CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, is the largest annual event of its kind. It is also one of the most controversial, due to its exclusion of gay conservative groups such as GOProud. CEI hosted a widely publicized panel discussion at CPAC, titled “A Rainbow on the Right: Growing the Coalition, Bringing Tolerance Out of the Closet.” CEI Founder and Chairman Fred Smith, who moderated the panel, reflects on the importance of inclusiveness.
If there is one message underlying all the recommendations from the recently released Republican National Committee strategy guide, it is that the Grand Old Party should heed the advice of libertarians: Focus on free-market economics, become more socially inclusive, and work to reform, rather than immediately abolish, the welfare state.
“We need to remain America’s conservative alternative to big-government, redistribution-to-extremes liberalism, while building a route into our Party that a non-traditional Republican will want to travel,” declares the report prepared by a team of GOP strategists. “We are the party of private-sector economic growth because that is the best way to create jobs and opportunity.”
But the party clearly lacks a compelling vision for voters. In the strategists’ meetings with voters, the party was repeatedly called “narrow minded” and “out of touch.” Freedom in both social and economic spheres, the report details, is the only solution. As one local Republican leader told the group, “the key problem is that the Republican Party’s message offends too many people unnecessarily. We win the economic message, which is the most important to voters, but we then lose them when we discuss other issues.”
The numbers of people being driven away by GOP’s narrow and inconsistent messaging are astounding. “The minority groups that President Obama carried with 80 percent of the vote in 2012 are on track to become a majority of the nation’s population by 2050,” the report notes. The GOP also has a huge problem with younger voters. “Mitt Romney won individuals older than 30 by 1.8 million votes; he lost voters younger than 30 by 5 million votes,” it laments.
Although the authors repeatedly state “we are not a policy committee,” they also hint sweeping libertarian reforms are needed to save the party. On economic policy, it boldly declares “we have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare…. When it comes to social issues, the Party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming.”
This week is Sunshine Week. According to its official website, Sunshine Week is “a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.” Myron Ebell, Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment, is here to talk about CEI’s efforts to increase government transparency.
This story demonstrates very clearly how technology can be used to create a future with a cleaner environment and underscores why we must protect access to resources so people have the time and money to come up with more efficient and environmentally friendly technology.
As the folks over at Treehuger.com noted, there’s a range of concerns regarding the use if herbicides in farming and gardening, “ranging from protecting the workers using the chemicals to groundwater contamination.” On the other hand, in organic farming, the methods of controlling weeds include pesticides, hand-weeding, or flame throwers that are either as harmful as conventional weeding or impractical for large-scale agriculture. However, farmers may soon have another more environmentally friendly option: weed-targeting lasers. A team of scientists at the Leibniz University of Hannover Germany, and Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) are in the process of testing weed-targeting robot drones that utilize CO2 lasers to kill plants that compete with desired plants for resources.
There are some challenges in getting the robots to differentiate between wanted plant species and weeds, as well as having the lasers hit precisely at the plant’s center. To do this, the scientists use cameras to film the plants and software to measure the plants so the lasers can be shot at precisely the right spot. Another challenge is getting the strength of the radiation just right. If it’s too low the radiation can “encourage growth.”
While the current research is testing lasers that run on rails in a greenhouse, Thomas Rath, a lead on the project, believes that drones may be used to “swarm over the field” for larger-scale agricultural use.
It’s that time of year again when we at the Competitive Enterprise Institute celebrate the innovative power of humanity and demonstrate our commitment to protecting the rights of individuals against government action that would limit our ability to use earth’s resources and thus hinder human progress. We call this celebration Human Achievement Hour (HAH).
On Saturday, March 23 at 8:30pm (local time), some people, businesses and governments around the world will choose to sit in the dark for one hour as a symbolic gesture to take action against climate change. The organizers of Earth Hour say that they longer expect energy use to actually drop during the hour, but instead see it as a way for people to show their commitment to reducing energy use and taking action beyond the hour.
It’s absolutely every person’s right to decide if they want to conserve energy for whatever reason; they are free to sit in the dark as long as they want. However, it should not be their right to impose their beliefs or opinions on others. And that is what is at the heart of the environmentalist movement. While many participants in Earth Hour sincerely want a cleaner environment — a desire most of us share — the environmentalist movement whether implicitly or explicitly seeks to clamp down on human progress by reducing energy consumption whether through regulation and taxation. They want to make fossil fuels, which they see as dirty, more expensive to encourage the use of renewable “greener” energies.
Despite any good intentions, the ultimate result of environmentalist policies is not a healthier, cleaner environment. Instead we will see a population that is sicker and poorer. The only way we achieve technology that is “greener” is by building on older “dirtier” technology. As we make it harder and more expensive for those in the business of creating new technologies, all we do is slow progress and make it that much longer to reach more environmentally friendly solutions.
The results of Italy’s general election were announced this week, setting markets on edge across the Eurozone. For all intents and purposes, Italy is without a government. There is no clear majority in the parliament’s upper house, and former comedian Beppe Grillo’s populist Five Star Movement captured a quarter of the vote. Warren Brookes Fellow Matthew Melchiorre finds the outcome surprising, as well as troubling.
CEI and the Adam Smith Institute have teamed up to publish a U.S. edition of Christopher Snowdon’s study “The Wages of Sin Taxes.” He argues that sin taxes are an ineffective way to treat the harmful effects of drinking, smoking, and obesity. Fellow in Consumer Policy Studies Michelle Minton wrote the foreword.
CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman discusses a lawsuit in which CEI, the 60 Plus Association, and the State National Bank of Big Spring, Texas argue that parts of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill are unconstitutional. Both the bill’s grant of Orderly Liquidation Authority to the Treasury secretary and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s unaccountability fail to pass constitutional muster. The plaintiffs are joined by 11 states.
Follow CEI’s commentary on the president’s speech below.