Friday, September 29, 2006

AP on Journey Through Hallowed Ground

The Associated Press has now run a story about Peyton Knight's testimony before the House yesterday.

The story doesn't cover the federalism issues much -- it is very short.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:26 PM

Cigarettes Cause Global Warming?

NewsMax is reporting that Al Gore has told an audience that "cigarette smoking is a 'significant' contributor to global warming."

Betting here is that this is based on a joke or parody.

As Drudge (who linked to the report) likes to say, developing...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:46 PM

Journey Through Hallowed Ground Debated in House Committee

Our Peyton Knight testified Thursday in the House Resources Committee Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands about the impact on property rights of the Allen-Wolf proposed "Journey Through Hallowed Ground" National Heritage Area. The Committee is chaired by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM).

Here's part of what Peter Hardin of the Richmond Times-Dispatch had to say:
Monticello-to-Gettysburg Proposal Fuels a Feud

WASHINGTON -- A House panel heard strong views from opposing sides yesterday on a bill to preserve a historic corridor stretching from Monticello in Virginia to Gettysburg, Pa.

Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-10th, who sponsored the bill, said it would offer needed protection to 'the most historic area in the nation' while also guarding the rights of private property owners.

But Peyton Knight of the Washington-based National Center for Public Policy Research contended the bill could end up hurting property owners, and that it was written in a way to interfere with local authority..."
Go here to read the rest of the Times-Dispatch article.

I don't know that it is online anywhere else, so I am posting, below, the complete text of Peyton's formal testimony, including some solid property rights quotes from other folks, as submitted to the Committee. Folks also might might be interested in these letters to the Committee from Tertium Quids (PDF) and the Property Rights Foundation of America (PDF).
Statement of Peyton Knight
Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
The National Center for Public Policy Research

Concerning H.R. 5195, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act of 2006

Before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands

September 28, 2006

Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is Peyton Knight, and I am Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs for The National Center for Public Policy Research, located in Washington, D.C. The National Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan education foundation founded in 1982.

The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act is a prime example of how pork-barrel politics can harm local rule and private property rights.

Worse than run-of-the-mill pork, which wastes federal tax dollars, this legislation would actually purchase preservationist special interest groups, many of which have histories of anti-property rights activism, and encourage them to urge State and local lawmakers to restrict land use, modify zoning and even acquire private property or interests in private property.

Specifically, H.R. 5195 would create a 175-mile long federal corridor, the boundaries of which encompass portions of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It would assign a "management entity" consisting of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground (JTHG) Partnership (an umbrella group of preservation activists and lobbyists who stand to directly benefit from the bill's passage) and the Interior Department to oversee development and land use in the area. This entity would be tasked with creating a "management plan," which among other things, would include an "inventory" of all property within the boundaries of the Heritage Area that the management entity wants "preserved," "managed" or "acquired" because of its so-called "national historic significance." Once this plan meets the approval of the federal government, the legislation directs the management entity to work to implement the plan at the local level, and equips the management entity with federal cash and federal assistance.

According to the legislation, the management entity would have the authority to disburse federal moneys to "States and their political subdivisions" to promote land use policies that are favored by the entity, including acquisition of private property. Taxpayers and residents within the boundaries of the Heritage Area would not be allowed to vote on the management entity's leadership or have a say in its direction. Eligibility for membership in the board of directors of the management entity would be limited to members of the partnership prior to the legislation's enactment.

The bill lists as one of its "purposes" that all "significant historic, cultural and recreational sites in the Heritage Area" should be managed "in a manner consistent with compatible economic development." And, of course, which sites are deemed "significant" and which types of development are deemed "compatible" is at the discretion of the preservationist interest groups and their federal partners, rather than the residents of the states and localities involved.

The preservationist interest groups couldn't ask for much more than what this legislation would provide them: A congressionally-ordained, members-only club, funded by taxpayers, for the purpose of making taxpayers live under the club's rules.

To claim, as the JTHG Partnership does, that this legislation "does not interfere with the local authority at all" does not pass the straight face test. In fact, this bill is designed to interfere with local authority.

As the General Accountability Office reported in March, 2004, National Heritage Area management plans, like the one prescribed in H.R. 5195, "encourage local governments to implement land use policies that are consistent with the heritage areas' plans, which may allow the heritage areas to indirectly influence zoning and land use planning in ways that could restrict owners' use of their property."

A good example of the negative influence such Areas can have on property rights and zoning can be found in the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area in Arizona.

The Chairman of the Committee on Resources has filed a report explaining the situation in Yuma. This report accompanies legislation designed to amend the Yuma Heritage Area in order to protect the rights of property owners. It states:

"When the Yuma Crossing Heritage Area was authorized in 2000, the public in Yuma County did not understand the scope of the project and was surprised by the size of the designation... Concerns were raised by citizens about the size of the designation and the potential for additional Federal oversight. The fear of adverse impacts on private property rights were realized when local government agencies began to use the immense heritage area boundary to determine zoning restrictions."

