Thursday, March 31, 2016

On the Gay Marriage/ Religious Discrimination Double Standard

In the comment section of the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s editorial regarding NJ Reps. Chris Smith and Scott Garrett and their proposed religious discrimination exemption law, the First Amendment Defense Act (the subject of my last post), a correspondent wrote:

Now that the Supreme Court has decided this issue, that gay marriage is a civil right as well as a human right, people with a religious objections need to defer to civil society. Civil law trumps religious law when it comes to civil rights. The Equal Protection Clause is the law of the land, like it or not. People like Smith and Garrett, who believe in religious exemptions to discriminate against other American Citizens, are trying to impose religious laws on society. Haven't we recently had state legislatures in the US pass laws stating that Sharia Law shall not supersede Civil Law. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Here is my reply:

There is a fundamental double standard here. The cause of the double standard is to consider only religious convictions. What about non-religious matters of conscience? If it is wrong for religionists to impose their conscientious convictions about marriage on civil society by legally banning gay marriage, why is it not equally wrong for supporters of legalized gay marriage to impose their conscientious convictions on society by legally forcing Christian bakers to serve gay weddings? The answer is: It is just as wrong either way.

As a long-time supporter of marriage equality under the law, going all the way back to the legal battles over inter-racial marriage, I applaud the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across America. Marriage is a right possessed by every adult, and should be protected equally under the law. But the broader right to freedom of association, from which marriage equality is itself subsumed, also deserves equal protection. Marriage equality stands on a foundation of associational equality. Marriage equality without associational equality makes no legal or moral sense.

Yes, conscientious objections—religious or non-religious—must defer to civil law. But the law itself must conform to the principle of protecting rights equally, which is the only purpose of law. Anti-discrimination laws targeting private associations do not meet that test. There is no right not to be discriminated against, because there is no right to force others to deal with you. Freedom of association means freedom for both parties; freedom implying the absence of aggressive physical force of any kind, including the legal variety. If you apply the Equal Protection Clause consistently, you would have associational equality both in marriage and in business, for religious and secular believers alike.

We who support marriage equality under the law should celebrate our victory. But I for one will not join the rights-violating crusade against Christian businesses, even though I consider their refusal to serve gay weddings to be irrational and unjust. To do so would be sink to the same moral level as those who fought to keep gay marriage illegal to begin with.  

Related Reading:

Fine Against Christian Baker Who refused to Serve a Pro-Gay Marriage Cake Exposes Hypocrisy on Both Sides

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Gay Marriage, Freedom of Association, and Equal Protection of the Law

Two New Jersey congressmen, Reps. Chris Smith and Scott Garrett, touched a nerve by proposing a law protecting the rights of business owners to refuse to serve gay customers based on their religious beliefs. When the NJ Star-Ledger attacked Smith and Garrett and their First Amendment Defense Act in an editorial, I left these comments in answer to this Star-Ledger passage:

Granted, the government has no business passing judgement on anyone's religious convictions. But when those views are used to impinge on the rights of others, then government has a critical role.

I couldn’t agree more. But what rights do people who refuse to associate or contract with gays—by, for example, refusing to serve a gay wedding cake or host a gay wedding—violate? No one’s. There is no right to force an association on others. Voluntary contract is a form of freedom of association, and freedom of association—a fundamental inalienable right—should be protected equally for everyone. That’s what equal protection of the law means. That is the government’s critical role.

Every individual has a right to live by his own moral standards, even irrational ones, so long as his actions don’t violate the rights of others. This issue is not primarily about freedom of religion and conscience; rather, it is about freedom of association and contract. Marriage, in a legal context, is strictly an issue of contract, and same-sex couples have a right to marry based on their freedom of contract.

But private business owners, based on the same principle, have the right to choose their associations and to contract with customers on voluntary, mutually agreed terms. Freedom of contract means not only the right to voluntarily contract with others, but also to refrain from doing so for whatever reason or even no reason. A religious business owner’s refusal to host gay wedding ceremonies is certainly discriminatory, but it does not violate the rights of gays, who are free to take their business elsewhere.

