A Nation of Snitches: DHS Is Grooming Americans to Report on Each Other

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

“There were relatively few secret police, and most were just processing the information coming in. I had found a shocking fact. It wasn’t the secret police who were doing this wide-scale surveillance and hiding on every street corner. It was the ordinary German people who were informing on their neighbors.”—Professor Robert Gellately, author of Backing Hitler

Are you among the 41% of Americans who regularly attend church or some other religious service?

Do you believe the economy is about to collapse and the government will soon declare martial law?

Do you display an unusual number of political and/or ideological bumper stickers on your car?

Are you among the 44% of Americans who live in a household with a gun? If so, are you concerned that the government may be plotting to confiscate your firearms?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you may be an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) in the eyes of the government and flagged for heightened surveillance and preemptive intervention.

Let that sink in a moment.

If you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you have just been promoted to the top of the government’s terrorism watch list.

I assure you I’m not making this stuff up.

So what is the government doing about these so-called American “extremists”?

The government is grooming the American people to spy on each other as part of its Center for Prevention Programs and Partnerships, or CP3 program.

According to journalist Leo Hohmann, the government is handing out $20 million in grants to police, mental health networks, universities, churches and school districts to enlist their help in identifying Americans who might be political dissidents or potential “extremists.”

As Hohmann explains, “Whether it’s COVID and vaccines, the war in Ukraine, immigration, the Second Amendment, LGBTQ ideology and child-gender confusion, the integrity of our elections, or the issue of protecting life in the womb, you are no longer allowed to hold dissenting opinions and voice them publicly in America. If you do, your own government will take note and consider you a potential ‘violent extremist’ and terrorist.”

Cue the dawning of the Snitch State.

This new era of snitch surveillance is the lovechild of the government’s post-9/11 “See Something, Say Something” programs combined with the self-righteousness of a politically correct, hyper-vigilant, technologically-wired age.

For more than two decades, the Department of Homeland Security has plastered its “See Something, Say Something” campaign on the walls of metro stations, on billboards, on coffee cup sleeves, at the Super Bowl, and even on television monitors in the Statue of Liberty. Colleges, universities, and even football teams and sporting arenas have lined up for grants to participate in the program.

The government has even designated September 25 as National “If You See Something, Say Something” Awareness Day.

If you see something suspicious, say the DHS, say something about it to the police, call it into a government hotline, or report it using a convenient app on your smartphone.

This DHS slogan is nothing more than the government’s way of indoctrinating “we the people” into the mindset that we’re an extension of the government and, as such, have a patriotic duty to be suspicious of, spy on, and turn in our fellow citizens.

This is what is commonly referred to as community policing.

Yet while community policing and federal programs such as “See Something, Say Something” are sold to the public as patriotic attempts to be on guard against those who would harm us, they are little more than totalitarian tactics dressed up and repackaged for a more modern audience as well-intentioned appeals to law and order and security.

The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own policing.

After all, the police can’t be everywhere. So how do you police a nation when your population outnumbers your army of soldiers? How do you carry out surveillance on a nation when there aren’t enough cameras, let alone viewers, to monitor every square inch of the country 24/7? How do you not only track but analyze the transactions, interactions and movements of every person within the United States?

The answer is simpler than it seems: You persuade the citizenry to be your eyes and ears. You hype them up on color-coded “Terror alerts,” keep them in the dark about the distinctions between actual threats and staged “training” drills so that all crises seem real, desensitize them to the sight of militarized police walking their streets, acclimatize them to being surveilled “for their own good,” and then indoctrinate them into thinking that they are the only ones who can save the nation from another 9/11.

Consequently, we now live in a society in which a person can be accused of any number of crimes without knowing what exactly he has done. He might be apprehended in the middle of the night by a roving band of SWAT police. He might find himself on a no-fly list, unable to travel for reasons undisclosed. He might have his phones or internet tapped based upon a secret order handed down by a secret court, with no recourse to discover why he was targeted.

This Kafkaesque nightmare has become America’s reality.

This is how you turn a people into extensions of the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent police state, and in the process turn a citizenry against each other.

It’s a brilliant ploy, with the added bonus that while the citizenry remains focused on and distrustful of each other and shadowy forces from outside the country, they’re incapable of focusing on more definable threats that fall closer to home—namely, the government and its cabal of Constitution-destroying agencies and corporate partners.

Community policing did not come about as a feel-good, empowering response to individuals trying to “take back” their communities from crime syndicates and drug lords.

Rather, “Community-Oriented Policing” or COPS (short for Community Partnerships, Organizational Transformation, and Problem Solving) is a Department of Justice program designed to foster partnerships between police agencies and members of the community.

To this end, the Justice Department identifies five distinct “partners” in the community policing scheme: law enforcement and other government agencies, community members and groups, nonprofits, churches and service providers, private businesses, and the media.

Together, these groups are supposed to “identify” community concerns, “engage” the community in achieving specific goals, serve as “powerful” partners with the government, and add their “considerable resources” to the government’s already massive arsenal of technology and intelligence. The mainstream media’s role, long recognized as being a mouthpiece for the government, is formally recognized as “publicizing” services from government or community agencies or new laws or codes that will be enforced, as well as shaping public perceptions of the police, crime problems, and fear of crime.

Inevitably, this begs the question: if there’s nothing wrong with community engagement, if the police can’t be everywhere at once if surveillance cameras do little to actually prevent crime, and if we need to “take back our communities” from the crime syndicates and drug lords, then what’s wrong with community policing and “See Something, Say Something”?

What’s wrong is that these programs are not, in fact, making America any safer while turning us into a legalistic, intolerant, squealing, bystander nation.

