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November 5, 2014

Statement on the Passage of Denton's Fracking Ban

Unfortunately, those of us who support responsible use of innovative energy technologies such as fracking were unable to break through the FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) spread by those who were pushing the Denton fracking ban. For various reasons insufficient effort went into addressing the health and environmental concerns of those who are normally in favor of energy production, but who have become fearful from the junk science being peddled by environmental extremists. And so, in Act I, the ban passed by a substantial margin.

Act II begins now, with several lawsuits filed already the day after the election. These lawsuits are not indicators of greed but rather of the very significant legal problems inherent in the ban. Contrary to what some ban proponents have stated, the simple fact that the ban was placed on the ballot does not indicate legal soundness. In fact, the ban is almost certain to be found illegal on multiple fronts—the only question is which set of legal perils prevails first. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

November 2, 2014

The Only Fracking Stopped by the Ban Is the Good Kind

Most reasonable people would probably agree that, ideally, drilling for oil and natural gas should take place on relatively large tracts of rural land, well away from residences and public places.  But here’s the poorly understood irony facing Denton voters on November 4: That’s the only kind of drilling that will be stopped if the proposed ban passes.

That’s right: It’s only out-of-the-way, inoffensive drilling on large tracts that will be affected under the ban.

Here’s why: While Denton had a weak drilling ordinance and issued some unwise drilling permits, that ordinance has now been significantly strengthened. Indeed, today’s Denton drilling ordinance has stricter requirements and larger setbacks than that of many other cities in north Texas. Anyone obtaining permits and drilling new wells today has to operate under the newly strengthened ordinance, including 1,200 foot setbacks. Fort Worth’s setback, for example, is only 600 feet.

Only wells on relatively large tracts of land and well away from property lines meet the test of the new ordinance and are thus even candidates to be banned.

Proponents of the ban are still seething over wells that were drilled close to residences and property lines under the old ordinance, or indeed that were drilled on unincorporated land. But the city’s hands are tied over those previously drilled wells. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

October 23, 2014

Legal, Economic & Property Rights Arguments Against the Proposed Ban on Fracking in Denton (video)

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

August 26, 2014

Independent, Technical, Multistakeholder Organizations that Have Become Part of the United Nations

In relation to the debate over whether and how the U.S. should hand over control of the root zone (IANA) functions of the Internet to an independent, multistakeholder organization like ICANN, the Obama administration (and many others) have been adamant that they "are not turning the Internet over to the United Nations!" We absolutely will not allow that to happen, they insist.

And I give them credit for wisely and uncharacteristically (for this administration) understanding the problem with turning Internet governance over to the United Nations.

The long-term problem, as I have argued previously, is that independent multistakeholder organizations set up to do technical functions that are of interest to the global community have a habit of getting absorbed into the United Nations system.

Here is a list of such organizations that have ended up as "specialized agencies" in the UN system, despite the fact that there was no compelling reason why that function needed to be subject to the rules and governance of a UN organization. Tourism, really? Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

August 5, 2014

The Left Bashes, then Copies, Center-Right Institutions

There’s a bit of a brouhaha the last couple of days about the discovery of a closed Google group that Left-leaning journalists and activists use to coordinate their messaging.

Which really is of no interest to me whatsoever. I assume many such sorts of coordination and communication among political activists and journalists, which is why I wasn’t at all overwrought a few years ago over the JournoList saga.

But buried in the story is something that I DO find interesting. The progressive Left has this funny habit of denouncing and bashing the institutions of the center-right while at the same time, copying them. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

June 17, 2014

Export-Import Bank loaning money to drug cartels

In an op/ed published Wednesday in the Dallas Morning News I argue that Republicans should let the Export-Import Bank expire instead of reauthorizing it.

In the piece, I mention a charge that the Export-Import Bank may have loaned money to Mexican drug cartels.

Of course, you can't put hyperlinks or footnotes in op/eds. So here's the source of that little factoid from 2007, compliments of the Wayback Machine.

DALLAS - A News 8 investigation has found that a little known government agency may have unwittingly wasted taxpayers money on top of using the funds to support criminal activity.