When confronted with the unpleasant realities of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act, proponents of the legislation enter spin mode, saying the bill is designed to merely honor the rich history of the region and "elevate" the area's "national prominence" in an effort to increase historical awareness and bring more tourism to the region. In other words: What's all the fuss?

Bloomberg News columnist Andrew Ferguson best described this dubious defense of the Hallowed Ground Heritage Area earlier this month. In this particular instance, Mr. Ferguson is describing Senator George Allen's defense of the Hallowed Ground initiative:

"Allen's response has been typical of a politician who unexpectedly finds himself bucking his base. He wants to reassure both sides simultaneously - preservationists on the one hand and property-rights advocates on the other - and the only way to do this is to brag that the bill is a critically-important measure that will have almost no practical effect."

H.R. 5195 would have a bad practical effect on private property owners within the boundaries of the Heritage Area.

When property rights advocates consulted with Congressman Wolf's staff earlier this year, we asked if any property rights legal experts had been consulted when drafting this bill. The answer was "no." We, however, did consult such experts.

James Burling, principal property rights attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, had this to say about H.R. 5195:

"This bill suggests that Congress still doesn't 'get it.' The so-called protections for private property are largely symbolic; so long as regulators can browbeat landowners into becoming 'willing sellers' we will continue to see the erosion of fee simple property ownership in rural America. With the influx of federal funding, the regulatory pressure on landowners to sell will, in many cases, be insurmountable. The legacy we will leave to future generations will not be the preservation of our history, but of the preservation of a facade masquerading as our history subverted by the erosion of the rights that animated our history for the first two centuries of the Republic."

Joe Waldo, president of the Virginia property rights law firm Waldo and Lyle, said this regarding H.R. 5195:

"The bill before Congress has nothing to do with a 'heritage trail' but will result in a 'trail of tears' for those least able to stand up for their property rights. This is no more than an effort to over reach by the federal Government with regulations that will restrict homeowners, farmers and small business people in the use of their property.

"Traditionally the elderly, minorities and the poor are most impacted by regulatory measures that restrict property owners in the use of their land. Protecting our heritage is a noble ambition, however these matters need to be handled at the local level by those closest to the issues at hand. It is important that the fundamental right of private property not be threatened by more misguided federal legislation."

R.J. Smith, recognized property rights expert and senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, said:

"The name itself for this National Heritage Area raises serious questions. It seems improper, even indecent, to name this the Hallowed Ground corridor and claim it is to 'appreciate, respect and experience this cultural landscape that makes it uniquely American' when it tramples on the very principles of private property rights, individual liberty and limited government that the Founding Fathers risked and gave their lives for. Lincoln himself reminded us in the Gettysburg Address that 'we cannot dedicate-we cannot consecrate-we cannot hallow this ground.' He reminded us that we must be dedicated to see that this 'new nation' 'conceived in liberty' had 'a new birth of freedom' and did 'not perish from the Earth.' Rejecting the very principles of the Founding Fathers that created our liberty and freedom is not a journey any free person should want to undertake.

"Any legitimate effort to attract tourism to old homes and mansions and to quaint little country main streets should properly be done privately and voluntarily by chambers of commerce, booster groups, and preservationist organizations. Not by the compulsory diktat of the National Park Service, the U.S. Congress, and anti-growth Greens. If you want to attract visitors try billboards, not federal force."

And as Dr. Roger Pilon, director of the Cato Institute's Center for Constitutional Studies, notes:

"There's nothing wrong with historic preservation-in fact, it's commendable-but it's got to be done the right way. However worthy your ends, when you prohibit people from using their property as they would otherwise have a perfect right to do, you've got to pay them for their losses. Indeed, it is not a little ironic to simply take those historic rights in the name of historic preservation."

While property rights experts were ignored, anti-property rights groups have been given a prominent role. For example, the National Trust for Historic Preservation holds high office on the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership's board of directors. Peter Brink, senior vice president of The National Trust, also serves as vice-chairman of the Hallowed Ground Partnership's board.

As award-winning author James Bovard has observed: "The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the premier preservationist organization, has gone from seeking to educate Americans about historic treasures to clamoring for maximum restrictions on private land use across the nation."

In a much publicized case last year, a Louisa, Virginia man who simply wanted to renovate his home ran into opposition from NTHP. Emily Wadhams, The National Trust's vice president for public policy, argued against the rights of the homeowner in a hearing on Capitol Hill, testifying, "[P]rivate property rights have never been allowed to take precedence over our shared national values and the preservation of our country's heritage."

There is little doubt that those who make this ground "hallowed" would take umbrage with Wadham's brash attempt at revisionist history. As Thomas Jefferson once said, "The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management."

The National Trust has also worked to defeat state ballot initiatives designed to restore the private property rights of landowners. For instance, citizens in both Oregon and Washington have had to contend with the National Trust political machine in their battle to receive fair compensation when government devalues their land by taking their property rights.