We are now the unwitting victims of an interconnected, tightly woven, technologically evolving web of real-time, warrantless, wall-to-wall, widening mass surveillance dragnet comprised of fusion centers, red flag laws, behavioral threat assessments, terror watch lists, facial recognition, snitch tip lines, biometric scanners, pre-crime programs, DNA databases, data mining, precognitive technology, and contact tracing apps, to name just a few.

This is how the government keeps us under control and in its crosshairs.

By the time you combine the DHS’ “See Something, Say Something” with CP3 and community policing, which has gone global in the guise of the Strong Cities Network program, you’ve got a formula for enabling the government to not only flag distinct “anti-government” segments of the population but locking down the entire nation.

Under the guise of fighting violent extremism “in all of its forms and manifestations” in cities and communities across the world, the Strong Cities Network program works with the UN and the federal government to train local police agencies across America in how to identify, fight and prevent extremism, as well as address intolerance within their communities, using all of the resources at their disposal.

What this program is really all about, however, is community policing on a global scale with the objective being to prevent violent extremism by targeting its source: racism, bigotry, hatred, intolerance, etc. In other words, police will identify, monitor and deter individuals who could be construed as potential extremist “threats,” violent or otherwise, before they can become actual threats.

The government’s war on extremists has been sold to Americans in much the same way that the USA Patriot Act was sold to Americans: as a means of combatting terrorists who seek to destroy America.

However, as we now know, the USA Patriot Act was used as a front to advance the surveillance state, allowing the government to establish a far-reaching domestic spying program that has turned every American citizen into a criminal suspect.

Similarly, the concern with the government’s ongoing anti-extremism program is that it will, in many cases, be utilized to render otherwise lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially extremist.

Keep in mind that the government agencies involved in ferreting out American “extremists” will carry out their objectives—to identify and deter potential extremists—in concert with fusion centers, data collection agencies, behavioral scientists, corporations, social media, and community organizers and by relying on cutting-edge technology for surveillance, facial recognition, predictive policing, biometrics, and behavioral epigenetics (in which life experiences alter one’s genetic makeup).

This is pre-crime on an ideological scale and it’s been a long time coming.

For example, in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released two reports, one on “Rightwing Extremism,” which broadly defines rightwing extremists as individuals and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely,” and one on “Leftwing Extremism,” which labeled environmental and animal rights activist groups as extremists.

These reports, which use the words terrorist and extremist interchangeably, indicate that for the government, anyone seen as opposing the government—whether they’re Left, Right, or somewhere in between—can be labeled an extremist.

Fast forward a few years, and you have the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which each successive presidential administration has continually re-upped, that allows the military to take you out of your home, lock you up with no access to friends, family or the courts if you’re seen as an extremist.

Now connect the dots, from the 2009 Extremism reports to the NDAA and the far-reaching data crime fusion centers that collect and share surveillance data between local, state, and federal police agencies.

Add in tens of thousands of armed, surveillance drones that will soon blanket American skies, and facial recognition technology that identifies and tracks you wherever you go and whatever you do. And then to complete the circle, toss in the real-time crime centers which are attempting to “predict” crimes and identify criminals before they happen based on widespread surveillance, complex mathematical algorithms and prognostication programs.

If you can’t read the writing on the wall, you need to pay better attention.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, unless we can put the brakes on this dramatic expansion and globalization of the government’s powers, we’re not going to recognize this country five, ten—even twenty—years from now.

As long as “we the people” continue to allow the government to trample our rights in the so-called name of national security, things will get worse, not better.

It’s already worse.


This article was published by The Rutherford Institute and is reproduced with permission.

Arizona News: September 29, 2023

Estimated Reading Time: < 1 minute

The Prickly Pear will provide current, linked articles about Arizona consistent with our Mission Statement to ‘inform, educate and advocate’. We are an Arizona based website and believe this information should be available to all of our statewide readers.



August border encounters of more than 322,000 highest monthly total in U.S. history


Proposed constitutional amendment aims to scrap Arizona ‘Right to Work’ status


Signature drive for state constitutional right to abortion begins in Arizona


Rep. Gosar: ‘A Better Society’ Would Hang General Milley For Jan. 6 Role


Hobbs Refuses To Follow The Law On Director Nominations


Hobbs pulls director nominees to avoid Senate committee


Housing Affordability Decline To Become Issue In 2024 Election


Pinal County Needs To Refund The $80 Million It Illegally Collected From Taxpayers


Scottsdale Mom Sued For Exposing Board President’s Dossier Wins Anti-SLAPP Ruling


Porn Or Library Book? Looks Can Be Deceiving.


Parker Condemns Mesa’s “Misguided” Homeless Plan










The Multiyear Decline in US Economic Freedom

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

AS economic freedom in the world has plunged in recent years, due mainly to the interventions and fiscal-monetary profligacy associated with COVID shutdowns, mandates, and subsidies. The global measure is given in Figure One. This is a significant reversal of freedom’s increase between 2010 and 2019. But the downtrend is much worse and more prolonged in the US.

Figure Two makes clear that economic freedom in the US also has declined significantly, but it’s done so since the financial crisis and “Great Recession” of 2007-09, not only amid COVID lockdowns. The overall score for the US was 82 in 2007 (out of a maximum of 100) but is only 71 today. In this time the US has moved from the category of “Free” (80-100) to “Mostly Free” (70-80) to the precipice of becoming merely “Moderately Free” (60-70). In 2007 only three countries were economically freer than the US, but by 2015 eleven nations were. Today, 24 are freer (including Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Norway, South Korea, and Sweden).

