What type of political, social, economic, or environmental climate would you like to see for the future of America? Personal liberty is best advanced and protected through limited government, free enterprise policies that allow individuals and businesses to prosper. How can free market solutions be applied to solve challenging social and economic problems? In this episode, Linda interviews James Taylor, President of Heartland Institute, to discuss topics ranging from climate change to energy policy to free speech, and to share valuable information for all listeners concerned about freedom in the United States and around the world.
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Linda: Thank you for joining us today. My guest is James Taylor, President of the Heartland Institute. James has been President of the Heartland Institute based in Illinois, since March of 2020. He is also Director of Heartland’s Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy. James is also the former managing editor of Environment and Climate News in a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free market environmentalism. For many years he wrote a regular column for Forbes which appeared on the magazine's forbes.com website. He's also presented energy environment analysis on many news programs and is a very sought-after speaker, policy advisor, and author. So, with that, I welcome you James. Thank you for being here today.
James: It's a pleasure. Thank you for having me on Linda.
Linda: It's great. I'm so glad that we could connect on this. There are so many issues that you and the Heartland Institute are dealing with now, at this critical point in our nation's history. Climate change is always in the news and I've read some of your writings. I would like to address that a little bit. Before we started recording, we talked about the Keystone Pipeline, the Paris Climate Accord, and about sound science in the realm of climate activism and things. I would like you to talk a little bit about what you and the Heartland Institute are doing in the realm of the climate change issue.
James: Alright, thank you. I'm always happy to talk about this topic. It's one of my passions. At the Heartland Institute, we want to make sure that the public, the media and most importantly policy makers, understand what the science truly is regarding climate change. Not the alarmism, not the myths that are told by the media watch, but what we call climate realism- which is looking at science-based justifications for policy decisions. During the past year, we launched two websites that I hope listeners will look into. The first one is, www.climaterealism.com. At climaterealism.com, what we do is, each day, we go and do a Google News search for climate change, and we see what the media is pedaling for their scare of the day. Basically, every day there are five or six subtopics that the media addresses and they coordinate their efforts. So, for example today in the news, there's a spate of articles in the Associated Press, USA TODAY the Guardian, and various Hawaii newspapers, saying that, Hawaii in the past week has had very heavy rainfall- extremely heavy rainfall and this is caused by climate change. So, what we do is, we go and look at the actual data. What we found is not surprising, because most of these supposed scares simply are not true, and we found that according to the National Oceanic and atmospheric administration that heavy rainfall events in Hawaii have been becoming less frequent and less severe in recent decades. No, global warming will not mean that we will no longer ever have any heavy rainfall events, but to claim that when we finally do have one, which are becoming less frequent, or severe, that it’s caused by climate change is ridiculous. We will post that, and hopefully people get in the habit of tuning in every day. So, when your friends and neighbors see something on the news and say, still don't believe in climate change? You have an answer. So, that's one. Another website, that we launched this past year, is called, climateataglance.com. What we do here is, we have published topical summaries of global warming subtopics. For example: hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and whatever you hear about for commonly discussed climate topics. There are about forty of them that we have addressed and we're going to add more. Readers have a one, or two-page summary with a few bullet points at the top, very easily readable and digestible so it doesn't make your eyes glaze over. It doesn't get into science wonky and doesn't go on for thirty pages. You have quick, short summaries of what the science is. They’re compelling, their authoritative, and we usually put in a compelling visual graph as well. That way, and our target audience is for policy makers, but for everyone else but policy makers don't have to worry about gotcha questions. So, if you're a Senator in Louisiana and a hurricane strikes, which by the way, has happened since the beginning of time, it didn't start with global warming, and when the media tried to give you the gotcha questions, you have right in front of you, you will know how to respond. That's what we're doing on the science, but then of course there's so much going on right now. Joe Biden's executive order on climate change, Joe Biden wanting to have a social cost of carbon increased by a factor of six. I believe it is six times higher than what the Trump Administration claimed. Joe Biden directing the US military to divert resources and attention away from real national security threats, and instead spend all that time, money, and energy addressing climate change, these are the things that we're working on. Also, we're assisting attorneys general throughout the states that are challenging Joe Biden's orders blocking the Keystone Pipeline and also his executive order on climate change and social cost of carbon. We have a lot going on. Unfortunately, there's a lot to tackle, but fortunately, we're pretty enthused about presenting the true science climate realism to policymakers and the general public.