The group also opposes common sense road improvements. NTHP lobbied to kill plans for a much-needed "outer connector" that would have brought traffic relief to the heavily-congested area near Chancellorsville Battlefield in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. According to The National Trust, the connector "would pass within a mile of the park boundary." How a road one mile away from the battlefield would harm it is not clear.

Another anti-property rights group, Scenic America, is prominently featured on the JTHG Partnership's board of directors. The Partnership's website domain name is owned by Scenic America. For the past six years, Scenic America has vehemently fought the Measure 7 and Measure 37 ballot initiatives in Oregon. These initiatives would simply restore the rights of property owners in that state by requiring landowners to be fairly compensated with government takes their property rights and devalues their land. The citizens of Oregon not only voted to pass both of these popular initiatives, but Oregon's Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutionality of Measure 37. This example shows just how far outside the mainstream Scenic America is when it comes to basic property rights principles.

Particularly in light of the controversial Kelo v. City of New London Supreme Court decision, Congress should be seeking ways to protect the rights of property owners, not empowering organizations to harm the property rights of landowners in the Hallowed Ground region, or any other part of the United States.

In addition to being a permanent threat to landowners in the region, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area would likely be a permanent unit of the National Park Service, as National Heritage Areas have historically required constant federal oversight and/or funding.

This is unfortunate for an agency that currently suffers a multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog and, as documented by the National Parks Conservation Association, is incapable of handling its current responsibilities. This maintenance failure is especially troubling, considering the agency is spending "more funds per employee, per acre and per visitor than ever before," according to Lynn Scarlett, Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget. Adding a new National Heritage Area to the Park Service's extensive portfolio of properties would only add to this crisis.

According to the GAO report on National Heritage Areas: "[S]unset provisions have not been effective in limiting federal funding: since 1984, five areas that reached their sunset dates received funding reauthorization from the Congress."

National Park Service Deputy Director Donald Murphy testified before the U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee in June of this year that only one National Heritage Area (the Illinois and Michigan National Heritage Corridor) has met its federal funding expiration. This expiration is not destined to last very long, however. Mr. Murphy also noted that the current Congress has approved legislation to provide additional funding to this Area.

In conclusion, we should never seek to honor the heroes of our nation's founding by trampling the sacred principles for which they fought and died-namely, those enshrined in the Bill of Rights, including property rights, and the principle of limited, local government.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:40 AM

HSA Enrollment of 25-30 Million Expected by Treasury Department

David Hogberg caught the Commonwealth Fund saying something that is patently false, in Congressional testimony, no less.

Sarah Collins, vice president of the Fund, said this about health savings accounts (HSAs) and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs):
The U.S. Treasury Department estimates that under current law only 14 million people will ever enroll in HSA-eligible HDHPs -- still a relatively small share of the overall market.
The reference for that sentence is this Fact Sheet (PDF) from the Treasury Department. It says something a little different about the number of people the Treasury Department projects will enroll in HSAs in the future:

14 million by 2010 -- Treasury Department projection of HSA policies (covering 25 to 30 million people) -- based on current law.
More here.

Addendum: From e-mail received on this topic, evidence that feelings are on strong about health savings accounts. I wonder about the first correspondent's motives, however. Why would a person react so negatively to HSAs being popular? They don't hurt anyone, and I've never heard of anyone being forced to buy an HSA against their will. Furthermore, how can "consumer-driven health care" be an oxymoron? Are doctors treating patients against their will as well?
Mr. Hogberg, your starting premise is [expletive deleted] so your criticism is meaningless. Consumer driven health care is an oxymoron. Your non-partisan moniker is hyberbole.

Joel Grumm
Grand Rapids, MI

In regards to Ms. Collins and her organization, I have never seen a more blatant misrepresentation of facts and information to discredit a program is that really helping some people obtain insurance. Sometimes, I feel that Ms. Collins thinks we are trying to legalize crack instead of creating another healthcare option. When people say the media is Left wing slanted, you only have to look at the articles on HSAs for confirmation!

Jim Snyder, President
Great Lakes HSA

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:31 AM

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Scientists Whine, Humorously

A group of apparent lefties has formed a new 527 political organization, Scientists and Engineers for America, or SEFORA. According to the group's website, the organization intends to "elect new leadership" (of the government, apparently) and promote a "Bill of Rights for Scientists and Engineers."

Apparently, the regular Bill of Rights the rest of us live by is inadequate for certain self-selected segments of the population.

An examination of the proposed "Bill of Rights" on the group's website, however, finds a self-indulgent hodgepodge of vapidity.

For example, Right #1: "Federal policy shall be made using the best available science and analysis both from within the government and from the rest of society."

Well, duh. The trick is defining "best." Didn't they cover that in Ph.D. college?

Right #2: "The federal government shall never intentionally publish false or misleading scientific information nor post such material on federal websites."

"False" as defined by whom? The same people who apparently don't know the definition of the third word in "Bill of Rights"?

Right #5: "No scientists should fear reprisals or intimidation because of the results of their research."

