J.C. Moore Online
Current Events from a Science Perspective

KS HB 2641: A Step To Limit Induced Seismic Activity

     Posted on Tue ,13/02/2018 by admin

The Kansas House of Representatives’ Committee On Water & Environment is taking public comments on House Bill 2641, which will limit the amount of  fracking disposal fluids that can be inject at a given site. Kansas needs to learn
from Oklahoma’s experience, and be proactive in limiting seismic activity from disposal wells.

Rationale:  Historically, Oklahoma has had very few earthquakes. The graph below shows that Oklahoma had an average of about three earthquakes per year up until about 2008, when horizontal drilling and fracking began to be used to recover gas and oil. Along with the increase in fracking, came the need for disposal wells to get rid of the waste water from the fracking operations. And along with the wastewater disposal wells, came an increase in earthquakes.

 

For some reason, it took Oklahoma a long time to link the two and take effective action, even though the link has been known for decades. When the U.S. Army Rocky Mountain Arsenal built a disposal well in 1961 to get rid of waste fluids, seismic activity in the area increased. The well was plugged and the earthquakes stopped. A study by the “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) determined that a deep, hazardous waste disposal well at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal was causing significant seismic events in the vicinity of Denver, Colorado.”

Our experience:  In November of 2011, an earthquake measuring 5.6 rattled Oklahoma and was felt as far away as Illinois. We were living in Terlton, Oklahoma at the time and felt several earthquakes, including that one. Small cracks appeared in our sheet rock and in the foundation of our house. When we sold our house in Terlton to move back to Kansas, the mortgage company insisted the damage be inspected by a structural engineer. Structural engineers were in great demand at the time to inspect earthquake damage and it caused a long delay. Our house passed the inspection but we had the added delays and expense of hiring the structural engineer.

Damage: A search on Google for “newspaper articles on earthquake damage in Oklahoma”, gave 2,270,000 hits and there are thousands of pictures showing the earthquake damage in Oklahoma, such as these:

Some of the damage has extended as far north as Wichita, as shown by these pictures:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fracking related earthquakes have caused millions of dollars of property damage in Oklahoma, and many Oklahoma residents are now purchasing earthquake insurance, when it was never needed before. Many Kansas residents are also wondering if they need to undergo the additional expense of earthquake insurance. The damage costs to public utilities, buildings, roads, and bridges are born by taxpayers. Although there have been several lawsuits in Oklahoma against disposal well companies, very little money has been recovered to pay for induced earthquake damages.

Further action:  Kansas has a unique opportunity to learn from what happened in Oklahoma, and take action to limit induced earthquakes and the cost to Kansas citizens. Effective legislation is needed to:

1) restrict the location of disposal wells.
2) limit the amount of wastewater that can be disposed of at a site.
3) limit the pressure which can be used to inject the wastewater.
4) require that any disposal well linked to significant seismic activity be further regulated.
5) require that disposal well companies carry liability insurance and pay earthquake damage claims promptly.

Kansas House Bill 2641 is certainly a step in the right direction. It addresses number 2) above and asks that every county in Kansas be under the same regulations by the KCC to keep volume at 8,000 barrels per day, which is considered a level that minimizes earthquakes.

(c) 2018  – J.C. Moore

Local Action on Sustainability Needed: Bring SOAR to Your Community

     Posted on Mon ,05/02/2018 by admin

A group of citizens in Wichita, Kansas formed the Society of Alternative Resources (SOAR) as a way to improve the sustainability of their city. The purpose of SOAR is to advise and assist local government, businesses, and residents on Alternative Resources, Sustainability, and Renewable Energy issues. Its long-term goal is to ensure that our children and grandchildren have clean air, pure water, and a livable Earth.

SOAR decided to use the STAR communities rating system to interact with the local government. Below is the matrix which STAR uses to evaluate a community’s sustainability. It also acts as a guideline for ways to improve the community and evaluate it’s progress.
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Each item in the matrix has further explanation in the STAR-V2 guidelines.
Many cities invest millions to attract businesses and make their city more competitive in job creation,  entrepreneurship, workforce development, and capital investment. They also need to invest in their communities’ Sustainability.  The things that attract and keep the millennial’s, the talent, and the young entrepreneurs to a city fall under Sustainability.
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Below are two letters from the local Wichita Eagle newspaper designed to promote SOAR and its goals.
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 How to Improve the Qualify of Life in Wichita  11/10/2017

“Local Sustainability Issues” was the topic of the October Luzzati Lecture Series at WSU. Zach Baumer, Climate Program Manager of the Office of Sustainability in Austin, talked about the city’s effort to “green” its environment. Sustainable practices and a healthy environment are important issues for businesses, young professionals, and entrepreneurs when they consider locating in a city.

