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A Tale of Two Koreas: The Power of Freedom

June 30, 2010

As we mark the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, the Korean Peninsula provides the world a living, object lesson. On this peninsula, approximately the size of Minnesota, the Korean people are ethnically identical. But, upon gaining independence after World War II, the Korean people took separate paths to self-government. The North led by Soviet occupying forces, the South by U.S-Allied forces. The armistice in 1953 that ended the Korean War split the war-ravaged Korean people with a totalitarian regime in the North and a society based on freedom of expression, religion and private property rights in the South. Both new countries were considered relatively “poor” though North Korea had much more heavy industry and resources compared to the mountainous, rural southern part.

Today, 60 years later, a satellite photograph of the Korean Peninsula tells a profound story of freedom vs. totalitarianism. The electric power behind the economies is a compelling part of the object lesson. Only 20 percent of North Koreans have access to electricity while nearly 100 percent of South Koreans have access to electricity. Largely without electricity, North Koreans do not have access to the Internet. Yet nearly 100 percent of South Koreans are able to communicate and conduct transactions across the Internet. North Koreans have very little refrigeration for their food, few lights, non-existent air conditioning, no automobiles and practically no computers, radios or television. There is very little electricity to develop a manufacturing base, much less provide basics of living for people.

After over fifty years of two systems, the result is a stark difference in the quality of life between the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). First, the life expectancy in South Korea is longer, 78.72 years in comparison to North Koreans’ 61.23 years. The most telling human statistic is that at just four years of age, the toll on living children is pronounced: South Korean preschool children are approximately 3 inches taller than their North Korean peers. Women of childbearing age in North Korea are up to 19 pounds lighter than South Korean women and have a significantly higher maternal mortality rate. The Infant Mortality Rate is 12 times higher in North Korea.

Communist Party doctrine continues to control every aspect of life in North Korea. Although North Korea instituted Kim Il-Sung’s ‘juche’ or doctrine of self-reliance as the state ideology, the country remains heavily dependent upon government subsidies for housing, food and other needs. Land use is heavily regulated by the state, with little or no private property rights. North Korea ranks last, at 179, in the Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal’s world rankings for economic freedom.

Starting a small business in North Korea is virtually impossible as central planning rules the economy. By comparison, an entrepreneur in South Korea could start a business within an average of 17 days.

In the past several years, the “Tiger” economy of South Korea has catapulted to between the world’s 10th and 13th largest economy. With unlimited access to electric power, mostly generated from coal and nuclear, the country has vibrant, sophisticated electronics and electrical products, telecommunications, motor vehicles, mining and manufacturing, petrochemical, industrial machine, steel and shipbuilding industries.

According to the U.S. State Department, South Korea’s economic growth has been “spectacular” over the past several decades. “Per capita [GDP], only $100 in 1963, is close to $20,000. South Korea is now the United States’ seventh-largest trading partner…”

In contrast, North Korea has a per capita GDP of $1800. In 2005, North Korea returned to centralized food rationing. Due to lack of electricity, fuel and industrial parts, the critical infrastructure is outdated and the energy sector has collapsed. Through 2008, the United States has tried to assist North Korea by providing electricity to hospitals through non- governmental organizations.

The object lesson learned after 57 years of economic development and energy deployment between two vastly different governments over the Korean people is clear. Oppression and heavy governmental regulation starve resources and diminish people on their own land. A free society with abundant energy enhances and improves the health and quality of lives. That is the power of unleashed freedom, enabling prosperity through electricity, energy and education. As the satellite image shows; it is the difference been darkness and light.

Written by George Allen and originally published on The Daily Caller
The EPA’s Shocking Power Grab

May 19, 2010

By George Allen and Marlo Lewis

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is carrying out one of the biggest power grabs in American history. The agency has positioned itself to regulate fuel economy, set climate policy for the nation and amend the Clean Air Act–powers never delegated to it by Congress. It has done this by declaring greenhouse gas emissions a danger to public health and welfare, in a proceeding known as the “endangerment finding.”

On Tuesday the U.S. Senate will debate and vote on Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution of disapproval to overturn the endangerment finding. The resolution is absolutely necessary to restore democratic accountability in climate policymaking.

If allowed to stand, the EPA’s endangerment finding will trigger a regulatory cascade through multiple provisions of the Act. America could be burdened with a regulatory regime more costly than any climate bill Congress has rejected or declined to pass, yet without the people’s representatives ever voting on it.