While I am sure the global warming skeptic community appreciates the thought, folks, "fear" is a highly-individual reaction. To be effective, policies must address actions, not the content of emotional responses to them.

Right #6: "Appointments to federal scientific advisory committees shall be based on the candidate’s scientific qualifications, not political affiliation or ideology."

So someone who wants to nuke Israel should be appointed to nuclear policy boards? Avowed racists to Medicare health care panels? (As long as they got good grades and socialized well enough to get through the "peer" review process, of course.)

I propose a revision. New "Right" #6: Scientists with definable ideologies or discernible political affiliations should be barred from receiving federal grants.

Right #7: "The federal government shall not support any science education program that includes instruction in concepts that are derived from ideology and not science."

This would mean an end to teachers saying the global warming theory is correct in all public schools. Again, while the thought is appreciated, is this decision really best made at the federal level?

Much of the rest of the document is vaguely-worded pap that appears to be designed to maximize the ability of said scientists and engineers to feed themselves off the federal taxpayer while using the results of the work for their own financial and career aggrandizement as they see fit, subject only to disclosure rules they decide for themselves.

Clue in, guys. He who has the gold, makes the rules. If you don't like working for the federal taxpayer, or taking federal handouts, don't.

The best howler comes last, in Right #8: Deciding what scientific research is kept secret for national security reasons "shall be the result of a transparent process."

Transparent secrets save the scientists the trouble of leaking, I guess, but will the New York Times still take them out to lunch?

I conclude this is a parody site.

Good work, jokers!

Hat tip: Prometheus.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:29 PM

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Citizens' Health Care Working Group Report Gets Thumbs Down

Our David Hogberg is commenting extensively on the Citizens' Health Care Working Group's report (PDF, released Monday. See The National Center's press release today, for instance.

He has also blogged about it on the American Spectator blog here and here. Some highlights:
The Citizen's Health Care Working Group's report is also plagued with a lot of nice-sounding fluff. For example, "Many Americans hold the view that public policy aimed at the growing crisis in health care cannot succeed unless all Americans are able to get the health care they need when they need it, and that all Americans pay their fair share."

What does that mean? How do you determine exactly when health care is needed, and how do you define "fair share"? Well, actually, I do know how that last one is defined: higher taxes.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:21 PM

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Project 21 at Pro-Troops Rally

There's a nice photo of Project 21's Kevin Martin accompanying an article by Tarron Lively in the Washington Times today.

Kevin and fellow P21er Mychal Massie were speakers at a rally sponsored by in support of our troops that took place yesterday on the Mall in Washington.

The article says, in part:
Backers of the war on terrorism rallied on the Mall yesterday for the second annual Support the Troops and Their Mission Weekend in Washington...

...Kristinn Taylor, co-founder and spokesman for the D.C. chapter of Free Republic, moderated the event, which honored Gold Star and Blue Star families.

"The myth is that we've all come together after 9/11, which isn't entirely true," he said. "The left [wing] is the left. It will always attack America first, will always blame America first, will always work with our enemies to bring down America.

"So, we made a vow that we would not allow the anti-American left to do to this country and this generation of our military what they did to them during Vietnam, and we've kept that vow for five years now," he said.

Mychal Massie, a member of Project 21, a network of black conservatives, agreed.

U.S. troops "place service to America before service to themselves, realizing that service to America is indeed service to us all," Mr. Massie said. "They need to know that we support their families, their friends and, most of all, their children. ...Tomorrow's freedom rests on their [children's] shoulders."

Richard August of North Kingstown, R.I., whose son, Matthew, was an Army captain killed in Iraq two weeks before his 29th birthday in 2004, said he doesn't regard his son's death as a tragedy.

"My son died in the service of his country," he said. "He and eight other soldiers of his company died during their deployment because, in my son's words, they were in Iraq trying to help the majority of Iraqi people overcome the brutal effects of a dictator's rule over 30 years.

"Theirs were not tragic deaths. Theirs were noble deaths," he said.

Richard Linn of Chesterfield, Va., said his son, Lance Cpl. Karl R. Linn, 20, was killed with three others from his unit in January 2005 in an ambush in Iraq's Anbar province.

"One thing Karl and I agreed on was, despite whatever reasons we've got [for being] over there, that the only thing to do was to finish the job correctly," he said. "And to that end, I support our efforts, and I support our troops to this day."

Leo Flood of Fort Hood, Texas, who has a son in the Navy, said...

"We shouldn't even have to be here... It should be an automatic assumption that we support our troops and their mission in any way, shape, form or fashion."

Evan Sayet, a comedian and political commentator, said he was a liberal until he witnessed their reaction to September 11, which he said ultimately showed their disloyalty to the country when they railed against the war...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:26 PM

Kitty Genovese Redux?

People just "looked on" while a man stabbed a two-year-old child? And her mother, his ex-wife?

