enjoy being kids?

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August 8, 2020 at 12:42PM

Heisenberg Uncertainty Appears in Socio-Political Research

Background:  Heisenberg Uncertainty

In the sub-atomic domain of quantum mechanics, Werner Heisenberg, a German physicist, determined that our observations have an effect on the behavior of quanta (quantum particles).

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that it is impossible to know simultaneously the exact position and momentum of a particle. That is, the more exactly the position is determined, the less known the momentum, and vice versa. This principle is not a statement about the limits of technology, but a fundamental limit on what can be known about a particle at any given moment. This uncertainty arises because the act of measuring affects the object being measured. The only way to measure the position of something is using light, but, on the sub-atomic scale, the interaction of the light with the object inevitably changes the object’s position and its direction of travel.

Now skip to the world of governance and the effects of regulation. A similar finding shows that the act of regulating produces reactive behavior and unintended consequences contrary to the desired outcomes. More on that later on from a previous post.

This article looks at political and social research attempts to describe the electorate’s preoccupations and preferences ahead of 2020 US Presidential voting.in November.

John McLaughlin explains in his article Biased Polls Suppress Vote  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

McLaughlin noted among the 220 million eligible voters in the U.S., only around 139 million voted in 2016, which is considered the most all-time.

“Even if it goes up to 140-150 million, the polls of adults are going to be skewed against Republicans,” McLaughlin told Monday’s “Greg Kelly Reports,” especially “since President Trump gets over 90% support from Republicans.”

McLaughlin noted CNN’s poll among adults featured just 25% registered Republicans, where as around one-third of the electorate that voted in 2016 were Republicans.

He added to host Greg Kelly, it costs more to run focused polls of likely voters from actual voter registration lists.

“It’s cheaper for them to do,” in addition to being advantageous to the Democratic candidate, McLaughlin told Kelly. “They don’t have to buy a sample of voters, that campaign pollsters – whether Republican or Democrat – are going to have to do.”

Also, per McLaughlin, reporting a blowout lead ultimately can cause voter suppression, a frequent rally cry of Democrats against Republicans in election.

Politico notes that there is nothing nefarious going on to skew these polls toward Biden. But they do have the same issue the 2016 polls had: They’re not reaching all of the Trump supporters.

At the center of the issue are white voters without college degrees; in 2016, Trump earned 67% of this demographic’s support, while Democrat Hillary Clinton got just 28%. Current polls, according to Politico, are not capturing enough of this voting bloc, which unintentionally skews the results toward Biden.

My Comment:  This post was inspired by a Flynnville Train song that captures the sentiment of working class Americans alienated from the political process.  Disrespected as “deplorables” they turned out for Trump and made the difference in 2016.  Now with arbitrary pandemic restrictions and random urban rioting, these folks are even more incensed about the political elite.  Lest anyone think them inconsequential, remember than many of them get up and go to watch the most popular US spectator sport.  I refer to stock car racing, not the kneeling football or basketball athletes.

Previous Post: Regulatory Backfire

An article at Financial Times explains about Energy Regulations Unintended Consequences  Excerpts below with my bolds.

Goodhart’s Law holds that “any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes”. Originally coined by the economist Charles Goodhart as a critique of the use of money supply measures to guide monetary policy, it has been adopted as a useful concept in many other fields. The general principle is that when any measure is used as a target for policy, it becomes unreliable. It is an observable phenomenon in healthcare, in financial regulation and, it seems, in energy efficiency standards.

When governments set efficiency regulations such as the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for vehicles, they are often what is called “attribute-based”, meaning that the rules take other characteristics into consideration when determining compliance. The Cafe standards, for example, vary according to the “footprint” of the vehicle: the area enclosed by its wheels. In Japan, fuel economy standards are weight-based. Like all regulations, fuel economy standards create incentives to game the system, and where attributes are important, that can mean finding ways to exploit the variations in requirements. There have long been suspicions that the footprint-based Cafe standards would encourage manufacturers to make larger cars for the US market, but a paper this week from Koichiro Ito of the University of Chicago and James Sallee of the University of California Berkeley provided the strongest evidence yet that those fears are likely to be justified.