STAR ratings give an overall picture of the quality of life in a city and the desirability of living there. The STAR system considers a city’s progress in nine categories: Built Environment, Climate and Energy, Economy and Jobs, Education, Arts and Community, Equity and Empowerment, Health and Safety, Natural Systems, and Innovation and Processes. Austin rates as a four-star community with 476 points of a possible 720. Wichita has a three-star rating with 231 points.

Clearly, we have room to improve our community’s sustainable practices and our STAR rating. It will take effort and resources, but our businesses, city leadership, Chamber of Commerce, and our citizens should support improvements in the Wichita community. After all, we all have to live here.

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Time for a Charge  01/19/2018

It is imperative that Wichita improve its air quality. We were lucky that last summer was mild, but in hot summers there have been many days where Wichita exceeded the federal standard for ozone. That puts people’s health at risk and, as the Wichita Eagle has reported, failure to meet air quality standards could lead to fines up to $10 million a year. One way to improve Wichita ’s air quality would be to use more electric vehicles in the city.

When it comes to electric vehicles, Wichita has a chicken or the egg problem. People do not buy electric vehicles because there are few places to charge them, and there is no need for more charging stations as there are few electric vehicles. Kansas City has over 1000 charging stations while Wichita has seven. The Society for Alternate Resources (SOAR) is trying to improve that by taking the initiative to see that 200 charging stations are installed in Wichita.

SOAR plans to do that by partnering with Westar energy, the city, and local businesses to receive matching grants from the VW settlement. VW was caught falsifying its emission records and, as part of the settlement, Kansas will receive $15 million to reduce emissions, with $2.25 million set aside to install EV charging stations. Please support SOAR’s efforts.

 

Isn’t it time to form a similar organization in your community?

 

(c) 2018  – J.C. Moore

Has Global Warming Made Hurricane Damage Worse?

     Posted on Sun ,31/12/2017 by admin

Hurricanes are the most violent and destructive storms in nature. There’s a smaller, yet potentially destructive, storm raging between climate scientists and climate skeptics about the nature of hurricanes. The scientific evidence points to the fact that global warming  causes hurricanes to be more intense. Skeptics would like to convince everyone that global warming has not made any change in hurricanes, so there is no need to address global warming. Skeptics do have a point or two, but not many. Skeptics want absolute proof from the scientists, but science doesn’t work that way. The changes caused by a warming world have changed the probability of the occurrence of extreme weather events, and skeptics apparently don’t want to consider probabilities.

Skeptics say that the number of hurricanes in the Southern Atlantic is not increasing, and they’re probably right on that. Hurricanes begin as tropical storms, which occur at random depending on the weather conditions. Skeptics also say that the increasing economic damages done by hurricane is because of the increased construction along the coasts. That is partly right, but it is also right that the damage done by storm surges has increased because of increased sea level rise, which is a measurable consequence of global warming. Those who listen to the skeptics, and unwisely build in floodplains, are sure to experience more damage from storm surges.

Global warming has made the oceans much warmer, even later into the year. The water temperature must be above 82°F for a tropical storm to grow into a hurricane, and the warmer the ocean the more likely it is that the a hurricane, once formed,  will intensify. Hurricanes are much like a heat engine, they are driven by the warm air rising from the oceans much like a chimney effect. The greater the temperature difference between the ocean and the upper atmosphere, the faster the flow upward and the greater the wind speeds.

If you could slice into a hurricane, it would look something like the diagram below. It has a low pressure eye at the center, and the air drawn into it rises and circulates counterclockwise around the low pressure area, faster and faster as it nears the eye. The small red arrows show warm, moist air rising from the ocean, and forming bands of clouds around the eye. As the warm moist air produces rain, more heat is released, warming the air further and causing it to rise faster until it reaches the top of the storm. Reaching there, it has become cooler and dryer. The blue arrows show how the cool, dry air then sinks in the eye and between the bands of clouds. Remember that the bands of clouds are rotating very quickly, and the large red arrow show the rotation of the rising bands of clouds.

.                                                                                                                                                      Credit: Kelvinsong

A hurricane is much like a heat engine. It is driven by the energy from the warm oceans and the cold temperature of the atmosphere above the storm. Because of global warming, that temperature difference is greater. The upper atmosphere receives its energy from the earth below. The increasing carbon dioxide between acts as a blanket, which causes the oceans to be warmer and the upper atmosphere to be colder. As in all heat engines, the greater the temperature difference, the more power the engine has. As a hurricane passes, it leaves the oceans cooler behind it as it sucks energy from the ocean. Because of global warming, the warmth goes deeper there is a greater area of warm water,  both factors which provide more heat to the hurricane and cause it to increase in size and intensify.

