Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: Technology

ICE Solicits then Withdraws Bid for National car tag Database

The pushback from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency’s request for bids to build a national database of all license plate data now being collected elsewhere across the country was immediate, and for the moment at least, effective: within a week the agency withdrew its request.

ICE said such a national data base would just make its job of tracking illegal immigrants easier, that it

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Microstamping Does Work in Reducing Gun Sales in California

This article first appeared in The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, January 27th, 2014:

This from Smith & Wesson’s press release is most revealing. On Wednesday the gun maker explained why it would no longer be selling its semi-automatic pistols in California. Note particularly the second paragraph:

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Gun makers stop selling guns in California thanks to the new microstamping law

Following Sturm, Ruger’s announcement last month that it would no longer be selling its semi-automatic handguns to California residents because of the state’s new microstamping law, Smith & Wesson announced on Wednesday, January 22, that it was following suit. From its press release, the company said:

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Of Myopia and Markets

The enforced elimination of the traditional incandescent light bulb by Congress has been used repeatedly by several commentators as a classic example of crony capitalism at work. They missed the most important point: the free market has provided alternatives that are largely neutralizing the state’s mandates.

The story began with efforts by companies like GE, Sylvania, and Phillips conspiring with green environmental groups to pressure Congress into banning incandescents so that consumers would be forced to purchase more efficient but more expensive and higher profit alternatives that they make, such as LED (light emitting diode) bulbs, halogens, and CFLs (compact fluorescent lights – those with the curly tops).

They didn’t really want or need an outright ban, just a mandate that bulbs would have to be slightly more efficient – just enough more so that the present ubiquitous invention by Edison wouldn’t be able to meet it. And the mandate was staged in so the consumer wouldn’t squirm too much at having his alternatives eliminated and being forced to pay more for those that remained. On January 1st the final step – banning 40s, 60s, and 75s – took place.

The New York Times got into the act, surprisingly, pointing out that Phillips – the huge Dutch conglomerate that makes LEDs – formed a “coalition” (the Times’ word) with a number of environmental groups also seeking limits on incandescents (among other things), including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Said the head of Phillips’ “strategic sustainability initiatives,” Harry Verhaar:

We felt that we needed to make a call and show that the best-known lighting technology, the incandescent light bulb, is at the end of its lifetime.

In that single phrase, the hubris and crony-capitalist mentality is on full display: we know better than consumers do about what’s best for them. We get to decide where the market is headed. We need to “make the call.” Besides, we have the latest technology to replace the incandescents. Sure, they’ll cost more, but think of the savings! And we could sure use a boost to our bottom line, but that’s only an afterthought. Besides, we tried to persuade the consuming public that Edison’s invention is inefficient and expensive to operate and that our new, more expensive technology is really going to save them big bucks over time. But they just don’t listen. They keep buying incandescents, and we keep having to make do with the tiniest of profit margins. So we really were forced to hook up with those greens to get the job done.

The math certainly is persuasive: a 60-watt light bulb costs, for example, around $2 or so, but burns up more than $7 of electricity every year and only lasts a year and a half under normal usage before burning out, whereas an LED, which costs $13, burns just $1.57 of electricity in a year, and lasts more than five years. Think of the savings!

Unfortunately, the consumer doesn’t care. He doesn’t care that most of the energy used in incandescents is turned to heat, not light. He doesn’t care that they last only between 750 hours and 2,000 hours. And so, three quarters of the four billion light bulb sockets in the US are still filled, and being refilled, with incandescents. Something had to be done!

The lobbying efforts began in earnest, with many politicians “caving” after learning that the industry backed the mandates, and if they think it’s good, then why not? It was a classic case of “bootleggers and Baptists” coming together to present an irresistible case to waffling moderates in the House and Senate. Congressman Fred Upton said he supported the bill because it couldn’t be that bad “if the industry supported it.” Congressman Steny Hoyer said he voted for it because “the standards are supported by the lightbulb industry.”

Those efforts birthed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, a mess of pottage designed allegedly “to move the United States toward greater energy independence and security … to increase the efficiency of products [like light bulbs]….” Of course, government can do no such thing, only the free market can do that. But no matter: the bill passed the House 264-163 and the Senate 65-27, and George Bush, the great environmentalist, signed it into law in December, 2007.