I hope the story is factually inaccurate -- surely people were running to help the poor child and mother and just did not arrive in time to prevent the serious injuries. I wish one of the wire reports I've seen that describes people watching this would clarify this rather signficant detail. It is a gaping hole in every story.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:27 AM

Friday, September 22, 2006

Hallowed Ground Group Opposed Property Rights Measure

If you want to send an email to the main office of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground program, you send it to [email protected]

I thought I'd see who holds the registration for the domain.

The first fellow is apparently the same Steven Strohmeier who is listed as a press contact on this 2001 press release that calls an Oregon ballot measure approved by voters in 2000 to reimburse property owners when government takes their land or the value of their land away "an unprecedented threat to [Oregon's] quality of life and scenic beauty."

The press release bluntly admires Oregon's stringent land-use restrictions, which, had they been in effect nationally from 1992-2002, would have left 1 million homeowning families, 260,000 of them minority families, priced out of owning their own home.

As the release says : "'Oregon, through its strong land-use planning laws, has become one of the most beautiful places in America,' said Scenic America president Meg Maguire. 'It would be a tragedy to destroy it now.'"

Scenic America is one of the partners of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Initative, which Senator George Allen and Rep. Frank Wolf want to turn into a National Heritage Area led by a "management entity" funded by federal taxpayers.

Section 3 of the Allen/Wolf legislation limits leadership of the "management entity" to "individuals, agencies, organizations, States, and governments that were involved in the planning and development of the Heritage Area before the date of enactment of this Act."

Folks like Meg Maguire, Steven Strohmeier and others who really like how they handle these things in Portland.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:29 PM

Thursday, September 21, 2006

California Could Sue Itself for Building Highways

I agree with Professor Bainbridge: Summary dismissal is called for.

Addendum, 9/23/06: Blogotional notes that "Lockyer 'contributed to global warming' in the very preparation of the litigation itself." Hmmm...

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:47 PM

Crack a Book First, Animal Lovers

Good grief. A group of animal rights activists (or so one supposes) knows so little about animals, in the course of its illegal activism it accidentally (one further supposes) killed 15,000 of them.

Hat tip: Greenie Watch.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:03 PM

Hallowed Ground v. The American Dream

Project 21 is speaking out about Senator George Allen's and Rep. Frank Wolf's plans to empower a new special interest "management entity" with federal funds to lobby for restrictive land use policies in parts of four states:
Legislation introduced by Senator George Allen (R-VA) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) to create a federal "National Heritage Area" that encompasses portions of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania is likely to disproportionately harm minority families in the region by making homeownership more inaccessible, say members of the Project 21 black leadership network.

The "Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act of 2006" is S. 2645 in the Senate and H.R. 5195 in the House.

"Rather than promote initiatives that harm property rights and make it harder for minorities to obtain a piece of the American Dream, Senator Allen should focus on protecting the property rights of all Americans," said Project 21 member and Virginia resident John Meredith.

Meredith, who has experience working on environmental and land use issues, is also the son of James Meredith, the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi in 1962.

"The last thing that wealthy, preservation interest groups need is a leg up from the federal government-especially when that leg up comes on the back of minorities and the lower middle class," said Meredith.

National Heritage Areas are land areas where preservationist interest groups and the federal government have teamed up to influence local land use decisions, frequently in ways that have restricted property rights.

A March 2004 report from the General Accountability Office found that provisions of such areas "encourage local governments to implement land use policies that are consistent with the heritage area's plans, which may allow heritage areas to indirectly influence zoning and land use planning in ways that could restrict owners' use of their property."

Although the bill was introduced ostensibly for the purpose of historic preservation, and its advocates - apparently for public relations purposes - have marketed it as a pro-tourism measure, supporters have repeatedly claimed the bill is needed to combat suburban sprawl.

New land-use restrictions affecting housing availability could be bad news for minorities in the "hallowed ground" region. A National Center for Public Policy Research-commissioned econometric study, "Smart Growth and Its Effects on Housing Markets: The New Segregation," found that anti-sprawl policies disproportionately and negatively affect minority homeownership:
Poor and minority families pay a disproportionate amount of the social and economic costs of growth restrictions. The weight of increased home prices falls most heavily on minorities, the disadvantaged and the young, fewer of whom already own homes. The "haves" who already own homes ride the price bubble created by restricted growth policies while the dream of ownership moves further away from the "have-nots."
The 2002 study, which examined the social and economic impact of one model for sharply curtailing sprawl, found that growth restrictions would have prevented 260,000 minority homeowner families from homeownership had they been applied nationally over the preceding decade.

Housing restrictions can have strong, negative affects on the quality of life for families who cannot afford skyrocketing housing prices. The introduction to the "New Segregation" study tells the story of a 45-year-old waitress living in Fairfax County, Virginia, who, despite having over $2,000 a month to spend, lives in a seedy hotel with her four children and receives financial aid from the county because the average rent in the area at the time was over $1,100 per month. During the 1990s, due to Fairfax County's severe development restrictions, the county added 110,000 fewer housing units than it did new jobs.

"Serving the interests of preservationist elites at the expense of normal, everyday Americans is unacceptable," said Project 21 Senior Fellow Deneen Moore. "The public outcry over last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Kelo eminent domain case shows that Americans want stronger property rights protections - not new threats to private ownership."

