Monthly Archives: October 2011

Plan Maryland – Why Counties Need a One Year Extension

Governor Martin O’Malley’s Plan Maryland initiative purports to be a comprehensive sustainability plan for the state ofMaryland.  The initial 188 page draft Plan was unveiled in April/May to an unsuspecting public by the Maryland Department of Planning with a ninety day public input and comment period.  The revised 100 page draft Plan was made public in September with a sixty day public input and comment period. 

What is PlanMaryland

Thirty seven years ago the Land Use Act of 1974 was signed into law and serves as the authorization for Governor O’Malley to implement PlanMaryland.  At public hearings, Maryland Department of Planning executive Richard Hall explained to citizens the plan was to improve the way state agencies work together to accomplish common goals and objectives for growth, development, and preservation. 

On the surface the goals and objectives may seem innocuous and worthwhile.  As one individual with deep knowledge of the plan said to me, “the plan looks pretty from afar but it is far from pretty.”  Upon further examination Plan Maryland invades every aspect of our lives including; food, water, sewer, safety, education, affordable housing (defined in the document as government subsidized housing), public transportation, land use, business, economy, deforestation, and social equity.  There was not a single reference to individual rights, property rights, or the Constitution in the first draft and only one reference to property rights in the revised draft.  Page 84 of PlanMaryland says:

Depending upon the Implementation Strategy, State agencies should use the following issue specific implementation guidelines as they align and coordinate their capital and non-capital plans, programs and procedures to achieve the Goals and Objectives of the Plan. These issue specific guidelines cover:

1. Agriculture and Rural Resource Lands

2. Sustainable Transportation-Land Use System

3. Water, Sewer, Schools and other Public Facilities

4. Water and Natural Resources Protection

5. Lands Subject to Climate Change Impacts

6. Economic Development

7. Community Design

8. Social Equity, Safety and Education

9. Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization

10. Sustainability of Energy, Food, and Water

11. Capital Budgeting

12. Open Space in the Built Environment

This is about as invasive as it gets.  Nearly every aspect of your life is covered by PlanMaryland.  If, according to Richard Hall, the plan is intended to improve the way state agencies work together then why do we need the plan in the first place?  Secondly, why does the plan invade everything in our private and personal lives?  At best it’s contradictory.  At worst it’s disingenuous.

More importantly, the decision making authority over land use and zoning no longer remains in the hands of locally elected officials.  Instead, unelected state officials and bureaucrats through councils, commissions, and boards wield decision making power over local planning and zoning issues. 

The most disturbing aspect of PlanMarylandis its justification and reliance upon global warming science.  The initial draft Plan contained nearly one hundred references to global warming, climate change, and greenhouse gases.  The revised Plan removed all references to global warming and only uses the terms climate change or greenhouse gases.

Debunking the Science

The Plan goes so far as to include a quote from environmental activist Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring.  For those unfamiliar with Rachel Carson, she is the one person most closely associated with the ban on DDT.  The Environmental Protection Agency held hearings in 1972 on DDT and the EPA’s hearing officer, Edmund Sweeney, received testimony from every major scientific organization supporting the use of DDT.  Sweeney concluded, “DDT is not carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic to man and these uses of DDT do not have deleterious effect on fish, birds, wildlife, or estuarine organisms.”  Two months latter, EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus banned DDT without reading or reviewing any testimony.  Since DDT’s banning in 1972 over sixty million people have died worldwide from malaria.  It was later determined by independent scientific assessment that the science Carson relied upon was fraudulent.

PlanMaryland relies upon the 2008 Maryland Climate Action Plan to justify its goals and objectives.  The 2008 Maryland Climate Action Report in turn relies upon global warming/climate studies produced by the United Nations International Panel for Climate Change.  In some cases, the IPCC Action Reports referenced are more than ten years old.  However, given the recent discovery of scientific and academic fraud surrounding the science used by or relied upon by the IPCC the entire scientific basis is thoroughly discredited.

In June 2009, the Heartland Institute published a rebuttal to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC.  The rebuttal was coauthored and edited by S. Fred Singer, Ph.D., and Craig Idso, Ph.D and produced with contributions and reviews by an international coalition of scientists.  The full report can be found here.

Perhaps the most insulting and disturbing aspect of climate studies produced to date is the pretense that the science is “settled” and “incontrovertible”.  Many theories have been proven inaccurate or wrong based on new discoveries, better or more thorough testing of hypotheses, improved instrumentation, etc.  However, it is incumbent upon the scientists to follow the scientific method and the burden of proof is on their shoulders. 

The IPCC relied upon science that did not and has not followed the scientific method.  Moreover, statements that global warming science is settled and incontrovertible are nonsensical and foolish.  The burden of proof is supposed to rest upon the scientists performing the tests.  In global warming science the scientists and their results are deemed correct and the skeptics bear the burden to prove them wrong.  This approach stands the scientific method on its head.  The burden lies upon the proposer and it is incumbent upon the proposer to follow proscribed methods. 