The new law wasn’t just at attack on light bulbs, but affected vehicle fuel economy and technology, increased biofuel production, enforced appliance efficiency, required federal buildings to use Energy Star products, and so on.

But it also was filled with loopholes – just the thing that the free market loves to explore to create options, alternatives, and workarounds so that consumers can obtain what they really want after all. The law didn’t apply to appliance light bulbs, “rough service” light bulbs, colored Christmas tree lights, plant lights, 3-way lights, stage lighting, candelabra lights, outdoor post lights, and nightlights as well as any bulbs less than 40 watts or more than 100.

Entrepreneurs went to work. A company called Advanced Lighting Technologies recently announced is “2X Bulb” which appears identical to Edison’s invention, but which would have made him envious: it’s twice as efficient as the 2007 law demands, and is available at prices marginally higher than those disappearing from the shelves.

The market is also putting pressure on CFLs, partly because people don’t like them (they contain mercury, they don’t handle dimmer switches well, and they don’t last as long as advertised), and partly because the prices of LED lights are dropping. The irony is clear: the market, in its wisdom, is replacing the replacements!

The market is also providing alternative sources for those consumers who still want to buy incandescent light bulbs in the familiar wattages. They are available, in any quantity, on eBay and at 1000Bulbs.com. When last checked, they were going for under a dollar, and much less in quantity. Just the thing for preppers and stockpilers.

So the lesson from the incandescent light bulb isn’t the crony capitalist one. It’s the one that the free market teaches every time. It will somehow, some way, find a way to satisfy the consumer.

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Sources:

Economist Mark Perry: Crony capitalism: How private industry used government force to kill the traditional light bulb for higher profits

The Washington Examiner: Industry, not environmentalists, killed traditional bulbs

The New York Times: Bulb In, Bulb Out

Phase out of the incandescent light bulb

The 2007 Energy Act

The math: The incandescent light bulb isn’t dead

Incandescent Light Bulbs for sale on eBay

Standard Light Bulbs for sale at 1000bulbs.com

Reason: Lights Out For America’s Favorite Light Bulb

Rasmussen Reports: 72% Don’t Want Feds Changing Their Light Bulbs

2X technology explained

CNN’s obituary: RIP, light bulb

The story behind “Bootleggers and Baptists”

Looking Ahead to 2014 – and a Brighter Future

The latest Rasmussen poll shows 41% of American adults expecting the year 2014 to be a good year “at the very minimum” while just 23% expect the year to turn out poorly. Even the briefest look back at a few of the momentous events of 2013 bode well for the future. There’s the catastrophe called Obamacare which reflects badly, as Lew Rockwell noted, on the Obama “regime, which hates nothing more than looking ridiculous and incompetent, and being the butt of the people’s jokes.”

There’s the continuing rollout of secrets from Edward Snowden which not only keeps the surveillance state on the defensive but has exposed it as untruthful and sinister.

There’s the Benghazi scandal that simply will not go away, as evidenced by the loud condemnation of a New York Times report that tried to deflect responsibility away from the Obama administration by repeating provable lies.

While each of these can be looked at as positives in the cause of freedom, a look ahead provides great encouragement as well. The home-schooling movement continues to thrive and has been enhanced by the employment of the new technology, which makes resources easily accessible and can bring the classroom into the home. Consider, for example, the online school Freedom Project Education (FPE), which offers “a classical education for students … rooted firmly in Judeo-Christian values … similar to that received by America’s Founding Fathers, promoting liberty, citizenship, and independent thinking.”

The fracking revolution, resulting in what economist Mark Perry calls the “Great American Energy Boom”, has the increasingly likely potential to wean the US off most if not all foreign suppliers of energy, perhaps as soon as 2030. The impact of such an event can scarcely be underestimated, ranging all the way from removing a primary excuse for continuing foreign military entanglements to a vastly more robust economy. At present Midland, Texas, has the third-highest per capita income of any city in the country, while the unemployment rate in North Dakota is the lowest of any state.