The vapor pressure of water increases exponentially with temperature. In our warmer world, there is now 10 to 15% more water vapor in the rain bands moving around the hurricane. When hurricane Harvey made landfall over Houston, it could be expected that Houston would receive increased rainfall. But by chance, Harvey stalled  over Houston and continued to pull warm moist air in from the Gulf, dumping over 50 inches of rain. Sea level rise has been measured to be about 30 inches along the Gulf Coast. The extreme rainfall coupled with the sea level rise  increased the storm surge and flooded much of the lower areas of Houston. The storm’s stalling was a chance event, and the skeptics are right when they say it should not have happened, but it did. Considering the storm’s intensity, the wind damage, the sea level rise, and the extreme rainfall, climate scientists attribute about 30% of the damage in Houston to global warming.

Below is a satellite image of hurricane Irma on the right, compared in size to the smaller hurricane Andrew which struck Florida in 1992, killing 65 people, destroying 65,000 home, and doing $26 billion in damages. Andrew was the  the most destructive hurricane to hit Florida ever before, and Irma could have been much worse.  

 

Florida was extremely lucky that hurricane Irma, wider than the whole Peninsula, went up the western side of the Peninsula. The western side of the  Peninsula experienced very little storm surge. The winds on the leading edge of the Irma, circulating counterclockwise, blew the ocean water away from shore, leaving the ocean dry for several hundred yards out as it passed. The storm was so weakened that by the time the back of the storm made landfall, directing the water toward shore, that the storm surge was only a few feet. Had Irma gone up the east side of Florida, the storm surge at the leading edge of the hurricane could have been as much as 15 feet, completely inundating much of Miami.

There you have it. Global warming has increased the temperatures of the oceans and has increased the temperature difference between the oceans and the upper atmosphere, both factors which tend to make the hurricanes more intense. The warmer oceans put more moisture into the air, making the rainfall from the hurricanes greater, and sea level rise has increased the height of the destructive storm surges. This fall, there were five intense hurricanes which formed in the Southern Atlantic, all of them making landfall and doing extensive damage. That could just be a chance occurrence, as the skeptics claim, but it has never happened before.

(c) 2017 –  J.C. Moore

President Trump’s Tax Plan: Why Rational Republicans Should Bail

     Posted on Fri ,10/11/2017 by admin

President Trump’s new tax plan looks a lot like Governor Brownback’s tax plan for Kansas, which had been disastrous for the state’s economy. Rational Republicans should realize that if an experiment fails, and fails miserably, there is no point in repeating it. That is particularly true when the economy of the entire country is at stake. Both the economic theory and Governor Brownback’s experiment with the Kansas economy show that Trump’s tax plan is doomed to fail our country. The tax bills now winding their way through Congress will lead to economic stagnation and an increased  in the national debt of $1.5 trillion, both things which are repugnant to rational Republicans.

The Theory is based on Laffer’s curve which is displayed at the right. 

The Laffer curve looks like a normal distribution curve. In theory, if the nation is on the high side of the curve with taxes around 80%, then the curve predicts that cutting taxes will cause a move to the left along the curve, increasing tax revenue. That is likely to improve economic growth.  If the nation is on the low side of the curve with taxes around 40%, then cutting taxes will also lead to the left along the curve,  decreasing tax revenue, leading to a stagnating economy, and certainly a greater public debt.

The United States is now on the low side  of the curve with the high marginal tax rate around 40% – so cutting taxes will not lead to increased revenue or spur economic growth. Laffer should know that, but he has abandoned reason and professional ethics and now just supports tax cuts without reference to his own curve. Kansas paid Laffer $75,000 in consultation fees. His advice, when the Kansas economy was tanking, the public debt was mounting, and job growth was decreasing – was to stay the course. Kansas Republicans finally realized that the experiment had failed. They increased the tax rate, and overrode Governor Brownback’s veto of the tax increase. The governor is now leaving the state before his term is up.

The failure in practice is described by Duane Goossen, who was the Kansas budget director for 12 years prior to Brownback’s experiment:

  • “Just like the Brownback tax cuts, the Trump plan makes dramatic changes to tax policy by consolidating income tax rates and reworking deductions. Most notably, the Trump plan offers an enormous tax break to individuals who receive “business pass through income.” In Kansas this feature has become known derogatorily as the “LLC loophole”, allowing business income to be sheltered from income tax while people who earn a paycheck must pay tax.
  • Given that the same economists who advised Brownback now advise Trump, it’s unsurprising that his administration uses similar arguments to sell its plan: the tax cuts will grow the economy and create millions of jobs; the tax cuts will pay for themselves; everyone will benefit. Brownback said all that, too.”

