December 07, 2016

Few Americans Believe Human Activity Causes Climate Change

The headline of a CNS News today says that according to Pew Research Center polling, "only 27% of Americans believe there is consensus that human activity causes climate change."

Here's the story, according to CNS News' Matthew Hrozencik:

"A recent survey by the non-partisan Pew Research Center found that a large majority of Americans are skeptical about the prevailing scientific understanding of climate change, with only 27 percent saying they believe there is a consensus that human activity is its main cause.

"That belief is at odds with the scientific community, Pew noted, citing a 2013 report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that concluded “with 95% certainty that human activity is the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

"The Pew survey was conducted between May 10 and June 6 as a part of an examination of  public attitudes about scientific research related to climate change and genetically modified foods.

"The survey found that only 28% of Americans surveyed believe that climate scientists understand the causes of climate change “very well’- compared to 32% who said that scientists had a "not at all well" understanding of the causes of climate change.

"It also suggested that despite their skepticism over the cause of climate change, Americans still tend to trust information on it provided by climate scientists over other sources, including the energy industry, the news media, and elected officials.

"Pew reported that 39% of those surveyed said that they trust climate scientists “a lot to give full and accurate information”, while only 7% answered that they trust energy industry leaders and the news media to do so.

"Only 4% of survey respondents said they trusted elected officials to provide accurate information on climate change.

"The study also found a deep divide between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, with 54% of liberal Democrats saying they believe that climate scientists understand the causes of climate change “very well” -  a view supported by only 11% of conservative Republicans.

"Moderate- to- liberal Republicans and moderate- to- conservative Democrats fell somewhere in between that wide 43% gap."

According to the study, "Recent Pew Research Center studies have examined in depth what the public thinks about scientists and their research related to climate change and GM foods. These surveys found that public views of scientific experts in these two areas spring from different factors: When people think about climate scientists, their views are strongly divided by politics. When they think about scientists dealing with GM foods, their views are more closely tied to their level of science knowledge than to their politics." (emphasis added)

Is this just another instance of the divide between the political elite and hoi polloi? After all, it's the political elite who like to trot out the mantra there is 97% consensus in climate change among climate scientists. Interestingly, as the Pew study showed, only 4% of the public trust climate change information that comes from elected officials.

Do your representatives in Congress know your position on anthropogenic global warming -- aka climate change? It's worth asking since their positions may be much different than yours. According to this April 1, 2016 press release, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine joined an "amicus brief in support of President Obama's clean power plan." And in this July 29, 2015 press release, Rep. Don Beyer issued a "call for action to address national security threats from climate change." For those not living in Arlington County, contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Congress.gov. Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact their members of Congress by just clicking-on the embedded link:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Ask for a written response. And tell them ACTA sent you.

December 06, 2016

Land Exchange Proposed for Part of N. Quincy Site

An online story in last Friday's (December 2) Arlington Sun Gazette reported that "Arlington county manager seeks consideration of land-swap proposal."

Here are the details of the Arlington weekly newspaper story:

"Arlington County Board members later this month will be asked to authorize the county manager to enter into negotiations that could see the local government trade property it may soon own on North Quincy Street in exchange for property on South Shirlington Road.

"The proposal was initiated by Arcland Property Co., which owns a parcel in Shirlington currently used by the county government to store buses. Arcland wants to exchange 3.5 acres it owns in exchange for 2.3 acres of a 6.1-acre parcel the county government is contemplating purchasing on North Quincy, across from the Arlington Education Center.

"The county government earlier signed an option agreement giving it the ability to purchase the entire North Quincy Street parcel for $30 million from developer Bill Buck. County officials have until next November to exercise the option.

"The proposed land swap between the county government and Arcland would involve no cash changing hands, county officials said. Arcland aims to build a self-storage facility on a portion of the North Quincy Street property, while leasing back some of the parcel to the county government."

On Tuesday of last week (November 29), the county issued a press release about the land exchange proposal. Five bullet points were listed:

  • Proposed exchange of portion of Buck property for Shirlington Road land would yield net gain of 1.2 acres of public land
  • Would leave 2/3 of Buck property for County, School needs
  • Shirlington Road site could be long-term solution for ART bus parking
  • Would save County $4 million
  • Manager to seek Board support to further explore option

The press release provides a more complete explanation of each of the five bullet points. Of special interest to residents near the North Quincy Street site is the proposal to construct a six-story, 150,000 square foot self-storage facility on 1.2 acres of the site.