One critical aspect of any scientific hypothesis is peer review.  Those scientists proposing a certain finding are required to share their data, tests, intermediate results, models,  instrumentation, data collection methods, final results, etc. with peers in the scientific community.  Most importantly, skeptics must have an opportunity to review anything and everything related to scientific hypothesis.  

We know from the leaked e-mails from the Hadley Climate Research Unit that peer review by skeptics was suppressed.  The climate models were manipulated to produce the infamous hockey stick graph.   Real temperature data was replaced with proxy data from tree rings (that was proven to be manipulated).  Here’s one particular e-mail about hiding the decline from CRU lead scientist Dr. Phil Jones:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

Climate Audit’s Steve McIntyre filed numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to obtain data from the CRU.  Eventually, McIntyre got the tree ring data used in the hockey stick graph and found the data was cherry picked to produce the desired results.  In McIntyre’s effort to reconstruct the graph he found the decline magically disappears after all the tree ring data is included.  Those tests can be found here.

It is reasonable to conclude global warming science is far from settled and is certainly controvertible.  PlanMaryland is based upon fraudulent science and as a result renders the entire plan controversial and politically motivated.  PlanMaryland supplants individual rights and property rights with collectivist concepts and ideals where a council of government bureaucrats invades every aspect of your life from food and water, to safety and education, to modes of transportation, and where you may or may not live.  

Property Rights

People owning property essentially obtain a “bag of rights” when they purchased their property.  Those rights encompass the right of use and the right of disposal.  PlanMaryland strips a substantial portion of those rights from the property owner and leaves the property owner with the burden of ownership and maintenance of the property.  Government enjoys a surrogate ownership over property without any of the responsibility of ownership.  

Property owners are stripped of the choice of where they wish to live, and the State dictates how property owners can use their property.  In some cases, development rights are down-zoned or eliminated by State decision makers which reduces or eliminates property values.  It is a government taking of private property without just and fair compensation.   To quote Ayn Rand:

The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal.  [C]itizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership.  [G]overnment officials hold the economic, political and legal power of life or death over the citizens.

The fact that a property owner holds the deed to a property is meaningless if the individual is forced to live where government dictates, and government strips individuals of some or all property value, and the rights to use and/or disposal. Rand continues her commentary on property rights:

The right to life is the source of all rights—and the right to property is their only implementation. Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has no right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.

Bear in mind that the right to property is a right to action, like all the others: it is not the right to an object, but to the action and the consequences of producing or earning that object. It is not a guarantee that a man will earn any property, but only a guarantee that he will own it if he earns it. It is the right to gain, to keep, to use and to dispose of material values.

PlanMaryland is an eco-Marxist’s dream come true.  The collective – the good of the many – outweigh the good of the few.  Individual rights, liberty, property rights, and the Constitution are damned.  Government is instituted amongst men for the protection of their rights and property.  PlanMaryland contradicts the very bedrock principle upon which governments are instituted.  PlanMaryland abridges and denies certain rights.  Without the right to property, mans’ economic liberty vanquishes.

Why the Rush

Lastly, approximately one-half of Maryland’s twenty four jurisdications asked Governor O’Malley for a one year extension to formally review, comment, and work with the state on PlanMaryland.  Thus far, Governor O’Malley has rejected those requests.  The State sprung this on counties in April/May timeframe and is nearing the end of public input and comments.  If the law authorizing the State to implement PlanMaryland was passed in 1974, and thirty seven years have passed, why is there such a rush to implement the plan now? 

It seems reasonable to me the Governor should grant a one year extension and work with the counties in a cooperative and collaborative fashion.  Considering the scientific basis for PlanMaryland is fraudulent and there is justifiable concern over land use and many other aspects of PlanMaryland, it certainly seems fair and reasonable to me that the Governor grant a one year extension.

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Filed under Agenda 21 & Plan Maryland

Fairness as a Political Tactic

By definition, fairness is the condition of being just or impartial.  Fairness relies upon people determining what is or is not fair.  This is true in any situation where the term fairness is applied.  My definition of fairness may not be the same as someone else’s definition of fair.  Numerous factors influence the concept of fairness.  Ultimately, fairness is an abstract concept subject to many definitions that may vary under differing circumstances.

To a certain degree, parents employ the concept of fairness in child rearing.  Parents are generally fair in many material things such as clothes, toys, and bedroom furniture.  At snack time parents usually give the same number of cookies to each child.  It is the parent’s prerogative to generally be fair or not; according to the parents definition of fair.

Consider the following:  two parents with three children.  Parents are cutting pieces of cake for each child.  The parents plunge the knife into the cake.  Three pieces are cut.  Simultaneously, all three children begin clamoring for the largest piece of cake.  They all see one piece is larger than the others.  So, which of the three children gets the largest piece of cake? 

The parents created their own dilemma.  However, the parents justify the largest piece of cake will go to the oldest child.  The parents used arbitrary rationale to determine which child would receive the largest piece of cake. According to the parents it was fair; however according to the two children that got smaller pieces of cake it was not be fair.  The parents applied the concept of fairness AFTER the outcomes were known; therefore fairness was entirely arbitrary.