Linda: Wow, that is really commendable. It's so important right now because along with covid-19 and the age of fear of covid-19, there is also fear of climate change. There's just so much in the media that wants people to fear. When people become fearful, they can become dependent on something that is a false sense of security, like government. We know, that if we can help arm people with the facts, whether it's facts about covid-19, or whether it's facts about climate change, or facts about the economy, we can help them have better independent, productive, prosperous lives. I really appreciate what you're doing and before we move on to another topic, I do want to just address the Paris Climate Accord. President Trump had us come out of that, not because he wasn't concerned about the environment, he truly was- contrary to what the media often would portray, but he truly was. Under his administration our carbon emissions went down greatly and actually we led the other countries. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding we led the other countries in terms of carbon reduction, so there was really no need for us to re-enter this Accord that costs the US money and it binds us in ways that we don't need to be. Could you address that a little bit? I think the media paints it as; Oh, my gosh, if you care at all about the environment, we have to be part of the Paris Climate Accord, but if you’re just careless, you don't want to be part of it. Could you explain the difference?
James: Sure, absolutely. You made some great observations regarding emissions reductions here in the United States versus globally. This century, since the year 2000, US carbon dioxide emissions have declined by approximately 15% and we have reduced emissions more than any other country in the world. Now, during the same time period, remember our emissions are down 15%, and globally emissions are up by more than 50%, they've increased. Now, why would we want to follow the path that the United Nations and these other nations are taking, that if you do believe in a climate crisis- I don't, but if you believe in it, and if you do believe that we need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, why would we follow something that doesn't work instead of sticking with what does work? What does work here in the United States, is by allowing markets to function by not erecting obstacles to natural gas production via hydraulic fracturing. We have enabled- really not even enabled, we have allowed natural gas producers to present their product, produce it, and sell it at much lower costs. You have coal power plants no longer being built. Some of the reason is due to government regulation, but natural gas power plants are economically the most viable choice and they reduce emissions by 50%. Now, the rest of the world, the United Nations activism is to obstruct hydraulic fracturing. United Nations activism is to place impediments on these sources that have worked in the United States. What the Paris Climate Agreement is all about, it isn't about reducing carbon dioxide emissions; the United Nations high ranking United Nations officials have said so. It's about remaking the global structure of the interaction of nations in a way that there is a distribution of wealth from wealthy nations from western democracies to third world nations largely run by dictators many of which are hostile to the United States. They believe that global wealth equity is the most important thing we have to worry about. So, the biggest impact of the Paris Climate Agreement isn't that it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it's not even their false promises which haven't worked, but it is the funds that are required to be distributed from the western democracies to the rest of the world for climate reparations, climate projects, etc. It’s very important that President Trump pulled us out of this. That way we would not be spending. I guess now in the age of covid-19 and multi-trillion dollar relief bills, maybe doesn't seem that much, but in reality it is quite a bit when we are committing to $10 billion, $100 billion per year that US taxpayers have to pay to give away to the governments of North Korea, Venezuela, Iran and others under the Paris Climate Agreement. One other thing, if I can mention, when you mention fear, it came to mind a very important point. Fear is the tool that the United Nations and the International Regime is utilizing now through the World Economic Forum. In May, the World Economic Forum is having a conference, their annual conference. The theme this year is, the Great Reset of Capitalism. The argument is that international, by the way, the World Economic Forum, has the participation of government leaders around the world, economic leaders around the world, and non-governmental organizations around the world. The argument is that capitalism is so evil and so wrong that we need a new system, a reset of capitalism, such that we now define it as basically socialism. The Biden administration is signing on to this. The rationale behind this at the World Economic Forum states, climate change is such a horrendous challenge and problem, and that capitalism works to make climate change worse. So, because of climate change, and because of concerns about global equity, we need this Great Reset of capitalism. It's front and center on the World Economic Forum's web page. It's not some conspiracy theory, it's not something that has no impact on us because the Biden administration, John Kerry, they're all in on this, and we need to be very concerned about it. At the Heartland Institute, we're going to host a video forum and we will rattle their cages so to speak during the World Economic Forum event. We will present the truth, both on the science of climate change and the agenda the anti-capitalist, anti-freedom agenda fact is motivating the World Economic Forum's Great Reset of capitalism.
