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Tags: Ex-NASA | Scientist | Shoots-Down | Global-Warming | Red States Ranked Most Free | State Govt Retirees Can Collect 60K-Plus in Benefits | Congress Weighs Immigration Reform

Ex-NASA Scientist Shoots Down Global Warming; Red States Ranked 'Most Free'

By    |   Sunday, 13 April 2014 02:45 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Republican 'Red States' Are the Most Free
2. State Govt Retirees Can Collect $60K-Plus in Benefits
3. Congress Weighs Immigration Reform Despite Native Unemployment
4. Former NASA Scientist: Global Warming Is 'Nonsense'
5. Survey Finds 'Most Content,' 'Most Miserable' US Cities

1. Republican 'Red States' Are the Most Free

A new report assesses the freedom enjoyed by Americans in each state — and reveals that Democratic "blue states" are the least free.

The latest edition of "Freedom in the 50 States" has been released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. It presents an updated ranking of American states based on how their policies promote freedom in the fiscal, regulatory, and personal realms.

The report "examines state and local government intervention across a wide range of policy categories — from tax burden to court systems, from eminent domain laws to occupational licensing, and from home schooling regulations to drug policy," Mercatus states.

The three basic categories examined are:

  • Fiscal policy, including the tax burden, government spending, and government debt.
  • Regulatory policy, including freedom from tort abuse, property rights protection, labor market freedom, and cable and telecom freedom.
  • Personal freedom, including gun control freedom, alcohol freedom, marriage freedom, gambling freedom, civil liberties, education policy, and campaign finance freedom.

Mercatus also considers dozens of "variables," including freedom from nanny laws, seatbelt enforcement, local rent control, motorcycle helmet laws, fireworks laws, trans-fat bans, and tobacco restrictions.

Taking all these factors into consideration, the report finds that New York is the least free state, ranking at No. 50.

"New York is by far the least free state in the Union," the report discloses. "It is therefore no surprise that New York residents have been heading for the exits: 9 percent of the state's 2000 population, on net, left the state for another state between 2000 and 2011, the highest such figure in the nation.

"New York has, by a wide margin, the highest taxes in the country: 14.0 percent of income."

The second least free state is California, followed in order by New Jersey, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Illinois, and Maryland.

All of these states voted to re-elect President Barack Obama in 2012.

The freest state is North Dakota, according to the Mercatus analysis. "The state scores exceptionally well on regulatory and fiscal policy. Moreover, North Dakota scores slightly above average on personal freedom. It is also the state that improved the most over the last decade," and "has very low taxes and government debt."

North Dakota is followed by South Dakota, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Missouri. All these states except New Hampshire voted for Republican Mitt Romney in the last presidential election.

Among the larger states, red state Texas ranks No. 14 and blue state Florida, 23.

"Measuring freedom is important because freedom is valuable to people," the report states. "At the very least, it is valuable to those whose choices are restricted by public policy."

Editor's Note:

2. State Govt Retirees Can Collect $60K-Plus in Benefits

It is an astonishing statistic: In the average state, full-career state government employees collect more in retirement benefits than 72 percent of full-time workers earn on the job in that state.

An analysis by the American Enterprise Institute refutes the claim by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that its average member receives a pension of about $19,000 a year.

The benefit-payments average cited by AFSCME is calculated by including employees who do not spend a full career working for the government, and these short-term employees do receive modest pension benefits, according to Andrew G. Biggs, a resident scholar at the AEI.

In fact, a full-career state government employee who retired in 2011 or 2012 after 30 to 35 years on the job receives an annual pension benefit of $36,131.

But retirees in some states receive significantly more. Average annual benefits for a full-career retiree in Nevada reach $64,008; in California, $61,560; in Colorado, $60,420.

Retirees in most states, including California, are also eligible for Social Security benefits, the AEI points out.

The lowest pension payment is in Mississippi, $14,844 a year.

The AEI computed that while the average full-career state government employee has a combined pension and Social Security income higher than 72 percent of full-time employees working in that state, the percentage is higher in a number of states.

In West Virginia, it's 89 percent; in North Carolina, 88 percent; in four other states, it's 87 percent. And in Oregon, the average full-career retiree collects more than 90 percent of full-time workers in the state.

State government retirees may also have interest or dividend income, and most public retirees receive health coverage.

The AEI also calculated that the average full-career state government worker who retires at age 60 and survives until age 84 will receive lifetime pension benefits with a present value of $768,940.

And in eight states, total lifetime benefits exceed $1 million.

"Drastic benefit reductions for current retirees would be unfair," AEI concludes, "but reforms that make public- and private-sector pensions more comparable should be on the table."

Editor's Note:

3. Congress Weighs Immigration Reform Despite Native Unemployment

Congress is currently considering immigration reform packages that include work permits for illegal aliens and increases in future legal immigration, yet millions of native-born Americans remain out of work.

Unemployment is particularly high among native-born adults with modest levels of education, a report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) disclosed.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, the unemployment rate (referred to as U-3) among native-born adults who have not completed high school was 16.6 percent, and 8.5 percent for those with only a high school education.

But the U-6 measure of joblessness also includes those who are not actively looking for work, and those who want full-time work but are forced to settle for a part-time job. The U-6 rate in the last quarter of 2013 was 28.7 percent for native-born adults without a high school education, and 16.5 percent for those with only high school.

The total number of native-born Americans ages 18 to 65 of any education level not working was 50.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, up 8.8 million from 2007 and 14.7 million since 2000.

The highest U-6 unemployment measure of any group is among U.S.-born blacks ages 18 to 29 who did not finish high school: 57.3 percent.

In the fourth quarter of last year there were just two working-age native-born Americans holding a job for every one that was not employed.