Laws banning private discrimination contradict the proper purpose of government, which is to protect individual rights—including contract rights, marriage and business transactions alike—equally and at all times. Bigotry is never acceptable, whether against gays or blacks. But forced integration laws are just as wrong as the forced segregation laws enacted under Plessy v. Ferguson's “separate but equal” doctrine. The proper way to fight bigotry is through economic boycotts and competition, non-disruptive peaceful protests, freedom of speech and press, social pressure and ostracization, and other voluntary non-rights violating public and private activism, not laws. The government’s proper role is not to dictate private morals, but to enforce the terms of voluntary contracts and to mediate contractual disputes or remedy breaches of contract. It has no legitimate role forcing anyone into contractual arrangements against his will, regardless of artificial distinctions such as “public” vs. private accommodations. We shouldn’t enact laws like Garrett’s and Smith’s carving out special exemptions from anti-discrimination laws for religious people. We should repeal all laws banning private discrimination.
To fully and consistently uphold the rights to freedom of contract and association based on equal protection of the law is for government to enforce both the rights of gays to marry and the rights of business owners to serve or not serve, and hire and not hire, whom they choose. Being for freedom of association based on equal protection of the law does not make one “anti-gay”—or pro-discrimination—any more than supporting a Nazi’s or communist’s right to espouse their evil views based on freedom of speech makes one pro-Nazi or pro-communist. It makes one true to the principle that people have a right to their religious and moral convictions, so long as those views are not used to impinge on the rights of others—and that government’s critical role is to protect those individual rights equally, for everyone, at all times.


A reply to my comments indicates the confusion between legally protecting the right to discriminate in one’s private associations and laws legally imposing segregation. Apparently responding to my statement that “But private business owners, based on the same principle, have the right to choose their associations and to contract with customers on voluntary, mutually agreed terms,” the correspondent replied:

Mutually agreed terms? Do gays today or did blacks during the Jim Crow years "agree" with the laws that allowed businesses to discriminate against them? Or did they have to adjust because there was no where else to go? If your customers uses public supported facilities to access your business then you do not have the right to deny them.

Here is my answer:

There were no laws "allowing" discrimination against blacks. There were laws forbidding businesses not to discriminate. There is a huge difference between leaving people free to discriminate, and legally enforced segregation.

"Public supported" facilities like roads should not be used by government to violate rights. The government should always be neutral regarding private associations, so long as no rights-violating actions are evident. "Public supported" facilities are supported by all members of the public, not only members with viewpoints approved by government officials.

Related Reading;

Gay Marriage: The Right to Voluntary Contract, Not to Coercive “Contract

Monday, March 28, 2016

Equating Fracking and Pipelines With ISIS is Morally Sick

Fossil fuel’s enemies have written some extraordinarily unfair and distorted garbage about the fossil fuel industry. But a New Jersey newspaper published one of the most egregious smears I have seen. In a Hunterdon County Democrat letter, PennEast pipeline can be traced to 2005 energy bill, an opponent of the PennEast Pipeline company’s proposed natural gas pipeline through portions of Pennsylvania and New Jersey wrote, in part:

Among the many dubious provisions in the 2005 energy bill was one dubbed the Halliburton loophole . . .

This loophole stripped the EPA of its authority to regulate [read, stymie] a drilling process called hydraulic fracturing which was invented by Halliburton.

This fracking process . . . has created a "mother load" of natural gas, which is the impetus for such a pipeline in the first place.

Ergo ... If you voted Bush-Cheney, then you in essence voted for the pipeline along with all the other cockamamie Bush-Cheney policies; and now, like the mess in Iraq and the ISIS threat, the chickens have come home to roost with this pipeline. Elections do have consequences.

I left these comments, slightly edited:

Fossil fuels and the industry that delivers that energy to us, including the fracking and pipeline industries, have vastly improved the environment, fueling the transformation of Earth from a dangerous, hazard-filled place to a healthier, safer industrial place for humans. The ongoing steady and dramatic improvement in the human condition that the fossil fuel industry has fueled across the globe in the last 150 years or so is a moral achievement of historic and unprecedented proportions. This vast progress has been given new impetus by the mighty contribution in recent years of the amazing technology of hydraulic fracturing that has unlocked vast new sources of energy from shale.