Mr Ito and Mr Sallee looked at Japan’s experience with weight-based fuel economy standards, which changed in 2009, and concluded that “the Japanese car market has experienced a notable increase in weight in response to attribute-based regulation”. In the US, the Cafe standards create a similar pressure, but expressed in terms of size rather than weight. Mr Ito suggested that in Ford’s decision to end almost all car production in North America to focus on SUVs and trucks, “policy plays a substantial role”. It is not just that manufacturers are focusing on larger models; specific models are also getting bigger. Ford’s move, Mr Ito wrote, should be seen as an “alarm bell” warning of the flaws in the Cafe system. He suggests an alternative framework with a uniform standard and tradeable credits, as a more effective and lower-cost option. With the Trump administration now reviewing fuel economy and emissions standards, and facing challenges from California and many other states, the vehicle manufacturers appear to be in a state of confusion. An elegant idea for preserving plans for improving fuel economy while reducing the cost of compliance could be very welcome.

The paper is The Economics of Attribute-Based Regulation: Theory and Evidence from Fuel-Economy Standards Koichiro Ito, James M. Sallee NBER Working Paper No. 20500.  The authors explain:

An attribute-based regulation is a regulation that aims to change one characteristic of a product related to the externality (the “targeted characteristic”), but which takes some other characteristic (the “secondary attribute”) into consideration when determining compliance. For example, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the United States recently adopted attribute-basing. Figure 1 shows that the new policy mandates a fuel-economy target that is a downward-sloping function of vehicle “footprint”—the square area trapped by a rectangle drawn to connect the vehicle’s tires.  Under this schedule, firms that make larger vehicles are allowed to have lower fuel economy. This has the potential benefit of harmonizing marginal costs of regulatory compliance across firms, but it also creates a distortionary incentive for automakers to manipulate vehicle footprint.

Attribute-basing is used in a variety of important economic policies. Fuel-economy regulations are attribute-based in China, Europe, Japan and the United States, which are the world’s four largest car markets. Energy efficiency standards for appliances, which allow larger products to consume more energy, are attribute-based all over the world. Regulations such as the Clean Air Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and the Affordable Care Act are attribute-based because they exempt some firms based on size. In all of these examples, attribute-basing is designed to provide a weaker regulation for products or firms that will find compliance more difficult.

Summary from Heritage Foundation study Fuel Economy Standards Are a Costly Mistake Excerpt with my bolds.

The CAFE standards are not only an extremely inefficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emission but will also have a variety of unintended consequences.

For example, the post-2010 standards apply lower mileage requirements to vehicles with larger footprints. Thus, Whitefoot and Skerlos argued that there is an incentive to increase the size of vehicles.

Data from the first few years under the new standard confirm that the average footprint, weight, and horsepower of cars and trucks have indeed all increased since 2008, even as carbon emissions fell, reflecting the distorted incentives.

Manufacturers have found work-arounds to thwart the intent of the regulations. For example, the standards raised the price of large cars, such as station wagons, relative to light trucks. As a result, automakers created a new type of light truck—the sport utility vehicle (SUV)—which was covered by the lower standard and had low gas mileage but met consumers’ needs. Other automakers have simply chosen to miss the thresholds and pay fines on a sliding scale.

Another well-known flaw in CAFE standards is the “rebound effect.” When consumers are forced to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, the cost per mile falls (since their cars use less gas) and they drive more. This offsets part of the fuel economy gain and adds congestion and road repair costs. Similarly, the rising price of new vehicles causes consumers to delay upgrades, leaving older vehicles on the road longer.

In addition, the higher purchase price of cars under a stricter CAFE standard is likely to force millions of households out of the new-car market altogether. Many households face credit constraints when borrowing money to purchase a car. David Wagner, Paulina Nusinovich, and Esteban Plaza-Jennings used Bureau of Labor Statistics data and typical finance industry debt-service-to-income ratios and estimated that 3.1 million to 14.9 million households would not have enough credit to purchase a new car under the 2025 CAFE standards.[34] This impact would fall disproportionately on poorer households and force the use of older cars with higher maintenance costs and with fuel economy that is generally lower than that of new cars.