Consider how the endangerment finding will expand the EPA’s power beyond any plausible congressional mandate.

To begin with, the finding compels the EPA to establish greenhouse gas emission standards for new motor vehicles. About 95% of all vehicular greenhouse gas emissions are carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from motor fuel combustion. Because there is no commercially proven technology to capture CO2 tailpipe emissions, the principal way to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted per mile is to reduce the amount of fuel consumed per mile. In other words, greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles are basically fuel economy standards by another name. By empowering the EPA to set greenhouse gas emission standards, the endangerment finding also empowers the EPA to determine the stringency of fuel economy standards, even though the Clean Air Act gives the EPA no such authority.

Once the greenhouse gas emission standards go into effect, CO2 becomes a “regulated air pollutant” and, thus, automatically subject to additional regulation under the Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) pre-construction permitting program and Title V operating permits program. Under the Act, a firm must obtain a PSD permit before it can build or modify a “major stationary source” of regulated air pollutants, and obtain a Title V permit before it can operate such a source. The problem is that an immense number and variety of previously non-regulated entities–big box stores, office buildings, apartment complexes, small manufacturers, even commercial kitchens–emit enough CO2 to qualify as “major” sources.

By the EPA’s own admission, applying PSD and Title V to CO2 leads to “absurd results.” The EPA and its state counterparts will have to process approximately 41,000 PSD permit applications per year (instead of 280), and 6.1 million Title V permit applications per year (instead of 14,700). Agencies’ administrative resources will be overwhelmed, producing ever-growing backlogs that slam the brakes on new construction and force millions of firms to operate in legal limbo. A more potent anti-stimulus package would be hard to imagine.

To avert a red ink nightmare, the EPA proposes to “tailor” the permitting programs so that they exempt for six years all sources emitting less than 50,000 tons per year (TPY) of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases. But the Act plainly states that a source is subject to PSD if it has the potential to emit 250 TPY of a regulated air pollutant and Title V if it has a potential to emit 100 TPY. In reality, the EPA proposes to amend the statute. This breach of the separation of powers only compounds the constitutional crisis inherent in the EPA’s bid to hijack fuel economy regulation and climate policymaking.

Even if courts uphold EPA’s tailoring rule, it’s anybody’s guess how many smaller sources EPA will try to regulate after 2016. Government burdens have a habit of ratcheting up over time.

The tailoring rule also provides no protection from the endangerment finding’s most absurd result–rulemakings to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), set below current atmospheric concentrations, for greenhouse gases. Environmental litigation groups are only acting on the obvious implication of the EPA’s assertion that the root cause of endangerment is the “elevated concentration” of greenhouse gases when they demand that the EPA initiate such rulemakings.

The economic consequences would be devastating. Even a global depression lasting several decades would not be enough to lower CO2 concentrations from today’s level–roughly 390 parts per million–to 350 ppm, the new politically correct “stabilization” target advocated by former Vice President Al Gore, the Center for Biological Diversity and numerous other environmental groups. Yet under the Clean Air Act, states are obligated to attain NAAQS within five years or, at most, 10 years. The endangerment finding thus sets the stage for environmental activists to transform the Act into a deindustrialization mandate via litigation. The Murkowski resolution would nip all this mischief in the bud.

A strong case can be made that the EPA’s endangerment finding is scientifically flawed. However, the Murkowski resolution is a referendum not about climate science but about the constitutional propriety of the EPA exercising powers not delegated by Congress. The resolution would overturn the “legal force and effect” of the EPA’s endangerment finding, not the EPA’s scientific reasoning or conclusions.

Who should make climate policy–the people’s representatives or politically unaccountable bureaucrats, trial lawyers and unelected activist judges appointed for life? That is the sole question raised by the Murkowski resolution. The U.S. Constitution permits only one answer.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., warns that if the public has to wait for Congress to pass legislation to control greenhouse gas emissions, “that might not happen, in a year or two, or five or six or eight or 10.” Yes, but that is representative democracy. And the democratic process is more valuable than any result that the EPA might obtain by doing an end run around it. Of all people, U.S. senators should understand this basic precept of our constitutional system.

George Allen is a former U.S. senator and governor from Virginia. He is also chairman of the American Energy Freedom Center. Marlo Lewis is a senior fellow in environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Cross-posted here.

A Summer of Rightful Discontent

September 14, 2009

By George Allen
Op-ed
The Richmond Times-Dispatch
September 13, 2009

America is at its best when it is a land of equal opportunity for all. The United States of America should be a level playing field for everyone to achieve to the best of his or her talent, hard work, and creativity, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or gender — a meritocracy.