At the right is a graph showing job growth in Kansas during Brownback’s years. It is lower than the United States job growth and much lower than in California, which has a high tax rate.

  •  Mr. Goossen goes on, “But after five years of the Brownback experiment in Kansas, we know the real result. Kansas has an anemic economy and one of the lowest rates of job growth in the nation. A dramatic drop in revenue broke the state budget, wiped out reserves, significantly boosted state debt, and put public education at risk. And that part about everyone benefiting — well, it turns out that the bulk of the benefits went to the wealthiest Kansans while the tax bill to low-income Kansans went up.
  • The idea that tax cuts will ‘pay for themselves’ or that tax cuts for the wealthy will ‘trickle down’ to the middle class should be added to the list of discredited ideas that sound good but don’t work. The sell job was seductive, but Kansans have the raw experience to grasp that the experiment carried out on us was a failure.
  • Do you know how hard Kansas legislators must labor now to fix the financial disaster? Are you catching on that general fund revenue has fallen $1 billion below expenses? Can you see how all political energy goes into crisis management rather than building our future? Is that what you want for the entire country?”

There you have it.

The Eisenhower Memorial is now being built and the Kansas politicians are using it as a chance to praise Eisenhower.  Eisenhower was a great General and President because he realized that it required requisite resources to get the job done. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 90%. Eisenhower used the money to pay our war debts, rebuild Europe, educate returning GIs, and build the national highway system which ensured economic growth for decades to come. We no longer need a 90% tax rate, but our tax rate is now too low, and cutting it further will deprive the country of the resources it needs.

The the current Republican tax plan is taking shape. The big winners will be corporations and those already wealthy. Though billed as a tax cut for the middle class, the biggest losers will be the middle-class taxpayers and United States economy. Under the proposed plan we will see:

  • “Up to half-a-trillion dollars cut from Medicare and Medicaid
  • Substantial increase in the national debt with no way to pay it off
  • Elimination of state and local tax deductions – designed to hit people who live in “blue” states the hardest
  • Repeal of an itemized deduction for medical expenses – hitting people who rack up large medical bills because of the inadequacies of our health insurance system
  • Repeal of the deduction for interest on student loans
  • Repeal of the deduction for teachers purchasing classroom supplies
  • Slashed incentives for wind energy and electric vehicles, while maintaining most of the permanent oil incentives and extending nuclear energy tax breaks”

Our current Republican tax plan will add over a trillion dollars to the national debt and will not provide the resources needed to take care of the needs of our country and build for the future.. The tax rate we now have is already too low as the national debt is increasing. Cutting taxes further will surely lead to economic stagnation and an increased national debt, both things which are repugnant to Republicans.

(c) 2017 J.C. Moore

 

Who’s Afraid of Climate Change?

     Posted on Mon ,06/11/2017 by admin

What do you fear? People are moved to action by their fears. Sometimes our fears lurk at the edge of our consciousness, and then are brought into sharp focus by events. Dying oceans, polluted lakes and streams, unsafe drinking water in major cities, catastrophic hurricanes, severe drought and wildfires, and an increase in the severity of weather events, have brought environmental problems into the things Americans fear.

The annual Chapman University Survey of American Fears in 2017 provides an in-depth examination into the fears of average Americans. The survey looked at 80 fears and ranked them according to the survey responses The chart below lists America’s top 10 fears for 2017. For the first time ever, not one, but four of the top 10 fears are related to the deterioration of the environment. Pollution of natural waters, unsafe drinking water, global warming, and air pollution are now among Americans worst 10 fears.

It is not only natural disasters that occurred in 2017, but also political events . Americans had considered that the Environmental Protection Agency would protect our natural waters from pollution. However, Scott Pruitt, the current Environmental Protection Agency director, decided not to enforce major pollution laws, and fired the EPA’s entire Science Advisory Board. No advice, no research, no problem. People are beginning to realize that what you don’t know can hurt you.

The publicity surrounding the failure of the state and local government of Flint Michigan to protect the city’s residents from lead poisoning, and the subsequent discovery of lead and other toxins in our city water supplies, have made people fear that their water is not safe to drink. Almost everyone lives downstream from someone, and pollutants that find their way into our water supplies are bound to find their way into us.

Many Americans perceived the results of climate change remote and far into the future. The attribution of worsening disasters to climate change, and the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord have brought carbon emissions and air pollution into sharper focus. Pictures of severe smog in China and the data from the American Heart and the American Lung Associations about the number of deaths caused by air pollution and particulates are making people increasingly fear for their health.