In 2007 the three countries economically freer than the US were Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia. Hong Kong was ranked #1 every year from 1995 to 2019 (and #2 in 2020), but was then summarily omitted from the rankings by the Heritage Foundation under the mistaken claim that its economic policies were suddenly “controlled from Beijing.” Heritage did this in response to Hong Kong’s government precluding violent insurrectionists (who posed as “champions of democracy”) from taking over the local legislature. For the Heritage perspective, see Edwin J. Feulner’s, “Hong Kong Is No Longer What It Was,” wherein he admits that the editors of the Index recognize that Hong Kong “offers its citizens more economic freedom than is available to the average citizen of China.” For Hong Kong’s view, see “Hong Kong Minister Blasts City’s Disappearance from ‘World’s Freest Economies’ Rankings.”

Figures Three, Four, and Five depict the trend of scores since 1995 for the US, the World average, and China, along three measures: overall economic freedom (Figure Three), business freedom (Figure Four), and trade freedom (Figure Five).

Overall (Figure Three), US economic freedom has declined since 2007 while the world average has held steady (at around 60). On business freedom (Figure Four), China has become much freer and the US less so since 2006. According to Heritage, the “Business Freedom” metric measures “an individual’s ability to establish and run an enterprise without undue interference from the state” and without “burdensome and redundant regulations.”

On trade (Figure Five), China became substantially freer during the decade of 1995-2005 and has maintained that level since then, while US economic freedom, after being steady through 2005, has eroded since then (especially since 2019, due to Trump’s trade wars).

Figure Six depicts relative scores (ratios) for the US versus the world average and China, again using the overall measure, the business freedom metric, and the trade freedom metric. The US-World Ratio for the overall index has declined 13 percent, from 1.37X in 2007 to 1.19X in 2023. The US-China Ratio for trade freedom fell 16 percent in the year before Trump became president (1.21X in 2015) to today (1.02X, as Biden hasn’t rescinded or reduced the Trump tariffs). The US-China Ratio for business freedom plummeted 37 percent, from 1.95X in 2007 to 1.23X in 2023 – due to China’s absolute measure increasing by 46 percent while the US absolute measure declined by 8 percent.

Why does this matter? Most people, including many professional economists and data analysts (who should know better) seem to cling to the impression that US economic freedom is high and stable, while China has become less free economically. The facts say otherwise, and the facts should shape our perceptions and theories. Human liberty also should matter; much of our lives are spent engaged in market activity, pursuing our livelihoods, not in political activity. Finally, as a rule (which is empirically supported) less economic freedom results in less prosperity.

Neither major US political party today seems much bothered by the loss of economic freedom. They don’t talk about it. It’s not that a model of the proper policy mix isn’t available, for it was adopted in 1980s and 1990s as “Reaganomics” in the forms of supply-side economics and neo-liberalism. Each has been out of fashion for most of this century – and it sure shows, especially in the freedom indexes. So-called “Bidenomics” now pledges the precise opposite set of policies, both supply-crushing and illiberal, and likely to move the economy from slow growth to no growth to “de-growth.” Without a reversal in the trend of declining economic freedom in the US, we’ll likely be suffering more from less liberty, less supply growth, and less prosperity.


This article was published by AIER, The American Institute for Economic Research, and is reproduced with permission.

Image credit: Wikimedia commons

Stocks Suffer For The Last Two Months And More Likely Ahead

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Readers might recall on August 3, and subsequent to that, we suggested that the stock market had gotten “overbought” and was vulnerable to the weakness that typically is found (called seasonality) in the late summer.

Whether we are just lucky or smart, the market has cooperated by declining about 7% since our word of caution, about the same as the February-March correction.  It is doing some damage.  Recently the S&P dropped below a triple bottom in the range of  430 and the daily price has fallen below both the 50-day moving average and the 100-day moving average.  A bull trend line formed from the lows of last October has been broken.  The overall formation takes the familiar head and shoulders top with the “neckline” being snapped.  For those who think charts can inform us about markets, none of this is good right now.

September is usually the worst month but October takes the prize for the month with the most crashes.  Then the market will tend to bottom out and usually has a strong finish to the year and that bleeds usually into January.

These seasonal factors and chart factors aside, we also mentioned a number of other negatives the market must work with right now.

Breadth has been unusually narrow, with only a handful of stocks (the magnificent seven) providing the upside for the S&P, which is supposed to be a broadly diversified portfolio of 500 stocks.  Instead, it has become an extremely undiversified tech-dominated index.  Historically, that is not good.  Narrow breadth indicates strength is just with a small group of stocks, not the market as a whole. Secondly, as we pointed out, this destroys much of the justification for indexing, which in the past has been a good strategy for the average investor.

Interest rates continue to rise.  The most recent FED meeting indicated they are looking for interest rates to go higher, for a longer period of time than many participants anticipated.  Adding additional pain, since the most recent “debt ceiling agreement”, the government has been adding debt at a ferocious pace.  This means more bonds must be sold.  With traditional buyers like Social Security (cash flow has turned negative), China, Saudi Arabia, and others reducing their purchases of US debt, and the FED itself selling; more supply with less demand means lower bond prices.  Not surprisingly, this year is likely to be the third year in a row for negative returns on bonds.

Two rating services have downgraded the sovereign debt of the US.  Unfortunately, another debt ceiling fight looms.  Understand, this fight may well be worth having.  Nothing in the traditional political toolbox seems able to stop the two political parties from spending this nation into penury. As the chart below suggests, we are growing national debt more than twice the rate of GDP growth.  How about some sustainability talk about this relationship? However, attempts to stop spending by shutting down the government are a crude tool, likely to upset the bond and stock markets even further.

