Cutting The Cost Of Government By Improving The Economy

Yesterday Breitbart reported that in the last year food stamp [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)] enrollment has gone down in 46 out of the 50 states. The biggest drops were in Connecticut, North Carolina, and Washington, D.C.

The article reports:

Connecticut saw the largest drop, with SNAP enrollment dropping 25.4 percent from May 2016 to May 2017.

The state also saw a pretty hefty drop in enrollment over one month — Connecticut’s enrollment in the food stamp program dropped 14.2 percent from April 2017 to May 2017.

North Carolina saw the second-largest decrease in SNAP enrollment with a 14.2 drop in the number of state residents participating in the food stamp program.

Part of the decrease has to do with a provision in the 2009 economic stimulus bill. The bill included a waiver of the work requirement in areas that were economically depressed.

The article explains:

The economic boom in these towns no longer made them eligible as of April 1, 2016, for a waiver from SNAP regulations. These regulations were put in place nationwide before the recession and require able-bodied adults without children to work at least 20 hours week, enroll in school, or take part in state-approved job training if they receive benefits for more than three months.

…The only four states that did not see declines in food stamp enrollment are Alaska, Kentucky, Montana, and Illinois. Each of those states reported slight gains in SNAP enrollment. Alaska saw the biggest increase in food stamp enrollment, with SNAP participation increasing by 4.1 percent. Illinois saw the second-largest increase in SNAP enrollment at 3.4 percent, and Montana reported an increase of 3 percent.

All of those states participate in the waiver program either statewide or in certain towns because of chronic unemployment in those areas.

Nationwide, food stamp enrollment has been on the downswing. Food stamp use in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in seven years, and 1.1 million Americans dropped off the food stamp rolls since President Trump took office.

There is a basic lesson here. When there is a work requirement to collect food stamps, enrollment goes down.

As I reported in July:

For example, in July 2014, Maine announced that it would no longer grant waivers from the work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependent children.

In order to receive benefits, they would thus have to work, participate in a work program for 20 hours per week, or do community service for about six hours per week.

It is important to note that this policy did not arbitrarily cut food stamp recipients from the program rolls. Able-bodied adults without dependent children in Maine were removed from the rolls only if they refused to participate in modest activities.

In fact, most of these individuals in Maine chose to leave the program rather than participate in training or community service, despite the strong outreach efforts of government caseworkers. This indicates that these individuals had other means of supporting themselves.

As a result of the new policy, the Maine caseload for able-bodied adults without dependent children dropped 80 percent in just a few months, falling from 13,332 in December 2014 to 2,678 recipients in March 2015.

I wonder what Congress had in mind when the waivers were put in place in 2009. We now have the examples of Alaska, Kentucky, Montana, and Illinois. All of those states still have the waivers, and they are the only four states whose economies have not improved sufficiently to remove the waivers. Food stamps without a work or training requirement does not help anyone–it simply creates dependency. How many times do we have to see this principle in action before we learn that lesson?

Priorities Please

Today’s Wall Street Journal posted an article by Senator John McCain about President Obama’s recent visit to Alaska. During that visit, the President focused his attention on the cataclysmic threat of climate change. (For accurate information on climate change, see wattsupwiththat. It is the world’s most viewed website on climate change)

Senator McCain reports:

Some of my Senate colleagues and I recently returned from the Arctic, and while we saw the challenges of melting polar ice, we also saw a greater and more immediate threat. It is a menace that many assumed was relegated to the past: an aggressive, militarily capable Russian state that is ruled by an anti-American autocrat, hostile to our interests, dismissive of our values, and seeking to challenge the international order that U.S. leaders of both parties have maintained for seven decades.

Vladimir Putin’s neo-imperial ambitions are clear enough in his attempt to dominate Russia’s neighbors, Ukraine most of all. But his ambitions increasingly extend to the Arctic and Europe’s northern flank. That is where I and my colleagues met with leaders and security officials from Norway, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Is President Obama ignoring this threat or is this part of his promise to ‘be more flexible’ in dealing with Russia in his second term?