Additional information is available at the county's Land Exchange Proposal -- Buck Property webpage, and includes a 3 1/2 minute video clip of the County Manager discussing the land use proposal. The next steps, listed on this county webpage, are the following:

"The County Manager plans to seek County Board support to pursue negotiations with Arcland during the County Board Recessed Meeting on Dec. 13, 2016. If the Board supports negotiations, any agreement would come before the Board for consideration in 2017.

"If an agreement is reached, the County would continue to seek community input on the remainder of the N. Quincy Street site, and on the Shirlington site."

Growls readers wishing to comment on this proposed land exchange are urged to write to members of the Arlington County Board. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130

And tell them ACTA sent you.

December 05, 2016

Trump State Winners & Hillary State Losers

In his Commentary column in today's Washington Times, Steve Moore talks about "the blue state depression." Moore is a senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign.

Moore explains it this way:

"I’m talking about an economic depression in the blue states that went for Hillary. Here is an amazing statistic. Of the 10 blue states that Hillary Clinton won by the largest percentage margins — California, Massachusetts, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut — every single one of them lost domestic migration (excluding immigration) over the last 10 years (2004-14). Nearly 2.75 million more Americans left California and New York than entered these states.

"They are the loser states. They are all progressive. High taxes rates. High welfare benefits. Heavy regulation. Environmental extremism. Super minimum wages. Most outlaw energy drilling. The whole left-wing playbook is on display in the Hillary states. And people are leaving in droves. Day after day, they are being bled to death. So much for liberalism creating a worker’s paradise.

"Now let’s look at the 10 states that had the largest percentage vote for Donald Trump. Everyone of them — Wyoming, West Virginia, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Dakota, and Idaho — was a net population gainer.

"This is part and parcel of one of the greatest internal migration waves in American history as blue states especially in the northeast are getting clobbered by their low tax, smaller government rivals in the south, southeast and mountain regions.

"By the way, pretty much the same pattern holds true for jobs. The job gains in the red states carried by the widest margins by Mr. Trump had about twice the job creation rate as the bluest states carried by Hillary.

"The just-released 2016 edition of ALEC’s Rich States, Poor States, which I co-author with Reagan economist Arthur Laffer and economist Jonathan Williams shows a persistent trend of Americans moving from blue to red states. The best example is that from 2004-2014, the two biggest conservative states in terms of population size — Florida and Texas — gained almost one million new residents each. The two most populous liberal states — California and New York — saw an equal-sized exodus."

Moore notes that "(e)ven when it comes to income inequality blue states fare worse than red states. According to a 2016 report by the Economic Policy institute, three of the states with the largest gaps between rich and poor are … those progressive icons New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Sure, Boston, Manhattan and Silicon Valley are booming as the rich prosper. But outside these areas are deep pockets of poverty and wage stagnation."

Moore's Washington Times column contains a chart showing the top 10 Trump states and top 10 Hillary states by vote margin. Unfortunately, the chart is not available available in digital form. However, here are the vote margin for each campaign:

Top 10 Donald Trump States

  1. Wyoming -- 27,391
  2. West Virginia -- 16,719
  3. Oklahoma -- 106,133
  4. North Dakota -- 36,612
  5. Kentucky -- 54,650
  6. Alabama -- 103,580
  7. Tennessee -- 281,998
  8. South Dakota -- 22,594
  9. Nebraska -- -21,401
  10. Idaho -- 88,127

Too 10 Hillary Clinton States

  1. California -- -1.265.447
  2. Massachusetts -- -156,861
  3. Hawaii -- -36,439
  4. Vermont -- -9,107
  5. Maryland -- -145,560
  6. New York -- -1,468,080
  7. Illinois -- -669,442
  8. Rhode Island -- -70,591
  9. Connecticut -- -153,918
  10. New Jersey -- -527,036

We last growled about the American Legislative Exchange Council's "Rich States, Poor States" report on April 14, 2010. The most recent "Rich States, Poor States" is the 9th edition, published April 12, 2016.

So ask yourself: who benefits from the the progressive agenda with its burdensome taxes and regulations? Do taxpayers get to live in a more prosperous society? The bottom line according to Steve Moore?