Higher interest rates are squeezing the marginal debtor as we suggested it would.  Corporate bankruptcy rates are rising sharply.  Commercial real estate is being hurt, as is the market for homes generally and the combination of high home prices and much higher rates have driven affordability to new lows.  The turnover in homes has slowed to a crawl and homebuyers who were fortunate enough to get 3% mortgage rates seemed disinclined to move, create a capital gain, and then get saddled with rates now above 7.5%.  It makes sense to stay put, but that freezes the supply of secondary homes and reduces liquidity in the whole sector.

The rise in interest rates has been international as well, creating major credit problems elsewhere.  Germany is in a bona fide recession (the largest economy in Europe) and China is slowing and seems in another phase of its rolling real estate crisis.

Rising rates have caused a sharp rise in the dollar, depressing commodity prices (except for oil and uranium) and making the US exports uncompetitive in many areas.

The Administration has vowed to destroy fossil fuels without supplying the alternatives at the same or lesser price.  While that plays well with environmental hysterics, the reality is after more than $4 trillion in often forced investment into “renewables”, the portion of the energy pie supplied by fossil fuels has only fallen only about 3%. We need more traditional energy while the Biden Administration has caused investment to dry up.  Who wants to invest say in an offshore drilling ship, that has maybe a 30-year life, only to know the government wants you out of business in five years? It is an investment equation that can’t and won’t attract capital.

The result is much higher energy prices in the present and much more to come in the future.  Just since May of this year, West Texas Intermediate oil has moved from around $64 per barrel to above $92.  That is a move of about 43% in just six months!  Physical stores of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve are down drastically due to Biden policies and private storage at Cushing Oklahoma, and in the OECD, are down sharply as well.  Biden has abandoned US energy independence and opted for yielding control of the market to Putin and the ever-treacherous Saudis.

The Leading Economic Indicators have been down a record 17 months, the money supply is contracting, and the yield curve is still inverted.  The FED says now that recession is unlikely, which given their track record (remember transitory inflation?), is actually a bad thing.  We wish they were worried more about the recession than they appear to be.

This set of politically mandated circumstances puts a severe squeeze on the consumer.  Rising interest rates cause mortgage rates to rise and the cost of using credit cards.  Rising oil prices take more money out of the family budget for fuel for both home heating and cooling, and personal transportation, transportation costs for everything else in the economy, and finally the higher costs on about 6,000 items made out of petroleum.

Don’t blame this on the bossa nova, but blame it on Bidenonomics.

So far the correction since the first of August is about 6% or so, depending on the index you are following.  We would note, however, that the equal weight S&P (the RSP), is now negative on the year.  With bonds down hard, we have another year where the traditional 60% equity and 40% bond diversification simply can’t work as it has in the past.


As the market has absorbed the reality of this bad news, bullish attitudes are shifting more negatively, which ironically, is a good thing.

Back in early August when we were warning about the vulnerability of the market,  sentiment was very high, excessively high. Although there are many measures of sentiment, one of the better indices is the CNN Fear and Greed gauge.  It hit a reading of 84 (usually anything over 80 is a caution light). As we go to press, the index has now fallen into the fear range with a reading of just 27%.  It may well go lower in the next few weeks.  Generally, anything below 25% is “extreme fear”.

So here is the rub.  The news is getting bad out there.  However, it is getting worked into market prices and taking some of the excess valuation and sentiment out of the market.  But experience suggests that news must be bad for weeks, for prices to fully align with reality, and then there is customarily an overshoot into extreme pessimism, which will be just as irrational as the extreme optimism was back around the first of August.

We are not at that stage, which suggests several more weeks are likely necessary to get the market into an oversold condition.  And we have to deal with October, a month that has played host to a large number of stock crashes.

Timing events such as these are almost impossible.  However, the condition of the market can be known, even if the timing cannot.  The current condition suggests more weakness in both stocks and bonds in the weeks ahead, likely followed by a decent buying opportunity to play the normal strength displayed at the end of the year.

So far this continues to look like a correction within the context of an ongoing bull market The risk will be that this too will shift.  If we decline enough to break the bull trend, then we enter bear territory.  Bears are dangerous, and markets tend to act differently in bear markets than in bull markets.  Oversold readings in bull markets provide buying opportunities (buy the dip).  But bear markets are harder to handle because one low is followed by a set of new lows.

We still suggest caution, with higher cash reserves than normal and lower allocation to risk assets than you normally might have, given your age and risk profile.  If we can avoid breaking the back of the market during this corrective phase, a decent buy opportunity may emerge in a few weeks.

We will do our best to keep you up to date.


Stock graphics courtesy of stockcharts.com and drawn by the author.



California Ban On Standard-Capacity Gun Magazines Overturned

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Editors Note: For years, the progressive clarion call has been to “follow California.” From auto emissions, treatment of the homeless, criminal enforcement or lack thereof, to gun policy, our oversized state has provided a swagger and arrogance coupled with its immense economic power, to change the political debate. However, overreach has now become a huge problem as well as public demonstration of failed policy. Now it seems that the new mantra needs to be “avoid becoming like California.” The controversy over “high capacity” and “semi-automatic weapons of war” is relatively new, but the weapons are not. Pictured above is a Mauser C96 “broom handle” that even came with a controversial “pistol brace.” When was this gun made available? It first appeared in 1896, 127 years ago. Clearly, guns have not changed. It is our people that have changed.

Federal judge Roger Benitez overturned California’s ban on standard-sized ammunition magazines, with California Attorney General Rob Bonta filing an immediate notice of appeal. The injunction on the ban will be stayed for 10 days, which means that the ban’s overturn will likely not take effect as the decision is appealed.