On Tuesday, CBN News reported:

The president says the science about climate change gets clearer every day and proves it’s no longer a distant threat.

And he’s right that Alaska’s climate is changing. Summer snow is forecast for this Friday amidst a cooling period. Alaska’s climate has been changing for a long time.

The poster child for climate change in Alaska, the Mendenall glacier, which is melting, was already melting in the 1700s and, according to scientists, had retreated one mile by the 1900s.

Some scientists say Alaska has been warming because of a reversal in the Pacific decadal oscillation, a 60-year cycle that sends warmer air to Alaska.

I am the least scientific person I know, but even I know that there are such things are natural climate cycles. Those cycles are what has enabled The Farmer’s Almanac to be one of the most accurate forecasters of weather on the planet. They have been using the same formula to predict weather that was used before computer forecasting came into vogue. Oddly enough, The Farmer’s Almanac predictions have proved to be more accurate than the computer models scientists have created. The climate is changing. The climate is always changing. The question is how much man is responsible for the changes. There was a long period of global warming during the Middle Ages, but somehow I cannot picture it being caused by the Lord of the Manor running around in his SUV.

Global warming is not the greatest threat America faces as a country. The greatest threat we face as a country is the increasing boldness of people who wish to do us harm that are spurred on by the fact that we have a weak President. That is our greatest threat.

Funding The Green Agenda At The Executive Level

It would be nice if we were all very honest people who were not swayed by money or the promise of influence. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the way the world works. Today’s Daily Caller posted a story about White House Counselor John Podesta, who will be leaving the White House to take a position in Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The article reports:

But his work came into fuller view earlier this week when he emerged as one of the architects of the new White House policy that seeks to end any future drilling for oil on Alaska’s coastal plain.

In fact, Podesta personally announced the policy in a White House blog post Sunday, waxing poetic that the move would ensure “this wild, free, beautiful, and bountiful place remains in trust for Alaska Natives and for all Americans.”

Shielding public lands from oil and gas drilling also is one of the main occupations of Hansjorg Wyss, a mysterious Swiss billionaire who personally hired Podesta as a “consultant” in 2013 just before he entered the White House, according to his White House disclosure form.

The problem is that because of the timing involved, there is a violation of federal ethics rules.

The article explains:

But it may be Wyss’s decision to personally hire the White House Counselor in 2013 as a “consultant,” and paying him $87,000 that could cause Podesta the most trouble.

A number of federal ethics rules, including President Obama’s “ethics pledge,” signed into law by the president on his first day in office, preclude political appointees from engaging in issues of interest to a former employer.

The period of disqualification applies to all work done within two years before entering the federal government. Podesta worked at Wyss’s HJW Foundation in 2013 and joined the White House in January 2014.

Wyss has a history of working to put federal lands off limits for energy exploration and for use as grazing property.

The article details more of Wyss’ activities:

He famously ponied up $35 million in 2010 to set aside 310,000 acres of land from development in Montana.

In January 2013, Wyss contributed $4.25 million to purchase oil and gas leases on 58,000 acres of land in Wyoming’s Hoback Basin.

Wyss sits on the governing council of the Wilderness Society, and on the boards of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Grand Canyon Trust.

In addition to Podesta, Wyss also hired Molly Mcusic to be his foundation president.

Mcusic served in the Clinton administration as a top assistant to Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit. She is best remembered for using the Antiquities Act to designate lands as “National Monuments.”

I wish we had someone in Washington uncorrupt enough to take on this sort of corruption. Americans are being denied the use of land that would add to the prosperity of the average citizen, and someone from another country is pulling the strings within an American administration. Would anyone be willing to wager how much of this story will make the major news outlets?

An Interesting Development For The Political Left In America

The political left in America loves the United Nations. When the U.N. condemns Israel and supports countries that routinely practice persecution of non-Muslim religions, the political left in America doesn’t seem to notice. When the U.N. creates gun treaties that will take away Americans’ Second Amendment rights, the political left doesn’t worry about American sovereignty. Well, the question of American sovereignty is about to impact some of the political left.

