Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fiscal Cliff and Obama's Marxist, Socialist Agenda

William E. Simon was a U.S. Treasury Secretary, a very successful private investor, and author of a book that was endorsed by two Nobel Prize-winning economists, Milton Friedman and F. A. Hayek. Friedman called it a “brilliant and passionate book” that is “a profound analysis of the suicidal course on which our beloved country is proceeding.”

In 1976, Simon testified before Congress: “In the case of the federal government, we can print money to pay for our folly for a time. But we will just continue to debase our currency, and then we will have a financial collapse. This is the road we are on today. This is the direction in which 'humanitarians' are leading us. But there is nothing 'humanitarian' about the panic, the chaos, the riots, the starvation and death that will ensue. There is nothing 'humanitarian' about the dictatorship that must inevitably take over as terrified people cry out for leadership. There is nothing 'humanitarian' about the loss of freedom. That is why we must be concerned about the cancerous growth of government and its steady devouring of our citizens' productive energy. That is why we must be concerned about deficits and balancing the budget. The issue is not bookkeeping, it is not accounting. The issue is the liberty of the American people....

“I just wanted to put the real issue in focus. I can speak to the technicalities, and I will do so. But they obscure the real issues that face us in the country today. The problem is deficits, budget balancing, capital markets—all of these are important. But it is important, I think, to understand these are just early warning symptoms of a disease that threatens the very life of our body politic. And if we continue to move down this same path, that disease will become irreversible, and our liberty will be lost....I am leaving Washington next January. I am going home to New Jersey a very frightened man.”

Now, 36 years later, we have continued down that same path about which Simon was so alarmed. Our situation has gotten much more precarious, thanks to Obama, but we haven't yet reached the dire consequences Simon wrote about. But we will. The great economist Henry Hazlett, in a speech in 1964 on his 70th birthday, said, “If a government resorts to inflation, that is, creates money in order to cover its budget deficits or expands credit in order to stimulate business, then no power on earth, no gimmick, device, trick or even indexation can prevent its economic consequences.” Hazlett's classic book Economics in One Lesson, published 66 years ago, is still in the top twenty in current sales of economic books on It continues to outsell Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman's most popular book, written a quarter century later by the much better-known economist.

Obama's proposal to increase taxes for individuals and small businesses that make over $200,000 or, jointly, $250,000 a year makes no economic sense. And it belies Obama's claim of concern for the middle class, many of whom report their small-business income on their individual tax returns. According to the Congress' nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, 3.5 percent of taxpayers with business income in 2013 would fall in the tax brackets that would rise under the president’s proposal—but those top earners generate 53 percent of all small-business income!

Federal Reserve data shows the top 5 percent of households save and invest 40 percent of their income. Middle income households save very little. Therefore, raising taxes to redistribute and consume income reduces the pool of savings for investment that would create economic growth with more jobs and rising incomes.

Sen. Rand Paul writes cogently: “Any notion that it matters whom you tax is simply a parlor game played by the class-warfare crowd. There are only two repositories of money—the private sector (which efficiently distributes goods) and the public sector (which doesn't distribute anything well). No central planner possesses the omniscience to assign fairness. The only guide to fairness of distribution that I can imagine is the minute-by minute vote of the most exacting and direct democracy ever known: the marketplace....Taking more money out of the private sector is injurious to economic growth....If you want to stimulate the economy, leave more money in the economy.”

The Obama administration has argued that government spending stimulates the economy as the money it spends is, in turn, spent over and over in the private sector. The administration used a multiplier of 1.5 to justify its stimulus spending, meaning that a dollar in government spending raises the gross domestic product by $1.5. In my new book The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold, I point out, “If the multiplier really were larger than 1.0, the GDP would rise even more than government spending! The U.S., Greece and other spendthrift countries wouldn't be going broke—they 'd be getting richer the more they spent! The reality is that the multiplier is always less than 1.0. The money that is spent over and over in the private sector from the government programs is always less than the cost of the programs.” My book cites plenty of scientific research to support this. Moreover, “the research by Barro and Redlick found that if government spending is funded by taxes, the multiplier is minus 1.1. In other words, if government raises taxes by $100, the economy will shrink by $110.”

My book also points out: “Obama has learned nothing from the tax cuts by presidents Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy. In both cases, reductions in tax rates resulted in increased tax revenue for the government. When Reagan became president, he reduced the top marginal income tax rate to 28% from 70%, but when he left office, tax revenues had almost doubled. During this same period, the inflation rate fell to 4% from 13%, unemployment dropped to 5.3% from 7.5%, 17 million new jobs were created, and the longest peacetime boom in our history was underway. When Reagan took office in 1981, the top one percent of income earners paid 17.58% of all federal income taxes. Twenty-five years later, in 2005, that one percent paid 39.38% of all income taxes despite being taxed at a lower rate.

“In the 1960s President Kennedy cut the highest income tax rate to 70% from 91% with a similar result.” In 1962 President Kennedy said, “It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now.”

Why then is Obama so fixated on raising taxes for the top earners? The answer must lie somewhere beyond the economics, because the economics of what he proposes are so dreadful. All the taxes he proposes to collect from people making over $200,000 (or $250,000 jointly) would run the government for only eight days! How would he finance running the government the other 357 days? He is silent.

Dinesh D'Souza has a 25-year career as an author, scholar and former college president. He is the narrator, director and co-author of the movie “2016: Obama's America,” which is based on his earlier book The Roots of Obama's Rage. In both the book and the movie, D'Souza significantly points out that Obama's memoir Dreams from my father is not titled “Dreams of my father.” Rather, it is “Dreams from my father”—which means he has his father's dreams.

His father wrote a paper “Problems with our Socialism” that advocates 100% taxation of the rich. His mother was a communist sympathizer. Obama says, “The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics.” D'Souza says, “I would not normally hold Obama accountable for the views of either his father or his mother had he not written a book detailing how influential his father and also to some degree his mother have been on him. So I'm simply following Obama's story."

In RADICAL-IN-CHIEF: Barrack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, author Stanley Kurtz documents —with over a thousand references—Obama's socialist past, his lies, and the socialist character of his administration. He writes: “Obama has made a concerted effort to hide his socialist convictions from the voters who put him in office. Had the American people known the truth, Obama would never have risen to the U.S. Senate, much less the presidency....In sum, the fears of Obama's harshest critics are justified. The president of the United States is a socialist.”

Kurtz says “the favorite strategies of community organizers are designed to push the country into socialism before the public can figure out what's happened.” Obama seeks to “transform America” by undermining capitalism through ever-expanding government controls and a metastasizing public sector.

A key element in Obama's plan to redistribute other people's wealth is the destruction of property rights. It assumes wealth belongs to society collectively, rather to individuals who have earned it through their labor in production and trade. It is to compel public acceptance of this collectivist doctrine that Obama is so insistent upon raising taxes on the rich. For if the rich have no right to their wealth, then neither does anyone else. Then all wealth belongs to the collective, and society collectively—that is, through government—will decide everything for everybody. Natural rights to life, liberty and property will be superseded by tens of thousand of laws and regulations administered by tens of thousands of bureaucrats and inspectors who tell people what they can or must buy or sell, manufacture, ingest, dispose of and in what manner, as well as how much of their earnings they are allowed to keep and how much they must turn over to the collective.