CAFE standards may also have redistributed corporate profits to foreign automakers and away from Ford, General Motors (GM), and Chrysler (the Big Three), because foreign-headquartered firms tend to specialize in vehicles that are favored under the new standards.[35] 

Conclusion

CAFE standards are costly, inefficient, and ineffective regulations. They severely limit consumers’ ability to make their own choices concerning safety, comfort, affordability, and efficiency. Originally based on the belief that consumers undervalued fuel economy, the standards have morphed into climate control mandates. Under any justification, regulation gives the desires of government regulators precedence over those of the Americans who actually pay for the cars. Since the regulators undervalue the well-being of American consumers, the policy outcomes are predictably harmful.

Update Nov. 22, 2018

With the Democrats taking control of the US House of Representatives, we we will likely see them attempting again to “fight climate change” by means of counterproductive regulations and rules.  This post explains why such policies are ineffective, create unintended consequences that can make matters worse than doing nothing.

Background:  Hiesenberg Uncertainty

In the sub-atomic domain of quantum mechanics, Werner Heisenberg, a German physicist, determined that our observations have an effect on the behavior of quanta (quantum particles).

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that it is impossible to know simultaneously the exact position and momentum of a particle. That is, the more exactly the position is determined, the less known the momentum, and vice versa. This principle is not a statement about the limits of technology, but a fundamental limit on what can be known about a particle at any given moment. This uncertainty arises because the act of measuring affects the object being measured. The only way to measure the position of something is using light, but, on the sub-atomic scale, the interaction of the light with the object inevitably changes the object’s position and its direction of travel.

Now skip to the world of governance and the effects of regulation. A similar finding shows that the act of regulating produces reactive behavior and unintended consequences contrary to the desired outcomes.

An article at Financial Times explains about Energy Regulations Unintended Consequences  Excerpts below with my bolds.

Goodhart’s Law holds that “any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes”. Originally coined by the economist Charles Goodhart as a critique of the use of money supply measures to guide monetary policy, it has been adopted as a useful concept in many other fields. The general principle is that when any measure is used as a target for policy, it becomes unreliable. It is an observable phenomenon in healthcare, in financial regulation and, it seems, in energy efficiency standards.

When governments set efficiency regulations such as the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for vehicles, they are often what is called “attribute-based”, meaning that the rules take other characteristics into consideration when determining compliance. The Cafe standards, for example, vary according to the “footprint” of the vehicle: the area enclosed by its wheels. In Japan, fuel economy standards are weight-based. Like all regulations, fuel economy standards create incentives to game the system, and where attributes are important, that can mean finding ways to exploit the variations in requirements. There have long been suspicions that the footprint-based Cafe standards would encourage manufacturers to make larger cars for the US market, but a paper this week from Koichiro Ito of the University of Chicago and James Sallee of the University of California Berkeley provided the strongest evidence yet that those fears are likely to be justified.

Mr Ito and Mr Sallee looked at Japan’s experience with weight-based fuel economy standards, which changed in 2009, and concluded that “the Japanese car market has experienced a notable increase in weight in response to attribute-based regulation”. In the US, the Cafe standards create a similar pressure, but expressed in terms of size rather than weight. Mr Ito suggested that in Ford’s decision to end almost all car production in North America to focus on SUVs and trucks, “policy plays a substantial role”. It is not just that manufacturers are focusing on larger models; specific models are also getting bigger. Ford’s move, Mr Ito wrote, should be seen as an “alarm bell” warning of the flaws in the Cafe system. He suggests an alternative framework with a uniform standard and tradeable credits, as a more effective and lower-cost option. With the Trump administration now reviewing fuel economy and emissions standards, and facing challenges from California and many other states, the vehicle manufacturers appear to be in a state of confusion. An elegant idea for preserving plans for improving fuel economy while reducing the cost of compliance could be very welcome.

The paper is The Economics of Attribute-Based Regulation: Theory and Evidence from Fuel-Economy Standards Koichiro Ito, James M. Sallee NBER Working Paper No. 20500.  The authors explain:

An attribute-based regulation is a regulation that aims to change one characteristic of a product related to the externality (the “targeted characteristic”), but which takes some other characteristic (the “secondary attribute”) into consideration when determining compliance. For example, Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards in the United States recently adopted attribute-basing. Figure 1 shows that the new policy mandates a fuel-economy target that is a downward-sloping function of vehicle “footprint”—the square area trapped by a rectangle drawn to connect the vehicle’s tires.  Under this schedule, firms that make larger vehicles are allowed to have lower fuel economy. This has the potential benefit of harmonizing marginal costs of regulatory compliance across firms, but it also creates a distortionary incentive for automakers to manipulate vehicle footprint.