"I am at a loss to understand how this furthers the interests of anyone but the super-elite," said Project 21 national chairman Mychal Massie. "Suffice it to say that this land-use initiative is harmful and punitive to the very people elected officials promised to protect."

Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:23 AM

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Portrait of a Cad

From an ABC News story about the book-hyping activities of a past governor of New Jersey:
[Former New Jersey Governor James] McGreevey now says his first encounter with [future alleged blackmailer Golan] Cipel, which occurred while McGreevey's wife was recovering from the birth of their first child, 'was the first time in my life that a kiss meant what it was supposed to mean...'"
First, he cheats on his wife; then, he humiliates her in public for money.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:31 PM

Global Warming Quiz II

How many of the warmest months recorded over the last 300 years (central England data) took place during the Little Ice Age (which ended, roughly, in the mid-1800s)?

A. Zero -- all the warmest months were recorded after 1880
B. Four; five if you consider 1865 a Little Ice Age Year
C. Two; three occurred from 1900-1975; seven since 1975

Answer: B. Hottest-ever months were recorded in 1729, 1779, 1833, 1846 and 1865. The years for each hottest month are: January-1916; February-1779; March-1957; April-1865; May-1833; June-1846; July-2006; August-1995; September-1729; October-2001; November-1994; December-Tie between 1934 & 1974. (Source: Climate Audit.)

To take the first global warming quiz, go here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:15 AM

Gore Goes Right-Wing on Payroll Taxes, But Supports Tax on Exhaling

When Al Gore was vice president, I don't recall him ever saying that payroll taxes amount to "penalizing employment," as he now says:
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore on Monday suggested taxing carbon dioxide emissions instead of employees' pay in a bid to stem global warming.

"Penalizing pollution instead of penalizing employment will work to reduce that pollution," Gore said in a speech at New York University School of Law.

The pollution tax would replace all payroll taxes, including those for Social Security and unemployment compensation, Gore said...
We now know what it takes to get a leftie to stop taxing work: A tax on life itself.

In all seriousness, Gore may not -- though no article I've seen addresses the issue -- consider CO2 produced by human lungs to be "pollution," even as he regards CO2 made by humans by other means as such.

I assume the lefties who regard every conservative proposal to improve social Security with the addition of a personal account option for younger workers as "risky" will be all over Gore for suggesting that Social Security taxes be eliminated in favor of a carbon dioxide-production tax.

Gore says such a tax would be revenue-neutral (though we really would need it to be more to save Social Security and Medicare without reforms) but none of the articles on this proposal I could find referenced any formal proposal Gore was making available that discuss his proposal in more detail. If he has one, I'd love to read it.

Hat tip: Drudge Report.

Addendum, 9/24/06: Productivity Shock blog appears to disagree with something I've said here, though it is unclear what. I gather that because Milton Friedman has suggested taxing pollution, that 1) I shouldn't mention never having heard Gore complain about payroll taxes before; 2) I shouldn't wonder if CO2 produced by lungs should be subject to the tax; 3) I should not wonder how lefties who hate the idea of Social Security private accounts would react to the notion of ending the payroll taxes that finance Social Security; 4) I shouldn't have hinted around that if anyone knows of a detailed version of this Gore proposal I'd like to see one.

It is just amazing, the things I am not supposed to do because Milton Friedman has an opinion.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:22 AM

In Which I am Unmasked as "PC Brainwashed"

A correspondent takes issue with my post "No Blue-Eyed Foreigners Need Apply":

I found your article entitled "No Blue-Eyed Foreigners Need Apply" an iteresting piece for your particular site which seems to be anti-socialist. Yet, this article you have done presents you as exactly that, or at least shows you have the mindset of a brainwashed socialist.

In case you have failed to notice, whether you are a religious person, or a devout atheist, God, or nature if you prefer, has created the Asian female for the Asian male. Likewise, God created the Black female and the Black male to be mates for each other, the Arab male and female to be mates for each other and so on, and so on.

If you've traveled the world you will find this, His design, everywhere you go. But, like the Communist or Socialist, you seem to desire something different and condemn those who agree with his design as being "xenophobic." You, like the Socialist, seem to prefer a world without borders, a single-raced people with no distinctions, a world in which everyone is equal and just the same.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is NOT the way nature (or God) intended things to be. That's also why nations have borders by the way -- to keep other people not like those who live there out.

You betray yourself as the typical Western female who is pampered and has more freedoms than any other female on earth. One who supposes there is nothing wrong whatever for a White female to choose ANY type of male for her mate. And there is but one reason for that: the Western male, unlike all other foreign males, allows it. But by doing so you betray him, yourself, God, and what nature intended.

Just something to think about the next time you through around the word "xenophobic" so casually. Takeo Hirnuma made no mistake nor offence in what he said. Only the PC brainwashed would make the comment you did. And no, I'm not Asian.