ISIS, on the other hand, is a branch of an evil, religiously-inspired movement that seeks to roll back industrial society and civilization into a new Dark Age of theocratic tyranny, destitution, and superstition. Hydraulic Fracturing and ISIS could not be more opposite, from the perspective of  human well-being as the standard of moral evaluation. Equating the two is like equating food and poison.

I’m no Bush fan. He’s the reason I switched from Republican to Independent. But we should be thankful for the “Halliburton loophole.” Without that “loophole,” the EPA may very possibly have strangled the important hydraulic fracturing revolution in its crib. (Then again, given the lack of evidence to support the rantings of the anti-science crowd that fracking poses a threat to groundwater, maybe not.)

To equate the death-spreading ISIS with the tremendous human life-giving benefits of hydraulic fracturing and pipelines—and by extension the men and women working in these vital and virtuous industries—is not just irrational. It is morally despicable.

Related Reading:

ISIS 'Act of War' Against France Should Trigger NATO War Declaration

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Left Demonstrates the Indisputable Connection Between Altruism and Statism

Reverend Randy Van Doornik, pastor of the North Reformed Church in Newark, New Jersey eloquently confirms why a nation's government is an extension of that society's dominant ethical principles. In a New Jersey Star-Ledger letter titled Sanders breaks barriers at Liberty, but why the barrier?, Van Doornik provides an exclamation point to Bernie Sanders’s call in a September 2015 speech to an audience of Christian conservatives to put their Christian ethics where their political mouths are. Van Doornik writes, in part:

Bernie Sanders entered "enemy territory" to speak at Liberty University. . . [T]he primary message Sanders brings should be squarely in the evangelical wheelhouse.

[I]f religious people carried the banner of justice in the manner described in scripture, the poverty and justice failures of the United States would diminish dramatically. Think about it: four out of five Americans claim religious faith. What would the world look like if the values of justice and peace so prevalent in scripture were lived out as priorities in community?

[T]he claim of separation between public and private venues for pursuing justice and peace rings false. First, politics and government are true expressions of the values and priorities of the people. We organize community according to the values that matter most. Second, scripture calls us to organize nations reflecting the priorities of our gods. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord," according to Psalm 33. What would the world look like if our nation reflected our faith priorities? Well, it does reflect our faith priorities.

My emphasis added.

I left these comments, somewhat edited for clarity:

“Justice in the manner described in scripture” is not justice at all. Real justice holds that people should get what they deserve, for better or for worse—in what they earn, in how they are judged, etc.

Christian ethics—the ethics of altruism—teaches that self-sacrifice for the needs of others is the essence of personal morality. You don’t have to deserve it. You just have to need it. If someone has a need, those who have more are morally obligated to sacrifice for those needy—selflessly, without judgement, without principles, without limits, and regardless of personal loss to the giver. This kind of “justice” logically leads—eventually but inexorably—to the leveling down of everyone to the lowest common denominator, with everyone whining for their needs to be satisfied—by someone else. A predatory man-eat-man world of equal poverty, because no productive achiever is ever safe from the chains of others’ needs. Christian ethics—the ethics called altruism—is utterly inverted on principle: If you’ve earned it, you have no moral claim on it. Only those who didn’t earn it have a moral claim on it, merely because they need it. Or, according to Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s crusade against economic inequality, have less of it than you do.

I agree that Christian conservatives are wrong to think you can separate ethics from politics—i.e., government. It stands to reason. Van Doornik is absolutely correct: “politics and government are true expressions of the values and priorities of the people.” If self-sacrifice for the needs of others is the primary virtue, who is anyone to claim that the state shouldn’t have the power to override anyone’s right to decide for themselves who, when, and in what capacity to sacrifice for others? It’s selfish to defend your right to make your own choices about what to do with your own property. Individual rights are selfish. But, according to the altruist ethics, you must be willing to selflessly sacrifice your rights for the needs of others, in the name of the “greater” or “common” good. Christian ethics demands it. And if you resist, government must force you to do it by legal aggression. How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian demand a separation of government and charity? On what moral basis? Only on a selfish basis, which is morally forbidden.