Linda: Thank you so much for bringing that up. That's so important. In years past, it used to be those of us, who maybe were involved in policy and could see all this coming, we would warn people and they’d think we were crazy. They think you're crazy that you’d think there's going to be a globalist economy, or that America would give up some sovereignty. They thought that wouldn’t happen, but now it's here. It's here, and we have a very small window to actually combat this before we truly lose a lot of our freedoms here in the United States of America. So, for people who don't understand, you need to go to the Heartland Institute website, but also look at the Great Reset. Start reading about it. I know one of their phrases for advertising and just informing people is, you will own nothing, and you will enjoy that.
James: Just go to the World Economic Forums website itself and you'll see it's not a conspiracy theory, their plans and priorities are front and center.
Linda: Exactly right, and it's taking away our freedoms. It's taking away our freedoms, national sovereignty, and economic well-being because it's attacking capitalism. I notice that all these people fly to the economic forums. Maybe their private jets or whatever that are fueled by fossil fuels and cost a lot of money. I mean, it's just amazing to me, it's so hypocritical that I just wanted to point that out. Before we move on to the other big issue I really wanted to discuss, I also want to just bring up that people in the climate change frenzy, in terms of the fear of climate change and things, they don't take into account nuclear as much as they should. People who are truly concerned about climate and having good solid energy production capabilities with a strong grid understand that nuclear has a very important role to play. It's a great, clean energy source, and it's so much more reliable than solar or wind. We need to make sure that we allow for the regulatory environment in our nation to bring forth the new generation nuclear technologies. These walk-away safe reactors that are out there that have so many different fuel sources and things, it's just an amazing technology. It's all part of it.
James: Many of them, as a matter of physics, it’s impossible for them to have any significant radiation leak or meltdown. It's not 1976. By the way, if you talk about Three Mile Island, for those of us old enough to remember, even then, where were the deaths, etc.? They didn't happen. If another “x” factor, and “y” factor, and “z” factor at all happened, perhaps we would have something to be concerned about. The nuclear power’s safety and environmental record is just fantastic, and nowadays it’s a thousand times better.
Linda: It is, and it's so much better. These new modular reactors, I mean, they could be built on assembly lines. We can put people back to work. We can transport them. I've often said, if we could’ve manufactured and commercialized molten salt reactors, they would’ve been available to help Puerto Rico that was suffering so much after the hurricanes. We could have sent them down there and they could have had power right away. Not only that, there's the byproducts of cs that come from molten salt reactors. It’s just one of the new modular reactors, but I want to add that on, because it's a big piece of the energy puzzle. A lot of times people think it's either/or, it's either solar, or wind, or big oil, but it's not, and we can have these clean energy resources. Nuclear power can actually help provide fossil fuel energy in a much cleaner and more efficient, cost effective, manner. It's all part of the puzzle to keeping a stable grid. I really thank you for your work on this. I invite listeners to visit your websites on climate: www.climaterealism.com and www.climateataglance.com. I'd like to just transition a little bit to your work within the state legislatures, how you're helping states to combat the privacy issues, and censorship issues with Big Tech.