“Unless we enshrine a Right to Safety in the Constitution, we are at the mercy of ideologues like Judge Benitez,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a public statement responding to the decision. “This is exactly why I’ve called for a Constitutional amendment, and this is why I’ll keep fighting to defend our right to protect ourselves from gun violence.”

Standard-capacity magazines have been illegal to manufacture, import, keep, or offer for sale, give, or lend since 2000, and illegal to purchase or receive in any way since 2013. Proposition 64, passed by California voters in 2016, made it illegal to possess even legally acquired standard-capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds under the rationale such a measure would limit mass shootings. Anyone who did not turn in their standard-capacity magazines by July 1, 2017, could have faced up to a year in prison before an earlier injunction by Benitez. The most popular firearm sold in 2022, a Sig Sauer P320 pistol, comes with a 15-round magazine except where otherwise limited, such as in California. 

“There is no American history or tradition of regulating firearms based on the number of rounds they can shoot, or of regulating the amount of ammunition that can be kept and carried,” wrote Benitez in his latest ruling.

Benitez first struck down Proposition 63’s rule in June 2017 right before enforcement began, noting only six mass shootings between 2006 and 2013 used the banned magazines, and that “entitlement to enjoy Second Amendment rights and just compensation is not eliminated simply because they possess ‘unpopular’ magazines holding more than 10 rounds.” In 2018, a 2-1 panel of the Ninth Circuit Court affirmed Benitez’s ruling on the confiscations.

In 2019, Benitez ruled against the ban on the acquisition of standard-capacity magazines, citing varying outcomes of women’s self-defense cases where having additional bullets made the difference between life and death. This decision was upheld in a 2020 panel of the Ninth Circuit Court, then overturned by an en banc decision of the same court in 2021. The United States Supreme Court vacated the Ninth Circuit Court’s en banc decision in 2022 and remanded it back to Benitez for a new decision. Benitez’s latest ruling, if upheld in the appeals process, could allow for the resumption of the legal sale of standard-capacity magazines in California.


This article was published The Center Square and is reproduced with permission.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Desperate Governors Beg For Offshore Wind Cost Relief

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Six Atlantic shore Governors are begging the Feds to bail them out of a huge looming offshore wind cost overrun. They sent Biden a joint letter asking for a list of relief measures ranging from tax breaks to revenue sharing.

The outcome is far from clear but my guess is the largess is unlikely to appear, especially given the ongoing federal budget battles. Maybe later. However most of the requests also likely require major regulatory changes, which could take years. They might even take legislation which could be never.

But the need is urgent as the offshore developers are demanding immediate power price increases of around 50% lest they leave for better opportunities elsewhere. They can do this because offshore wind is a global boom. Even mid-income developing countries like Indonesia are talking big offshore numbers.

Ironically, it is this boom that is driving some of the sticker-shocking price increases. There is even a shortage of highly specialized crane ships to erect these huge towers. The supply chain is a seller’s market, at least on paper. Rising interest rates are another big driver.

The letter is pretty vague, but there are basically three kinds of federal relief requested. These are tax credits, revenue sharing, and streamlined permitting. I am sure there is lots of lobbying going on by the developers, as well as the Governors. Unfortunately, it is all secret so the specific issues are well hidden, making the following brief analysis somewhat speculative.

The letter is here: https://cleanpower.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/Governors-Offshore-Wind-Letter_ACP.pdf

There look to be two tax credit issues. The first, which the IRS might actually be able to do something about, involves the definition of the renewable energy project that gets the investment tax credits. At present, probably only the generating assembly counts. This likely includes the tower and monopile foundation as well as the turbine generator and enormous blades.

But it may not include the extensive undersea connector cabling, the massive offshore substations, the huge export cabling, and the costly onshore transmission upgrades. These system components make up a sizable fraction of the project cost.

The second issue is the bonus tax credits awarded under the so-called Inflation Reduction Act. This is a 10% credit bump that developers get if they meet certain domestic content specs. Offshore wind already gets a big break under IRA because their content requirement is just half that of all other renewable projects.

As far as I can tell, they want the presently measly requirement to be even less. This is likely because most of the components come from overseas. America has very little specialized offshore component production capability since we have never built any here. Building this kind of industrial capacity will take a long time.

However, since the specific domestic component requirements are in the law, the IRS may have very little leeway, and what they have should require rulemaking. How this works out will be very interesting to watch. It might take legislation, which is uncertain, to say the least.

On revenue sharing, the States want a piece of the billions of dollars developers are paying the Feds in offshore site lease payments. Single sites have paid over a billion. Some sites are at least partially within State waters, but most are not.

Here the question is why taxpayers in, say, Wyoming should, in effect, pay to lower electricity bills in New Jersey? The agency in charge of offshore leasing is the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in the Interior Dept. They are gung ho for offshore wind, so might not mind sharing revenue if it keeps the project coming.

I have no idea what the legalities are here except they are likely to be complex. BOEM has been doing offshore oil and gas leasing in the Gulf for a long time, so there should be a big body of law to deal with.

Who gets how much is an interesting question, especially for projects set to sell juice to several States. Plus, the States expect to sell some to other States. Given that many of the power purchase contracts at issue are with utilities, not States, maybe they should get the money.

For that matter, if this revenue sharing happened, the Gulf states might want a piece of the oil and gas action. None of this is simple, for sure. (Aside: maybe the Feds should collect royalties on the harvested wind power, like the 18.75% they get on offshore oil production.)