This approach has been tried before on a smaller scale. Obama is 400 years behind the times. He has failed to learn the lesson of the Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Half of them died the first year. Though the Indians helped them survive, the colonists were chronically short of food, and their numbers continued to dwindle.

Under the Mayflower Compact, which governed the colony, “all profits and benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing or any other means” were community property in the “common stock” of the colony. And “all such persons as are of this colony are to have their meat, drink, apparel and all provisions out of this common stock.” People were required to put in everything they could—they were forbidden from growing their own food—and to take out only what they needed. It was a policy of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” centuries before Karl Marx seduced millions of people with those words.

The communal system was such a failure that in the spring of 1623 the Pilgrims feared they would not survive another poor harvest. “So they began to think,” wrote the colony's governor William Bradford, “how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves....And so assigned to every family a parcel of land.....This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted then otherwise would have been by any other means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content.”

Far from making the people “happy and flourishing,” the communal system, wrote Bradford, “was found to breed confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.” Not surprisingly,“young men that were able and fit did repine [complain] that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children, without recompense. The strong, or men of parts, had no more division of food, clothes, etc. than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labor, and food, clothes, etc. with the meaner and younger sort, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them.”

Under the circumstances, there was little incentive to produce food. Severe whippings were tried to induce greater production, but they did little more than increase discontent.

The social disharmony, along with the food shortages, disappeared once the concept of private property was introduced and people could keep whatever they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In 1647 Bradford was able to write “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” Such was the success of the new system that in 1624 the colonists began to export corn, trading it for beaver pelts, other furs, and meat.

In 1624 the Pilgrims took a further step in property rights. The system of assigning land “to every man for his own particular” had certainly increased the production of corn, but the assignment was drawn by lot yearly. Thus there was not much incentive for making improvements to one's tillage when someone else might draw that land next year. The men requested of the Governor “to have some portion of the land given them for continuance, and not by yearly lot....Which being well considered, their request was granted.”

Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America, established in Virginia in 1607, had an experience similar to the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Early years of starvation were followed by converting to a system of property rights and a free market, which brought abundance. Under collectivism, less than half of every shipload of settlers survived the first twelve months at Jamestown. Most of the work was done by only one-fifth of the men, to whom the socialist system gave the same rations as to the others. During the winter 1609-10, called “The Starving Time,” the population fell from 500 to 60.

But when Jamestown converted to a free market, there was “plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure,” wrote the colony secretary Ralph Hamor in 1614. Under the previous system, he said, “we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now.”

We should not underestimate the significance of the experiences at Plymouth and Jamestown. Property rights and free markets were truly revolutionary and fundamental to capitalism. Without them, all the wealth, progress and human betterment that followed could not have occurred. According to Sartell Prentice, “In England, meanwhile, farming 'in common' continued to be the general practice for another hundred years. Not until the second decade of the seventeen hundreds did 'setting crops for their particular' begin to be slowly accepted in England—and decades were to pass before the new practice became sufficiently widespread to provide an adequate food supply for the population.”

There is no shortage of people who want a political system that gives them the fruits of other men's labors, as at Plymouth and Jamestown. And there is an abundance of politicians willing to accommodate them at the expense of other men's property. The result is repetition of the collectivist systems (socialism, fascism) that have failed in the past, and no end to the discontent and resentment they engender. But people can be seduced to try them again and again by lofty idealistic statements, eloquent messages of hope, and promises that can never be kept. All of which allow the covetousness of other people's property—whether for personal gain or altruistic, collectivist aims—to masquerade under noble-sounding phrases.

Once he was president, Obama came up with a health plan that would require everyone to buy health insurance—as though people's money was not theirs by right but, rather, was part of the “common stock” of community property, to be allocated by the leader for the collective good! And, just as at Plymouth, people who did not cooperate would be punished—not by severe whippings as was done there, but by the more civilized penalty of seizing their property (money) through fines if they refused to buy health insurance.

Contrast the government inflicting pain and penalty to force compliance compared to the benefit and satisfaction—even happiness—from market transactions, which people undertake without force or penalty in order to enhance their lives and are far more effective than socialistic distributions. Obama said, "We are fundamentally transforming the United States of America." He is indeed, wiping out the fundamental principles that allowed America to prosper.

Obama claimed, "This is our moment, this is our time to turn the page on the policies of the past, to offer a new direction." Yes, he is “turning the page on the policies” of property rights and free markets. But the direction he is offering is not new but old. It is the ancient system of four centuries ago, before property rights, those basic rights which are still denied in varying degrees in many countries that have never discovered free-market capitalism, much less embraced it—and whose standard of living reflects that fact.

"Generations from now,” Obama said, “we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was our time." Yes, and they will be the worse for it—and damn you for it!

Many supporters of Obama say he is not a socialist because he does not advocate government ownership of the means of production, and they deride those who claim otherwise. But it is the defenders of Obama who fail to understand the historical meaning of socialism. For example, as I point out in my new book The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold, the 1926 Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language (unabridged) defined socialism as “A political and economic theory of social reorganization, the essential feature of which is governmental control of economic activities, to the end that competition shall give way to cooperation and the opportunities of life and the rewards of labor shall be equitably apportioned....—opp. to individualism.” (Italics in the original). Notice there is no mention of government ownership, only “government control of economic activities.” That includes regulation.

After the abject failures of government ownership of production under communism, the advocates of socialism have attempted to distance themselves from those failures. Instead of government ownership, they strive to achieve the same end by regulation. In practice, there is no difference between the two. They are not opposites but twin forms of collectivism, both opposed to free markets and individual rights—including property rights. The collectivist twin of socialism is today better described as fascism. That term was coined by Benito Mussolini in 1919 and described his political movement which put him in power in Italy in 1922.

Barron's Business Dictionary says fascism involves “private economic ownership under rigid government control.” The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy says, “Although both communism and fascism are forms of totalitarianism, fascism does not demand ownership of the means of production.”

The failures of socialist systems under the label of communism are well known, but few people today realize that Adoph Hitler's government was another failure of socialism. The word “Nazi” was short for National Socialist Workers Party of Germany, which was fascist like Mussolini's regime. Both governments exercised extensive controls—even provided state funding to failing private enterprises—but did not nationalize them. They controlled them without acquiring them.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Housing Crisis Not Over—another Bailout?

A new crisis is looming in the housing/mortgage industry when the worst seems to have passed for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Those two GSEs (government sponsored enterprises) were the mortgage guarantors that were principal culprits in inflating the housing bubble. Since problems arose with Fannie and Freddie, FHA (Federal Housing Administration) has grown explosively and exhibits some of their same underwriting weaknesses. For example, most conventional lenders require downpayments of 10 to 20 percent, but FHA requires only a 3.5 percent downpayment by applicants with credit scores of 580 or higher. Its minimum credit score has been 500, compared to 620 for most conventional lenders.

