A Well-Deserved Honor

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line Blog today about a Presidential Medal of Freedom that President Trump will be awarding to Arthur Laffer, the father of the Laffer Curve.

So what is the Laffer Curve. The International Finance website defines it as follows:

The term “ Laffer Curve” was coined by Jude Wanniski (former associate editor of the The Wall Street Journal) in 1978 when Wanniski penned an article named “Taxes, Revenues and the Laffer Curve”. In December 1974, Wanniski who was the associate editor of The Wall Street Journal along with Arthur Laffer, Professor at the Chicago University, Donald Rumsfeld ( Chief of Staff of to President Gerald Ford) and Dickey Cheney (Rumsfeld’s deputy) were discussing President Ford’s WIN (Whip Inflation Now)  proposal for tax increases at a restaurant in Washington, Laffer grabbed a napkin and a pen and sketched  a curve on the napkin illustrating the tradeoff between tax rates and tax revenues, Wanniski later named it as the “Laffer Curve”.  A humble and honest academician who served Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Advisory Board, Arthur credited the theory to 14th century Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun and eminent Economist John Maynard Keynes.

This is what the Laffer Curve looks like:


The “Laffer Curve” is a theoretical curve showing the relationship between applied income tax rate and the resulting government revenue. The theory propagates the following points:

    • A tax rate of zero would result in zero government revenue
    • A tax rate of 100% will also result in zero government revenue
    • As the tax rate increases to above zero, there is an increase in the revenues of the government
    • As the tax rate continues to increase, the resultant increase in government revenue begins to slow
    • At a particular point the curve peaks and turns back towards the horizontal axis

The Laffer Curve is the reason that the federal government will collect more tax revenue this year despite the fact that President Trump lowered taxes. When taxes are raised, those with the money to hire good tax accountants find a way to avoid paying high taxes and tax revenues go down. Those of us without good tax accountants (usually the middle class) are stuck paying the increased taxes. The spending power of the middle class decreases, and the economy slows down. When the middle class has more money to spend, the economy does well.

Congratulations, Arthur Lapper. The recognition is well deserved.

Another Global Threat Down The Drain

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line yesterday about some recent research on deforestation. It seems that it is not happening.

The article reports:

I have noted from time to time the data from the United Nations Global Forest Resource Assessment (UNGFRA) that has found that deforestation stopped at least 25 years ago, and that net reforestation has been taking place.

But the UN data is not as good as one would like. This week, however, Naturemagazine published a major new studywith much more precise measurements and analysis than the UNGFRA based on 35 years’ worth of satellite imagery, and it finds that since 1982 global forest cover has increasedby 7.2 percent, or 2.24 million kilometers.

The article includes information from the study:

Changes in land use and land cover considerably alter the Earth’s energy balance and biogeochemical cycles, which contributes to climate change and—in turn—affects land surface properties and the provision of ecosystem services. However, quantification of global land change is lacking. Here we analyse 35 years’ worth of satellite data and provide a comprehensive record of global land-change dynamics during the period 1982–2016. We show that—contrary to the prevailing view that forest area has declined globally—tree cover has increased by 2.24 million km2 (+7.1% relative to the 1982 level). This overall net gain is the result of a net loss in the tropics being outweighed by a net gain in the extratropics. Global bare ground cover has decreased by 1.16 million km2 (−3.1%), most notably in agricultural regions in Asia. Of all land changes, 60% are associated with direct human activities and 40% with indirect drivers such as climate change. Land-use change exhibits regional dominance, including tropical deforestation and agricultural expansion, temperate reforestation or afforestation, cropland intensification and urbanization. Consistently across all climate domains, montane systems have gained tree cover and many arid and semi-arid ecosystems have lost vegetation cover. The mapped land changes and the driver attributions reflect a human-dominated Earth system.

In addition to the reforestation of the earth, global warming has slowed down since 1999.