As for speeding up permitting, that is already a hot topic in Congress, but there is no consensus on what it even means, much less how to do it. I think BOEM is already going as fast as it can, ignoring many issues in the process, such as whale deaths. And, of course, the Biden Executive Branch cannot speed up the Judiciary, where a lot of the project delay lies in litigation.

In short, this seemingly simple letter is pointed at some really hairy issues. The talks are going on in secret, and I have yet to see any detailed analysis of the potential policies and ramifications thereof. If the fate of Atlantic offshore wind really depends on taking these hairy steps, then we are in “Nobody knows land” for sure. This cannot be good from the investment point of view so more stocks may drop.

Stay tuned to CFACT to see how this wacky offshore drama plays out. It might be a while.


This article was published by CFACT, The Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, and is reproduced with permission.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


A Noted Physician Advocates COVID Civil Disobedience

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Famously, at the start of his 1849 essay, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau observed, “That government is best which governs least.”

Few policymakers or politicians during COVID were influenced by Thoreau, who also pointed out that “government never furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got of its way.”  Did government mandates and lockdowns make us safer or less safe during COVID? Healthier or less healthy?

Thoreau defined the “right of revolution” as “the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.”

Dr. Vinay Prasad is a practicing oncologist and a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. He is one of the foremost practitioners of evidence-based medicine in the world. He believes the time has come to “refuse allegiance” and “resist” the COVID bureaucracy, which resorts to lies

To those who justify irrational policies such as masking a toddler, Prasad writes, “Just because things are bad, or the disease is worse than the intervention, doesn’t mean the intervention helps, or should be done.” Prasad is bringing Frédéric Bastiat’s classic idea to medicine: Do not ignore consequences.

Prasad has become increasingly disturbed at policies made for political, not medical, reasons. Recently, responding to a report that N-95 masks are being mandated for children enrolled at a Montgomery County school, in Maryland (a suburb of DC), Prasad wrote, “Only non-violent resistance can halt irrational public health actors.” At this point, note that the original title of Thoreau’s essay was “Resistance to Civil Government.”

The following are the forms of non-violent resistance Prasad recommends: Even if you or your child are sick, do not test for COVID. Send your child back to school when he is well enough. “Stop reporting these illnesses” to schools and employers. “Complain to your employer about any mandates.”  “Decline any further COVID-19 vaccination, unless RCTs [randomized controlled trials] show benefit in your age group.”

In short, ignore authorities; they don’t have your best interests in mind. Prasad adds that this resistance “is the only logical course left… It’s time to go dark with all COVID data. If enough people don’t participate, the irrationality will stop. Eventually.”

If Prasad had advocated this in 2020 or 2021, he may have found his board certification subject to disciplinary hearings. But this is 2023, and despite censorship, evidence is mounting, and the intellectual climate is changing.

Isn’t all medicine evidence-based medicine? Dr Prasad would answer, if only. In 2015, with his colleague Dr. Adam Cifu, Prasad wrote Ending Medical Reversal. Prasad and Cifu observed:

Medicine is the application of science. When a scientific theory is disproved, it should happen in a lab or in the equivalent place in clinical science, the controlled clinical trial. It should not be disproved in the world of clinical medicine, where millions of people may have already been exposed to an ineffective, or perhaps even harmful, treatment.

In their book, Prasad and Cifu wrote, “Each of us recalls moments when we realized that what we had told our patients, or did for them, was wrong: We had promoted an accepted practice that was, at best, ineffective.” Notice the use of the qualifier “at best,” as often interventions are harmful.

Prasad and Cifu estimated “as much as 40 percent of the things doctors do are ineffective.” They give many examples, such as estrogen replacement for postmenopausal women and medical procedures such as “stenting open coronary lesions in people with stable angina.”

If you watch television, you have probably seen the incessant Pfizer ads promoting their COVID treatment drug, Paxlovid. Yet, Dr. Prasad tells us, that despite the Biden administration’s pushing and subsidizing the drug, there is little evidence that the drug works.

Even without cronyism showing the way, ineffective and dangerous drugs are not uncommon in the annals of medicine. Until 1992, the drug flecainide was part of the standard of care to stabilize patients with irregular heart rhythms. Prasad and Cifu reported, “a large study called the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (or CAST trial) showed that flecainide, as well as a similar drug, decreased PVCs as expected but also increased patients’ chance of dying.” (emphasis added.)

Prasad and Cifu drew the essential conclusion that “even the most careful reasoning and the best scientific models do not guarantee an effective clinical treatment. What works in the lab, or on a computer, or in the head of the smartest researcher does not always work in a patient.” 

Yet Prasad and Cifu acknowledge, “this is a lesson that many physicians and leading researchers still have not really learned.” Lack of learning contributed mightily to the devastating policy errors during COVID. 

Writing years before COVID, Prasad and Cifu observed, “What has happened in medicine is that the hypothesized treatment is often instituted in millions of people, and billions of dollars are spent, before adequate research is done.” During the pandemic, necessary economic tripwires were disabled when vaccine manufacturers were indemnified from liability for harm caused by their products.

Prasad and Cifu provide timeless insights into why ineffective and dangerous treatments persist without “a strong evidence base.” They observe, “The weak evidence base is often ignored because of doctors’ faith in mechanistic explanations or studies that were designed to be deceptive by industry.”

Prasad and Cifu described the “act now, data later” mindset so common in medicine and in life today: “We have a problem; we need a solution. We hear the mantra every day. We need to solve this problem now. Ten minutes ago. Yesterday. It is not just in medicine but everywhere.”  This mindset, adopted by millions of Americans, is behind every ill-conceived practice instituted during COVID and also behind the increasingly destructive rush to “green energy.”