FHA apparently learned nothing from the failures of Fannie and Freddie. Most of its losses now come from loans made as the housing crisis deepened. About a quarter of the mortgages it guaranteed in 2007 and 2008 are seriously delinquent. It has more delinquent loans than either Fannie or Freddie even though it guarantees fewer mortgages than either of them. It now has 739,000 loans 90 days past due or in foreclosure, which is 100,000 more than a year ago.

As I pointed out in my recent book, The Impending Monetary Revolution, the Dollar and Gold, which has a chapter dealing extensively with this issue, “An annual audit released to Congress for FHA's fiscal year 2011, which ended September 30, 2011, shows FHA is nearly insolvent. By federal statute, the agency should have a minimum 2 percent capital reserve ratio. That requirement has not been met for three years, the latest ratio being 0.24 percent, the lowest in FHA's 77-year history. With allowances for projected losses, FHA had a mere $2.6 billion in reserve on September 30, 2011, for the nearly $1 trillion in mortgages its insures.”

The situation has continued to worsen. FHA's capital reserve ratio has slipped from 0.24 percent to 0.125 percent, and it mortgage guarantees have increased from “nearly $1 trillion” to $1.08 trillion. FHA's annual audit, released November 16, 2012, shows the agency's cash reserves aren't enough to cover its projected losses from delinquent loans, raising the prospect it will require a bailout.

Actually, FHA wouldn't even need to ask Congress for funds, because it has a “permanent and indefinite” budget authority allowing it to automatically receive funds from the U.S. Treasury. In each of the past three years, the Obama administration has dismissed the idea of FHA drawing directly from the Treasury as being unnecessary. As recently as February 2012, White House forecasts showed FHA being in the red by almost $700 billion, but officials said the problem would be resolved by pending legal settlements with large banks. Instead, it now looks increasingly likely that taxpayers will have to pay for a bailout.

Government guarantees are supposed to make mortgage failures less likely. But as of last December, 31 percent of FHA loans were underwater, compared to about 22 percent of non-FHA loans; there were fewer failures without government guarantees.  Furthermore, the non-FHA loans that failed were paid for by the banks—not the taxpayers. How can FHA's mortgage program be deemed necessary and effective for safely insuring mortgages when the government for three years egregiously violated its legally required 2 percent capital reserve ratio? Neither Congress nor the administration did anything to ensure the solvency of the agency or to protect the taxpayers from mortgages losses they had nothing to do with.

FHA is not an exception. Fannie and Freddie are further evidence of the futility and counterproductivity of government intervention in the mortgage market. By the end of 2010, the financial meltdown and rising foreclosures had wiped out more U.S. homeowners than were created in the 2000-2007 housing boom. The evictions and foreclosures are still continuing. The result of all the government credit expansion for good intentions has been colossal losses and heartaches for millions of people. Once again, government efforts to to provide economic "help" and safety have been less effective than if government had stood aside and let markets operate without its interference. This lesson has wider applicability than just the housing market.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unemployment: the Numbers behind the Numbers

Jobs growth has not even kept pace with growth in the working-age population, much less restored jobs lost in the recession. The working-age population increased by 206,000 in September while new jobs grew by 114, 000, and that's down from 141,000 in August. This isn't just a one month phenomenon. Job growth has failed to keep up with population growth throughout Obama's term in office. Since he became president, the working-age population has grown by 8.4 million, far short of even Obama's exaggerated claim to have created 5.2 million new jobs. If one measures from the lowest jobs point, in February 2010, there has been an increase of just 4.3 million. And the economy is still 4.5 million jobs short of where it was in 2007. For all of 2012, job growth has averaged 146,000 per month, down from 153,000 in 2011. The labor force participation rate for men is now the lowest on record, going all the way back to 1948.

Since Obama took office, the greatest government stimulus spending and monetary intervention in world history has produced negative results. GDP growth slowed from 2.4% in 2010 to 2.0% in 2011, to l.6% in the first half of 2012. We are going in the wrong direction. Obama's policies aren't working. They have produced effects opposite from what he promised, and a second term for him won't have a different outcome because his methods are fundamentally wrong. And the Fed has announced unlimited purchases of government debt ($40 billion per month in the mortgage market) for as long as job growth remains weak. That, too, will be repetition of a policy that has failed to produce economic growth and reduce unemployment.

The decline in unemployment in September to 7.8% from 8.1%, which broke the string of 43 consecutive months above 8%, is touted as evidence of success. But despite the 0.3% decline in the unemployment rate, there was a loss of 216,000 full time jobs. How can there be fewer full time jobs when the unemployment rate has gone down? For one thing, many people gave up looking for work and thus are no longer counted as part of the work force. Second, the 114,000-job increase includes individuals “working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job,” explains the Bureau of Labor Statistics report. The BLS report of 114,000 jobs gained includes those part-timers in the BLS U-3 classification. However, if you look at the BLS U-6 classification, which the BLS calls “Actual Unemployed,” it includes “total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons,” you see that the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 14.7%. That's still above the 14.2% rate when Obama became president.

The high unemployment and loss of 216,000 higher-paying full-time jobs are major factors in declining real income. Economist John Lott reports: “Mid-range occupations accounted for 60% of jobs lost during the recession, but low-wage occupations accounted for 58% of hiring during the recovery.” As a result, says Peter Ferrara, writing in Forbes, “Since President Obama entered office, annual median income has declined by $4,019.... Moreover, the decline has been greater since the recession supposedly ended in June, 2009, than it was during the recession.” (Underlining added.)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Energy Sources, Costs and Global Warming

Last month the Wall Street Journal (8/18/12) published a breakdown of federal subsidies for electric power production, citing the U.S. Dept. of Energy and the Institute for Energy Research as sources. Here is the comparison of subsidy costs per megawatt hour:

Fuel Type              $ Subsidy per megawatt hour
Oil and Gas           $0.64
Coal                       0.64
Hydropower           0.82
Nuclear                  3.14
Wind                    56.29
Solar                  775.64

Solar and wind are horrendously more expensive, but they are the fuels favored by the Obama administration. The fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal) are by far the most economic. Nuclear power is the next most efficient power source, but no new nuclear power plants have been build in the U.S. for thirty years. Obama says nuclear power has a place in his energy program, but he has effectively eliminated it. One of his first acts as president was to emphatically announce his elimination of the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada for storing highly radioactive nuclear waste. He said his administration would be quick to offer an alternative, but he has been president for almost four years now and has failed to live up to his word.

In 1982 Congress directed the government to assume responsibility for commercial nuclear waste. In 1987 it singled out Yucca Mountain for evaluation as the repository because of its remote and dry location. After years of research, Congress in 2002 endorsed the Yucca Mountain site. The $13.5 billion spent there since 1987 included boring a five-mile tunnel into the mountain, along with numerous niches for testing, and hundreds of studies to determine the safety of storage there for thousands of years. The industry was also forced to pay $22 billion to the Energy Department for establishment of the repository. Obama is not a scientist, and his decision was not made from a review of the scientific research. His Energy Secretary Steven Chu is a scientist but had been on the job only a few weeks, and in that time couldn't possibly have read more than a tiny fraction of the hundreds of studies before announcing his support for Obama's decision. Obama flouted decades of study and countermanded the explicit decisions of Congress. He called for more study of the issue. (Over 20 years of study was not enough?) Government contracts obligated the government to begin taking wastes in 1998. Obama apparently thinks nothing about abrogating a government contract, but the industry may sue for return of the $22 billion utility companies paid for the repository plus extra storage costs of the wastes. The New York Times says, “Lawyers are predicting tens of billions of dollars from suits by utilities that must pay to store their wastes instead of having the government bury them, with the figure rising by about a half-billion dollars for each year of additional delay.” As usual, Obama shows little concern for another extravagant waste of taxpayers' money.