"This represents a huge deterioration," the CIS observed, noting that as recently as 2000 there were three natives holding a job for every one not working.

Meanwhile, according to some estimates there are around 12 million illegal immigrants already in the United States.

Editor's Note:

4. Former NASA Scientist: Global Warming Is 'Nonsense'

A prominent scientist and former NASA researcher has added his voice to those who challenge the "scientific fact" that manmade carbon emissions are causing global warming.

Dr. Leslie Woodcock is a professor emeritus of chemical thermodynamics at the University of Manchester in England, with a Ph.D. from the University of London, and served as a senior research consultant at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Laboratory in Ohio.

In an interview with Britain's Yorkshire Evening Post, Woodcock declared: "The theory of 'manmade climate change' is an unsubstantiated hypothesis.

"The theory is that CO2 emitted by burning fossil fuel causes 'global warming.' In fact, water is a much more powerful greenhouse gas and there is 20 times more of it in our atmosphere [than carbon dioxide].

"Carbon dioxide has been made out to be some kind of toxic gas but the truth is it's the gas of life. We breathe it out, plants breathe it in. The green lobby has created a do-good industry and it becomes a way of life, like a religion. I understand why people defend it when they have spent so long believing in it."

Woodcock is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a founding editor of the journal Molecular Simulation, a recipient of a Max Planck Society Visiting Fellowship, and a former guest scientist at the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.

He went on to say: "If you talk to real scientists who have no political interest, they will tell you there is nothing in global warming. It's an industry which creates vast amounts of money for some people.

"The temperature of the earth has been going up and down for millions of years. If there are extremes, it's nothing to do with carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it's not permanent and it's not caused by us. Global warming is nonsense.

"It's become almost an industry, as a consequence of this professional misconduct by government advisers around the world."

But he added: "You can't blame ordinary people with little or no science education for wanting to be seen to be good citizens who care about their grandchildren's future and the environment."

Editor's Note:

5. Survey Finds 'Most Content,' 'Most Miserable' US Cities

Gallup-Healthways surveyed hundreds of thousands of people in 189 U.S. metropolitan areas to compile its Well-Being Index, which seeks to determine the American cities where people are the most content — and the most miserable.

According to the survey, Provo-Orem, Utah, is the happiest, while the least happy is Huntington-Ashland, a metro area on the West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio borders.

The index analyzed a number of factors that contributed to happiness and unhappiness in the cities in 2012 and 2013, including basic needs, health behaviors, work environment, physical and emotional health, and life evaluation.

An analysis of the index by 24/7 Wall St., which appeared on MSN Money, also examined educational attainment, crime rates, and unemployment rates.

"While income wasn't a direct measure in the index, differences in incomes were quite prominent between America's most content and miserable areas," MSN Money noted in its article headlined "Welcome to Happyville — or Frowntown."

In nine of the 10 areas with the highest Well-Being Index, the median household income was higher than the national median in 2012, while in the 10 cities with the lowest Index scores, incomes were lower than the typical American household.

The nation's five "most content" cities are:

  1. Provo-Orem, Utah. Residents had extremely positive evaluations of their lives, the crime rate was among the lowest in the country, unemployment was just 4 percent last December, and nowhere were people more optimistic about their lives in the next five years.
  2. Boulder, Colo. Residents were among the nation's most educated — 58 percent of adults had at least a bachelor's degree in 2012 in the city that is home to the University of Colorado. Boulder had the lowest percentage of residents with high blood pressure and the third lowest smoking rate.
  3. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colo. Residents were among the most content workers, with a majority saying they felt treated like a partner at work. Residents were also among the healthiest in America, and 61 percent exercise regularly, the second highest rate in the nation.
  4. Honolulu, Hawaii. The city led the nation in several physical health measures, and residents were among the most emotionally healthy Americans. Median household income is high, too — $71,404 in the years studied.
  5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. The home of Silicon Valley was the richest metro in the nation in 2012, with a median household income of $90,737. Respondents generally reported enjoying their work and few said they felt depressed.

Rounding out the top 10:

  1. Ann Arbor, Mich.
  2. Naples-Marco Island, Fla.
  3. San Luis Obispo, Calif.
  4. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.
  5. Lincoln, Neb.

The nation's five "most miserable" cities, according to MSN Money — with No. 1 being the most miserable of all:

  1. Huntington-Ashland, W.Va.-Ky.-Ohio. Respondents were the most likely to report physical problems, with high rates of diabetes and chronic pain. Nearly one in 10 said they had experienced a heart attack, the highest rate in the nation. Huntington also had America's highest obesity rate last year, and scored the worst for emotional health.
  2. Charleston, W.Va. Residents were the most likely to express dissatisfaction with their jobs. Emotional health was low, and the diabetes and high blood pressure rates were high.
  3. Redding, Calif. Residents had extremely negative evaluations of their lives, due perhaps to limited job opportunities. And the city's crime rate was one of the highest in the country.
  4. Spartanburg, S.C. A large proportion of residents were struggling financially in the city, where the median household income was $40,879 in 2012, among the nation's lowest. And few cities had worse scores for overall emotional health.
  5. Hickory-Lenoir-Morgantown, N.C. The median income of $37,364 in 2012 was also one of the lowest in America, and residents were less optimistic about their futures than respondents in all but seven other cities.

Rounding out the top 10:

  1. Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas
  2. Columbus, Ga.-Ala.
  3. Shreveport-Bossier City, La.
  4. Mobile, Ala.
  5. Evansville, Ind.-Ky.

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Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Ex-NASA, Scientist, Shoots-Down, Global-Warming, Red States Ranked Most Free, State Govt Retirees Can Collect 60K-Plus in Benefits, Congress Weighs Immigration Reform, Survey Finds Most Content, Most Miserable US Cities
Sunday, 13 April 2014 02:45 PM
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