"The lesson to be learned from the states is that the “progressive” tax and spend agenda has been put on trial. Not only do the policies lead to much slower growth, they also benefit the rich and politically well-connected at the expense of everyone else."

If you're not happy with the progressive agenda, take a few minutes to write your favorite legislator. We've embedded links to most of their offices in most of the Growls we write. Scroll down until you find your favorite pol.

December 04, 2016

Third Quarter GDP Revised Upward

The Washington Free Beacon's Ali Meyer reported last week, "The U.S. economy expanded in the third quarter of 2016 as real gross domestic product grew at a rate of 3.2 percent, according to the second estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis."

Meyer provided the following details in her report:

"Real GDP represents the value of the production of goods and services in the economy and is adjusted for inflation. The third quarter growth in 2016 of 3.2 percent, which includes performance from July, August and September, was an increase from the 1.4 percent growth seen in the second quarter of 2016.

"The GDP estimate released Tuesday was revised up from the first estimate of 2.9 percent that the bureau released earlier this year.

“With the second estimate for the third quarter, the general picture of economic growth remains the same; the increase in personal consumption expenditures was larger than previously estimated,” the bureau said.

"Real GDP in the third quarter of 2016 also increased from the previous year, when GDP expanded at 2.1 percent in the third quarter of 2015, according to the second estimate.

“The increase in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, private inventory investment, and federal government spending, that were partly offset by negative contributions from residential fixed investment and state and local government spending,” the bureau said. “Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased.”

"The bureau will release its third estimate for the third quarter of 2016 on Dec. 22."

The following chart is from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) report on GDP, and shows the percent change from the preceding quarter. It dates back to the 4th quarter of 2012.

 

Are you satisfied with your member of Congress' position on economic growth? If not, take a few minutes, and send a message to your representatives on Capitol Hill. Tell them they need to focus on factors that will result in faster economic growth, e.g., lower corporate taxes and fewer regulations. For those not living in Arlington County, contact information is available at the Library of Congress' Congress.gov. Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County can contact their members of Congress by just clicking-on the embedded link:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Ask for a written response. And tell them ACTA sent you.

December 03, 2016

A Thought about Liberty

"The Founders understood that the greatest threat to liberty is an all-powerfull central government, where the few dictate to the many. They also knew that the rule of the mob would lead to anarchy and, in the end, despotism."

~ Mark R. Levin

Source: page 4, "Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto."

December 02, 2016

Virginia's Economy is "Muddling Along"

Writing in the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Wednesday, November 30, James Koch, Professor of Economics and President Emeritus of the Strome College of Business at Old Dominion University writes about the just completed second State of the Commonwealth Report.

Here is a portion of what he wrote:

"The second State of the Commonwealth Report once again finds the Virginia economy muddling along and growing at a rate slower than the United States as a whole. Indeed, economic growth in the nation accelerated in the third quarter of this year and the economy grew at a rate of 2.9 percent, after inflation. Meanwhile, in Virginia, our economy grew at least 1 percentage point slower and this was evidenced by disappointing tax collections. (emphasis added)

< . . . .>

"Particularly worrisome is the continued stagnation of the commonwealth’s labor markets. Despite a rate of unemployment that hovers around 4 percent, the number of individuals actually employed in Virginia is about 16,000 below last year’s number at this time. Further, an increasing percentage of Virginians of prime working ages have chosen, for a variety of reasons, to stop looking for employment. This is bad news because one way or another, society ends up paying for their continued existence.

"This year’s report focuses attention on Virginia’s hotel industry, which functions somewhat like an economic thermometer. Since bottoming out in 2010, hotel revenues nationally have increased more than 54 percent. In Virginia, however, we recorded only a 22 percent increase, though Richmond performed better than this and Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia measurably worse.

"The impact of automation and robots on Virginia’s workers is an attention-getter in the report. A recent study suggested that up to 47 percent of all jobs are susceptible to being eliminated by intelligent machines and software that learn as they operate. Interestingly, higher levels of education are not necessarily a bulwark against having one’s job eliminated. Instead, it is those jobs that require nonrepetitive actions, the ability to adjust on the fly, and the application of judgment that are most resistant to being automated out of existence. Thus, first-grade teachers and social workers are less vulnerable to being replaced by smart machines than are college professors and financial analysts.