It’s important to understand exactly what Sanders, Van Doornik, and their ilk are saying.

Christian ethics—scripture—upholds the tyranny of need. In economics, it means the sacrifice of productiveness to non-productiveness, ambition to laziness, self-responsibility to irresponsibility, virtue to vice, wealth to poverty—From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. If all someone has to do is need something—rather than think, plan, and work to satisfy those needs; just need it—and others must be forced to provide it—then the best of society, the self-responsible, the worker, the trader, the respecter of others’ lives and rights, get systematically enslaved and destroyed. We’ve seen it before, in 20th century communism; In any socialist state; In our increasingly-struggling American economy. A steady economic downward pull towards a chain gang of poverty, overseen by an increasingly omnipotent state. This is not justice and peace. It’s predation and aggression as a way of life.

If we accept “justice in the manner described in scripture,” an omnipotent socialist state is all that can ultimately result from this Christian ethics. And as Van Doornik emphatically makes clear, this same “justice” demands the sacrifice of the fruits of freedom and hard work enjoyed by Americans, not just to other Americans, but ultimately to the rest of the world, under an organization of nations “reflecting the priorities of our gods.” A global socialist regime designed to drain the hard-earned wealth of the citizens of the prosperous nations into the pockets of backward peoples everywhere is the only result possible under the politicization of scriptural ethics.

This is not justice. It is the antipode of justice. Why?

Poverty is the natural state of man. The “cause” of poverty is birth. The cause of non-poverty—prosperity—is what we should be concerned with. Virtually nothing humans need or desire occurs free in nature. Our survival depends on creating the material goods our lives and flourishing depend on by reason-guided physical labor (productive work). There are only two ways for an individual to satisfy his needs: self-responsibility, productive work, and trade . . . or mooching off of, stealing from, or enslaving the self-responsible productive worker. Those who propose to eliminate poverty by looting and shackling those who rise out of poverty only condemn more people to their natural state. As the state expands it tax-and-spend programs to satisfy needs, the rising taxes (both direct and indirect) pushes marginal earners into poverty. The more the government taxes to satisfy needs, the more people become needy, creating a cycle that results in a broadening downward pull into poverty.

But that’s just fine with the champions of the poor. For the theoreticians of altruism—the socialists, the economic equalitarians, the Church, and their ilk—alleviating poverty is not the goal. Poverty is the goal, as an end in itself.

The alternative to this brutal man-eat-man abomination is a social organization of individual rights and a government charged with the responsibility of protecting those rights; a society where everyone is free to live un-assaulted by neighbors and government, keeping what he earns, respecting others’ property, dealing with each other not as sacrificer and parasite or slave and master, but as legal equals; by exchange of values in voluntary, mutually consensual trade to mutual advantage. A non-sacrificial society of gain by win-win relationships—including the protected right to selfishly judge for oneself, based one’s own values, resources, personal circumstances, and judgement as to the recipient’s worthiness when, who, how, and in what capacity to help others. I’m speaking, of course, of free market capitalism, the system spawned by the principles in the Declaration of Independence. To have a politics of real justice, liberty, mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and prosperity, we need an ethics of rational self-interest.

The only people who could have any objection to such a benevolent system are parasites, power-lusters, and those rotted out by envy. Sweep aside these altruist poverty-worshipers, and celebrate prosperity and its cause, rational self-interest, liberty, and individual rights.


For anyone who doubts that the government and social system we get is a direct outgrowth of the society's dominant moral values—or that the religious/altruist ethics, including Christian ethics, underpins collectivism, socialism, and statism—Bernie Sanders, Pope Francis, and Reverend Randy Van Doornik are doing a wonderful job of dispelling that doubt.