Reuters posted a story yesterday reporting that Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), has told reporters that moves by some U.S. states to legalize marijuana are not in line with international drugs conventions.

The article reports:

“I don’t see how (the new laws) can be compatible with existing conventions,” Yury Fedotov, executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told reporters.

Asked whether there was anything the UNODC could do about it, Fedotov said he would raise the problem next week with the U.S. State Department and other U.N. agencies.

I have stated before that I do not support the legalization of marijuana. However, I do support American sovereignty and states’ rights. Under the U.S. Constitution, the states have all authority not enumerated as federal authority (Tenth Amendment). I believe that according to the U.S. Constitution, the states are within their rights to legalize marijuana. Has America given the U.N. sovereignty over our states?

The article concludes:

On the international level, Uruguay‘s parliament in late 2013 approved a bill to legalize and regulate the production and sale of marijuana — the first country to do so.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has said Uruguay’s new bill contravened the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which it says requires states to limit the use of cannabis to medical and scientific purposes, due to its dependence-producing potential. The Vienna-based INCB monitors compliance with this and two other drug control treaties.

This could get interesting.

 

 

How Many ‘Isolated Incidents’ Does It Take To Form A Pattern?

The Blaze is reporting today that another government agency has lost certain emails that Congress is seeking. There seems to be an epidemic of ‘the dog ate my homework’ in Washington. The epidemic needs to stop–NOW!

The article reports:

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that the EPA is still wrestling with how to recover emails from a former EPA official based in Alaska, who was involved in decision to block a proposed mining operation. Meadows pressed McCarthy on how progress was coming along, and McCarthy admitted there are problems.

“I don’t believe this is a missing hard drive issue. There’s a challenge getting access to the data,” she said. ”We’re increasingly getting information in different ways and we’re taking a look at it.”

McCarthy never attributed it to a computer crash, like the IRS did in the case of Lois Lerner. Instead, she said it’s a problem that involves multiple failures.

…When Meadows asked if the EPA has told the National Archives, McCarthy said the EPA did take that step.

“When did you do that?” he asked.

“Yesterday,” McCarthy said.

When did America become a banana republic? Where is the accountability? Is Congress even aware that they are being totally dissed and their oversight committees mocked? This has got to stop.

An Interesting Solution To “Inequality”

Jonah Goldberg posted an article at Townhall.com today that offers an interesting solution to the ‘inequality’ President Obama and some of the political left seem to be focused on lately. Oddly enough, the solution does not include giving more money or power to Washington.

In referring to the culture of Alaska (many of Mr. Goldberg’s wife’s family members live in Alaska, so he has spent some time there), he notes:

In my experience, Alaska stands out in another way: social equality. When I started going there regularly, I was shocked to discover how casually different economic classes intermingle. Scanning the attendees of a party or patrons of a restaurant, it’s pretty much guesswork to figure out who’s a millionaire and who’s a mechanic. Nothing like that happens in places like Washington, New York or Los Angeles, where upper and lower classes get along little better than the Morlocks and Eloi did in H.G. Wells‘ “The Time Machine.” But it does happen in lots of places — liberal and conservative — outside the Amtrak Acela corridor.

Mr. Goldberg points out a very logical solution to ‘inequality’ in America:

For practical purposes, people don’t live in the United States of America. They live in their neighborhoods, towns and communities. Yes, these are American communities, but your neighbors live in your neighborhood, not seven states over. Your kids don’t go to “U.S. schools”; they go to the school down the road.

Yet most of our money goes to the government in Washington, and so does most of the power. Why not flip that around? Want to see the rich, poor and middle class interact more? Give them a reason to show up to a city council or school board meeting. Sure, money has power at the local level, too, but so do votes.

Moreover, when rich people get their way at the local level, people usually know who they are and why they are doing things. And you can bend their ear at the supermarket or at soccer practice.