Until a deep permanent repository is established, the 104 nuclear plants operating in the U.S. are required to store their radioactive wastes temporarily in steel and concrete casks near their reactors. Plants running short of temporary storage space would like to vitrify the wastes, which would turn them into a stable glass form—which is highly desirable—but the Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires that high-level waste be disposed of in a deep geologic repository after the vitrification plant starts operating. So plants can't start vitrifying until there is a repository. The lack of on-site storage space for nuclear wastes is now being used as an argument for denying license renewals for existing nuclear plants. Re-licensing of existing plants is crucial just to maintain our current nuclear generating capacity, which provides 22.5 percent of the nation's electricity.

The most ridiculous aspect of the government fiasco regarding nuclear waste disposal is that the whole problem was precipitated by government. It need never have occurred at all. France has 59 nuclear plants, which produce 80 percent of its energy—and it stores all its 30 years of nuclear waste beneath the floor of one room in Le Hague. No problem.

France and other nations with nuclear plants recycle their spent nuclear fuel. To them, it is not nuclear “waste” but a resource. France even imports this resource from Italy (Caorso) and United Kingdom (Sellafield) for reprocessing, which recycles about 98 percent of the material in spent nuclear fuel rods. One percent is the fissionable uranium isotope U-235. Ninety-five percent is non-fissionable U-238 and can't be used for bombs; it's no different than the U-238 in 1 percent of the earth's crust. Plutonium 239, which is fissionable, is formed when small amounts of U-238 absorb neutrons; it is one percent of spent fuel. It is reprocessed and put back into a reactor as “mixed oxide fuel” of uranium plus plutonium.

Why doesn't the U.S. reprocess spent fuel as other nations so successfully do? Because in 1977 President Jimmy Carter foolishly established a permanent ban on reprocessing, in the belief he was reducing the risk of bomb-making material being stolen. President Obama has flatly refused to allow reprocessing, saying it is “not an option.” But the risk of theft from nuclear waste is misguided. Uranium 235 in a reactor is only 3 percent. You couldn't blow up a reactor with it if you tried. To make a weapon from it, it would have to be enriched to 90 percent, an extremely difficult industrial operation. The concern is over the 1 percent of nuclear waste that is plutonium 239. Reprocessing allows this to be consumed by putting it back into a reactor as fuel.

In spite of the fact the Obama administration has effectively shut down nuclear power development, it spends far more on subsidies for it than for the economical fuel sources. Another waste of taxpayers money. And it spends still more on subsidizing the most inefficient sources, solar and wind. An even greater waste.

Fuel Type            Subsidy $ in millions
Hydropower              215
Oil and Gas               654
Solar                        968
Coal                     1,189
Wind                    4,986

Obama seeks to create jobs in wind and solar industries, but without subsidies they can't compete with the more efficient forms of energy. Furthermore, the latter pay billions of dollars in taxes while solar and wind energies are draining taxpayers' money from the U.S. Treasury. Obama preaches about creating jobs, but you can't create lasting, profitable jobs and competitive industries with uneconomic energy. All of the energy subsidies are a waste and should be terminated. The inefficient solar and wind industries are obvious wastes, and the fossil fuels and hydropower are efficient and thus do not to need them.

The argument is made that solar and wind energies must be used even if uneconomic in order to save the planet from global warming. Almost every month new scientific research emerges to further discredit the whole idea of anthropogenic global warming. Almost as often a new baseless scare is voiced not just that the climate is warming but that man is the cause.

The latest concerns the widely publicized stories about the melting of Arctic ice. These usually say the ice is the lowest it has ever been in recorded history. That sounds really serious, doesn't it? They don't tell you that “recorded history” they refer to began in 1979 with the advent of satellite photography. Nor do they tell you that the area they bemoan for having melted recently was open water in 1904 and 1905, when Roald Amundsen as well as other Arctic explorers sailed their ships there. Nor do they tell you that there have been many times in the past when Arctic ice completely disappeared and always returned.

Nor do they tell you that while Arctic ice has been melting, Antarctic ice has been growing at a record rate. How can there be global warming when at one pole the ice is melting while at the other it is increasing? Which pole should be used for evidence of global temperature change? You could make as good a case for global cooling by looking solely at one pole as you can for global warming by looking solely at the other.

Far more convincing is evidence that earth's temperature changes are due to the sun. Orbital changes produce long-term climate cycles by varying the distance of the earth from the sun; shorter-term cycles are determined by changes in the surface of the sun itself. The sun's radiation is not uniform but varied by disturbances on the surface of the sun, called “sunspot cycles.” Magnetic fields rip through the sun's surface, producing holes in the sun's corona, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and changes in the “solar wind,” the stream of charged particles emanating from the sun. The solar wind, by modulating the galactic cosmic rays which reach the earth, determines both the formation of clouds and the carbon dioxide level in the earth's atmosphere—which has nothing to do with emissions from factories or automobiles! Sunspot cycles cause only slight changes in the sun's radiation, but these changes are amplified many fold by interaction 1) with ozone in the upper stratosphere, and 2) with clouds in the lower troposphere.

Mars is experiencing global warming and so are Jupiter, Pluto, Neptune, and Triton, the largest moon of Neptune. These heavenly bodies have never had humans to create man-made global warming, and the warming they are experiencing correlates not with carbon dioxide changes but with solar cycles—as does the warming of the earth. (The correlation is much better than with the earth's carbon dioxide levels.) How can the sun be causing global warming elsewhere in our solar system but not on earth? And if the earth's warming is not caused by solar activity, what explains the warming of Mars, Jupiter, Neptune and its moon Triton, and even distant Pluto?

In any case, the overwhelming portion of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is produced by nature, not man. Joseph D'aleo, first director of meteorology, the Weather Channel, has stated, “If the atmosphere was a 100-story building, our annual anthropogenic (man-made) contribution today would be equivalent to the linoleum on the first floor.”

Reid Bryson, founding chairman of the Department of Meteorology at the University of Wisconsin, has said, "You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide."

Claims that temperature records for the past century, which show a slight warming of about 1 degree, cannot be taken as evidence of global warming, for this assumes no warming at all without humans. Australian researcher John McClean, who has spent more than 25 years studying global climate, says “No century has ever had such a stable climate, but for the [computer models to show anthropogenic forcing], this assumption must be made. The probability of a flat background natural climate is less than one in a million; hence, the statistical significance of these apparently successful models is also less than 1 in a million.”

Over the last several years I have made more than twenty blog postings on global warming. I'm sure you are unlikely to read them all, but if you read only one, let it be this one:

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mayor Bloomberg: Empty-Headed Hypocrite

New York Mayor Bloomberg has proposed banning the sale of sugary sodas larger than 16 ounces by restaurants, delis, movie theaters and food carts. That's supposed to show he's fighting obesity. But a week later he showed up at Nathan's 97th annual July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest, where he announced: "It is a moment for all New Yorkers and all Americans to celebrate the inalienable rights bestowed on us by our forefathers: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For the contestants assembled here, that includes consuming as many hot dogs as humanly possible."