Favorable fracking news continues to roll in on nearly a daily basis. A study from the University of Texas at Austin last week showed that as coal-fired plants are converted to natural gas, the need for water drops precipitously:

The researchers estimate that water saved by shifting a power plant from coal to natural gas is 25 to 50 times as great as the amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing to extract the natural gas.

This is good news on two fronts: Texas is in its third year of serious drought conditions, and the greenies have used the amount of water used in fracking as an argument against it. Such good news reduces the impact of that drought on the state while defanging such environmentalists’ attacks.

Across the world remarkable improvements in living conditions are increasingly being enjoyed as advances in medicine and technology are reducing mortality and improving literacy while decreasing poverty and hunger. According to Chris Higgins, writing for Mental Floss:

We are making tremendous advances in life expectancy, disease prevention, poverty and hunger…

Every single country in the world has lower mortality rates overall than they had in 1950…

Global literacy rates are rising … with youth aged 15 and younger doing especially well…

We’re on track … to halve world hunger [compared to its 1990 rate] by 2015…

[Since the year] 2000, over 600 million people have been pulled out of extreme poverty. This represents the fastest decline in global poverty in all of human history. (Higgins’ emphasis)

Freedom is advancing on the micro level as well. The US Postal Service continues its downward spiral into irrelevance thanks to the internet and some are expecting it to disappear altogether within a decade. Cartels that protect taxi companies are being challenged by apps such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar which provide transportation services by connecting travelers with drivers over the internet.

The alternative cryptocurrency, the Bitcoin, continues to gain momentum even as competitors such as Zerocoin enter the digital currency arena offering the advantage of secure anonymity of transactions. There is also growing interest in making gold and silver legal tender — at least as an alternative to, if not replacement for, today’s fiat (unbacked) currency.

Free market options to the heavy-handed federal mandates of Obamacare are becoming increasingly available including cost-sharing ministries and doctors outside the system accepting cash-only patients along with monthly packages of services provided for a modest ($50 to $100) monthly fee. There are an increasing number of retail cash-only health care clinics opening in big box stores like Walmart and pharmacies like Walgreen’s.

There’s crowdfunding that’s allowing small investors to join with eager entrepreneurs offering inventive, creative alternative products and services. There’s 3-D printing. There’s Bitmessage  poised to replace today’s fully-surveilled email with encryption tools. There’s TOR which, coupled with the Deep Web will allow anonymous websurfing once again. The list goes on.

The Internet, of course, makes it possible to reach a much larger audience than otherwise would be the case. TheNewAmerican.com received more than 600,000 unique visitors during December, according to editor Gary Benoit. The parent of that website, The John Birch Society, has led the way in the freedom fight for over 50 years. In an email to members it reminded them that:

one highly effective attribute of the JBS is its focused coordination of efforts…

In 2013, JBS members worked on stopping Agenda 21, exposing Common Core, opposing gun control, blocking con-con calls, nullifying Obamacare, and educating others on the free trade agenda.

JBS CEO Art Thompson looked ahead to 2014:

Based on the knowledge we have at hand, the JBS and all of our affiliated efforts reach approximately 20 million people in our first layer of influence…

Increasing what we are capable of doing by doubling our size would give the JBS a geometric growth in influence. In other words, doubling in size would more than double our effectiveness.

After that, by again doubling our numbers we could impact a third of all the adults in America. And this does not take into consideration the accompanying indirect influence within a second and third layer of the population.

In 2013 the battle for freedom saw significant victories, even beyond those outlined briefly here. There’s nothing to show that momentum slowing in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

The Rise of “Saudi America”

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, December 6th, 2013:

 

Back in early February Citigroup apologized for missing the huge explosion of oil and natural gas occurring in Texas, North Dakota, and elsewhere. Its report, entitled “Energy 2020: Independence Day” began:

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The US economy is vastly larger than we know

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, December 4th, 2013:

For the past 25 years, Austrian school economist Mark Skousen, nephew of W. Cleon Skousen (author of The 5000 Year Leap), has been trying to get the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to count the rest of the economy that the GDP doesn’t measure. In April, the BEA will start reporting the GO

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The newly updated GDP – the GO – still won’t capture all of the US economy

Austrian school economist Mark Skousen has labored mightily for a quarter of a century to persuade the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to publish a better measure of economic activity in the United States, and, beginning in April, the BEA will start publishing the country’s

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As Bitcoin prices increase so do concerns

With the price of a single Bitcoin exploding by 4000% just since January and by 400% in the last month, concerns about its legitimacy as a viable internet money that could effectively serve as an alternative to central banks’ currencies are increasing.