Action and participation is the antidote for what fear can create, a  feeling of helplessness. Our fears should create the will for political action on climate change and pollution. Even with the failure of our government and the EPA to protect the environment, we can still do it using market forces. The best plan is the carbon fee and dividend system as proposed by the Citizens Climate Lobby. The CCL legislative proposal would set an initial fee on carbon at $15 per ton of CO2 at the source and would increase it by $10 each year until the CO2 emissions were reduced to 10% of the 1990 US levels. The carbon fees are not a tax, as they would be rebated 100% to American households. It would give every American citizen a stake in conserving energy and reducing their use of carbon fuels,  which would both cut pollution and improve the economy. Exercise the power in your citizenship, and insist your Representative support action on climate change.

Credit: Thanks to Darrel Hart, President of the Wichita CCL Chapter, for suggesting the idea and supplying some of the wording in the article.

(C) 2017 J.C. Moore

 

 

Climate Change: Science and Solutions

     Posted on Sun ,13/08/2017 by admin

This is an update of an earlier PowerPoint presentation which reviews the scientific evidence for climate change and recommends a carbon fee and dividend system to address global warming. It was presented to the Oasis Fellowship in Wichita, Kansas. Though you may miss some things without the verbal presentation, the slides are mostly self-explanatory. You will need a PowerPoint program to view the slides –  you may  download a free viewer here. The slides will display as set in your viewer. Please click on the link below to start the program.

Oasis

 

(c) This program is not copyrighted. Please use or share it freely.

Teaching Ethics in The Professional Curriculum

     Posted on Fri ,11/08/2017 by admin

Many schools introduce introduce ethical principles into the curriculum.  For those entering into professional studies, there are also ethical principles particular to their chosen profession which the student needs to understand and practice.

Below is an outline of how professional ethics may be introduced into a professional curriculum. This presentation was developed during The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions Workshop taught by Dr. Michael Davis and Dr. Bob Ladensen  and funded by the National Science Foundation.

The workshop was designed to encourage instructors in professional fields to introduce ethics into their curriculum and attempts to answer the following questions:

* What are Professional Ethics ?

*Why Teach Professional Ethics ?

*Who Should Teach Prof. Ethics?

*Why Not Teach Professional Ethics ?

*What Methods Might Be Used?

 

*What are Professional Ethics ?

   “Professional Ethics are a set of rules everyone in the profession wants kept even if that means they will also have to keep the same rules.” …Davis

 o Professional Codes of Conduct:

  • Standardize profession’s work.
  • Are based on common sense.
  • Define a particular type of professional judgement.
  • Are modified based on experience.
  • Should be used on a continuing basis.
  • Apply to all who practice.

Every profession has its code of professional ethics. One example is the ABET code of ethics for engineers:

ABET CODE OF ETHICS OF ENGINEERS

   General principle: Engineer; uphold and advance the integrity, honor and dignity of the engineering profession by: using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare; being honest and impartial, and serving with fidelity the public, their employers and clients; striving to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession; and supporting the professional and technical societies of their disciplines.

General Canons:

Engineers should hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public in the performance of their professional duties.  (That is particularly important as we all must rely for our safety on the work of engineers.)

  • Engineers shall perform services only in the areas of their competence.
  • Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.
  • Engineers shall act in professional matters for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees, and shall avoid conflicts of interest.
  • Engineers shall build their profes­sional reputation on the merit of their services and shall not compete unfairly with others.
  • Engineers shall act in such a manner as to upheld and enhance the honor, integrity and dignity of the profession.
  • Engineers shall continue their pro­fessional development throughout their careers and shall provide opportunities for the professional development of those engineers under their supervision.

*Why Teach Professional Ethics ?

  • Emphasizes importance of ethical behavior.
  • Creates awareness of ethical issues.
  • Teaches Code of Profession.
  • Defines fairness.
  • Protects the Public.
  • Protects the Professional.

.            >Less likely to engage in unethical practices.

.            >Not liable – if code of ethics is followed.

.            >Not easily replaced – if every engineer follows a code.

*Who Should Teach Professional Ethics?

o The Philosopher?

  • Has the knowledge.
  • Is skilled at teaching ethics.
  • May feel overwhelmed by all the requests.
  • Students may have difficulty applying general theory to specific professional problems.

o The Professional?

  • Lacks knowledge of moral theory.
  • May feel unsure of methods.
  • Knows the special conduct required by profession.
  • May serve as a role model.

     ” The workshop’s goal is for the Philosopher to teach the instructor who will then teach the classes.”… Davis

*Why Not Teach Professional Ethics ?

“Seven Worries” …Davis

o The professional worries about:

  1. Being value neutral.
  2. Relativism.
  3. Subjectism.
  4. Lack of knowledge.
  5. shades of gray.
  6. Indoctrinating.
  7. Seeming Holier-than-Thou.

