What with all the budget shrinking, the downsizing, and the personnel reductions, the news media apparently just does not have the time or the staff to question some of Al Gore’s really tall tales. They caught some of the small ones in the three Presidential debates but seem somehow to have missed the really big ones. I hope that my short essay here will help.
One reason the public and the news media have missed these rather obvious whoppers is that when something is repeated daily in the news and conversations as if it were fact even sensible, intelligent people fall in the trap of starting to believe it. The following three Gorey tales fall into that category exactly.
The Nonsense about “Global Warming” If Gore could have his way, controversies of science would be settled by the government. While scientists continue to question whether there is such a thing as global warming and whether if there is such a thing, is it good or bad, Gore’s expounds on it as if there was not a shred of doubt about it as if he invented it, you might say. What is even worse, the news media addresses it in exactly the same way. Of course, they know better. They are just going along with the ruse for reasons that I haven’t been able to fathom. Possibly a political bias, possibly profit motivation.
In any case they haven’t checked it out, so I did. Here is what I found on a quick surf around the internet.
First off, we are only talking about tenths of a degree increase in the last 50 years of so. When you look at temperature charts that fluctuate over several degrees in a random way, spotting a tenth of a degree change for say ten years is a bit tough to do. It takes a little imagination, I suppose. That’s why all these stories that the news media generously puts out about pools of water at the north pole, swampy forests dying, and the Mojave desert creeping over to Wichita, is so childish as to make one want to issue a big Al Gore snort. We live in a scientific age. We can measure temperatures to a thousandth of a degree. We do not have to go out and look at the trees or see how much snow is on the roof to speculate on the temperature.
And that brings up another serious point what do we mean by the temperature of the earth? Does the earth have some sort of orifice like a baby that you stick a thermometer up? I don’t think so? Then what? The temperature of the earth on a given day will depend on where you take the temperature and what time you take it. I would assume they average thousands of places. But which places? tops of mountains, bottoms of the oceans, on the sidewalks of New York? Do we pick the same places today as we did 100 years ago?
You might want to look at the first three charts at John L. Daly’s “Still Waiting for Greenhouse” site at this point. The Goddard Institute (GISS) chart indicates that the temperature has increase +0.6C since 1880, which they admit about half was caused by the sun (oh, really?). The US Weather stations from the 48 contiguous states, averaged together, show an increase of about a quarter of a degree for the same time period (Most annoyingly, the data shows a decrease since 1930! Apparently pollution from industrialization and motor cars was much worse back them). Finally, NOAA’s satellites which have been up since 1979, show no significant change.
For more on this issue, you might want to read the book, Hot Talk, Cold Science : Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate by the renowned atmospheric scientist, Dr. S. Fred Singer. There are a couple of interviews of Dr. Singer online at WorldNetDaily and The Independent Institute.
The Mythical Budget Surplus
Al Gore is enthusiastically joined by other politicians and the news media in blowing off about the huge budget surpluses we have experienced in the last couple of years, which are to continue into the foreseeable future. There’s one big problem with this story: it is just not true. The “surplus” was mostly created by an accounting gimmick, declaring certain things to be off budget, particularly Social Security (Warning! Do not try this in your own home!).
Fortunately, we do not have to ask for a slew of professional opinions or take Honest Al’s word, but can check the numbers ourselves. None other than the U.S. Government has posted the daily National Debt on the Web, calculated down to the penny! The U.S. Treasury Department says that on September 30, 1999 the national debt was $5,656,270,901,615.43. On September 29, 2000, they say it was $5,674,178,209,886.86. Where is the huge surplus?
If Gore gets elected, I’m betting that he will put these U.S. Treasury accountants in a lock box and we won’t be seeing any more conflicting numbers like these!
The best site I have found on this subject is Grandfather Hodges “Government Trust Fund and Deficit/surplus Report."
The Massive Reduction in the size of the Government!
Yeah, right. And I got some real nice ocean view beach property out in Oklahoma I would to try to interest you in.
Government has grown under the Clinton/Gore regime just as it has every year since right after World War II. So, what is he talking about? You guessed it, another accounting trick.
While the number of low level civil servants may have decreased somewhat in the last 10 years or so (actually, the number of non-defense government employees has actually increased!), the total headcount of people doing government work, including the U..S. Postal Service, the military and the contractor personnel has increased. While the federal government claims to have only about 2 million full time employees, the total number of people doing government work is nearly ten times that! And it is not decreasing by a long shot.
There is yet another subterfuge involved much of what was once a federal employees job has been offloaded onto the states. So, if you look at state employee growth, you will find it is growing like a forest fire in Idaho. Take a look at my charts in my “Government Employment” online essay and you will see what I mean.
Paul Light of the Brookings Institute is the expert on this issue. You can read one of his essays “The True Size of Government” on the web or you can pick up his excellent and well balanced book on the subject, The True Size of Government (Brookings, 1999) and learn much more.
There are a couple of reasons for this massive shift to contractors (even the National Institutes for Health, NIH, is now manned by contractor doctors, I am told). One reason is that supposedly private industry can do things cheaper. Second, Congress has a lot of pressure to move as much business to private industry that it can. And thirdly, the government seems to prefer that any real work be done by someone else. They prefer to write contracts and supervise. Then if something goes wrong, there is always someone else to blame.
Well, I could go on but there’s little point to it. If these obvious lies are missed by the ever watchful press and the alert public, then such things as his record on tobacco and his somewhat suspect desire to walk to work will probably not be noticed either.
In spite of all this, surely we can believe him when he says, “I promise to keep my promises." Now put that in your lock box and save it. You may need it.
Leon Felkins is a retired Engineer, Army officer and former teacher of Computer Systems. He now maintains a web page on Political Philosophy, "A Rational Life", and another on the history of politics, "Political Almanac."