James: Right, thank you. I suspect that many of our listeners were very concerned when we hear for example, Facebook, and not just Facebook, but other social media platforms, blocked the sitting president of the United States from communicating with the American people. They also blocked sitting members of Congress from communicating with their constituents. I think to me, just as importantly, they block individual Americans from communicating with each other about their thoughts and ideas politically if it offends their sense of political correctness. This isn't a topic that there's- there are quite a few misperceptions about. Most importantly, whenever the topic comes up about perhaps reigning in these tech giants, and by the way, it's a tech cartel- it’s no free market that exists here, there are just a few large players. Their creation or more importantly their growth, to dominate the market, have been aided, assisted, abetted, and protected by federal government corporate law, federal government favoritism, etc. These have the power to restrict our ability to communicate ideas freely. Now, there are folks in Congress- Democrats in Congress, that are pressuring the cable television platforms: Time Warner, Comcast, etc., to no longer carry News networks that have a conservative, or even just a down the middle slant to them. That should be frightening to Americans across the board. Now, what is often presented when we talk about how to reign this in, is a federal law. This law addresses tech issues, tech’s ability to censor, and it's called Section 230. It’s one of the segments that the Big Tech giants rely upon. They say, Section 230 gives us blanket immunity, that we can censor all we want, and we're not doing it nefariously; but even if you think we are, it says, we can. So, federal law supersedes state law and you can't do anything about it, but that's a misperception. The federal law that gives Facebook and others that type of censorship protection that Section 230 in its’ title explicitly says- it is entitled; Addressing Sexual Obscenity and Excessive Violence. Throughout the entire statute, that is all it is concerned with. It says, it delineates explicitly sexual obscenity and excessive violence. After going through and explaining why it's important that Facebook and others should be able to keep excessively violent material, sexual obscenity, and pornography off their website if they so choose, they don't have to, but they can. Then at the end of the laundry list of the specific items that qualify as sexual obscenity and excessive violence, there's just one little clause that says; and other factors that may exist. Clearly, it is within the context of sexual obscenity and excessive violence. People have taken that out of context - Big Tech’s big defenders, and believe me they have lobbyists, they have influencers, they give to think tanks, and other organizations- not us, and I don't want their money. They give that to people to then parrot this lie, so that society believes that they have immunity. At the Heartland Institute, we are meeting and speaking with legislators to point out exactly what the law is and what it isn't. You don't have to sit there and say, our hands are tied. You don't have to be frustrated and feel like you're powerless, because in the state legislatures, if Congress won't act to clarify 230, or at least to additionally add a cause of action itself, when there is censorship of political free speech, which is extremely important. It's not the old days where you stand on the corner hand out flyers and society’s there. No, people communicate with each other for free speech, for political ideas, via social media. Now, state legislators can create a cause of action and they're not preempted by federal law because Section 230 only applies to sexual obscenity and excessive violence. So now, more than half the states in the country are discussing and have advanced bills on this topic. Some have gotten as far as to the Governor’s office and others are pretty close. At the Heartland Institute, we have personally communicated with legislators in all 50 states. We've provided advice and we've provided best language. I myself, wrote a Six Principles of Protecting Free Speech, at the state level. That's not the exact title, but you can find it on our website www.heartland.org. We have distributed that to legislators throughout the country. My hope is that these bills will make a difference, a positive difference. Now, some of my free market friends, and believe me, I'm an ardent free market person say, well aren't you infringing upon markets? Shouldn't Facebook if they want to, be able to publish or censor whatever they want? Again, this is not a free market. Section 230 is not free market. That's a government intervention. Even if you misapply it, or even if you apply correctly. These are entities that are seeking the protection of, have gotten the protection of, and the assistance of federal corporate law, federal assistance, etc. Moreover, even if there were some type of tension between free markets and freedom of speech, I’ll side with freedom of speech every day of the week.