The probe originally revealed that small business loans sponsored by the Export-Import Bank of the United States were made to non-existing companies for equipment that wasn't even real.

Now, New 8 has discovered that some of the people who got the Ex-Im Bank loans may have drug connections. The $243 million worth of bad loans were originally made to help trade with Mexico.

The loans have been linked to the Juarez drug cartel, which is known for its brutal murders. The cartel killed one dozen people and buried them in a suburban backyard across the border fro El Paso.

Another loan was linked to the Sinaloa drug cartel, whose business is smuggling heroin into the United States.

The federally funded Ex-Im Bank apparently backed loans to people affiliated with both cartels and the Mexican drug trade.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, News 8 asked for all documentation related to defaulted small business loans made to Mexico from 2002 to 2005. Although there were nearly 200 bad loans, so far, information on only 34 cases has been turned over.

But the bank did give a list of the defaulted loans and the names and addresses of the people who got them in Mexico.

"They have drug connections, which is very disheartening to think that the U.S. government is lending money to documented traffickers in the drug trade that are tied into the cartels in Mexico," said Phil Jordan, the former head of the El Paso Intelligence Center for the DEA and Border Patrol in El Paso.

Jordan ran background checks of the borrowers with two federal sources and found borrowers from Juarez and Sinaloa with criminal ties to money laundering, organized crime or drugs in Mexico. Jordan said he was surprised to find that the Ex-Im Bank didn't do similar checks before guaranteeing the loans. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

April 13, 2014

Video of Tom Giovanetti Speaking on the U.S. Relinquishing Control of Internet Root Zone Functions

ICAC IANA CSPAN 1I was honored to speak at a panel discussion on Friday sponsored by the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee on whether transferring control of the Internet root zone functions from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce to some yet-to-be-determined multistakeholder organization is a good thing.

The briefing was televised on CSPAN, and the archive video can be seen here. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

February 7, 2014

A Sad State of Affairs

House Speaker John Boehner has pretty much said that immigration reform is dead, and the main reason seems to be that the Republican Conference has no confidence that the President would faithfully execute the law that resulted from whatever legislative compromise that might arise in Congress.

Congress might require certain border security tests to be met, for instance, before allowing immigrants with legal status to begin applying for citizenship, for example. But the President might just blow off the border security requirements, as he has blown off any number of legal requirements during his term.

So here's where we are: Our President only selectively upholds the laws passed by the Congress. The normal response in our system to such an abrogation of the office of the Presidency would be impeachment, but since there is no will in the Congress for impeachment, we have reached the point where Congress cannot legislate because it doesn't have confidence that the President will faithfully execute the laws it passes.

This is a sad state of affairs.

All legislation is the result of trade offs and compromises. But if we know in advance that the President will pick and choose elements of the law to enforce or ignore, compromise becomes impossible.

The other normal response in our system would be for Congress to simply refuse to fund the Executive Branch until it begins to comply with the laws Congress passes. But there is no will in Congress to do that, either.

Much of this is the fault of letting the Executive Branch grow too large and have too much power. In a limited government as envisioned by our Founders, you could defund the Executive Branch for 3 months and people would hardly notice. But when you've given the Executive Branch such extensive control over the economy, defunding it means virtually shutting down the government. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

February 5, 2014

The Government Class Makes A Startling Admission

In case it wasn't clear enough that the Government Class is in the business of using government power to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers, this idiot spelled it all out for you:

“These transactions are the largest opportunities for people to make money off of government, and so we want to make sure that everybody is included,” Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th, said. “It’s a lot of money. It’s enough for everybody. Folks should make sure everybody is included.”

If you don't think corrupt management and Government Class self-enrichment can't turn Chicago into another Detroit, you're kidding yourself. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

January 29, 2014

An Exercise in Misdirection

Last night's State of the Union address, which even many among the Talking Left seemed to agree was a pointless execise, struck me as an exercise in misdirection.