Reversing errors is not easy. Prasad and Cifu explained,

It is very hard to accept evidence that something you have done for patients, something that you truly believed was beneficial, is not useful. The evidence is even harder to accept when you have been well compensated for your work. Because of this, acceptance of medical reversals is never easy and opposition to them is usually passionate.

Thus, the medical administrative state won’t easily change. Yet, Thoreau asserted, government “can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it.” We have conceded too much. With our concessions, we have lost our humanity. In Thoreau’s words,

The mass of men serve the state… not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies… In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw or a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs.

We can regain our medical freedom by being more than “straw or a lump of dirt.” We can expand our comfort zone to go against the herd. The time is now to resist pressure from friends and family and to stop obeying authorities. Non-violent resistance is a viable recourse.


This article was published by AIER, The American Institute for Economic Research, and is reproduced with permission.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Is America A Bad Place To Work?

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Recently I encountered a study by an organization called Oxfam Research. That study: Where Hard Work Doesn’t Pay Off. As defined in Wikipedia, Oxfam was founded in 1942 as a confederation of 21 independent charitable organizations, centered in Oxford England focusing on alleviating global poverty and led by Oxfam International. There is an American affiliate. I thought the study would be worthy of a deep dive.

As the proverbial “big dog,” we can expect operations to take off after us. It did not take long to discern the orientation of this 39-page study – attacking America. After lauding the American economy by size, the authors made this statement, “Despite a powerful economy, one that largely drives the global economy forward, the United States does little to share revenue with workers and does even less to ensure workers are safe and protected while on the job. These are political choices, not inevitabilities.”

The introduction then launches into a tirade against the United States seemingly written by the lawless members of Black Lives Matter. Out of left field they made this statement, “The long legacy of slavery and subsequent immigration policies in the US underscore the ways in which the government of this country has written laws and policies meant to create hierarchies of workers in which workers of color, especially women of color, were excluded from protections, stable wages, and the ability to organize.”

I looked at the history of slavery and when the other 37 countries abandoned slavery. Some of the countries (like Iceland) did not exist or were barren of population during the 19th century. Some of the countries may not have had slaves, but they were involved in the slave trade. They also welcomed very few immigrants. An example, go to Sweden in the 19th century and try to find someone who wasn’t a native-born Swede.

The bottom line is the Western world abandoned slavery as a policy in varying stages during the first half of the 19th century, which timing was about concurrent with America. On the other hand, many of these countries had slavery within their borders but did not acknowledge it. Germany had slavery in the 20th century and two countries not in the study, China, and Russia, still have slavery up to today.

The United States ranks 36th out of thirty-eight countries in their survey of how employees thrive by the Oxfam standards. Mexico is ranked last, but it is a lawless mess. Interestingly, that “socialist heaven”, Denmark, ranks 37th. Notwithstanding that Bernie Sanders touted Socialism in Denmark as a model for the United States, their Prime Minister offered “I know that some people in the US associate the Nordic model with some sort of socialism,” he said. “Therefore, I would like to make one thing clear. Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy. Denmark is a market economy.”

And where are people banging down the door to enter? America. Angela Merkel engineered a mass migration from Northern Africa during the first part of this century. This has caused unrest in most countries where mass migration happened. Look at the war on the streets of France. In Sweden, the immigrants have not exactly blended into their society as crime has soared and jobs have not.

Concurrent with the Oxfam study coming out stating how badly America treats its employees, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released information that income in the United States for employees had grown over the past fifteen years while all those ‘generous’ benefits have shrunk incomes for employees in Greece, Italy, France, etc.

Here are some fun facts about the economies that are lauded by the report:
The eurozone economy grew about 6% over the past 15 years, measured in dollars, compared with 82% for the U.S. Maybe all those “benefits” employees receive in the other countries come with a cost – like no jobs.

The United States has had a steady flow of over ten million job openings for a couple of years since the pandemic subsided. There are few job openings in the EU which is part of the strife caused by immigrants. There are no jobs.

Oxfam is another elitist organization attempting to establish criteria for employees who do not work in the real world. And then they insult the intelligence of people who decide to go where the jobs are – America — by telling them the jobs in America are tainted by racism. If the economy is so racist, why do Indian Americans and Asian Americans have higher average incomes than Caucasians? Why do immigrants have a higher homeownership rate than native-born Americans?

Here is another finding from diving into Oxfam’s anti-success attack on America. They have a separate study incorporated in the report showing the best places in America to work. The best places are in varying shades of green and the worst are in varying shades of red. The green states are places like California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York where people are moving from in the hundreds of thousands and the red ones are where the economies are booming.

Conclusion: Oxfam thinks the people relocating are just stupid and do not understand what they are giving up. On the other hand, the simpletons leaving for red states realized the only ones getting the benefits defined by Oxfam are the public employees. The transplants have given up paying the unsupportable cost of outsized benefits.


This article was published by Flash Report and is reproduced with permission from the author.

A Shocking Sight in Tucson

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Something was seen in the city that is common in other cities but rare in Tucson.

My wife and I saw a shocking sight on a recent trip to the Barnes and Noble bookstore on East Broadway Blvd. in the City of Tucson.

The bookstore’s parking lot was crumbling, unkempt, and devoid of any landscaping.  But that wasn’t the shocking sight.  After all, the property resembled the many barren parking lots and ugly strip malls that we had passed for miles across the city on our drive to the bookstore, a drive almost totally devoid of any aesthetically pleasing properties or thoroughfares.

Two office buildings near the bookstore also weren’t shocking, although they were unusual for Tucson.  They were attractive class-A buildings of about eight stories.