This hypocrite would deny beverage consumers the same “inalienable rights bestowed on us by our forefathers” to consume sugary beverages of their choice that he grants for “consuming as many hot dogs as humanly possible.” Indeed, he proclaims the latter “a moment for all New Yorkers and all Americans to celebrate.”

Bloomberg's position on the beverages is not only an infringement on individuals' rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness but shows the mayor's head is empty of facts regarding the food and beverages. Sugar-sweetened beverages account for only 7 percent of calories of the average American's diet, according to government data. And that 7 percent includes not only sodas but fruit juice drinks, sport drinks, teas and coffee with sugar. Added sugars consumed from soda have declined 39 percent since 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control—and yet obesity has been increasing during this period. Since 1998, the average calories per serving from beverages is down 23 percent due development of more low- and zero-calorie drinks—yet obesity continued to rise.  Sales of regular soft drinks declined 12.5 percent from 1999 to 2010--yet obesity rates continued to rise during that same time.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states: “There are multidimensional determinants of obesity....A food solution remains elusive, but a reductionist approach that focuses on one food or one component of the food supply, in the presence of too much, is unlikely to succeed.”

Dr. Gilbert Ross, M.D., practiced medicine for 19 years, was a member of the faculty of Cornell University Medical School and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and is currently Executive Director and Medical Director of the American Council on Science and Health. He says, “There is no solid evidence that restricting sodas to a certain size will have the slightest impact on obesity. In addition, enforcement of such a regulation would not only be quite costly, but it would also be extremely complex, given the various interpretations of the regulations.” Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, also of ACSH, says, “Not only is the latest proposed ban frightening in terms of government overreach, but it will have no impact on obesity.”

An Australian study of children consuming sugar-sweetened beverages 1995 to 2007 found that obesity had increased despite a substantial decline in intake of refined sugar.

Nor will taxing sugary beverages reduce obesity. West Virginia and Arkansas are two states that tax soft drinks, yet both are among the 10 states with highest obesity rates, according to the Centers for Disease Control

Now, here is Michael Siegel, M.D.'s explanation of facts about the hot dog eating contest:

"The winner of the 2011 hot dog eating contest consumed 62 hot dogs and buns in just 10 minutes. In the female competition, the winner consumed 50 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes.

"A single Nathan's hot dog has 297 calories and 18 grams of fat. The bun contains an additional 120 calories. Thus, a single serving delivers 417 calories and 18 grams of fat. This means that the winner of the hot dog eating contest consumed 25,854 calories and 1,116 grams of fat within 10 minutes.

"Thus, Mayor Bloomberg participated in a ceremony that glamorized and promoted the over-consumption of already calorie- and fat-laden food to literally millions of people, including about half a million New Yorkers.

"And this is the guy who now wants to limit soda consumption to 16 ounces?"

For Bloomber's “blatant hypocrisy,” Dr. Michael Siegel inducted him into the Hypocrisy Hall of Shame

The New York Board of Heath—appointed by Mayor Bloomberg—is scheduled to vote on his proposal September 13.

New York Mayor Bloomberg's war on 16-oz. or larger servings of sugary drinks is the wrong war. It is fought for the wrong reasons by an empty-headed hypocrite oblivious to evidence, history and the nature of man and government.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

IPCC Disqualifies Itself, Gives Up On Science

The International Panel on Climate Change can no longer be considered a scientific organization. It was established in 1989 to provide comprehensive scientific information about climate and make science-based recommendations. Its rules have required all assertions in its assessment reports to be based on published papers in refereed scientific journals. That procedure was flagrantly violated in its Fourth Assesstment Report (AR4), the most recent one. That report listed the World Wildlife Fund as the source for sixteen of its assertions, including that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. The WWF is an environmental advocacy group with no refereed journal but a well-deserved reputation for exaggerated, unsupported claims. India's environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, said the glacial melting claim “was clearly out of place and didn't have any scientific basis.” Dr. Murari Lal, who was the coordinating lead author of the IPCC report's chapter on Asia, says he knew the glacier-melting statement lacked scientific verification but included it anyway to encourage politicians to act. He thereby demonstrated more concern with political activism than scientific accuracy.
The AR4 report also claimed climate change was causing coral reef degradation. The sole source the IPCC cited for this claim is a Greenpeace report entitled “Pacific in Peril.” Other noteworthy sources cited in AR4 include a mountaineering magazine and a student paper. Not the sort of thing you would expect from a Nobel Prize-winning report, from the organization that is proclaimed to be the definitive word on climate science. And hardly “as solid as careful science can make it,” as the IPCC stated in 2009. (For more on the exaggerated, inaccurate claims of the IPCC AR4, see The IPPC-led Global Warming Hoax Implodes Link
Instead of reaffirming its adherence to science by agreeing to forgo questionable sources in the future, the IPCC promises to use more of them. On June 24, 2012 it said whatever it chooses to post will be considered as peer reviewed. In other words, the IPCC's position of “authority” is now to be considered as equal to, and a substitute for, the scientific rigor of peer review in a scientific journal. Whatever it says, counts—simply because it says so.
It gets worse. The IPCC has also decided to impose gender and geographical quotas on IPCC membership. Under the new rules, Africa will have five members on the IPCC and North America will have only four. Does anyone really think Africa has more top-flight climate scientists than the USA and Canada combined? The USA alone produces 32% of the world's science. The IPCC also said each of its three working groups will require at least one person from each continent on its each of these 8-person working groups. (One wonders how this staffing requirement will be met with residents of Antarctica.) There will also be a push to have more women represented.
So you see, the IPCC isn't about science—if it ever was. A member of the Stockholm Environment Institute told New Scientist journalist Fred Pearce that the announced policies are mostly a formalization of current practices: “Membership has always been based on expertise, geographical balance and gender. Link”  This is tantamount to saying the IPCC never did have the best scientists because of its accommodation for political agendas, diversity in this case. Or global warming in the case of Himalayan glaciers.
Obviously, the IPCC would not be using unscientific sources if it could find scientific ones. The inescapable conclusion is that the IPCC cannot make a valid case for human-caused global warming with scientific evidence. So why should anyone believe the IPCC claims?  Many people have been misled by the IPCC, but if they now continue to accept IPCC assertions they will be putting doctrine ahead of science and truth, just as the IPCC has done. Why? Well, one reason could be to use the IPCC and its assertions to support political agendas. Untold billions of dollars are being spent by EPA and other Washington bureaucrats on social engineering to reshape out cities, the economy, industrial methods, and the lives of all Americans. What would happen to all these government programs if anthropological global warming were not true?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

CFL Energy Misinformation

Do CFLs really save energy? It depends on where you live. You certainly don't save it if you live in a northern state, where the heat from incandescents that is claimed to be “wasted” is worth more for heating your home than anything you save on CFL lighting.