Consider an alternative.  Have one child cut the cake and let the other two children pick their piece of cake.  It is in the cutters best interest to cut equal size pieces.  If the cutter cuts one big piece and two smaller pieces, or two big pieces and one small piece, most likely the cutter will be left with the smallest piece.

In this scenario, each person’s self interest resolved the question of fairness.  It was not the parent’s definition of fairness, which may not be fair by someone else’s definition of fair.  Fairness applied after the outcomes are known is arbitrary, regardless of whose definition of fairness is used.  Each child’s self-interest resulted in the fairest outcome. 

How does the concept of fairness apply to government and civil society?

Under our system of governance, fairness has no legitimate role when applied after the outcomes are known.  Once the outcomes are known, applying the concept of fairness is always arbitrary and subjective.   The ruling class uses the concept of fairness to further their political ideology, advance an agenda, and secure votes for the next election cycle.  The ruling class and many citizens conflate fairness with equality or justice.

Equality is a basic premise of civil society.  The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal.  At birth we are all similar and we are all endowed with certain unalienable rights by our very existence.  We are all equal to choose our course in life, enjoy the blessings of personal and economic liberty, and pursue our dreams.  The consequences of our choices — the outcomes — are unequal and will always be unequal.  Individuals freely make choices with varying results in prosperity, success, and happiness.  Some will be happier than others.  Some will be more successful.  Some will be more prosperous. 

The Constitution embodies equality in justice.  All men are equal before the law.  The most humble person and the most powerful person are equal before the law.  The richest and poorest are equal before the law.  The Constitution created a more perfect union and by doing so established the rule of law.  We are not a union of men where man makes laws he sees fit.  The rule of law is a higher authority establishing the legal and moral framework of governance ensuring our natural rights are not abridged or denied, as well as the system of jurisprudence which protects our personal and economic liberty, and ensures equality before the law.  The system of justice was established fairly because it is just and impartial, and the system of justice was established before any outcomes were known.

Often the outcomes of our individual choices form the basis for the concept of fairness.   Because the outcomes are unequal, the concept of fairness is employed to manipulate the natural course of events.   The ruling class use this carrot and stick tactic to manipulate and deceive the people.

In today’s world the ruling class employs tactics to divide citizens.  For instance, class warfare is used to create animosity between the rich and the poor.  Class warfare is the basis to justify progressive taxation and redistribution schemes.  The ruling class attempts to make sensible what is ultimately nonsensical.  The concept of fairness is used to appeal to our sensibilities even though arbitrary discretion is applied to manipulate outcomes.  The notion of fairness is applied by the ruling class to vilify and punish success.  We constantly hear “the rich need to pay their fair share”.

The ruling class decides what is fair, and the notion of fairness is used to further political agendas.  An appeal is made to support the idea that those earning a million dollars or more per year should pay more in taxes than someone earning fifty thousand dollars per year.  A tax system equally applied to all is non-discriminatory and those with higher incomes would clearly pay more in taxes than those with lower incomes.  A ten percent flat tax would result in someone earning one million dollars paying one hundred thousand dollars in taxes while the person earning fifty thousand dollars would by five thousand dollars in taxes. 

Fairness established before-hand and from what is known as original position can be just and impartial.  Fairness applied to outcomes is unjust, partial, and arbitrary.  Moreover, the ruling class applies the concept of fairness after the outcomes are known as a political tactic to divide the people, and pit one so-called class of people against another class of people.  By dividing the people, the ruling class knows we’ll never unite to restrain a runaway federal government.

The ruling class uses their discretion and arbitrary power to discriminate against citizens.  The ruling class cuts the income tax cake to ensure the highest income earners pay a disproportionate share of taxes relative to the lowest income earners.  This is how the ruling class applies their notion of fairness; by laying claim to property rightfully created by one person and giving property to others that did absolutely nothing to deserve the property.  But the tax burden is not distributed equally.  The ruling class uses force and coercion to discriminate against some citizens while benefitting other citizens.  When the ruling class arbitrarily decides who to punish and who to reward we are no longer equal under the law.  Likewise property rights are violated which abridges or denies our natural right to economic liberty.

Remember, we are all equal and endowed with unalienable rights.  As with the cake cutting scenario where one child cuts the cake and the other children choose the pieces the same approach must be applied to all people.  If all citizens did not know their race, heritage, age, gender, whether they’d be wealthy or poor, or any detail about themselves, and had to devise a tax system that, when applied to all, would be fair; what system of taxation would people create?  Citizens must then decide how to cut the income tax cake before knowing what slice of the tax burden they’d have to pay. Everyone would have to live with the outcome; not knowing if you’d be rich or poor, whether the burden would be paid by your generation or the next or how it would apply to you personally.  It is in your self-interest to develop a tax system that is fair to everyone starting from this original position.

Be very cautious of anyone in the ruling class that talks about something being fair or the concept of fairness after the outcomes are already known.  This is a sure sign the person is trying to score political points with someone or some group.   Be assured, whatever solution is offered it is anything but fair.

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Filed under Philosophical