Attribute-basing is used in a variety of important economic policies. Fuel-economy regulations are attribute-based in China, Europe, Japan and the United States, which are the world’s four largest car markets. Energy efficiency standards for appliances, which allow larger products to consume more energy, are attribute-based all over the world. Regulations such as the Clean Air Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and the Affordable Care Act are attribute-based because they exempt some firms based on size. In all of these examples, attribute-basing is designed to provide a weaker regulation for products or firms that will find compliance more difficult.

Summary from Heritage Foundation study Fuel Economy Standards Are a Costly Mistake Excerpt with my bolds.

The CAFE standards are not only an extremely inefficient way to reduce carbon dioxide emission but will also have a variety of unintended consequences.

For example, the post-2010 standards apply lower mileage requirements to vehicles with larger footprints. Thus, Whitefoot and Skerlos argued that there is an incentive to increase the size of vehicles.

Data from the first few years under the new standard confirm that the average footprint, weight, and horsepower of cars and trucks have indeed all increased since 2008, even as carbon emissions fell, reflecting the distorted incentives.

Manufacturers have found work-arounds to thwart the intent of the regulations. For example, the standards raised the price of large cars, such as station wagons, relative to light trucks. As a result, automakers created a new type of light truck—the sport utility vehicle (SUV)—which was covered by the lower standard and had low gas mileage but met consumers’ needs. Other automakers have simply chosen to miss the thresholds and pay fines on a sliding scale.

Another well-known flaw in CAFE standards is the “rebound effect.” When consumers are forced to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, the cost per mile falls (since their cars use less gas) and they drive more. This offsets part of the fuel economy gain and adds congestion and road repair costs. Similarly, the rising price of new vehicles causes consumers to delay upgrades, leaving older vehicles on the road longer.

In addition, the higher purchase price of cars under a stricter CAFE standard is likely to force millions of households out of the new-car market altogether. Many households face credit constraints when borrowing money to purchase a car. David Wagner, Paulina Nusinovich, and Esteban Plaza-Jennings used Bureau of Labor Statistics data and typical finance industry debt-service-to-income ratios and estimated that 3.1 million to 14.9 million households would not have enough credit to purchase a new car under the 2025 CAFE standards.[34] This impact would fall disproportionately on poorer households and force the use of older cars with higher maintenance costs and with fuel economy that is generally lower than that of new cars.

CAFE standards may also have redistributed corporate profits to foreign automakers and away from Ford, General Motors (GM), and Chrysler (the Big Three), because foreign-headquartered firms tend to specialize in vehicles that are favored under the new standards.[35] 

Conclusion

CAFE standards are costly, inefficient, and ineffective regulations. They severely limit consumers’ ability to make their own choices concerning safety, comfort, affordability, and efficiency. Originally based on the belief that consumers undervalued fuel economy, the standards have morphed into climate control mandates. Under any justification, regulation gives the desires of government regulators precedence over those of the Americans who actually pay for the cars. Since the regulators undervalue the well-being of American consumers, the policy outcomes are predictably harmful.

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August 8, 2020 at 01:33PM

Farewell to Roy Hogue

Sadly, long time commenter and moderator Roy Hogue passed away this week.

People may not realize Roy spent countless hours moderating as “AZ”. Many thanks to him for his patience  — and likewise to all the moderators who make it possible for the conversation to continue here.

After 12,535 comments he will be missed.

Roy’s first comment was in November 2009. As a “computer science type” who lectured at college level, Roy said:

At a lecture for students on AGW the best a pair of professors could come up with to support their alarmism was Al Gore’s movie and the usual statements that it’s a done deal, no more debate, etc., etc., ad nauseam.

Our students have no means of protecting themselves from this proof by authority. 

Commiserations to his lovely wife Catharine and family. I know he was much loved.

A good man to the end.

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August 8, 2020 at 12:25PM