"The report also assesses the economic impact of stock car racing in the commonwealth. While racing tracks in Virginia still attract large crowds, it appears that stock car racing passed its peak of popularity several years ago and it remains to be seen if the industry can reverse this trend."

The report is the product of Old Dominion University's Center for Economic Analysis and Policy (www.ceapodu.com). The entire State of the Commonwealth for 2016 can be downloaded here. Koch advises readers "interested in absolutely up-to-date economic data and information on Virginia and 10 metropolitan areas within the commonwealth" to visit the Center.

The report includes the following comments about Northern Virginia's economy and Virginia's hotel industry (emphasis in the original):

Northern Virginia: Turning the Corner?  NOVA now accounts for 37 percent of all employment in Virginia, but approximately 45 percent of the value of the Commonwealth’s economic activity. Recent growth in professional and business services employment suggests that the region may have turned the corner toward a more diverse, private sector-oriented economy.

The Hotel Industry in the Commonwealth: Over the past quarter-century, the hotel industry has become a relatively less important part of the Virginia economy. Occupancy rates have yet to recover to prerecession levels and price- adjusted hotel revenue and revenue per available room in 2015 similarly were below their previous peaks.

Growls readers who are not satisfied with the "state of the Commonwealth" should take a few minutes to review the entire State of the Commonwealth report, and then write to Governor McAuliffe. Click-on the following link:

Growls readers who are concerned that Virginia is moving in the wrong direction economically should provide their comments to their state legislators. The following legislators represent Arlington County in the Virginia General Assembly: Senators (Adam Ebbin, Barbara Favola, or Janet Howell) and Delegates (Rip Sullivan, Patrick Hope, Alfonso Lopez, or Mark Levine). Contact information for members of the General Assembly can be found here  -- use one of the "quick links" to locate the senator and delegate who represent you.

And tell them ACTA sent you.

December 01, 2016

More on Arlington Public Schools' Cost-per-Student

Ten days ago, we growled on November 21 that with release of the FY 2017 Washington Area Boards of Education (WABE) Guide, the Arlington Public Schools (APS) continued their streak of being the region's costliest.

The Arlington Sun Gazette's Scott McCaffrey posted a detailed story this morning about APS's "highest rate in region'"' spending. He noted that "school officials defend costs as reasonable." His reporting includes interviewing the chairman of the Arlington School Board as well as our November 21 Growls.

Here's the portion of McCaffrey's reporting that includes comments by the school board chair:

"While school leaders in the past have largely ignored the question – noting that voters must think spending levels are fine or they wouldn’t approve county school bonds by four-to-one margins – Van Doren went a step or two further.

“Arlingtonians are very proud of our schools and the success of all Arlington students. While our cost per pupil may be higher, we certainly reap the benefits of this investment in our students and community,” she said, pointing to three areas the require the additional spending:

• “Our salaries reflect Arlington County’s higher cost of living and allow APS to remain competitive in maintaining a highly qualified corps of instructional staff and school leaders/"

“We have consistently maintained smaller class sizes to ensure that we provide strong instructional experiences while also focusing on meeting the needs of the whole child.”

• “We proudly provide a greater array of instructional resources and specialized programs.”

(And it’s not as if high per-student spending is a new phenomenon: The Northern Virginia Sun way back in December 1959 reported that Arlington that year topped all jurisdictions statewide.) (emphasis added)

"Van Doren notes that the school system asked the state government in 2012 to conduct an efficiency review, which resulted in 27 recommendations. The school system implemented 23 of them, she said.

“We will continue to look for ways to run our operations efficiently, but we are committed to maintaining the high-quality services we provide for children,” the School Board chairman said."

Be sure to read the entire story. And kudos to Scott McCaffrey for following-up on our November 21 Growls.

Given the implications for taxpayers, we urge Growls readers to growl to members of the Arlington School Board about the cost of public education in Arlington County. Tell School Board members there needs to be greater accountability for taxpayer dollars. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the School Board office at (703) 228-6015

And tell them ACTA sent you.

December 2016
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Items in Growls are written by individual ACTA members and do not necessarily represent the views of the Arlington County Taxpayers Association, Inc. Please send comments about Growls to The Growl Meister