Linda: Absolutely. People forget that this is truly part of our constitutional rights. So often, as I've been trying to educate people on protecting their own rights, they don't even realize what they are. They forget the breadth of what we have in our Constitution in terms of the freedoms that are guaranteed to us in our Constitution. Little by little, these freedoms have been taken away. Just bit, by bit, by bit, so we wake up and go; well, how come we can't speak freely? You know, we've just let it go like the frog in the pot of boiling water.
Linda: Yeah exactly.
James: So, free markets will disappear if we don't step in, because these are nefarious actors that are hostile to all of our individual freedoms, including free markets. When they make a free market argument, they're being disingenuous because they want to get rid of free markets. By the way, the other argument is; well, if you don't like it, then why don't you just build your own Facebook? That's what parlor did, right? Then what happened is, this cartel got together in Amazon Web hosting services- Facebook is there, and boom! It's like a star war is being nuked out of space and then they cease to exist. Now, they're trying to piece themselves back together. Who knows whether that will be successful or not, but this shows you that we don't have free markets acting here. We need to make sure that political free speech is secured and safeguarded throughout the country.
Linda: Absolutely, and for the listeners, if anybody's been listening with me for a long time, I'm hoping you're starting to connect the dots. We just talked about climate change, the globalists that want to push the World Economic Forum forward, and the Great Global Reset. They're trying to control what we do with our energy- all of our energy policies. Now they're trying to control what we're doing with our free speech. They're trying to control what we're doing in our schools. They're trying to control our movement and our freedom to assemble. All these things are not disjointed. They're all part of the bigger picture. People need to wake up America and realize that we are losing our freedoms day by day. So, what would you tell the listeners or the employers who maybe want to help their employees understand how all of this impacts the workplace and their ability to provide jobs? What are some words of advice or information that you would give them?
James: I would say, don't be afraid to let your true feelings known, to share with others, that you don't want to just meekly accept what you're told to do by authority, when it's simply not right. We have oftentimes, whether it's out of not wanting to stand out from the crowd, or wanting to be accepted, or maybe not cause a fuss, you don't have to go out of your way to poke your stick in someone’s eye, but it doesn't mean you have to sit back and take it either. When we were told we can talk in a macro sense, when we're told we must shut down places of business, we must social distance, we must wear masks- that have, I mean, before covid-19 came out, the science was pretty clear for example that, that does nothing to stop the spread of influenza or the common cold. Covid-19 is not much different in terms of its molecular size, structure and ability to get through masks; yet we sit back, and we just take it. In workplaces, perhaps applicable law says, you have to go through all these steps. Maybe your employer is concerned about running afoul of the law, but still it's important to let people know that we're not just going to accept it because we're told to by the big government powers that be; especially when we have science on our side, and especially when we have freedom on our side.
Linda: We absolutely have freedom on our side. We have science on our side. We have freedom on our side. We have common sense on our side. Just say a little bit of that because you know they'll censor everything from Dr. Seuss to Mr. Potato Head™ to Pepe Le Pew™.
James: That one just came out. Unbelievable. Obviously, the connotation isn't that Pepe Le Pew is fine and dandy and acceptable to be imposing his passionate desires on the cat. The whole point is just how out of bounds that is, but nevertheless we have to cancel that. Amazing.
Linda: Right, it's true. If you really look at the opposite side, very little did we hear the opposite side, and that is, I just heard last night, that some of Hitler's writings are available on Facebook, or Twitter, right? You can look at a lot of different things from Child Exploitation. I was just listening to a podcast this morning talking about the horrors of sex trafficking and the Child Exploitation happening at the border right now.
James: The sites to kill and murder Americans coming from jihadis in the Middle East. They're not censored, blocked, or in any way restricted.