 If you narrow the task to teaching Professional Ethics as defined by your Profession’s Code of Conduct, these worries will not be insurmountable.”  … Davis

*What methods can be used and when?

o Increase Ethical Sensitivity (1st year)

  • Raise ethical issues.
  • Brief case studies.
  • Use stories.

o Increase Ethical Knowledge (2nd year)

  • Use Professional Code.
  • Raise easy issues.

o Improve Ethical Judgment (3rd year)

  • Use case studies.
  • Make it personal. What would you do?
  • What might happen then?

o Enhance Will Power (4th year)

  • Create peer pressure to be ethical.
  • Increase awareness of institutional support.
  • How to defend oneself based on Code.
  • Discuss how organizations work.

* Tips on Using Case Studies.

o Finding Ideas

  • Your experiences. (or colleague’s)
  • Current news. Science fiction.
  • organizations or journals.
  • The Internet.
  • CSEP library.
  • Challenger disaster. Deepwater Horizon disaster.

“Many disasters are the result of a failure of ethics.”  … Davis

o Using Case Studies.

  • Acknowledge all comments.
  • Don’t argue with students.
  • Encourage spontaneity.
  • It’s OK to express your opinion.
  • Try dividing into groups. Leaders report back.
  • Try structuring the discussion.

o Structuring the discussion.

  • What are facts?
  • What standards apply.
  • Who should decide?
  • How should decision be made?
  • What action should be taken?
  • Was action effective?
  • Should anything else be done?

o Miscellaneous Ideas.

  • Put section on ethics in courses.
  • Attach Professional Code or College’s Ethical Code .
  • Have Co-op students include ethical issues in journal.
  • Evaluate impact.

Evaluation:

I introduced professional ethics into my chemistry seminar course. Below is a form used to evaluate its impact. The student comments are particularly interesting.

Course Impact Survey

1. Did this course increase your awareness of ethical issues likely to arise in your profession or job?

Yes: 10              Yes and No: 2

2. Did this course do anything to change your understanding of the importance of professional or

business ethics?

Yes: 9               No: 3

3. Did this course increase your ability to deal with the ethical issues in your profession?

Yes: 12              No: 0

4. Was time spent on ethics in this course to little,

about right, or too much ?

Too little: 2          Right amount: 10            Too much: 0

5. Did you have business or professional ethics in a class before this one?

Yes:  5          No: 7

Selected Student Comments:

“The course increased my awareness and helped me get some things straight with the people I work with.”

“I saw how it was important to be honest in your work and with others who work with you.”

“I learned that ethical issues usually involve difficult solutions … and that sometimes we must speak about them to people not directly involved in them.”

“…. helped me become more aware of how many people or facets of society are affected by unethical choices.”

The case studies presented a realistic picture of possible situations that may arise.”

You have a responsibility not only to your work but

to society and the people who are, or could be, potentially affected by your work.”

 

© Not copyrighted. Please use and share freely.

ALEC: The Largest Tax Hike in Kansas History?

     Posted on Wed ,02/08/2017 by admin

“The Largest Tax Hike in Kansas History: Now What?” That was a title of the talk given by Jonathan Williams, from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), when he spoke to the Wichita Pachyderm Club on July 28.

When the title of the talk is misleading, then what?

In 2012, Kansas Gov. Brownback tried Laffer’s theory by cutting the income tax rates and exempting 330,000 businesses from paying taxes on pass-through income, called the LLC loophole. Because of the decline in tax income, Kansas cut school funding, deferred payments to the states pension fund, and borrowed heavily from the highway fund. To fill the budget holes, the legislature in 2015 increased sales taxes and cut state income tax deductions. The state’s major newspapers labeled that tax increase as a largest in state history.

 

After Gov. Brownback’s experiment with Arthur Laffer’s trickle-down theory left the state’s finances in shambles, the 2017 Legislature restored the taxes to their 2012 level and overrode Gov. Brownback’s veto of the budget. Mr. Williams claimed that was the largest tax increase in Kansas history. Is restoring taxes to a previous level actually a tax increase? When someone in the audience pointed out to him that Kansas’ major newspapers labeled the 2015 sales tax increase as a largest in state history, he disparagingly commented, “First of all, I don’t put a lot of stock in the state’s newspapers.”  He should.

 

The failure of Gov. Brownback’s tax experiment has been of great concern to ALEC, who represents the interests of Corporation and the wealthy. Laffer’s trickle-down theory has been one of ALEC’s main justifications for cutting state taxes in ways that benefit corporations and the wealthy. ALEC had hoped to persuade more states, and even the federal government, to  try Laffer’s tax cuts. Did he not realize that Kansas just tried cutting taxes, with disastrous effects?