Eric Taylor
I'm not assuming that's his real name. Or that he's ever had a girlfriend.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:13 AM

Friday, September 15, 2006

Or, Maybe, Basic Human Decency?

"Raul Castro at Helm as Cuba Takes Reins of Non-aligned Movement," says the headline.

Non-aligned with what? The 21st century? Economic reality?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:29 PM

Sunday, September 10, 2006

2,996 Project: James Matthew Patrick Remembered

Two days after he and his wife celebrated their first wedding anniversary, and seven weeks before the birth of his first child, James Matthew Patrick was on the 105th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center.

His wedding ring was found among the ruins.

I didn't know James Patrick, but I have joined with over 3,000 other bloggers to support the 2,996 Project, an effort developed by D. Challener Roe of the Rough Draft blog to create a an individual tribute to each victim of the 9-11 attacks.

Because even the people we didn't know, we remember.

James Patrick was a bond broker for Canter Fitzgerald and a 1993 graduate of Fordham University. He was just 30 years old when he died.

I've read everything about James Patrick that I can find in the web.

In addition to a wife and son, he left behind grieving parents, Jerry and Barbara Patrick of Schenectady, his paternal grandmother, Kathryn Mumford of Otego, NY, two brothers and three sisters, and many nephews, cousins and other relatives and friends.

While reading about James Patrick and the many people in his life, I've noticed that many of the people quoted in news articles or leaving comments on websites particularly remembered his smile.

James Patrick's widow, Terilyn Patrick, told ABC News in 2002 that the couple's son, Jack, born in October, 2001, has his father's smile.

A photo of Terilyn Patrick with Jack is here (third from left, back row).

A family friend wrote a handmade children's book, "Jack's Daddy," to help the boy know his father.

Other things I read: An article in the Albany Times Union describes what a good father he would have been.

Folks who knew James Patrick left notes on this online guest book. I clicked the button marked "photo album" on the right of the legacy page and looked at the pictures. James Patrick's son Jack may be one of the cutest children I've ever seen.

This website mentions the address of an education fund for Jack Patrick, and reprints several news articles.

In this story, close family members discuss their memories of him after they attend a remembrance ceremony in New York City a year after the attacks.

I don't know how to end this blog post, except to say this: Little boys deserve to grow up with daddies; wives need their husbands, and parents should never have to bury a child.

Never, ever forget.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 3:00 PM

2,996 Project Remembers Victims of 9-11 Attacks

I have joined over 3,000 other bloggers to support the 2,996 Project, an project conceived and carried out by D. Challener Roe in memory of the 2,996 of our fellow Americans and friends who were murdered by terrorists five years ago.

More than 3,000 bloggers are each celebrating the memory of someone lost in the attacks by writing something briefly about them.

If you lost someone on 9-11 and wish to see what has been written about the person (or persons )you knew, or if, like so many others, you wish to read and remember those who were lost, go here for a list of those lost, and a link to the blogger who has pledged to honor his or her memory.

Many tributes have already been written and posted; others have yet to appear. My own small contribution, a post describing what I have learned about the life of James Michael Patrick, will be posted Sunday and will be the top post on this blog all day on Monday, September 11.

In the meantime, please visit these two posts (here for Ben; here for Noah) written by the two youngest participants in the 2,996 project, six-year-old Ben and four-year-old Noah, who are remembering Mr. Lester Vincent Marino, a father of four.

The boys wrote about Mr. Marino on their blog, and named their tree fort in Mr. Marino's honor.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:05 AM

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Deroy Murdock on Stethoscope Socialism

Deroy Murdock covered the perils of socialized medicine in one of his recent Scripps-Howard columns:
A national health-care system may be the Holy Grail of American liberalism...

Amy Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research sees this model more as a poisoned chalice. Her Washington-based free-market think tank (with which I am a "distinguished fellow") has begun educating Americans on the massive belly flop that is state-sponsored health care...

It would be bad enough if national health care merely offered patients low-quality treatment. Even worse, Ms. Ridenour finds, it kills them.

* Breast cancer is fatal to 25 percent of its American victims. In Great Britain and New Zealand, both socialized-medicine havens, breast cancer kills 46 percent of women it strikes.

* Prostate cancer proves fatal to 19 percent of its American sufferers. In single-payer Canada, the National Center for Policy Analysis reports, this ailment kills 25 percent of such men and eradicates 57 percent of their British counterparts.

* After major surgery, a 2003 British study found, 2.5 percent of American patients died in the hospital versus nearly 10 percent of similar Britons. Seriously ill U.S. hospital patients die at one-seventh the pace of those in the U.K.

* "In usual circumstances, people over age 75 should not be accepted" for treatment of end-state renal failure, according to New Zealand's official guidelines. Unfortunately, for older Kiwis, government controls kidney dialysis.

* According to a Populus survey, 98 percent of Britons want to reduce the time between diagnosis and treatment.

...Under socialized medicine, public officials administer a single budget and usually ration care among a population whose sole choice is to take whatever therapies the state monopoly provides.