Related Reading:

Pope Francis, Religion, Capitalism, and Ayn Rand—Craig Biddle for The Objective Standard

Thursday, March 24, 2016

America Should Lead in Energy Liberty, not Energy Privation

The New Jersey Star-Ledger ripped Carly Fiorina’s views on energy. Fiorina's 'facts' 
on fossil fuels 
running on empty, said the Star Ledger, a big climate catastrophist. As the Star-Ledger editorialized, Carly Fiorina is considered the "thoughtful" candidate. . .” But:

That doesn't make her qualified to deal with a potential catastrophe such as climate change, however, as she is as clueless and dangerous as anyone else in the GOP field.

This came up last week during an interview with Katie Couric. . .

The Star-Ledger went on to list all of the “facts” Fiorina supposedly got wrong. But one criticism stood out:

She also said reducing carbon emissions in the US is pointless, because "one nation acting alone can make no difference at all." There's global leadership for you.

Fiorina raises an important point. “Acting alone” makes sense regarding pollution that provably harms Americans. But, even if you take climate catastrophism seriously, is Obama’s “leadership” the right thing for an American administration to do?

I left these comments:

But should this “global leadership” be America’s responsibility?

“Global leadership”: These are dangerous words. “Global leadership on climate change” smacks of the kind of mentality that previously sought “national greatness” at the expense of the sacrifice of American lives and wealth in a vain quest for “a world safe for democracy” or a “forward strategy for freedom.” On this mentality, Americans are mere subjects bound to subordination to an omnipotent federal bureaucracy led by a leader who craves a legacy—in today’s case, an energy mastermind who would sacrifice Americans’ energy security and liberty in a quest to manage the world’s climate.

And for what? A climate “catastrophe” for which there is no evidence? Notice that the climate catastrophists always qualify their assertions of climate doom with futuristic words, like “potential catastrophe.” The catastrophe is in the future, and always has been, as evidenced by decades of failed predictions of climate catastrophe during an era of expanding fossil fuel use leading to continuous improvements in human life. Yet, the climate catastrophists continue to proclaim impending climate disaster. Like witch doctors claiming some superior access to knowledge not available to mere mortals, they just know that catastrophe is just around the corner, no matter their seemingly endless record of catastrophe prediction failures—and expect us all to just take their latest prognostications on faith, and submit meekly to their dictatorial energy policies.

Obama's so-called “Clean Power Plan” makes it clear that we have entered the realm of a regulatory dictatorship. We now have government regulatory bureaucrats wielding the power to bankrupt an entire industry, initially the coal industry, in the name of “global leadership” on climate management. It’s true that coal’s problems stem largely from market forces. But the government shouldn’t have the power, based on reducing carbon dioxide emission, to have a hand in crushing that industry. What’s next? Natural gas? There’s already a NIMBY/environmentalist War on Natgas Pipelines.

The government should be fostering a free market in energy, without “renewable” energy subsidies or subsidies of any kind, and without arbitrary regulations to thwart fossil fuels, and let American consumers decide which energy is best for them. For this, we need to recognize that the benefits and vital necessity of reliable, economical energy like that provided by fossil fuels far, far exceed any actual dangers posed by climate change. The government should stick to objective legal efforts, based on rational cost-benefit analysis, to reign in real pollution, such as the kind that causes smog, rather than attack the emission of harmless, beneficial CO2 in a quest for some perfect climate where natural, ever-present dangers like storms, droughts, and cold and heat waves have somehow been eradicated. The best leadership America can offer is to keep the American market open to all energy sources, as both an economic and moral imperative.

Fiorina may be guilty of some “misstatements,” but she’s right on the big picture. Leaders who lose sight of the people whom they serve for the sake of national greatness are among the most dangerous types of leaders. We don’t need prestige-crazed presidents pursuing some utopian climate scheme, with Americans as the sacrificial lambs. We must recognize Obama’s ideological puppet masters, the climate change catastrophists, for what they are—modern-day witch doctors: And we should reject the climate witch doctors’ mystical, chicken little attempts to convince us of catastrophe-always-around-the-next-corner as a rationalization for government-imposed energy poverty.

