More reading

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here is a continuation of the best of my readings and e-mail:

Kyoto follies: The reason Kyoto Protocol signatories are not reducing their emissions is that doing so is proving to be prohibitively costly. These nations are learning the hard way what the Bush Administration has understood all along: that attempts to rapidly force down the fossil-fuel use that provides the backbone of modern economies will be very expensive.

While inundating the public with scary stories about global warming's effects, the proponents of cap-and-trade have thus far said little about the costs of combating the threat -- and for good reasons. Kyoto's provisions would have cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars annually from higher energy prices, but would, according to proponents, avert only 0.07 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2050.

A European Environment Agency report found that greenhouse-gas emissions from motor vehicles continue to rise due to increased driving, despite punitively high European gasoline taxes that push the overall price well above $6 per gallon. In fact, increased vehicle emissions are a big part of the reason most western European countries are going to miss their Kyoto targets. If $6 per gallon is not high enough to discourage driving and meet Europe's global-warming targets, then what will it take here? Americans, who get angry enough over $3 gas, will want answers to this and other economic questions before they buy into any climate policy. -- Ben Lieberman, Heritage Foundation, National Review Online


No one newspaper has been more harmful to the credibility of newspapers than some of the reporting by the New York Times, which has seen its stock plummet in value over the last 12 months, causing some stockholder challenges to its management.

The following is from the New York Sun commenting on the "Gray Lady's greed."

When a director of an oil company tries to make profits for his shareholders, he is accused of "greed." When a Wal-Mart director tries to make profits for her shareholders, she is lectured about being "tightfisted." But when The New York Times Co.'s shareholders start getting restless for profits, where does Arthur Sulzberger Jr. turn to for "exceptional individuals"? Why, to veterans of the boards of Wal-Mart and Chevron. When it is the Times that is hoping to make the profits, somehow it isn't "greed" but, as Mr. Sulzberger puts it, "skills, expertise and leadership qualities." We couldn't have put it better ourselves. -- New York Sun

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Lessons from Mississippi: Trial lawyer extraordinaire Richard "Dickie" Scruggs and a few of his cohorts are in a world of hurt, according to a piece in a recent Wall Street Journal. Apparently, Scruggs is the focus of a federal bribery investigation that has also landed a judge, Mississippi's Attorney General and his own son in hot water in the Magnolia State (he recently pleaded guilty).

Typically, the media across the country has shown limited interest in the increasingly cozy relationships and arrangements that exist between trial lawyers and state attorneys general. As influential trial lawyers get wealthy via the taxpayer dole, attorneys general are virtually ensured of re-election thanks to the staggering fundraising prowess of the appreciative lawyers. The Scruggs case provides further evidence that such relationships merit much closer scrutiny.

Here in Missouri, Attorney General Jay Nixon, a past recipient of Scruggs' largesse, is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association. Moreover, ATLA and Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys members have long been Nixon's most loyal donors, and his infamous decision to hire his top trial lawyer donors to cash in on Missouri's lucrative tobacco suit contributed to his 1998 U.S. Senate loss. More recently, the Second Injury Fund, a trial lawyer haven, has come under fire due to an astronomical 586 percent increase in expenditures on Nixon's watch. Not surprisingly, a number of the same trial lawyers who are helping bankroll Nixon's gubernatorial campaign have or continue to handle gobs of client claims before the embattled fund, which Nixon is tasked with defending.

In the past, when Nixon has been questioned about his cozy relationship with trial lawyers, he has said something along the lines of, "I am too hardheaded to be influenced by outside forces--I do what I think is right for the working people..." Ironically, that is exactly what Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said when he was recently pressed on his involvement in the Scruggs scandal. In the world of Nixon and Hood, perhaps wealthy trial lawyers constitute the best definition of "working people." -- Missouri Pulse, John Hancock, Republican political consultant


The bathtub test: It doesn't hurt to take a hard look at yourself from time to time, and this should help get you started. During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.

"Well," said the director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."

"No," said the director, "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?" -- Anonymous

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Poverty in America: The liberal politicians' claims of dire poverty overtaking America-can't stand up to the work of Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Robert Rector.

The reality? "Real material hardship does occur," Rector notes, "but it is limited in scope and severity."

As Rector observes, "Most of America's 'poor' live in material conditions that would be judged as comfortable or well-off just a few generations ago." Some examples:

* 43 percent of all poor households actually own their own homes.

* 80 percent have air conditioning, compared to just 36 percent of the entire U.S. population in 1970.

* 97 percent have a color TV.

* 78 percent have a VCR or DVD player.

* 89 percent own microwaves. -- Heritage Foundation

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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