Even people who know nothing about economics can tell you that having an extra $1,000,000 would be much better than having an extra $10,000.  Read on to learn about “opportunities” to win either amount…and decide for yourself which is more possible.
Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson recently penned an op-ed for the New York Times in which he calls for instituting a carbon tax to combat the coming economic “crisis” of “man-made climate change”.  In his column, Paulson insists that “Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies.”
In a thoughtful, fact-filled rebuttal, James Delingpole decimates Paulson’s op-ed point-by-point, stressing why Paulson is perhaps the last person we should be listening to on any economic crisis – real or imagined – since he “helped transform the 2008 crash from a temporary crisis into a long-running, still-unresolved disaster”.
This also calls to mind a recent offer I was made aware of by a friend, in which physicist Dr. Christopher Keating is willing to give $10,000 of his own money “to anyone that can prove, via the scientific method, that man-made global climate change is not occurring”.  Keating contends that he will never have to write that check though, since “The scientific evidence for global warming is overwhelming and no one can prove otherwise.”
Probably the best direct response to Keating’s challenge was posted by a commenter on the above link, named Alex Moran, who pointed out that the onus is rightly on the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) “zealots that owe us ‘deniers’ scientific evidence” that it actually is occurring, and not on the “deniers” to prove a negative.  Also, it should be noted that Keating studiously avoided using the now-infamous phrase “global warming”, in favor of the currently more palatable “climate change”.
I liken this offer from Keating to the Bizarro-world version of Andrew Breitbart’s offer to pay anyone $10,000 to produce video of any Tea Party people shouting slurs (the N-word was prominently purported) at Democrat lawmakers when they were marching the Obamacare bill across the National Mall prior to its passage into law in 2010.  The media ran with that story, despite having no actual evidence that the slurs were uttered by anyone.  Breitbart eventually upped his offered payout to $100,000, but no one ever produced the required video evidence.
The main difference between Breitbart’s offer and Keating’s, which prompted the Bizarro-world invocation, is that Breitbart demanded proof that something actually DID occur…not that something that’s been projected to occur (by models largely populated with fraudulent data) is not happening.
And now…on to the big bucks.  This is linked not only to Keating’s offer, but also to Paulson’s insistence that a carbon tax would be a good way for government to create the proper “incentives” to avoid this coming “climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy”.  Keating states “I know you are not going to get rich with $10,000.  But, tell me, wouldn’t you like to have a spare $10,000?”  Of course you would…but wouldn’t a million dollars be better than $10,000?
Thus, here is my counter-offer: Whether man-made global “climate change” (or “warming”…or “cooling…or whatever the current “crisis” is said to be) exists or not, I hereby offer to give $1,000,000 of my own money to Dr. Keating, Hank Paulson – or anyone else – who can prove that the Constitution allows the federal government to do anything about it.
The founders of this country were very clear about the purpose of the Constitution: to limit government, in favor of individual liberty.  The Constitution lists the very few things that the federal government is required to do – the enumerated powers – and those are the only things the government is allowed to do…no more, no less.  Yes, the federal government has a virtually unlimited ability to levy and collect taxes, but what it is allowed to spend those tax dollars on is strictly limited to activities within the scope of the enumerated powers.
Pull up the transcript of the Constitution online, and do a quick search for words like “warming”, “cooling”, “climate”, “change”, “environment”, “crisis”, “man-made”, “anthropogenic”, or any other related term you can think of, and see what you get.  Go ahead…I’ll wait.
While I’m waiting, I’ll take the chance to remind you that the requirement specified in Article 1, Section 8, that “all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States” means that the levying/collection of any taxes must apply equally to every single citizen.  And the federal government is only required (read “allowed”) to do those few things that are best accomplished only by the government as a representative body of the entire populace, since those things are intended to affect every citizen equally.  In short, those things entail only “protecting liberty through national defense, the enforcement of contracts, and free elections“.
And before anyone makes the oft-repeated mistake of trying to cite the Constitution’s clause about the federal government’s responsibility to “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare” as enumerated powers, let me burst that bubble right now: those aren’t enumerated powers, but rather reasons for the specifically enumerated powers.  Same goes for the statement in the Preamble that the Constitution was ordained and established “in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”…those are overall responsibilities of the federal government, which are to be fulfilled via execution of the subsequent specifically enumerated powers.  The founders were very careful to purposefully ensure that “The federal government was given the power of protection, not the power of action within the economy“.
The single best description ever given for government is from Thomas Paine: “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” ANY confiscation of private property, even for those few constitutionally required duties, is evil (by definition) – which is why it should be limited to only those very few necessary duties as proscribed by the enumerated powers.  In accordance with the purpose of the Constitution, which subjugates government to the individual (and not the other way around), the default position of government is an absence of power.  Thus, any expansion of federal government power at the expense of the liberty of EVEN ONE individual is wholly unconstitutional.
But this is a much bigger problem than just your random physicist or even a former Treasury secretary ignoring constitutional limits on federal government power in favor of government action to incentivize any action, toward any outcome.  For a good example of the depth of this issue, see the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, in which Chief Justice John Roberts argued – incorrectly – that Congress has the constitutional authority to use its enumerated taxing and spending powers to influence the behavior of individuals and states.  Roberts argued that prior court rulings – legal precedent – established this authority for government, while ignoring that THE legal precedent – the Constitution itself – prohibits this legal authority by not specifically granting it in the first place.
I could never explain this as well as Alexander Hamilton did in Federalist 84, wherein he argued against the inclusion in the Constitution of a Bill of Rights.  While we are obviously fortunate that the anti-Federalists were appropriately pessimistic enough to push for including the Bill of Rights, it does not really add anything to the Constitution, but simply lists specific rights that the government cannot infringe upon.  Hamilton argued against its inclusion, as a Bill of Rights was “not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous” as it “would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted.  For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?”
In line with the very clearly explained purpose of the Constitution (in accordance with the fundamental truth of the Declaration of Independence, that the government is subordinate to the individual), this makes perfectly clear that the government is only ALLOWED to do those things that are specifically REQUIRED of it via the Constitution’s enumerated powers.  Hamilton explained this further with a specific example: “Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?”
The founders codified Hamilton’s argument into the Constitution, ironically in the Bill of Rights itself: the 9th Amendment states that “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  Also, the 10th Amendment specifies that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Simply put, individual rights are natural and infinite, and if a power is not specifically granted in the Constitution, then it is specifically disallowed by omission.
So, in light of all that, allow me to restate my offer: $1,000,000 of my own money to anyone who can prove that the Constitution allows the federal government to do anything about “man-made climate change”.  In fact, allow me to expand that offer right now to include anyone who can prove that the federal government is allowed to force any collective action related to ANY issue not covered by its specifically and purposefully limited enumerated powers.
Much like Keating – but with absolute confidence in place of his ignorant arrogance – I know that I too will never have to write that check, since (to paraphrase him) the constitutional evidence for limited government is overwhelming and no one can prove otherwise.
–written on 2 July 2014

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