The Bitcoin has morphed from an internet algorithm to legitimacy beginning in August when

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The Bitcoin and Paris Hilton

This article first appeared in The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, November 27th, 2013: 

 

In a dismissive article in The New York Times on Monday, the author quoted a Bitcoin skeptic who predicted: “In a matter of months you won’t be hearing about it. It will go the same way of Paris Hilton.” He failed to follow the old rule: keep your words sweet and tender because someday

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Contractor behind the Obamacare website is not the only one with problems

Nearly one-quarter of CGI Group’s $1.3 billion in revenues last year came from the United States government which included $90 million to build the Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov. Unfortunately, overruns have taken that number up to $112 million, and could exceed

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The Feds are trying to regulate the Bitcoin – good luck

Senators attending this week’s hearing entitled “Beyond Silk Road: Potential Risks, Threats and Promises of Virtual Currencies” being held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee already knew what they were going to hear: the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was going to make the case that

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The Harder the “Control Freaks” Push for Sanctions, the Faster Freedom Spreads

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, November 15th, 2013:

 

Anti-gun liberals like Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Ben Nelson (D-Fla.) along with Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) have their knickers in a knot over the imminent expiration of the Undetectable Firearms Act in a little over three weeks. They simply can’t abide the idea of allowing Americans to make their own firearms at home without serial numbers, without a license, without permission, without approval. Something must be done!

Happily, they can’t do much, except

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3-D Gun Technology is making detection “impossible”, says the BATF

With the imminent expiration of the Undetectable Firearms Act on December 9th, the media and federal agencies are ramping up concerns about public safety and black market manufacture of weapons without serial numbers. Huffington Post ran an article warning that “plastic guns” could

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“Stadium Wave” Phenomenon Defeats Climate-changers’ Claims

In its press release, Georgia Tech announced that stadium waves, similar to those seen and enjoyed by fans at football games, may provide a much better explanation for the “hiatus” or interruption in global temperature increases than those promoted elsewhere:

The stadium wave hypothesis provides a

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Astounding Increases in US Oil Production Reported

This article was published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, October 16th, 2013:

The advances in drilling and fracking technology coupled with the enormous untapped shale oil reserves are keeping the oil industry’s reporting agencies hopping, just trying to keep up with the gains in oil and natural gas production. For instance, the increase in US oil production in September was an amazing

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The Far-reaching Consequences of the Fracking Boom

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013:

Even the people at IHS, Inc. (one of the world’s preeminent global consulting and forecasting firms) missed perhaps the most important impact the fracking boom is likely to have: it just might dampen the enthusiasm for the empire builders in Washington to continue to

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China Claims Its First Victim of Committing “Internet Gossip,” a 16-Year-Old Boy

This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, September 23rd, 2013:

The ink on the new internet censorship diktat from the Chinese internet police was hardly dry when it was able to claim its first criminal:

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US to Become the World’s Primary Energy Producer in Four Years

In its review of the latest report on world energy supplies from the international energy consulting firm IHS, Inc., writers at Yahoo.com were quick to point out several of the impacts likely to be felt as the United States becomes the number one producer of energy in the world by 2017. Fracking is the prime driver of the US’ resurgence and is bending, changing, questioning and even replacing many of the

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Teenager is China’s first victim of its new internet “anti-gossip” law

As China continues to ramp up its censorship of internet usage by its estimated 600,000 million users, the arrest of a 16-year-old boy is just one more statistic in China’s war against freedom of expression.

Early in September China’s Supreme Court issued guidelines and penalties to punish those publishing what the state deems to be “rumors” and “slander”. If such a message is forwarded more than 500 times or

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.