by Dr. Roy Cordato
Senior Economist, Emeritas
1. "Corporations are not people with Constitutional rights." Oh really?
This is a standard claim of progressives. It is one of the left’s biggest complaints against not only the recent Hobby Lobby ruling regarding the HHS contraceptive mandate but also the Citizens United decision, which ruled that corporations had First Amendment rights with respect to free speech and campaign contributions.
In a recent blog post at the Bloomberg View.com Megan McCardle, in the context of the Hobby Lobby decision, gives one of the best responses to this that I have seen. What she demonstrates is that the claim is absurd and cannot even be believed by the leftists that make it. Quoting McCardle:
Why does the Supreme Court think corporations are people? Isn’t that obviously ridiculous?
The Supreme Court does not think that corporations are people in the sense that you mean — the Supreme Court will not be ruling that Wendy’s has a Title IX right to play college sports. But we extend corporations many of the rights that people get because otherwise the results would be horrifying: The government would have the right to shut down the presses at the New York Times; search Google’s servers without a warrant whenever they liked; tell churches (usually organized as corporations) what they could believe; deny nonprofits the right to organize protests; and otherwise abridge fundamental human rights.
Of course, the Hobby lobby case was much more limited than this, although I wish it was broader. McCardle goes on to point out that:
In this case, the ruling is that closely held corporations (companies where five or fewer people own more than half the stock) are in some sense an extension of their owners, and therefore enjoy the same rights as sole proprietors and partnerships to exercise their beliefs.
2. New study shows meat eaters healthier
"Our results showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with poorer health (higher incidences of cancer, allergies, and mental health disorders), a higher need for health care, and poorer quality of life."
This is how a team of scientists from the Institute of Social Medicine and Epidemiology, Medical University of Graz, Austria writing in the international journal Plos One summarize their results in a study called "The Association between Eating Behavior and Various Health Parameters: A Matched Sample Study." On the up side for vegetarians, non-meat eaters were shown to have lower BMIs and to consume alcohol less frequently than carnivores.
3. More discussion on the 97% "consensus on global warming
Several weeks back this newsletter featured a discussion by Paul Homewood of the research that has been used as the basis for the claim that 97% of climate scientists are of the opinion that humans are causing global warming. It was noted in this discussion that even skeptical scientists will generally agree with this statement and that this isn’t really what the scientific disagreement is all about.
Economist Michael Stroup, writing for the National Center for Policy Analysis looks at the claim from a different angle, arguing that the study’s findings are not really meaningful. (Note: AGW is Anthropomorphic Global Warming, or global warming caused primarily by human activity.)
Here is the gist of this influential study:
- The authors led an exhaustive survey of the abstracts to over 10,000 peer-reviewed articles dealing with global climate issues that were published in scientific journals from 1991-2011.
- Each and every article was assigned to one of four distinct groups: three groups that clearly indicated a specific position (supporting AGW, rejecting AGW, or stating that AGW was uncertain), and a fourth group that did not state any opinion on the validity of AGW at all.
- Then they tracked the percentage of all articles that fell into each group during each year.
The study concludes:
"Among the papers expressing a position on AGW, an overwhelming percentage (…97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW."
Focus on that conditional phrase, "among the papers expressing a position on AGW." On page 3 of this study, a simple time series chart shows that OVER HALF of these articles did NOT express an opinion on AGW at all.
Further, the percentage of these no-opinion climate articles GREW to well over 60% over the period of study. Meanwhile, the percentage of articles that expressly support the AGW theory FELL from around 50% to well below 40%.
This is a far cry from 97%. If less than 40% of all published climate studies explicitly support AGW, does this actually constitute a "consensus view" by the climate science community?
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