The President started off talking about teachers spending extra time with students, autoworkers working hard, farmers, doctors, fathers and mothers and soldiers. The theme seemed to be "the real state of our union is in our hearts," and it was an attempt to divert attention away from real, empirical measurements of how well we're doing, which is pretty awful.

Consider: Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

January 2, 2014

Why Raising the Minimum Wage Is a Bad Idea

On the subject of the minimum wage, people seem almost immune to objective, empirical arguments, but one has to state them anyway, if almost only for the record:

Wages are the price of labor. Higher skilled labor is worth a higher price. Lower skilled labor is worth a lower price.

When you set a legal price control on labor, which is what a minimum wage is, you make it illegal for low skill workers to sell their labor. It's as simple as that.

People generally seem to understand that prices reflect value, except when it comes to labor.

What if we made a law that said fast food hamburgers could cost no less than $20? People would be outraged, and would (correctly) argue that this made it impossible for low-income folks to afford fast food hamburgers.

Well, if you pass a law that says people who work in fast food places can make no less than $20, you make it impossible for low-skill workers to sell their labor to the fast food place. The owner of the business must respond to the price control, just like the consumer must respond to price controls. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

December 14, 2013

On Outside Pressure Groups And Political Influence

One thing a lot of people seem to be missing is that this past week's new, stubborn determination on the part of elected Republicans in the House to follow their own strategy calculation and to not cave in to outside pressure groups is a direct result of the disastrous experience House Republicans had the last time they caved into pressure from these groups in the effort to shutdown the government in order to fail at defunding Obamacare.

Leadership knew there was no chance that effort would succeed. It didn't take much smarts to game that out. But a sufficient number of members were intimidated by a small number of outside groups and felt they had no choice but to go down that road and crash into that wall.

Predictably the effort failed, not for lack of principles or courage, but because of obvious political reality that anyone with any sense already knew ahead of time. Elected members got burned by caving in to unwise and flawed strategic pressure from the outside groups.

The strategic mistake here was a small number of outside groups taking a predictably flawed strategic position and then intimidating elected officials into following that flawed strategy. It was a mistake, and the repercussion is that their influence going forward is diminished. Read More >>

Comments

October 17, 2013

The Next Battle

Okay, so the good guys lost this battle. On to the next one.

With “this battle,” of course, I’m referring to the government shutdown over . . . what was it over again? Defunding Obamacare? Delaying the individual mandate? It seems like it was over three or four things before it was . . . over.

Look, you don’t win every battle. This one, we lost. We tried to take a hill, and we failed. You pick yourself up, you address your wounds, you assimilate the lessons, and you move on.

Some argued that we should not have charged this hill—that we knew there was little to no chance of success, and that we should not lead our troops into a battle without at least a decent chance of winning. Others argued that the fight was a noble one, the cause a just one, and that it should be taken on regardless of the chances of success, which turned out to be a kamikaze strategy. Regardless, it was a debate over strategy and tactics, not principle. A tactic or two was tried, they failed, and now we hopefully learn from it and move on without shooting too many of our own in the process. Because they’ll be needed for the next battle. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

October 3, 2013

So Which Country Is in a Place to Laugh at the U.S. Shutdown?

The latest “wisdom” about the government shutdown is that the impasse is making the U.S. a laughing stock around the world. If there is any country laughing at the U.S., it’s either a hypocrite or it hasn’t looked at its own financial situation—or that of many other countries.  Read More >>

Posted by Merrill Matthews | Comments

October 2, 2013

Does President Obama Understand Congress At All?

Late yesterday, after House leaders said that their strategy will be to send separate appropriations bills to the Senate, President Obama derided the strategy as a "piecemeal approach" that he would veto as inadequate. Instead, he demanded a "clean CR" (continuing resolution) to fund the federal government.

This is truly stunning. The "piecemeal approach" President Obama dissed is regular order in Congress. The way Congress is supposed to operate is for thirteen separate appropriations bills to be debated, passed, and sent on to the other body. These thirteen separate bills fund the various departments of the federal government. Read More >>

Posted by Tom Giovanetti | Comments

 

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