Linda: Right, but Dr. Seuss is, or anybody who chooses to speak on conservative issues and speak up for the Constitution. I just want to encourage people that, yes, like James said, speak up don't be afraid to speak up. We're in this mess because not enough of us did speak up and we maybe just took our freedom for granted. We have a brief window of time here that we can still hold the line, and we can make sure that America can really provide the freedoms for our children and grandchildren that our forefathers envisioned. We have a great Constitution that sets the example for the world, and the world is looking to us to provide that freedom and leadership.
James: Yes, indeed. If I can just interject, when you mentioned the world is looking to us. Oftentimes, folks on the left will set the example of left leaning nations, believe and say that were an and to nations that existed- barely, under communism, under big government leftism, which inevitably leads to communism. These are the countries that say, watch out, the very same things that we were told, that's not what they're telling you, those are the justifications they're using. In Prague, Czech Republic they have a Museum of communism. It's an amazing building and it chronicles all that the country was put through under the communists. They erected that so that this generation of young people who didn't live under it, they’ll understand, so they won't be fed lies. They can see through the exhibits exactly what their parents and grandparents had to try to endure. It’s also so people don't forget and for people that have experienced it, the rest of the world is indeed watching, as you say. They're counting on America's leadership so that we don't follow the path the United Nations to the extent to say, it's a democracy of sorts. It's a democracy in which you have all these small nations run by brutal dictators in which that the nations themselves are not democracies. These are the folks that we’re supposed to submit to because they make a majority. If you get Bangladesh partnered with North Korea and Iran, they have three times the weight of the voice of the United States outside the Security Council. They have three times the weight of what we have, therefore, we're just supposed to do what the United Nations says? The rest of the world needs the United States to stand up for freedom.
Linda: Absolutely. We need to make sure that those that are on the left side in favor of this Great Reset and changing the entire culture of America, that we do not allow them to erase our history. I mean, it's a travesty to hear young people even people in their 20’s or early 30’s- some of them, don't even believe that the Holocaust happened. I did an interview with a gentleman who supports Holocaust survivors and those called, Righteous Among the Nations, those who risked their lives to save the Jews during the Holocaust. The stories that they tell are just heart wrenching, but you talk to people from these countries like you said, and that have lived through socialism, lived through communism, and they can see the path that America is on. We're talking about lack of freedom of speech. I mean, now they're talking about gun control. I know gun control is being voted on as we speak, basically, or being debated as we speak, on the Congressional floor right now. So, we look at this and it's just this consistent slow spread of the lack of freedom or taking away our freedoms, but also doing it quote-unquote, for our own good, or quote-unquote, to protect the children. They don't care that children are being sexually trafficked at the border or that children aren't able to be educated. We need to look at that again and say what’s their true motive.
James: I guess we need to rack up deficits that will be passed along to our children and grandchildren that they will never be able to pay, but we need to do that for the children.
Linda: Exactly. I always tell people look under the hood with all these things. I just interviewed John Fund about that, For the People Act/Pro Act, dealing with union organizing in the workforce and everything. We need to look beyond the title of these things and say what are they really doing with this. I am really thankful for the work of Heartland Institute and for your work. You've been a fighter in the field for freedom and we're really grateful for that. So, if people want to reach you, they can go to www.heartland.org and the other websites you mentioned were: www.climaterealism.com and www.climateataglance.com. You also mentioned the Six Principles Protecting Free Speech, regarding the fight with Big Tech to regain control of our free speech in the world of Big Tech. That paper is on the website. Is there anything else you recommend people look for when they are at the www.heartland.org website?
James: That's a good start. I will also recommend, www.stoppingsocialism.com. That is our signature project that is combatting socialism and Marxism in all its forms, including the Great Reset of capitalism.
Linda: Well, thank you so much for that and I hope to have you back again. Let's have you back in a few months and see where we are as a nation, what we've been able to do in terms of fighting against some of these policies that will truly be detrimental to the freedom of American citizens and to citizens around the globe.
James: It's been a pleasure and keep speaking the truth Linda.
Linda: You too. Thank you so much.