Common sense — and indeed history — shows that people and countries prosper with the promotion of initiative, personal empowerment, and individual and family responsibility, rather than sapping dependence on a nanny government. Clearly, the best social program is a job.

America must be the world capital of innovation: the best place to live, learn, invest, work, and raise a family. We thrive and progress with a free marketplace of ideas and goods where the people decide who has the best service or products — rather than redistribution and fearful protectionism or bailouts for irresponsible enterprises.

My modern political hero, Ronald Reagan, once observed that “government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few, short phrases. If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it.” Now, government has an expanded view of the economy: If it’s big and failing, invest in it. If it’s a government program, expand it.

No one likes to see a financial institution, auto manufacturer, or any business fail. It is heartbreaking to see people lose good-paying jobs in Virginia, Michigan, Missouri, or South Carolina.

However, if the people don’t want to buy certain makes of automobiles and if no one wants to buy stock in failing companies or take the high risk of lending them money, then why should the taxes of hardworking Americans — wondering at their kitchen table how to pay their bills — be given or loaned to businesses that are failing due to their own decisions? Our government was not created to be the lender or stock-purchaser of last resort. Read More »

America can’t overlook energy issues

September 11, 2009

By: George Allen
September 11, 2009
The Politico

With all the consternation about government takeover of our health care decisions dominating the news, Americans must not overlook the issue with even more potential to negatively impact our lives: cap and trade.

I founded the American Energy Freedom Center because American energy policy is at a crossroads. We face a series of choices that will determine whether we promote affordable, abundant and reliable energy sources or those that are expensive, are imported and come with more costly government regulation. Unfortunately, the recently passed House cap-and-trade legislation sets us on the wrong course, one that will hurt families, jobs and the long-term competitiveness of American businesses.

The House approach starts from the faulty premise that we can act unilaterally with regard to the so-called global warming issue. American firms compete in international markets with companies in developing countries, and energy costs can determine success or failure. With lower wages, less environmental regulation and lower litigation liability costs in China, India and Brazil, we cannot afford to tie both our hands behind our back as we strive to retain good-paying manufacturing jobs.

A recent analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that the House legislation would impose 347 new regulations and 1,060 new mandates on American companies. While our country is struggling to regain its economic footing, now is not the time to increase the regulatory cost burden on companies that we hope will hire more workers in the coming months. Read More »

China Knows Climate Deals Are Ruinous

July 17, 2009

By GEORGE ALLEN
Investor’s Business Daily

What in the world is happening? Almost one year to the day after the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace predicted “China’s economy will surpass that of the United States by 2035 and be twice its size by midcentury,” three ominous events may have been largely missed by the American people after the Independence Day holiday.

At a July 7 Senate hearing on the effect cap-and-trade would have on global carbon output without cooperation from China and India, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declared, “U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels.”

On July 9, the Sierra Club issued a statement celebrating that 100 planned American coal power plants have been “defeated or abandoned.”

And then, on July 8, Fortune magazine released its annual ranking of the world’s 500 largest companies. The number of American companies on that list dropped to its lowest level since Fortune began its review.

The U.S. had 153 companies in 2008, but just 140 this year.

Read More »

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  1. Jeri Turley-Pennybaker says:

    I think Al Gore needs to invest in some really speedy running shoes! I keep wondering if he can be prosecuted for perpetrating a fraud upon the American people. He’s a liar. I’m sick about the damage he has done to how Americans are viewed in the world.

    I favor former Governor Palin’s energy ideas. Clean coal, natural gas and start drilling for oil of our own. And certainly the United States of America owes NO ONE money for the agreements drawn up in Copenhagen. I did not agree to this use of tax dollars. Who did Obama think he was up there promising away our dollars for unsubstantiated carbon footprints. Here’s a footprint up your behind sir.

  2. Audri DeBsrr says:

    Drill Baby Drill.

  3. jr says:

    Grief – we are being scared over every little
    thing from Tsunami, schools lock down, climate, ’severe’ weather every time it rains
    This is manipulation city. Yet we hear little
    about the real problems- like why health costs go up and up but nobody explains what the causes are. Or why the Credit Default Swap market increased by 500 times in 10 years.
    Also, for intermittent energy – it might make
    more sense to bring the work to where the
    windmills are than trying to connect them to
    the grid, and ditto for solar.

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