Related Reading:

The Energy Liberation Plan—Alex Epstein

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Hillary’s Cave-in to the Left on Free Trade

The New Jersey Star-Ledger last fall chastised Hillary Clinton for her failure to take a firm position on global trade, in particular her stance on President Obama’s Pacific trade pact, which suffered a defeat at the hands of the Senate on so-called fast track authority, mainly due to Democrat opposition. (Clinton has since come out against the pact.)

To its credit, the Star-Ledger is pro-free trade. But Clinton, whose husband pushed through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the 1990s, may be hesitant to take a stand in the face of primary opposition from the protectionist Bernie Sanders. The Star-Ledger asks, “Hillary Clinton, where are you hiding?” In Hillary's dodge on trade dilemma, the Star-Ledger explains the mutual benefits of free trade to trading countries, but also stated that “the concerns raised by reluctant Democrats are valid.” It also noted what it called “a dark side to globalization, too. American manufacturers have moved millions of jobs abroad since trade began to boom in the 1970s.”

The Star-Ledger also supports fast-track authority, which has been granted numerous times in the past to presidents of both parties, for Obama. Fast track authority “bars Congressional amendments to negotiated deals, [and] force[s] an up or down vote. That's a practical necessity. If Congress fiddles with the terms, other countries would as well, and negotiations would never end.”

I left these comments:

I agree that reducing political impediments to international trade is a major economic imperative. I would also argue that it’s a moral imperative. Americans have as much right to trade with people across national boundaries as New Jerseyans have to trade with Minnesotans, or Newarkers have to trade with Camdenites. Trade is a win-win, wherever it takes place.

But I take issue that the movement of manufacturing jobs abroad “is a dark side to globalization.” This narrow view ignores context. As Bastiat observed, a good economist takes into account not only what is immediately visible, but also secondary effects that are not seen but are just as real.

For example, the reduced cost of imports lowers the cost of living, thus raising the standard of living of Americans, particularly lower income Americans. The extra money Americans have to spend due to savings from the lower prices of the imports then fuels growth in other domestic industries, offsetting job losses with more hefty job gains elsewhere. The added spending power of Americans helped fuel the technology revolution. Furthermore, it’s not a one-way street. The  “offshoring” trend of U.S. jobs is beginning to reverse, thanks to the American-led Second Industrial Revolution and the trade-induced growth of prosperity abroad. Last year [2014], more jobs were brought into the U.S. than left. Obama’s Pacific free trade pact will accelerate that trend. Market forces are dynamic. The overall impact of free global trade is people around the world getting better together.

On the big picture, though, I agree with the editors here. Hillary is the best 2016 candidate the Democrats have [or, more accurately, the least bad]. It’s a shame she’s kowtowing to protectionist demagogues like Elizabeth Warren and Pat Buchanan. Protectionism violates Americans’ individual rights to spend and invest their money as they see fit, and makes us generally poorer. Hillary needs to step up and tell us where she stands on the issue of global trade.

Free trade is often an easy scapegoat for politicians who ignore the responsibility of bad domestic political policies for America’s economic problems. E.G.:

  • The housing boom, bust, and related financial crisis and Great Recession and the consequent huge misallocation of human and capital resources into housing-related industries at the expense of other sectors—the primary cause of which was the Fed’s easy money policies and the Clinton/Bush “affordable housing” crusade.
  • The huge expansion of the regulatory welfare state in the past 15 years.
  • The highest-in-the-world corporate income tax, coupled with the fact that the U.S. is the only major industrial country to tax overseas earnings of domestic corporations. This is keeping U.S. capital locked up abroad, rather than reinvested in America.

All of this also coincides with reduced wage growth. Blaming global trade is short-sighted and narrow-minded.

Related reading:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Candidates Should Debate Energy, Not Rising Sea Levels

The presidential candidates haven’t spend much debate time discussing climate change, and that has the New Jersey Star-Ledger really really upset. It primarily blames the debate moderators, who are “Perhaps . . . afraid of what they might hear[!]” Rising sea levels don't interest debate moderators, laments the Star-Ledger.