...politically driven health care jeopardizes patients' lives.

* Emily Morely, 57, of Meath Park, Saskatchewan, discovered that cancer had invaded her liver, lungs, pancreas and spine. She also learned she had to wait at least three months to see an oncologist. In Canada, where private medicine is illegal, this could have meant death. However, Mrs. Morely saw a doctor after one month -- once her children alerted Canada's legislature and mounted an international publicity campaign.

* James Tyndale, 54, of Cambridge, England, wanted Velcade to stop his bone-marrow cancer. However, the government's so-called "postcode lottery" supplied this drug to some cities, but not Cambridge. The British health service finally relented after complaints from the Tories' shadow health secretary, MP Andrew Lansley.

* Edward Atkinson, 75, of Norfolk, England, was deleted from a government hospital's hip-replacement-surgery waiting list after he mailed graphic anti-abortion literature to hospital employees. "We exercised our right to decline treatment to him for anything other than life-threatening conditions," said administrator Ruth May. She claimed her employees objected to Mr. Atkinson's materials. Despite a member of Parliament's pleas, Mr. Atkinson still awaits surgery.

For all its problems, America's more market-friendly health system offers patients better care and would deliver greater advancements if government adopted liability reform, interstate medical insurance sales, unhindered health savings accounts and other pro-market improvements. As for importing universal care, author P.J. O'Rourke said it best: "If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it's free."

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:44 AM

No Blue-Eyed Foreigners Need Apply

A Bloomberg story describing how Hirohito's newborn great-grandson will be under great pressure to produce male offspring has this xenophobic moment:
Former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma said at a rally in February that 'if Aiko becomes the reigning empress, and gets involved with a blue-eyed foreigner while studying abroad and marries him, their child may be emperor,' according to the Associated Press. 'We should never let that happen.'
Male offspring are important because the xenophobes are also misogynistic.

Fortunately, we blue-eyed foreign females have greater aspirations than sitting on a ceremonial "throne" the Japanese only have because General McArthur decided to allow it.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:21 AM

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Small Protest

Was this rally real -- or is it Photoshop?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:08 PM

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Our country took part of this farm.

Why shouldn't we compensate the owner?

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:44 PM

Friday, September 01, 2006

New Report Warns Against Expansive New Regulation of 'Invasive Species'

Dana Gattuso's latest paper for us warns that Congress may be considering yet another sweeping plan to regulate private land:
New Report Warns Against Expansive New Regulation of 'Invasive Species'

Says Limits Would be of Dubious Value But Would Require Massive New Regulations on Property Use; Most 'Invasive Species' Actually are Beneficial

Washington, D.C. - Calls by some federal lawmakers to add burdensome new regulations to quarantine, to control or to kill so-called 'invasive species' are of dubious environmental value and represent a real threat to property owners, says a new report released by The National Center for Public Policy Research.

According to Dana Joel Gattuso, senior fellow at the National Center and author of the study, efforts on Capitol Hill to regulate non-native species -- plants or animals that are considered by some to be alien to a particular ecosystem -- is based more on "emotion rather than science." Gattuso argues that adding new invasive species regulations would be a disaster for sound scientific practices and would require massive expansion of government regulatory control on land.

The study, "Invasive Species: Animal, Vegetable or Political?," argues that most non-native species are not an environmental calamity but, in fact, adapt to their surroundings and are even useful for ecosystems, the environment, human health and industry.

"In spite of the fact that most non-native species are harmless, lawmakers are reacting to hype and exaggerations," writes Gattuso. "[T]here is no scientific evidence of actual global extinction caused by a non-native species. Nor do exotic species threaten species 'richness' or 'biodiversity.'"

To the contrary, non-native Asian oysters are better than native oysters at filtering out water pollutants. Non-native South American water hyacinth blankets eat raw sewage, which provides a natural way to clean up polluted waters.

"The well-kept secret about exotic species is that cases of destruction are the exception; most non-indigenous species are benign or beneficial," writes Gattuso. "Collectively, nonnative crops and livestock comprise 98 percent of our food system."

Soybeans, kiwi fruit, wheat and nearly all cattle are examples of invasive species. And several states such as Maryland, Vermont, California and South Dakota honor non-native species as their State Flower or State Birds. "In fact, invasives have become such a common part of our environment, culture and even diet that we don't think about them," writes Gattuso.

However, these benefits have not prevented Congress from introducing numerous bills that assign billions of tax dollars to eradicate or otherwise to prevent the spread of invasives. Under some lawmakers' plans, government would have sweeping new authority to screen out non-native species and to regulate these species where they exist - on private as well as public lands.

"The 'invasive species' bills pending in Congress are not based on science but rather assume all non-indigenous species are harmful unless proven otherwise," writes Gattuso. "The key problem with government's handling of the issue of non-natives is that it takes a simplistic view, bundling all the species together and exaggerating their effects on ecosystems and commercialism."

The National Policy Analysis paper can be viewed online at

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:43 AM

Copyright The National Center for Public Policy Research