Good job news, climate changes, French farce, tax burden

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Here are some items of timely interest:

Kerry's canard: New data refute claims of a job squeeze. The populist message of the Kerry-Edwards ticket -- that Bush-enabled, pool-lounging plutocrats are squeezing dollars from the hard-working middle class -- will fail to turn the electorate into a band of howling Robespierres come November. According to recently released government statistics, the unjust economy that the two candidates descry simply doesn't exist.

A survey of 154 job and industry groupings by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found an increase in better-paying jobs for middle America, belying the Kerry-Edwards claims that the only job openings these days are for burger flippers and other low-wage occupations.

The BLS numbers show that in the last 12 months, one million jobs have been added in professional and white-collar Categories with pay exceeding the median of $541 per week. Employment in categories below the median was unchanged from the prior 12 months. BLS released the data July 9 to Factcheck.org, a non-partisan outfit that attempts to help voters penetrate the fog of politics, and is now making it available to others. Factcheck.org is sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center. -- Jim McTague, Barron's


We shall not fry: New studies are blasting the dire prophecies of global-warming worriers that Earth is going to hell in a handbasket or, perhaps more accurately, in an automobile. Alarmists cite the growing level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as the chief villain causing the rise in temperatures. Curb CO2 emissions -- mainly from cars, power stations and factories -- or Earth will heat up like a greenhouse, they wail.

A team of French-led scientists has made sophisticated analyses of Antarctic ice core samples, some of which date back to an ice age that ended nearly 250,000 years ago. The bottom line: Big changes in temperatures came before carbon dioxide levels increased, not after. Modern-day Chicken Littles may claim that rising CO2 emissions will cause Earth's temperature to rise sharply, but geological history suggests no such thing. In fact, some experts believe we may be entering a new mini-ice age.

A team led by researchers from Harvard University examined a number of studies of "climate proxies," such as tree rings and ice cores, to map the weather patterns of the past 1,000 years. They concluded that between the 9th and 14th centuries much of the Earth experienced warmer temperatures than it does today. In the 14th century, however, the Little Ice Age set in. The rising temperatures of the last century are really part of the recovery from that event.

If this isn't enough to make one take weather-related alarms with the proverbial grain of salt, consider the way the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calculates future levels of man-made CO2. According to the IPCC, CO2 emissions will increase catastrophicaly, raising temperatures to dangerous levels. However, in order for this wild forecast to add up, the IPCC had to make bizarre projections for countries' future economic growth. It projects, for instance, that such economic powerhouses as North Korea and Libya will have higher per capita incomes than the U.S. by the end of this century! Only through such ridiculous assumptions can these "scientists" come up with their horrific predictions for the next 100 years.

Weather patterns have been changing since Earth came into existence. Some scientists believe that changes in the Earth's weather might be affected more by sunspots or slight shifts in our planet's orbit than by anything we humans do. What is clear is how precious little we actually know about the whys and wherefores of our ever-changing climate. -- Forbes Magazine


Why the French act isn't funny anymore: It is easy to make fun of the French and their pompous pretense to the grandeur they shed a half-century ago when their loss of honor under Vichy, and then their loss of empire, relegated them to the rank of second-class power. But the fun is over. Before Sept. 11, France's Gaullist anti-Americanism as a form of ostentatious self-aggrandizement was an irritant. With a war on -- three, in fact: Afghanistan, Iraq and the larger war on terrorism -- France's willful obstructionism becomes dangerous and deadly.

That obstructionism was on amazing display at the recent NATO summit in Istanbul. The supremely courageous President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, flies there to beg for our troops to protect his country in the run-up to September elections. Two female election workers had already been murdered and some 16 men had been shot to death by insurgents for registering to vote.

NATO responds with an offer of a small number of troops to be sent around September. Karzai pleads for a more immediate deployment. Britain and the U.S. request deployment of NATO'S new rapid-reaction force created precisely for such contingencies. France's President Jacques Chirac vetoes it, saying the force should not be used "in any old way."

Any old way? As if the NATO troops were off to visit the Kabul Disneyland. Afghanistan is the good war, remember. The war of undeniable necessity. The war everyone supported. It is hard to imagine a more important mission for NATO, or for the civilized world for that matter, than assuring free elections in Afghanistan, crucible for the worst terrorist attack in history. Yet with a flick of a hand, Chirac dismisses Karzai -- and, of course, the U.S.

On, Iraq, Chirac was similarly destructive of any realistic NATO help in democratic nation building. He spearheaded the vetoing of any NATO troops going to Iraq. The most that President Bush could get was an agreement to train Iraqi troops, but Chirac insisted the training be undertaken not by NATO as an organization (only by NATO countries individually) and not in Iraq itself. He suggested Rome. Nice for sightseeing, but hardly the most efficient and cost-effective way to train the Iraqi police and army.

Chirac knows America's stake in both Afghanistan and Iraq. It is so great, and so obvious, that even in the midst of a bitterly fought election campaign, the opposition presidential candidate embraces the current Administration's objective of democratic reconstruction in both countries. Why then is Chirac making things as difficult as he can for the U.S.?

It is not just pique. It is not just antipathy to George Bush. And it is not just France's traditional and reflexive policy of trying to rein in, cut down and domesticate the world's greatest superpower so that ultimately secondary powers like France could emerge as leaders of a multipolar world.

There is something far deeper going on here. Beyond the anti-Americanism is an attempt to court the Muslim and Arab world. For its own safety and strategic gain, France is seeking a "third way" between America and its enemies. Chirac's ultimate vision is a France that is mediator and bridge between America and Islam. -- Excerpt from Charles Krauthammer's column in Time magazine


Tax-cut footnote: Christopher Cox, chairman of the Home Policy Committee in Congress, observed that "there was no tax cut, in the sense that many people understand the term. In the 10 months since Congress enacted the 2003 tax 'rate' cuts, tax revene to the Treasury is up $13.4 billion from what it was in the same 10-month period a year earlier. On an annual basis, federal revenue is up $25 billion for the first six months of fiscal 2004 compared with the first six months of fiscal 2003."

There's more: The "rich" are paying more taxes than ever, both in absolute terms and in proportion to everyone else.

Seems the only reason not to raise still more revenue by making the rate cuts permanent is that the government might spend it.

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

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