In 2014, the BBC reported:

Scientists have struggled to explain the so-called pause that began in 1999, despite ever increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The latest theory says that a naturally occurring 30-year cycle in the Atlantic Ocean is behind the slowdown.

The researchers says this slow-moving current could continue to divert heat into the deep seas for another decade.

However, they caution that global temperatures are likely to increase rapidly when the cycle flips to a warmer phase.

I guess those who study the earth and its climate have not yet figured out all of the answers.

It Sounds Good–It Just Isn’t True

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line today about a conversation with a supporter of green energy. The green energy supporter was speaking about a hotel they had invested in that had gone entirely to solar power.

The article reports:

…Knowing that the sun actually goes down and stops supplying electrons, I asked the obvious question:

“So, is the hotel disconnected from the grid?”

You don’t need to guess what the answer was, and why the claim that any building is “100 percent powered by renewables” (like Apple) is the epitome of fake news. Whereupon this Klimatista explained that before long we’ll have these terrific batteries that we can charge up during the daytime to supply our electricity over night. Problem solved! The planet is saved!

Although electricity is indeed the best and most efficient form of power in the abstract, I’m always amazed that no one bothers to ask a simple question: assuming we can get the cost of better batteries down, and increase their functionality (charging time, etc), has anyone‚ Bueller? Bueller?—bothered to do the materials calculations of increasing our battery production at least 1000-fold (just for the United States)? Ever seen what a lithium mine looks like, let alone all of the other materials required for batteries? How many new lithium, cobalt, and copper mines are we going to need to scale up 1,000x?

The article then goes on to explain the negative side of green energy:

The technical journal article that explains this, “Bulk Energy Storage Increases United States Electricity Systems Emissions” in Environmental Science & Technology, is unfortunately behind a paywall, but Dave Roberts—a deep greenie (the founder of what he calls “Climate Hawks”) summarizes the study in plain English for us in “Batteries Have a Dirty Secret” at Vox:

[E]nergy storage has a dirty secret. The way it’s typically used in the US today, it enables more fossil-fueled energy and higher carbon emissions. Emissions are higher today than they would have been if no storage had ever been deployed in the US . . .

I guess this green energy thing needs a little more work.

Happy Birthday, Mustang

This week Mustang turns 50. She looks pretty good for her age:

Yes, I know that’s a 2010, but that’s the picture I like!

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line about Mustang’s birthday (with a few comments on her history).

The article included the question, “Which gives off more air pollution, a 1969 Mustang parked in a driveway with the motor off or a  2013 Mustang, roaring down the road at 60 mph?”

The answer is surprising:

If you’re very clever (or keep up with Matt Ridley), you’ll know the answer is that the parked 1969 Mustang gives off more air pollution, in the form of unburned hydrocarbons evaporating through the old-school carbuerator and unsealed gas tank caps (among other places).  A good object lesson in the advancement of engine technology.  And the fact that the real heroes of environmental improvement were engineers with pocket protectors more than hippie environmentalists.


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The Use Of Coal Has A Positive Impact On The Environment???

Steven Hayward posted an article at Power Line today about the increase in the use of coal to generate electricity. The article includes the following chart:

It seems that the environmentalists are caught between a rock and a hard place–they don’t approve of coal and they don’t approve of fracking, which results in cheap natural gas that generates electricity in a more environmentally friendly way than coal.

The article points out that India regards the use of coal to generate electricity as its path to prosperity. Even worse, coal-generated electricity has cut pollution in India because it reduces the use of small wood-fueled cookstoves.  According to a recent global health study, small wood-fueled cookstoves are the largest environmental health threat in developing nations.

So where are we? Environmentalists are doing their best to shut down coal plants in America, despite the fact that the global warming scare is pretty much over. Developing countries are using coal because it creates less of an environmental problem than small wood-fueled cookstoves. Natural gas, the clean alternative to coal in electricity production is out of favor with environmentalists because it is obtained by fracking. So what are we supposed to do?

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