But when all the decisions are made in Washington or New York, most Americans are simply out of the loop.

And they resent it.

Having lived in New England for many years, I attended many Town Meetings where budgets, roads, zoning, and community growth were discussed. It was a way to see politics on a local level, and it was a way to be involved in the politics of your town. The taxpayers voted on the budget; the taxpayers voted on the zoning; and the taxpayers got to see their elected city officials at work. The taxpayers also had a chance to talk to their elected officials after the meeting. I don’t know if a Town Meeting would work in a larger setting, but certainly if more Americans felt that they had some sort of power, they would attend some of the various committee meetings in their cities and towns. Involving taxpayers in their local governments would be a step forward. I think Mr. Goldberg is on to something.

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A Perspective On American Energy That Isn’t Being Heard

Scott Noble is the President of Noble Royalties, Inc. (NRI). NRI is a company that specializes in acquiring valuable mineral, royalty and overriding royalty properties. The company was founded in 1997. Mr. Noble is also chairman of the New American Energy Opportunity Foundation, which supports energy independence for America.

Mr. Noble was interviewed on the Bill Bennett show during the last presidential campaign. This is the audio from that interview:

Some highlights from the website of the NAEOF:

The United States has more energy resources than any other country in the world.  Because of recent advances in technology, American

has the potential to become the number one energy producer in the world by the end of the decade. The main obstacle to achieving this goal is over-regulation by the federal government. Because of those regulations, there are fewer jobs, higher prices at the gas pump, and our national security is at risk.
Under the Obama Administration, new leases on federal land have dropped to under 2 million a year from 12 million in 1988. According to a study conducted by Noble Royalties, returning to 1980’s leasing levels would generate

750 billion dollars in lease and royalty fees for the federal government and add

5 trillion dollars to America’s economy. That is how you fight unemployment.
The Obama Administration has blocked the development of oil sources in Alaska and offshore, and it has blocked the building of new oil refineries.
The article at NAEOF concludes:

Beyond outright bans on development and the failure to issue new leases, numerous new laws have been passed in the past 30 years increasing administrative requirements on energy producers.  A 2004 report from the U.S. Department of Energy determined that there are more than 140 different laws which impact natural gas production in the United States.  Most of these laws apply equally to oil development as well.  The result of this new mound of bureaucracy and red tape has been increased permitting delays, lawsuits and compliance costs that are additionally stymieing development.

Of course, it is reasonable to expect the US government take steps to make sure energy companies are developing oil and gas responsibly.  But environmental regulations long ago passed from the necessary to the ridiculous.  For instance, the Bureau of Land Management recently put a moratorium on drilling in 380,000 acres of land during the mating season of prairie chickens. But when pressed, BLM admitted that the ban was not based on any scientific analysis.

Instead of doing the things that will build our country’s future, we are borrowing from children who aren’t even born yet. America needs to wake up and elect people who will move forward on American energy independence.

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Things Are Not Going Well For The Global Warming Crowd

Last Saturday the Miami Herald posted a story about some delays Shell Oil is experiencing as it is poised to begin drilling for oil in the Arctic.

The article reports:

The summer ice melt in the Arctic has often reached record levels in recent years in what many scientists believe is a sign of climate change. But this year a high pressure zone over the coast of Alaska, low winter temperatures and certain ocean currents have combined to bring unusually large amounts of ice not only to Alaska’s northern coast, but farther south in the Bering Sea as well, National Weather Service officials said.
“I do think it’s going to be a slow breakup this year,” Kathleen Cole, sea ice program leader for the weather service, told the Los Angeles Times.
The result is that while Canadian waters in the far northern Atlantic have relatively low ice levels, Alaska is an iceberg – at least for now.

I guess Alaska didn’t get the message about global warming. The bottom line here is that man does not control the weather and has a very limited impact on it. There are natural climate cycles that the earth goes through (there was a period of global warming in the Middle Ages–long before the industrial revolution). Somehow it all evens out.