I live in Minneapolis, where the local electric utility, Xcel Energy, has advertised you save $50 “every time you replace an inefficient incandescent bulb with a CFL.” The company also claimed you can “Get CFLs for a s little as $1. For a store near you, visit [our website].” I checked the stores listed on that website, then visited the nearest ones whose websites listed CFLs for $1 and couldn't find any. I visited Home Depot, Rainbow Foods, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Lund's and Ace Hardware. (Wal-Mart did not list CFL prices on its website.) A few of the stores' websites listed a CFL for $1 or 99 cents, but on visiting the stores I found the the stores no longer sold CFL bulbs at those prices. For example, Family Dollar's website showed 3 CFL models for $1 apiece and one for $1.50, another for $2. My visit to the store showed they didn't sell any for a dollar. In fact, they no longer sold the ones for $1.50 or $2.00 either. They were now selling 60w (equivalents) for $4 per bulb or a two-pack for $7. They also were selling a 100w CFL for $6.00 and, for the same price, a 60w “Armorlite” (which I explained previously is a CFL inside a shell looking like an incandescent, which offers some protection against the CFL causing a fire or the glass “twisty” exploding. See

I went to Home Depot to check on whether the Philips 60w CFL was available for $1, as shown on their website. It wasn't. Nor were the two EcoSmart bulbs its website showed at $1.06 each. Instead, the store now had two EcoSmart 60w CFL models at $2.24 (4-pack for $8.97) and $1.74 (4-pack for $6.97).

The Lund website showed one for 99 cents, but that turned out to be out-of-date information and the store no longer carried that bulb. Some other models on their website were also no longer available, and all the bulbs they did carry were no bargains.

I next visited Ace Hardware. Their website listed a 60 watt-equivalent CFL for $1.40. That, of course, is well above the “dollar or less” Xcel had been advertising, but since so many other stores were no longer carrying the cheapest bulbs listed on their websites, I thought I'd check on this one priced at $1.40. It turned out Ace no longer sold it. But then the manager (named Craig) called my attention to another bulb display, a special: GE 5-pack of 60w reduced from $12.97 to $4.99. The sign said: “Sale ends 3/31/12.” So here were bulbs for 99 cents (compared to the pre-sale price of $2.59 each). Craig said, “You better buy them if you want them, because when the sale ends [in 3 days] they are going back up to $12.97. You won't see them at this price again. We can't afford to sell them at that low price. We do so only because Xcel Energy pays us to do it. After we get the money from Xcel, all these bulbs are going way up in price.”

That was certainly an alarm bell! I had previously read in the Wall Street Journal (referenced in the Science and Public Policy Institute paper linked above) that Pacific Gas and Electric, the largest utility in California was subsidizing CFLs. The WSJ said PG&E was selling bulbs for $1.30 compared to $4 for unsubsidized bulbs. PG&E was not only using ratepayer funds to subsidize the apparent low cost of the bulbs but also collected state subsidies of $104 million in rewards and incentives for promoting the bulbs. So the taxpayers as well as the ratepayers were paying for these CFLs in ways that are not included in all the claims about how much money customers were saving on them. I don't know if Xcel Energy was receiving government subsidies as PG&E did, but it certainly is using ratepayer money to give a false impression of how much the CFLs are costing its customers. It was about 8 o'clock in the evening when I was driving home from Ace hardware on March 28. I turned on the news on my car radio and heard that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission had approved a 2.7 percent increase in the rate Xcel customers will be charged.

After that, I lost interest in making the detailed energy comparisons, using degree days of heating and cooling throughout the year, which I expected to prepare and send to Xcel. It seemed pointless to go through that exercise when the true cost of the bulbs is not known because it is disguised under Xcel subsidies to the retailers and paid for by higher costs to the Xcel ratepayers (and perhaps taxpayers.) Now, however, it occurs to me that, even without the detailed cost study I originally envisioned, a convincing case can be made against Xcel's claims of CFL cost savings, just on the basis of lost incandescent heating in the winter versus the cost of air conditioning in the summer.

The official (legal) heating season in Minneapolis is September 15 to May 15. Those are the dates between which landlords are legally required to provide heat to renters. Of course, there may be some days in September after the 15th, or in May before the 15th, when no heat may be necessary; but it is far more likely that heating will be required in the latter half of September than that air conditioning will be required in the first half of that month. The reverse will be true in May. I'll come back to the months of September and May a little later, but first I want to discuss the winter and summer months, which are more clear cut.

Certainly after October 1 it may assumed there is really no demand for air conditioning and nearly all days will require at least some heat. A similar situation may be assumed at the other end of the heating season. I don't think there is any dispute about that.

It costs the same to raise the temperature a given amount as to cool it, given the same temperature differential to the outdoors. That is, if the outdoor temp is 50 degrees, it takes the same amount of energy to raise the indoor temp to 70 degrees as it does to cool the indoor temp to 70 degrees if the outdoor temp is 90 degrees.

On a winter day when the outdoor temp is 20 degrees, your furnace must work more to heat your house to 70 degrees because the heat lost to the outside is greater because of the 50 degree indoor/outdoor temp differential. But you will never see a 50-degree temperature differential in the other direction; you will never see 120 degrees in Minnesota in the summer. Similarly, we have winter days below zero, which your heating system will raise the indoor temp to 70 degrees, but you will never see 140 degree temps in Minnesota that your air conditioning system has to cool to 70 degrees.

Last year there were 14 days above 90 degrees, which also happens to be the official 43-year average. Typically these are all in the months of June, July, and August (though there are occasional exceptions, as we have just seen by two 90+ temps in late May.) Basically, however, we should compare the heat lost from CFLs for seven winter months (October through April, inclusive) to the air conditioning cost for three months (June through August). The comparison is not even close. There are seven months of heating and only three months of air conditioning, and the heating requirement is vastly greater than the cooling requirement: there will be, on average, only 14 days above 90 degrees, but the number of days below 50 degrees will be many-fold larger than 14. In fact, there will be many more than 14 days below 40 degree and even 30 degrees—with no summer counterpart the same distance above 70 degrees. And there will be many days below 20 degrees and some even below zero.

The case for CFLs is not improved by including the months of September and May in the calculation. In fact, they make the case worse for CFLs. Frost in not unknown in May—even in the latter part of the month. And, as is the case with the winter months, there is no comparable high (e.g. 108 degrees) to offset a 32-degree low. Lows in the 40s are common in May; most of the first two weeks in May this year had lows in the 40s. And Sunday May 20—even after the 92-degree high—we saw a low of 47 degree. Moreover, on May 21 the mean temperature was 58 degrees, which is the normal mean for that date—three weeks into the month! Also, the normal high for that date is 71 and the normal low 51 degrees. Thus the normal high for 3 weeks into the month is only one degree above our reference of 70 degrees while the normal low is 19 degrees below. The normal high for May 31 is 74 degrees, and the normal low if 54.