 

According to Mr. Duane Goossen, a previous Kansas state treasurer, “ After five years of the Brownback experiment in Kansas, we know the real result. Kansas has an anemic economy and one of the lowest rates of job growth in the nation. A dramatic drop in revenue broke the state budget, wiped out reserves, significantly boosted state debt, and put public education at risk. And that part about everyone benefiting — well, it turns out that the bulk of the benefits went to the wealthiest Kansans while the tax bill to low-income Kansans went up.”

 

Mr. Williams apparently wanted to convince us that states with low taxes experience revenue growth, job growth, and a growing economy. To that end, Mr. Williams referred to Laffer’s research which claimed  that the nine states that have no income tax had the highest rates of job creation. But most of the growth was in Texas and in a carefully chosen time period when job growth was strong because of oil revenues and population growth.  Besides carefully picking his data, Laffer also ignored other economic indicators – and didn’t do a comparison with high tax states. If Laffer were correct, the nine States  with the highest income taxes should have failing economies. However, that is not the case, as shown below:

 

The nine states with high income taxes had higher economic growth , a much smaller decline in household income, and almost exactly the same unemployment rate. Laffer’s research was biased and would never stand up to peer review, yet many states have used it as a justification for income tax cuts for the wealthy.

 

When Gov. Brownback’s experiment was failing, he paid Arthur Laffer $75,000 in consultation fees to help him find what went wrong. Mr. Laffer’s advice was to just keep on with the experiment. Kansas did, and the budget deficit just got worse. It was also Mr. Williams’ opinion that we had not tried the tax cut experiment long enough.  But did we need to? Laffer convinced Reagan to cut taxes, and much of our current national debt can be traced back to then, as in the graph below.

 

While the link between tax cuts, economic growth, and revenue growth is tenuous, there is certainly a link between tax cuts and public debt. Kansas proved that.

 

The 2017 Trump Agenda Survey

     Posted on Thu ,27/07/2017 by admin

 A number of selected Republican voters have just received a Trump Agenda survey from the party leaders, along with a request for donations of course. This survey is actually less offensive than some of the Republican polls, but it is still problematic. It is difficult for thoughtful Republicans to answer many of the survey questions as they contain biased assumptions that you must accept if you answer. Below are some of the worst examples from the survey; please see what you think.

Question 2. asks you to rank several agenda items.  Among the things you rank are:

  • Build the border wall. (Is this really necessary?)
  • Reverse Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders. ( Were they really unconstitutional?)
  • Re-equip and rebuild our military. (Does our military need rebuilding? We have an excellent military and we now spend 7 times as much as any other nation on defense.)
  • Reduce regulations and corporate taxes to get the economy growing. (Reducing regulations will ensure that air and water pollution goes up, but there no evidence that reducing corporate taxes will get the economy growing. It will ensure that our national debt goes up, however.)
  • Encourage domestic exploration and production of domestic energy sources. (Does exploration and production sound like it will encourage renewable energy, where much of the job growth has been lately.)
  • Reform and simplify the income tax system to make it flatter and more fair. (Taxes are complicated because Congress has written so many special interests and to them, but certainly making the taxes flatter will not make them more fair. Flat tax schemes have always favored transferring wealth to those already wealthy.)

I did not rank the items as I could not figure out how to rank them all last. I added under Other:_ “reducing  medical costs and seeing that all Americans have health care – and ranked it as number 1., because it is one of the things that President Trump has promised. Certainly the bills that came out of Congress so far will not even begin to do that.

Question 6. was particularly troublesome as it asks about an executive order to suspend government unions to make it easy to fire government workers. This would remove worker protections against unreasonable terminations, and make them subject to political influence.

Question 8. asked about taking whatever steps necessary to have president Trump’s court appointments approved. We have procedures in place for approving judges, and we should just follow them.

Question 9. asked about whether the Democrats have any intention of working in good faith to address issues pressing our nation. Of course they do, but they may object to the way the problems are addressed, as is their right.

Question 10. asks if we are optimistic that President Trump and Republicans will pass reforms and conservative policies to improve our economy, strengthen our security and protect our freedom. The devil is in the details on those policies, but from what I have seen so far I would answer “No”.

Question 11. asks if we believe that Mainstream Media will give president Trump fair, unbiased coverage of his proposals and leadership. Of course they will, but there is already evidence that the Trump administration is claiming the truth to be unfair.

One problem with the survey is that it is not anonymous. Republican leaders who plan to run for office may refuse to complete the survey for fear that the Republican Party will work against them in the Republican primaries in their next election. It is exactly those leaders whose opinion should carry the most weight.