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Giving Away America’s Resources

New Siberian Islands map Bennett island

New Siberian Islands map Bennett island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is truly under the radar. The Washington Times was the only reliable source I could find on this. The source for the Washington Times article was World Net Daily.

The Obama Administration is planning to give away seven islands in the Arctic Ocean. They are planning to give these islands and the tens of thousands of square miles of oil-rich seabeds surrounding the islands to Russia as part of a maritime boundary agreement between Alaska and Siberia.

World Net Daily reports:

The agreement was negotiated in total secrecy. The state of Alaska was not allowed to participate in the negotiations, nor was the public given any opportunity for comment. This is despite the fact the Alaska Legislature has passed resolutions of opposition – but the State Department doesn’t seem to care.

This is the list of the islands involved:

The imperiled Arctic Ocean islands include Wrangel, Bennett, Jeannette and Henrietta. Wrangel became American in 1881 with the landing of the U.S. Revenue Marine ship Thomas Corwin. The landing party included the famed naturalist John Muir. It is 3,000 square miles in size.

Northwest of Wrangel are the DeLong Islands, named for George Washington DeLong, the captain of USS Jeannette. Also in 1881, he discovered and claimed these three islands for the United States. He named them for the voyage co-sponsor, New York City newspaper publisher James Gordon Bennett. The ship’s crew received a hero’s welcome back in Washington, and Congress awarded them gold medals.

In the Bering Sea at the far west end of the Aleutian chain are Copper Island, Sea Lion Rock and Sea Otter Rock. They were ceded to the U.S. in Seward’s 1867 treaty with Russia.

The World Net Daily article ends with the following statement by the author:

Author’s addendum, Feb. 17, 2012: This is not a new issue. In fact the Bush and Clinton administrations are directly at fault for the same inaction. A maritime agreement negotiated by the U.S. State Department set the Russian boundary on the other side of the disputed islands, but no treaty has ratified this action. Consequently, it is within the president’s power to stop this giveaway. The Alaska delegation’s failure to put pressure on the administration is inexplicable. State Department Watch, an organization that assisted with this article, has confronted each administration and is currently confronting the Obama administration — and has been met by silence. I’m hoping this piece will help reinvigorate efforts to stop this handover.

I don’t know how many people actually read this blog, but I would really appreciate it if some of them will send an email to their Congressman about this land deal. At some point in the very near future, the existence of America will depend on our energy independence. That time will probably come before the practicality of ‘green energy.’ It is not wise to give away a resource that may be necessary for the survival of America.


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You Can Put Anything In A Book–That Doesn’t Make It True

Yesterday Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism site posted an article yesterday about the new book about Sarah Palin written by Joe McGinniss. Joe McGinniss was the author who rented a house next to the Palins in Alaska in order to watch them closely for his book. I know that was legal, but it definitely was tacky. Well, it seems that spying on the Palins did not give Mr. McGinniss all the negative stories he was seeking, so he went to some rather unreliable sources.

The article at Big Journalism includes a memo written by Mr. McGinniss to Jesse Griffin, Mr. McGinniss admits that he cannot prove some of the more extreme allegations against the Palins that he related in his book. In the memo, Mr. McGinniss states:

Neither from you, the Enquirer, AlaskaWTF, palingates.com or anyone else, have I seen a credible, identified source backing any of the salacious stories about the Palin family.

Thus–as Random House lawyers are already pointing out to me–nothing I can cite other than my own reporting rises above the level of tawdry gossip. The proof is always just around the corner, but that’s a corner nobody has been able to turn. Maybe Jeff Dunn has, in which case I’ll be the first to congratulate him. But frankly, at this point, I’m tired of it, and I’ve run out of time.

This is ridiculous. I know the goal is to write a book in a timely manner and then sell it, but based on that statement, the book should be sold in the Fiction section of the bookstore.

I am sorry that so much money is wasted on attacking a family just because the wife and mother is a threat to liberal politics. Wouldn’t it be more civil just to discuss issues? I think every American should resent this type of