For May 2012 in Minneapolis, the number of heating degree days during the month was 148 while the number of cooling degrees days was 65. So the amount of heating energy required in this month was more than twice the amount for cooling—and this was in a year when May was warmer than normal. I have not gathered the numbers for September, but decades of living in Minneapolis leads me to believe those heating/cooling numbers would not be appreciably different from May. In any case, September and May would not be months in which the air conditioning demand would be greater than heating demand. The heating value lost from CFLs during the seven winter months is lopsidedly of greater economic value than the cost of air conditioning during the three summer months. Factoring in the months of May and September makes the comparison even more unfavorable for CFLs. What is occurring in Minnesota will also be true in other northern-tier states and probably to a lesser extent in states bordering them to the south.

The claims of energy efficiency, not only by Xcel but by others, are based on the commonly advertised CFL bulb life of 10,000 hours. But PG&E, the largest electric utility in California, found bulb life is overstated by a whopping 49 percent! Since PG&E serves millions of customers, its experience with bulb life represents a very large sample and is, therefore, probably accurate.

Using the realistic shorter bulb life, plus the fact CFLs could not be purchased locally for “a dollar or less,” as advertised, plus the fact the heat lost from replacing incandescents is worth more than the energy saved from CFL lighting, and you can see the claim you can save $50 “every time you replace an inefficient incandescent bulb with a CFL” is utter nonsense. This does not even include the fact that the incandescents will be used less in the summer—when the days are longer—than in the winter when their heating is more important. Nor does it include the cost of recycling or of transporting burned out bulbs to collection points—not to mention the 2,301,000 CFL bulbs that have been recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission because of danger of causing fires, explosions or lacerations from flying glass. (Note: additional examples of fires and explosions and broken-glass hazards beyond those mentioned in the SPPI report can be found at
A further cost that is not included in economic comparisons with incandescents is the cost of special containers for transporting even unbroken bulbs—containers which, according to Dr. Brosseau, are required by state and federal workplace safety requirements to keep mercury vapor emissions below permissible exposure levels. (See Science and Public Policy Institute paper cited above.) Failing to comply with this standard leaves businesses vulnerable to legal hazard, says Dr. Brosseau, yet CFL advocates never mention this.

The really important issue about CFLs is human safety. Yet the government, CFL producers and energy companies—including Xcel—continue to promote these dangerous products—and even subsidize them!—while ignoring or trying to dismiss the dangers, including mercury. And they are promoting them with advertising statements of energy efficiency and cost savings that are not even true.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thoughts on Credit Bubbles, Crises and Deflation

This is an excerpt from a speech by James Grant to the New York Federal Reserve Bank on March 12, 2012. He is one of the most astute monetary analysts and the editor of Grant's Interest Rate Observer since 1983. The “Dudley” referred to in the speech is William C. Dudley, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. “Draghi” is Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank.

Deflation is a derangement of debt, a symptom of which is falling prices. In a credit crisis, when inventories become unfinanceable, merchandise is thrown on the market and prices fall. That's deflation.

What deflation is not is a drop in prices caused by a technology-enhanced decline in the costs of production. That's called progress. Between 1875 and 1896, according to Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz, the American price level subsided at the average rate of 1.7% a year. And why not? As technology was advancing, costs were tumbling.

Long before Joseph Schumpeter coined the phrase "creative destruction," the American economist David A. Wells, writing in 1889, was explaining the consequences of disruptive innovation. "In the last analysis," Wells proposes, "it will appear that there is no such thing as fixed capital; there is nothing useful that is very old except the precious metals, and life consists in the conversion of forces. The only capital which is of permanent value is immaterial—the experience of generations and the development of science."

Much the same sentiments, and much the same circumstances, apply today, but with a difference. Digital technology and a globalized labor force have brought down production costs. But, the central bankers declare, prices must not fall. On the contrary, they must rise by 2% a year. To engineer this up-creep, the Bernankes, the Kings, the Draghis—and yes, sadly, even the Dudleys—of the world monetize assets and push down interest rates. They do this to conquer deflation.

But note, please, that the suppression of interest rates and the conjuring of liquidity set in motion waves of speculative lending and borrowing. This artificially induced activity serves to lift the prices of a favored class of asset—houses, for instance, or Mitt Romney's portfolio of leveraged companies.

And when the central bank-financed bubble bursts, credit contracts, leveraged businesses teeter, inventories are liquidated and prices weaken. In short, a process is set in motion resembling a real deflation, which then calls forth a new bout of monetary intervention. By trying to forestall an imagined deflation, the Federal Reserve comes perilously close to instigating the real thing.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

CFLs: More Fires, Product Recalls

CFLs: More Fires, Product Recalls

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 1.86 million CFLs due to “700 reports of lamps where the glue failed.” The USCPC order stated: “Hazard: The glue that attaches the glass outer envelope or globe to the body of the lamp can fail allowing the glass outer envelope to fail and strike persons and objects below, posing a laceration hazard to consumers.” The recall order involved Philips and Marathon CFLS, was issued August 11, 2011, and was the largest recall order on CFLs issued to date.

This brings the total recall of CFLs to well over 2 million bulbs.
1, 860,000 Philips and Marathon bulbs
317,000 Telstar and Electra bulbs in 16 models of 12 wattages
124,000 Trisonic bulbs
Total: 2,301,000 CFL bulbs recalled for posing danger to consumers. Yet the government, CFL producers and energy companies continue to promote these dangerous product—and even subsidize them!--while ignoring or trying to dismiss the dangers.

For more information on the above recalls, plus descriptions from people who experienced fires or explosions from CFLs, see our comprehensive report for the Science and Public Policy Institute at: .

Besides the fires and explosions from CFLS listed in that SPPI report, below are additional examples including recent ones in 2012 and 2011. These are compiled from various websites, some of which do not list dates. Notice, too, there are many complaints about the bulbs not living up to their advertised life spans:

I went to turn on the switch to my kitchen lights - it controls 2 recessed lights - and one exploded into thousands of pieces. I'm still scared about what could have happened. I could have been holding a baby! The light bulb exploded all over the counters and the floor. Nothing was left except the metal screw part in the socket which I have to call an electrician to get out. This happened 2-16-12. The next day, I went out and replaced 12 floods with the old fashioned bulbs. Still, I'm very upset that this could happen to anyone who uses them.” --Lorraine of Malvern, PA on Feb. 19, 2012

I was replacing a light bulb with a GE Helical 13W bulb. The end of it exploded as i screwed it in, without the light being turned on. Shattered glass flew all over my entryway and kitchen. I was lucky, and only got scratched. Thankfully, my five year old was at school, or it most likely would have gotten on him, since he likes to watch and help with things like that.” --Kim of Bloomington, IN on Dec. 12, 2011

These lights are junk, they lasted from 2 days to 1 month. One [GE bulb] blew up in an enclosed fixture”--michael of herminie, PA on March 6, 2012

The GE Helical 26w bulb that I had installed in a ceiling light for about six months was on for a couple of hours and just exploded. My wife was under it at that time and got glass all over her. She had no cuts, but I wonder, do these have mercury?” --bert of lusby, MD on Sept. 13, 2011

I purchased and installed two 26W helical floodlights on Nov. 14, 2010 and they failed almost at the same time, three months later. Now, I'm stuck with the cost (no receipt), but it's worth the price learning to avoid buying GE products in the future. Having read comments on potential fire hazards, I count myself lucky that they failed safely. This issue resulted to me being out the cost of the bulbs, together with associated aggravation.” --Wm. of Atlanta, GA on Feb. 17, 2011