The shock was the Marriott Courtyard hotel on a side street across from the office buildings. Its grounds were beautifully landscaped and maintained, with no bare dirt, weeds or litter along its frontage.  It looked so out of place in Tucson that I thought that we had been magically transported to another Sunbelt city or to one of the other cities where we used to live before moving to Tucson six years ago for family reasons.

An unfair, hyper-critical exaggeration?  Not at all.  Even a neighborhood ward office had foot-high weeds and litter in front of it.

Does Tucson look like this because it is poor, or is it poor because it looks like this?  Are the conditions the result of decades of bad governance, citizen apathy, or what?

A clue to the answer can be seen in the wealthy part of the metropolis known as the Foothills, which is in unincorporated Pima County.  (An astonishing 36 percent of metro Tucson is unincorporated.)

Actually, with a median household income of about $91,000, the Foothills is not very wealthy compared to truly wealthy locales in America.  However, relative to the City of Tucson, it is wealthy.  As such, unlike Tucson, it doesn’t have poverty and a low tax base as excuses for its subpar upkeep and bad governance.

The saving grace for the Foothills is its pretty natural setting on the slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains, its views of city lights and mountains, its abundance of natural vegetation, and its large residential lots.  But those positives don’t hide the negatives.

The negatives are the result of human actions, or inactions, not nature.  They include deteriorated roads, bare dirt and scraggly and poorly maintained shrubs in medians and rights-of-way, illegal signs on roadsides and on utility poles, tacky signs and banners in violation of sign ordinances in front of businesses and apartments, and my top annoyance, litter, which my wife and I pick up on our daily five-mile walks.

Local government and utilities don’t help matters.  After completing work along roads, they typically leave behind barricades, sandbags, piles of dirt, and litter.  Likewise, car parts and broken glass aren’t swept up after auto accidents.

A subject for another day is the fact that in the roughly 30 square miles of the Foothills, there is not one civic center, municipal park, or public ball field, except for ball fields at public schools.

The operative word is “bizarre.”

Why do Tucsonans settle for less?  I have no idea, but an experience of mine might be instructive.

Becoming tired of picking up trash and litter every day, I politely asked property owners along a one-mile stretch of a major street if they could help out by keeping their frontages clean.  The property owners were a gated community of homes costing more than a million dollars, a private golf course where an annual membership costs $18,000, and a high-end resort.  Only the resort agreed to do so.

Something is clearly amiss with the culture in Tucson.

This is in marked contrast to my experience in a city that Tucsonans think isn’t relevant to them, because they see it as hoity-toity and uber-wealthy, although it has the same median household income as the Foothills and was not very prosperous in its earlier years.  It just looks wealthier than it is, due to having a good government that makes attractiveness and competitiveness high priorities—and a government with nonpartisan elections that had a vision years ago of what the city could grow up to be.

The city is the City of Scottsdale, a municipality 100 miles north of Tucson with a population of 241,361.

I was on the board of an ungated HOA in Scottsdale with approximately 4,000 homes.  The desert landscaping along the HOA’s miles of public roadways was beautiful and well-maintained. It was also free of litter, for the simple reason that we had a worker drive around on a work cart once a day to pick up litter.

It helped that the City of Scottsdale, like other cities in metro Phoenix and across the land, has strict and strictly enforced ordinances and codes governing landscaping, property maintenance, and signs.

For example, one Scottsdale ordinance requires that property owners maintain the public rights-of-way along streets bordering their property, up to the curb of the street or the pavement.  Dead, dry, or bare dirt areas are prohibited, and it is required that desert landscaping be maintained free of grass and weeds.

Another ordinance requires a detailed landscaping plan for all new construction, specifying which of the city’s authorized shrubs and trees will be planted, what authorized ground cover will be put down, and the number of plantings and their spacing in accord with city requirements, including a specified ratio of trees to parking spots in parking lots.

The City of Tucson and Pima County also have ordinances governing landscaping, property maintenance, and signs, but the codes are obviously inadequate or unenforced.

There’s no mystery as to where high-paying companies would prefer to locate their headquarters or major operations.  But Tucson’s political, governmental and business establishment doesn’t seem to realize that curb appeal matters.


Photo credit: Craig Cantoni for The Prickly Pear



Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks, insurers while building real estate empire

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Michael R. Sisak

NEW YORK (AP) — A judge ruled Tuesday that Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame and the White House, and he ordered some of the former president’s companies removed from his control and dissolved.

Judge Arthur Engoron, ruling in a civil lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, found that Trump and his company deceived banks, insurers and others by massively overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth on paperwork used in making deals and securing loans.

Engoron ordered that some of Trump’s business licenses be rescinded as punishment, making it difficult or impossible for them to do business in New York, and said he would continue to have an independent monitor oversee Trump Organization operations.

If not successfully appealed, the order would strip Trump of his authority to make strategic and financial decisions over some of his key properties in the state.

Trump, in a series of statements, railed against the decision, calling it “un-American” and part of an ongoing plot to damage his campaign to return to the White House.

“My Civil rights have been violated, and some Appellate Court, whether federal or state, must reverse this horrible, un-American decision,” he wrote on his Truth Social site. He insisted his company had “done a magnificent job for New York State” and “done business perfectly,” calling it “A very sad Day for the New York State System of Justice!”

Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise, said they would appeal, calling the decision “completely disconnected from the facts and governing law.”

Engoron’s ruling, days before the start of a non-jury trial in James’ lawsuit, is the strongest repudiation yet of Trump’s carefully coiffed image as a wealthy and shrewd real estate mogul turned political powerhouse.

Continue reading at the Associated Press…