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1.  Economic concept of crowding out explains how government money to Planned Parenthood funds abortions

Regardless of how one feels about abortion or Planned Parenthood generally, this article by Manhattan Institute economist Preston Cooper explains why it makes no sense to argue that government funding of Planned Parenthood is not subsidizing abortions. Cooper invokes the economic concept of "crowding out" to make the case.  It is a concept that economists use to explain and predict the consequences of many public policies. The idea is that when the government funds an otherwise private activity it is likely to lead to the private sector spending less on that activity and more on other priorities.

He gives food stamps as an example. It has been shown that increases in spending on food stamps actually lead to the recipients spending less of their own money on food.  Cooper explains this as follows:

Imagine a person who initially spends $50 on food out of his own pocket, but then receives another $50 in food stamps. He could spend the full $100 on food, but he might take advantage of his slightly richer situation to spend some of the first $50 on other things. If he ends up spending $70 on food and $30 on other goods, the provision of food stamps will have "crowded-out" $30 of private spending on food. Here we see the unintended consequences of government spending: the food stamp program has essentially paid for things which might be completely unrelated to food.

Cooper uses this principle to explain why, despite the fact that using government funds to pay for or subsidize abortions is illegal, it is very likely if not certain that that is exactly what is happening in the case of subsidies to Planned Parenthood.

…federal funding, even if earmarked for other programs…allow[s] Planned Parenthood to shift some of its private revenues from the permitted programs to abortion services. Uncle Sam’s generous checkbook crowds out Planned Parenthood’s spending on these permitted programs; the result is an accounting trick that still forces taxpayers to subsidize abortion.

Cooper concludes that:

When the federal government funds the organization’s non-abortion services, that frees up more privately acquired money to spend on its abortion programs. Planned Parenthood receives $528 million, or 41 percent of its revenues, from government sources. Removing these funds would almost certainly result in across-the-board budget cuts, including to abortion programs.

2. Some facts on air pollution and asthma

This article by Michael Bastasch in the Daily Caller examining the environmentalists’ claim that future global warming will increase asthma attacks by increasing ozone levels brings to light some interesting facts regarding the alleged connection between pollution and the lung condition. Bastasch notes the following:

The EPA’s own data shows that emissions from pollutants like carbon monoxide, ground-level ozone and particulate matter have fallen 59 percent, 18 percent and more than 30 percent, respectively, since 2000.

That’s huge. You’d expect asthma attack rates to fall as well, but they aren’t according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of persons with one asthma attack per year increased 2.6 percent per year from 2003 to 2010. The total number of people with asthma has grown from 11 million in 2001 to nearly 13 million by 2010.

As of 2013, the U.S. had an asthma prevalence rate of 12 percent — among children the rate was 12.7 percent. The prevalence rate was 10.4 percent in 2003 for the U.S population in general and 12.5 percent for children.

So asthma rates have increased in the last decade or so, while air pollutants that exacerbate asthma have fallen dramatically.

3. Ozone Report

The 2015 ozone season began on April 1 and, as I have been doing since this newsletter was started, each week during the ozone season this newsletter will report how many, if any, high ozone days were experienced throughout the state during the previous week, where they were experienced, and how many have been recorded during the entire season to date. (Note: ground level ozone, which is what we are reporting on, is often called "smog.") According to current EPA standards a region or county experiences a high ozone day if a monitor in that area registers the amount of ozone in the air as 76 parts per billion (ppb) or greater. The official ozone season will end on October 31. All reported data is preliminary and issued by the North Carolina Division of Air Quality, which is part of the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Thus far this season there have been five high ozone days recorded on any of the state’s 42 monitors. Three occurred on June 25. The most recent occurred on August 5. one on a monitor in Rowan County and one in Mecklenburg County .

The table below shows all of the North Carolina’s ozone monitors and the high reading on those monitors for each day of the 7-day period, August 3-9.

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