I've bought two packages of the GE CFL lights that are dimmable. These go in can lights that look like a flood light. Both packages will stop working or will flicker. What is going on? If you have new ones, please send me eight bulbs. Thank you for your time.” --Jim **jim of Wyandotte, OK on Aug. 10, 2011

Certainly we've had a few that truly lived up to their hype and have lasted forever. But the overwhelming majority of them have died absurdly premature deaths, usually lasting less than a quarter of the life of the incandescent bulbs occupying the same light fixture. We even had one that burned out by exploding, dropping a milky-white mercury-laden gas down on us as we watched in shock.” --Allen

“”CFL bulb almost burned my house down! This caught on fire in my living room.  Why are these going to be the only light bulbs we can buy after 2012?...I am just reporting this because NO one will listen to me. These bulbs are dangerous, and it is absolutely ridiculous that they are going to be the only bulbs we can buy pretty soon.  Does our government ever see these comments?  I've seen complaints since they were first made. Is there anyone who will listen before there is a death from a fire that these bulbs can cause?”--Dee Mansfield [Editor's note: a death has already occurred from a CFL fire: A official investigator's report found that a 45-year old man, Douglas Johnson, perished from a fire caused by a CFL bulb. See the aforementioned SPPI report.]

“I can't find any complaint link anywhere on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website. I have had a bulb explode and rain down glass, put out fumes in my daughter's bedroom!!!” - alemke, Sacramento, California, 27/12/2011 21:22.

I had one burn that was working fine and one that was working with normal light output that exploded with smoke because the voltage was low with the brownout. Never have one on if you are asleep or not home.”--John Oxford, USA 12/28/11

"The second compact fluorescent light bulb to catch fire in my home. These bulbs are hazardous!” --mrsdontuwantoknow on Sep 9, 2010

OMG! That's just what happened to us! My son was in his room, the light started smoking and sparking. Then all of a sudden the bulb part popped off and landed 4 feet away! He turned the light off, let the element cool off and then got the rest out. It was scary and now he doesn't want anything but a traditional bulb.” - Julie, Jacksonville, Florida USA, 27/12/2011 19:23

I have had two cfl lamps explode (different times) in a ceiling fixture in my husband's office (right over his desk.) After two exploded and filled the office with toxic gas I got rid of all of them and bought cases of long-life incandescent bulbs--bless them.”--numonik99

I had one of these catch fire last week in my bathroom. Anyone who thinks it's that uncommon is dreaming.” --LindaVeeSado

So yesterday the same thing happened to me, my bulbs were also sylvania bulbs.” --jimjam187

Yep I've had two do that. One of them was really bad and if I hadn't been home when it happened to turn it off it looked like it could start a fire.” -- -Mercury1955

I have had two catch fire, and just luckily was home, and the bulbs were not around any other flammable items. The bulbs first flicker on and off, then you hear and arc or shorting out of the wiring, then the flame and smoke. -- Chief Parson, Fire Chief, WV

I own and operate a B&B and have the subject bulbs through out the home...I have decited that the removal of these bulbs are a must...This is after one of the bulbs shorted and a flame cause damaged to the lamp shade...Luckily, we were in the room when this occurred, otherwise, this would have been a major disaster.” --Randy

“I had two Maxlite bulbs fail at exactly the same time! I guess maybe one "spiked" the other and they both Melted and burned!! The glas tubes were hanging out at 45 degs. from the base of the lamps!
Surely we need further investigation into these bulbs??” --Paul 1/15/11

Yes the bulb flickered first, which I thought was unusual, but It stopped and began burning properly. I left the room for a minute to get something then before returning the smell hit me. Scared me I thought the house was on fire. I immediatly turned off the switch. This is more scary for me since I am in a wheelchair. I can not remove the bulb. nor can I use the room until its replaced, cause I can't see in there. As far as disposing of them properly, I live in the backwoods of NC and trust me we don't recycle nothing around here, so I don't know what I am supposed to do with these things.”--L. from NC

A CFL bulb caught fire in my home. I no longer trust them”--.SleestaksRule on Feb 4, 2012
[This incident resulted in payment of over $8,000 from insurance company for damage from CFL bulb fire and documented by photographs of the damage.]

Only a few weeks ago I purchased a pack of cfls from walmart and put one in a lamp in my living room. One hour later the thing exploded throwing tiny shards if glass all over that side of the room. Fortunately, no one was sitting next to the lamp when it happened.” --2 months ago TOOANTUH1

A couple of days before Christmas, 2011, my friend Dennis phoned and said his wife just baked some Christmas cookies, and she wanted him to bring some over to me before Christmas. Dennis said he wouldn't come in to visit but just to deliver the cookies, so wouldn't take much time. He said he was going out to return three floodlights that his wife had bought at Home Depot. When she got them home, she discovered that they were not incandescents as she thought. Instead they were CFLs inside an external shell so they look like an incandescent. So Dennis said he would return the CFLs and then would like to come to my house to drop off the cookies. I said that would be fine. When he got here, he said, “You'll never guess what happened. I gave the woman at customer service the 3 bulbs I was returning and then gave her a slip of paper with URLs of the SPPI paper and your website with other information on the dangers of CFLs—and she said, 'you don't have to convince me. I KNOW. I had one blow up on me!'” I have known Dennis for more than 50 years, and I have never known a more honest and honorable person. I can't conceive of him making up this story. Nor can I conceive of the woman making it up either. She was going to accept return of the CFLs whether she said anything or not. She was just doing her job. She would have nothing to gain from making up this story.

Since she was an employee of Home Depot, it was more convenient for her to buy a bulb there than anywhere else, and since Home Depot has very competitive prices, it is extremely likely she bought the bulb that exploded on her from Home Depot. Home Depot sells nothing by ENERGY STAR and UL approved CFLs.

That woman never reported the incident to the Consumer Protection Agency, EPA, MPCA or anyone else, and this I find to be quite typical. Most people think their experience is probably unusual, they don't know who to call and aren't going to take the time and trouble to try to find out. The fire incidents that are reported are just the tip of the iceberg. People in general don't want to make a fuss about this, just want to get on with their lives.
Further evidence of this is John Brazell's experience. A CFL shattered in his motel room. He never bothered to report it or even to notice the brand name of the bulb. He thought it unusual and not something to be concerned about. But when he heard of someone else having a CFL shatter, he thought he should at least warn a few of his friends about this possibility so maybe they could avoid a similar happening. One of the people to whom he sent his email warning forwarded it to me. I contacted John, and he said he didn't want to make a fuss over this, that he was not an activist and wasn't trying to protest anything. He didn't want to file any kind of report with the government or anyone else. I think this is typical of most people who are involved in this kind of incident. That is why I say the number of reported cases is just the tip of the iceberg. Many more go unreported. I don't believe any of the cases of fires and explosions I have cited were reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. But they all have a ring of authenticity and I can see no reason to believe they are fabricated. The people have nothing to gain from that; they are not looking for notoriety or fame or they would use their full names. And the government continues to ignore the problems and proceeds with its campaign to eliminate incandescents and force people to buy bulbs they don't want and which can be dangerous to them.