But the Star-Ledger also has a few choice criticisms for the candidates. In reply to four questions in a recent debate, Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton “addressed the issue for exactly five of the 120 minutes. They spoke 600 words combined. A veritable yak-fest, it was.” As to the Republicans, the Star-Ledger ridiculed Marco Rubio for suggesting that Washington’s laws can’t change the weather, and that subsidized jobs producing unreliable, expensive solar energy at the expense of more remunerative jobs producing cheap, reliable coal energy is not good economic policy.

Climate catastrophists love to sensationalize routine climate events—and they all to often get away with it. People are quick to take things at face value. But you don’t have to be an expert to identify nonsense. As the editorial title indicates, the Star-Ledger’s focus this time is on sea level rise, with a nod to current weather patterns. You’d think what’s going on with these is all new and all the fault of man’s production of reliable energy, which should be shackled. I left these clarifying comments in reply to selected quotes, and edited for clarity:

“We have just had the hottest February on record, El Nino is expected to tear up parts of the continent, and new research showed that oceans haven't risen this quickly since before the start of the Roman Empire.”

It’s easy to trot out naturally recurring phenomenon and call it “climate change.” How can anyone refute such arbitrary assertions? Arbitrary, by definition, means without evidence. But hey, two can play that game. The Star-Ledger fails to mention that just this past Valentine's Day, NYC had its coldest February day since 1963, and Boston its coldest winter day since 1957; or that February 2015—just one year ago—was the third coldest for NJ statewide, with many Northeastern and Midwestern cities experiencing their absolute coldest Februarys on record. Where’s the global warming? Clearly, there is still plenty of cold air around. It’s just not getting here this year, as it did the last 2 winters. It’s the weather pattern, not climate change, stupid! El Nino? It’s a recurring phenomenon with recurring results—unusual warmth and disruptive weather around the globe—nothing more.

"If fossil fuels remain the core of our economy," Kopp asserts, "the sea level will rise two to four feet during the 21st century. And New Jersey is going to be higher than most places."

Notice how the catastrophists always use terms like “will,” or “could,” or “projected too,” or “expected too” in relation to climate catastrophe. The coming catastrophes are always, as Annie sang, “a day away”—and always will be, as decades of failed catastrophe predictions by the same people attest.

Sea levels have been rising since the last ice age ended about 20,000 years ago. In fact, according the the NASA website, sea levels rose most rapidly—way faster than the last 2800 years—between 5 and 15 thousand years ago. During that period, sea levels rose by 100 meters—about 3 feet a century. And we’re supposed to believe that we are in for the same rate of rise this century as during the period of the most dramatic meltdown of the great continental ice sheets? Maybe it’s this kind of hysteria that makes debate moderators focus more on real problems, where most people’s concerns lie.

Sea level rise slowed dramatically beginning about 5000 years ago. So, even if fossil fuels are causing a slightly faster rate of rise, they are only helping along the inevitable trend. And what kind of a trend is it? The Star-Ledger demands government “plans to keep Barnegat Bay from flowing into our living rooms,” as if it’s going to happen tomorrow. But sea level rise is a grindingly slow process, spread across centuries, affecting select coastal regions, not the impending catastrophe about to befall mankind portrayed by the hysterical climate catastrophists.

But yes, sea levels are rising, and man’s activities are likely contributing to it. So what? The benefits of fossil fuels dwarfs the risks as the size of an elephant dwarfs a flea. How much fossil fuels contribute to climate change is debatable. What’s not debatable is that without fossil fuels, we are doomed to being victims of climate extremes as people had been for all of the centuries before fossil fuels (and the freedom to develop them).

The Star-Ledger is half right: The debaters are missing a very important issue. Forget climate change. Energy is what we should be talking about—specifically, the vital necessity if plentiful, economic, reliable energy. The climate catastrophists are using long established natural phenomenon as rationalization to attack the industrial scale energy humans need to survive and thrive. Rubio is exactly correct. The climate catastrophists are willing to sell out human well-being on the altar of climate and weather. The candidates should be talking about how they will implement policies to make it easier for producers to create more reliable energy from hydro, nuclear, and especially fossil fuels. Human well-being depends on it, and people concerned about energy reliability rather than climate change have the moral high ground.

Related Reading:

The False Promise of ‘Clean Solar Powered Utility Scale Energy’