Another problem with this survey is that it is likely that those who agree with the biased assumptions will send in the survey, while many mainstream Republicans will just ignore the survey, further biasing the results. My concern is that the Republican leaders will use the results of this biased surveys to try to whip into line the candidates who might object by telling them, “This is what the Republican voters want.” But is it really?

I have filled out Republican several surveys like this, but have never seen the results, though I have searched. Perhaps it doesn’t matter what the results were, because the survey’s main purpose seems to be to provide propaganda and to request donations.

(c)2017  J.C. Moore

Needed: Local Advocacy and Action on Climate Change

     Posted on Sat ,08/07/2017 by admin

There were three great letters in the Wichita Eagle recently. The first describes how renewable energy is growing and may soon meet much of our energy needs; the second describes the advantage of using a Carbon Fee and Dividend system to reduce pollution; and the third describes how cities may use electric vehicles in their transit system to cut air pollution.  The letters are printed below with the authors’ permission.

Green energy (Wichita Eagle, June 28, 2017)

I read with interest the column by Ed Cross about energy and the need for American energy independence. I’m afraid I need some help defining his  “extreme environmental activist.” Is it a person who favors any type of energy besides fossil fuels? Is it a person who wishes to return the United States to using coal entirely to produce our electric power?

I would guess that Cross did not enjoy the latest statistics from the alternative energy sector: In the first three months of 2017 the entire United States derived 10 percent of its electric power from solar and wind energy.

If you look at the mathematical curve describing the growth of solar and wind power in the past 10 years, it is exponential. Naysayers regarding green energy have said for years it is a mere Boy Scout experiment, it will never produce significant power.

The power that was produced last year by green energy sources in the United States exceeds the total electric power consumed by the entire nation in the year 1950. The United States at that time was a highly developed industrial nation that was producing vast quantities of steel, and other high-value, energy-intensive products.

There is no question that if we stay on course with where we have begun, green energy sources will clearly surpass fossil fuels for every purpose within the next few years.

If Cross is so interested in American energy independence I am puzzled as to how he can be opposed to American green energy. By definition green energy must be produced here in our country and nowhere else.

PATRICK J PIROTTE, WICHITA

 

Coming together on an energy policy (Wichita Eagle, June 30, 2017)

The op-ed (June 25) by Edward Cross calls for energy policy discussions without the divisiveness of the past. I agree.

As a volunteer with non-partisan Citizens’ Climate Lobby, we bring Republicans and Democrats together to talk about energy and climate solutions. We have identified a market-based solution called Carbon Fee and Dividend that grows the economy, levels the field for foreign trade, and puts more money in the pockets of consumers. Four of the six largest oil companies signaled their support for this type of plan just last week.

I appreciated Mr. Cross reporting an improvement we can take comfort in, that from 2005 to 2016, 60 percent of carbon reductions in electric power production were due to fuel switching from coal to natural gas. Kansas wind helped reduce CO2 as well. Switching from coal to gas cuts emissions about 50 percent, but wind or solar cuts it to zero.

Americans want a common-sense energy policy like Carbon Fee and Dividend that sparks innovation that appeals to liberals and conservatives. No yelling needed, just respectful discussions.

DARREL HART, WICHITA

 

City’s emissions ( Wichita Eagle, July 2, 2017)

It is hard to believe that Wichita has a smog problem, but it does. Wichita’s Department of Public Works should be commended for its work in reducing ozone emissions, but more needs done.

Wichita could further reduce emissions by buying electric vehicles when its buses and vans need replacing. Park City, Utah, replaced its diesel buses and found that, though they cost more to purchase, they saved money over time. They reported an equivalent 21 mpg compared with 4 mpg for a standard diesel bus.

Large power plants produce about twice as much work for a given amount of fuel as an internal combustion engine. That means that using electric vehicles cuts fuel use and emissions by about 50 percent. By using electric vehicles, Wichita could save money on fuel and maintenance, cut ozone emissions within the city, and reduce carbon emissions overall by about 75 percent. That sounds like a good investment.

J.C. MOORE, KECHI

Note : This letter was shortened for printing so a bit more explanation is needed. Because of the efficiencies involved, using electrical vehicles cuts the emissions by about 50%, even if charged from a coal-fired power plant. Since Wichita uses Westar Energy which gets 51% of its electricity from non carbon sources, the emissions are cut in half again, giving an overall reduction of 75%.  And, the emissions are at the power plant rather than within Wichita.

The authors are members of the Citizens’ Climate Education and the  Citizens’ Climate Lobby  groups in Wichita. They are both strong advocates for a carbon fee and dividend system to ensure clean air, pure water, and a healthy future for our children.